Posts from 26th January 2004

Jan 04

I just ate the best banana ever grown!!

Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 314 views

I just ate the best banana ever grown!! – so it is downhill from here on in I guess…

The mantle of Jeremiah suits

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 382 views

The mantle of Jeremiah suits Mark K-Punk very well, which is a shame in a way – the enthusiastic posts he made about The Stone Tape and Talons Of Weng-Chiang were really excellent, insightful, itching-to-watch-it-again stuff. His gloomier stuff is usually thought-provoking but does wind me up a bit too (partly cos the endless rhetorical questions stylistically remind me a bit of John Junor!).

Anyway at the moment he’s turned his sights on POP and more specifically “Poptimism”. It’s a slippery thing, this Poptimism – depending on who’s using the word it can mean anything from thinking 2003 was the best year ever, to thinking 2003 was terrific, to just liking pop music in 2003; or come to think of it liking anything very much in 2003. Mark asks the question – do ‘poptimists’ ever think a year is bad? In his comments section I have a go at answering that. My return question would be – what would make a year ‘good’? Because I think here is where the real divide between poptimists and hindsight crew lies (if there is one).

For the Poptimist the answer is simple enough – hearing lots of great records makes a great year. For the antis it’s a bit tougher – something exciting has to happen, something new. I think it’s in the difference between Newness and Novelty that the split takes place.

Novelty is something trivial – a hook, a gimmick, a joke, some seed of pleasure or other that you’d not bumped into before. Newness can sound just like Novelty, but seems to the anti-Poptimist more important and lasting – it has to be inspirational, should spark a movement of some kind. From a historian’s point of view, Newness matters and Novelty is trivial – and so a year full of novelties can still be a bad year.

As a historian, I sympathise – a little. As a listener, I’m firmly on the side of Novelty, and not just because it’s much easier to detect and just as easy to enjoy. Excitement and shifts in pop can happen through big New things but they also arise from little accumulations of novelty, eddies that are hardly detectable and easily dismissable at the time. Take the current resurgence of interest in ‘Italo’, for instance – did it seem New at the time? Probably not. Was it rubbish, then? It sounds good to me.

Reading back over these thoughts they seem particularly scattered, raw materials for an argument rather than an argument itself. One last point, though – Angus at I Feel Love mentioned that of course in 1985 (the year that started this whole debate off) there would have been lots of people who enjoyed that year’s pop enormously. The implication of the hindsight boys is that those people must feel – or even be – pretty foolish. But why? Their enjoyment was real enough, I’m sure. Outside the world of the music critic, after all, people change their minds the whole time.

As part of Do You See? lousy movie Monday I bring you, a lack of appreciation for Scary Movie 3:

Do You SeePost a comment • 512 views

As part of Do You See? lousy movie Monday I bring you, a lack of appreciation for Scary Movie 3:

How much to you enjoy watching people being hit? This is the question Scary Movie 3 poses, because as far as I could work out about the only joke in the film is watching the various characters continuously being smacked round the head with lump hammers, microphones, being thrown out of windows, run over, heads mangled by raffles fans et al. Any attempt at the clever verbal humour that summoned in this kind of parody movie with Airplane! has been abandoned, which is odd considering that some of the highlights of the last twenty years of this genre are gathered together in this film. Leslie Nielsen’s president at least mugs a bit, though it is unclear exactly why Charlie Sheen took this job. David Zucker’s direction is more First night than Naked Gun, I spotted at least five gags the film missed. In the end the internal flaws of the films parodied here gives it just about enough to go on – and Anna Farris seems more surprised than anyone that she has had a franchise make it to three movies. Laugh? Well it is better than the Human Stain.

Camra want more chixx0r to drink Real Ale Bouze

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 469 views

Camra want more chixx0r to drink Real Ale Bouze, so I read once. YEAH THIS PICTURE MAKES ME WANT TO TRUST YOU PHOTOSHOP HAPPY FREAKZ0R, OH I MEAN, NOTT! Good job that elsewhere on the site they still have some nearly nudie ladies. Further tentative proddings reveal the true sick heart of Camra in Hale Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer. Now, to me, it looks like Chairman Mick got carried away after a naughty dream about Lara Croft, but hey, if they want to claim mythical pagan heritage in cask ale then…

… yeah, yeah they’re wankers.

Damn those cunning spammers

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 190 views

Damn those cunning spammers – they’ve got me good and proper this time. I received an email saying “you are an idiot” – excellent, I thought! There’s nothing that gets the circulation going like flame-mail. But no, it was a whopping and doubtless infectious attachment. This is a cunning move on the enemy’s part – nobody using the Internet seriously believes that there are 18 year old virgins desperate to shed their clothes for complete strangers; everybody believes that somewhere out there is somebody who believes them to be Earth’s biggest fool. The last actual flame I got claimed to be from Christmas one-hit wonder Gordon Haskell – remind me to reprint it sometime!

On Paycheck

Do You SeePost a comment • 405 views

On Paycheck

  • Paycheck exists entirely in ActionMovieWorld, where software engineers have martial arts training as part of their job, and CEOs pack guns.
  • It’s a little unsettling to watch Paul Giamatti in this directly after seeing him inhabit Harvey Pekar in American Splendor. Not because the characters are so different – Shorty is the same kind of schlub except with wildly varying facial hair – but the immediate impression is “What’s Harvey Pekar doing in this film?”
  • Early on, it becomes clear that the musings on the nature of fate in the source material have been converted into an excuse for the total lack of suspense in the modern action film.
  • After this realisation, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the film as a series of puzzles, and try to guess the answer before it appears.
  • Following on from the spate of videogame movies, it’s nice to see a movie that appears to be based on one of the old LucasArts adventure games.
  • It’s on the whole easier on everyone for Ben Affleck to be told that he has fallen in love with someone than to actually see him incomprehend his way in.
  • Chase locations that incorporate elements blatantly stuck there for the chase: good. Chase locations that are empty except for those elements: bad.
  • John Woo – still bringing the doves.

Weedy Eighties White People Singing About Soul Stars #3: China Crisis – “Black Man Ray”

I Hate Music23 comments • 26,869 views

“Black Man Ray” is Ray Charles, who China Crisis apparently believe in. Now Ray Charles’ blackness is not a secret, so why did China Crisis see fit to remind us of it on their incomprehensibly awful single? My theories:

i) They were talking about the photographer Man Ray, and asserting that he was black. Which he wasn’t. But this was the 80s and all sorts of people were black back then – Shakespeare, Rick Astley, etc. – generally at the behest of ‘loony lefties’ who The Sun had made up.

ii) The song was meant to be a double A-Side with “White Man Ray” about snooker ace Ray Reardon


When is a novel not a novel?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 312 views

When is a novel not a novel? When it is actually a loosely connected set of short stories, or novellas. Hanan Al-Shaykh’s Only In London uses this trick, hoping that the resonances between her three tales will add more than the sum of its parts. It partially works. Four diverse passangers meet on a flight from Dubai. Amira: arab prostitute, Samir: transvestite middle aged chancer, Lamis: recently divorce Iraqi exile and Nicholas: English art dealer specialising in Arabic daggers. The three stories are (in order of strength) Lamis and Nicholas’ romance, Amira passing herself off as an Arabic princess and Samir’s adventures in procuring sex. Samir’s adventures with his pet monkey barely register at all, and Nicholas vanishes near the end suggesting that Al-Shaykh is much happier with her female characters. Lamis and Amira are extremely well drawn as the bounce around a London they want to be theirs, or make theirs.

That said none of the stories are particularly complex, and the intertwining of what are seperate stories annoys because they lack strength just when the others are getting going. And whilst this is a book about London, I am not clear what it is trying to say about the place. Yes you can do anything here, yes it can be alienating. Perhaps it is that London is whatever you are looking for, or hoping for, or – in some cases – fearing. A curiously hot and cold novel for me.

And is there a good reason why

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 240 views

And is there a good reason whywe don’tIsn’t it nice to have a have a sidebar link to A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down? Sort it out people with appropriate permissions! (I wonder if I have them, I dunno I am too busy wondering if I am going insane over the Tunnocks/mint taste hybrid that WILL NOT LEAVE MY MOUTH).


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 293 views

Dudes! A warning to the easily frightened – always remember to store your Tunnocks Caramel Wafers in a safe place AWAY FROM YOUR MINT PRODUCTS. Are you listening Mr Man who sells Tunnocks Caramel Wafers for 35 pence outside Goodge Street tube?! Are you? For if you do not store them safely, your lovely Tunnocks Caramel Wafer will not only pong of but also slightly taste of SUGAR FREE POLOS. This will lead to bemusement and confuzzlement as you are jolted out of your lovely, womb-like environment of caramel-wafer-dom. You may be forced to have another Nice Cup of Tea in shock!!! BUT OH NO THE TEA WILL TASTE OF MINT TOO! Foiled.

Actually they have been marked down to 35pence from 40pence, I note. Good job blooming well too, but this has got me pondering just QUITE how long have the poor overpriced wafers been lurking there? Hrrrm.