Posts from 14th January 2004

Jan 04

Visitors to Barcelona often find that the works

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 360 views

Visitors to Barcelona often find that the works of Mr Gaud’ are overshadowed, nay, pummelled into submission by the pleasures of Voll-Damm, the super-strong local lager whose premises loom into view as soon as the airport bus begins its slow trundle cityward. Well, the Voll-Damm bottle has undergone a remarkable transformation. No longer content to simply house the brew in gothic splendour, the label now features the history of the beer! It now transpires that we are enjoying a M’rzenbier, first brewed in Bavaria, the home of oompah-pah. The amount of malt was DOUBLED to produce an ENERGETIC beer which is apparently SUMMERPROOF (!!!), with increased intensity of flavour and strength of body, no less. Only the fact that it was first produced in Catalonia in 1953 prevents me from claiming that Mr Gaud’ was crossing the road in search of a nice cold bottle of Voll-Damm, muttering, “stick yer San Miguel up yer arse!” when he had his fateful encounter with a tram.


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 499 views


Val’rie Belin’s photographs often seem to be about death, such as the empty dresses in coffin-like boxes, Miss Haversham’s ghost gone AWOL. But what if death is replaced with a simple lack of life? The untitled series of pictures that forms the core of the exhibition at San Sebasti’n’s Koldo Mitxelena Centre (celebrating its 10th anniversary – Muggins here remembers it opening) at first appears to show the head and shoulders of expertly made-up, passive and self-possessed women. They are attractive, drawing you closer, close enough for your reflection to appear in the glass. Unlike the women, you look podgy and unkempt. Perhaps life is bad. You become uneasy as it dawns on you that these might not be real women. They look a bit plastic. But at this scale they are disquietingly realistic. A glance at the brochure reveals that they are in fact shop window dummies individually cast from real women, a Lady Penelope fetishist’s dream gone sadly down the plughole.

Apparently this kind of thing is called HYPERREALISM and is part of something called POSTMODERNISM. Geezaesthetics purists may prefer to ignore this and INSTEAD simply ask themselves WHICH ONE DO YOU FANCY?

I always thought that there was no upper bound to the amount of wine

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 275 views

I always thought that there was no upper bound to the amount of wine you could add to a risotto when cooking. After all, it is pretty essential that it be there in the first place, so why should there be a maximum. Well, last night i glugged a wee bit too much in, and it was too much. Don’t get me wrong, the wine was only a day old and was more than palatable but the end resulut was more of a vino porridge than anything they would recognise in Milano. And as much as I like a bit of gooey blue cheese melting in the centre of my risotto, I think last night a blob of slowly curdling stilton might not have been the best solution.

Julia Davis in Nighty Night

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,078 views

Julia Davis in Nighty Night is probably the furthest we can go with nasty a protagonist in a comedy. It causes quite a massive dichotomy really. How can Jill, the really unpleasant Beauty Shop propriator be so well formed as a character and yet be so seemingly unaware of her own monsterousness. The plot of Nighty Night is simple. Jill is horrible. Her husband develops a cancerous lump, goes into hospital which prompts Jill into telling everyone he is dead and gives her a new lease of life. In this case trying to shag her doctor neighbour (angus Deayton) and trying to push out his MS suffering wife (a pale and wan Rebecca Front). Julia Davis is magnicent but absolutely unsympathetic. Unfortunately it does not seem that the series has come to terms with what to do when she is found out in her lies, or comes a cropper in any of her thoroughly nasty ruses (I was waiting for someone to blow up last night when she invited the neighbours round for dinner and left the wife locked out on the doorstep). I can’t help but thinking that this creation will get even better once she is left to squirm a bit herself. Easily the best black comedy on British TV for quite some time.

The unpoliced zones of Brit TV are on a total high currently

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 108 views

The unpoliced zones of Brit TV are on a total high currently, as regards unexpected science, its hardcore and its social aspects – Monday 12 Jan on BBC2, C4 and C5 saw a fantastic run of documentaries, end to end (and not even clashing a bit!): on Chernobyl (in the 24 Hours that Changed the World series), Aristotle (Five Great Scientists), the Spitfire (don’t recall the name of this C4 9.00 slot, though it seems WW2-fixated) and, most unpromising but actually most poignant and fascinating, Ultimate Explosions.

The Chernobyl was mainly a reconstruction of the last hours of plant-workers whose actions led to the meltdown, explaining why the errors were made, and giving a grim sense of how little time it all took for educated, intelligent men to panic under a variety of pressures and get into a situation no one could get them out of. The Aristotle may not appeal: its gimmick is dramatic reconstructions as undertaken by the Two Ronnies or Benny Hill (speeded-up film, silly costumes and wigs, comedy noises on the soundtrack, deliberate “funny” anachronisms), but in its sly and possibly annoying (and definitely patronising) way it covered a surprising amount of ground, about the dawn of empiricism and scientific observation especially. The Spitfire doc – as well as a similar prog abt the Wright Brothers first flight on C5 last week – married modern-day Plane Nerds recreating and piloting the aircrafts in question (the Wright people spent TEN YEARS building theirs, then crashed it into some trees on its maiden flight!), with neatly explained stuff about the aeronautical issues being addressed. (Memorable Spitfire anecdote: its designer, battling cancer as he built his masterpiece, wanted to call it the “Shrew” – the RAF retitled it the “Spitfire” – the designer said “That’s just the kind of bloody silly name they would call it!” and promptly expired…)

Letting nerds loose into their passions, including recreation, seems to be a TV thing at the moment, and a VERY GOOD thing: Ultimate Explosions included a Fast Show type fellow who lets bombs off in fields… which is of course fun AND educational! Also very extremely unsettling, when it’s then explained that this-or-that actual real bomb in history was one hundred thousand times as massive. There are farmhouses in Belgium still sat above unexploded passageways full of bags of high explosive – which lightning may one day set off: the countryside all around is dotted with sizeable “manmade” lakes, ie WW1 explosion holes filled with rainwater. The practical blast effects of the Hiroshima bomb were based on the Manhattan Project’s ghoulishly close scientific study of the 1917 explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax in Canada, where the conditions – by dreadful chance – caused vast loss of life among the local townspeople, and (then) unimaginable damage (street after street of buildings flattened on both sides of a major world harbour, huge chunks of metal thrown for several miles upriver). It concluded with the Superpowers in the 50s managing to terrify themselves, in the hydrogen bomb size-race, into the first (and most successful) of the nuclear weapons above-ground test bans… The narrator had a distressingly perky voice, and kept saying things like “the biggest inadvertent explosion of all time!!” – but in a way this kind of ultra-detached schoolboy silliness and glee also told part of the story.

On the whole I watch TV as anti-stimulation

Do You SeePost a comment • 227 views

On the whole I watch TV as anti-stimulation – same reason as I DON’T listen to music (music generates way too much whirly stuff in my head, so unless I’m actually writing about it or researching something I avoid it). Anyway, I don’t expect or particularly want to get worked up by television, and generally it respects my requirements hurrah! Anyway anyway, I’m even not sure how GOOD it was, but Wall of Silence got me as seethed and jittery as anything I’ve watched for years: a kid is killed by a mob of yoof on a S.London estate, and when his dad and the police try to find witnesses, fear and/or solidarity means no one will say anything. It wasn’t just that it brilliantly effectively jabbed at my anger nodes – I’ve watched god-knows-how-many courtroom TV dramas, but this was the first sneering-and-hectoring defence lawyer I ever wanted so much to punch I had to go and drink a glass of water! I guess that’s what I call top acting! – but also, to my considerable upset, my fear nodes. I was staying at my sister’s, and by chance afterwards in the street, two likely lads were sat on a car right below the bedroom window, talking (not at all loudly) about who knows what (they could have been planning a killing spree, they could have been praising Freaky Trigger) (hi guys!) but in my panicky/paranoid state I was sleeplessly imagining the worst. JUST LIKE MY GRAN AFTER CRIMEWATCH oh no! OH NO!!

Anyway I moved back into mine yesterday – ie 25 yards from a street that the national press has called “murder mile” for more than a decade – and regained perspective somewhat.

ps I think I watched, despite being really REALLY tired, because I love Phil Davies in anything, not least bcz I often see him from the bus to work as he slips across Essex Road.

This thread

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 275 views

This thread is terrific and useful – well done Matos for the idea, to the power of ten if people actually start making these CDs. The previous set of 700MB Go! threads left me a bit numbed – just too much data – but the less-than-CD-length comps on show here are much more manageable and allow for great intros to big genres/themes and more searching examinations of small ones.