Posts from 15th March 2004

Mar 04

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 280 views

Yay! I mentioned some months back that I couldn’t find my favourite noodles anymore.

I made an error which might have hampered my search; they weren’t made Amoy – they were a Blue Dragon product. I’ve emailed them to find out where has them. My struggle draws to a conclusion*!

* on the offchance they don’t get back to me, if you see these noodles in a shop near you, be a love and drop me a line.


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 272 views

ATTENTION READERS – HELP WANTED: As part of Freaky Trigger’s 5th Birthday celebrations we are going to be publishing a FANTASTIC PHOTO STORY. We need YOUR help to be part of the photo story. If you live in London and fancy the idea of spending an afternoon hamming it up on digital camera (with frequent breaks for refreshment), please e-mail us. Realistically speaking this is going to mean the editors and their mates but that’s who reads it anyway.

Just a reminder of this

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 321 views

Just a reminder of this. We’re busy plotting those 80s/00s pop connections now and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Suggestions are, of course, welcome!

Good work Disturbed!

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 265 views

Good work Disturbed! We are now maybe three outraged news stories away from someone actually, seriously, using the phrase “Death To False Metal!” again. Then The Darkness’ work here will be complete.

Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective, Hayward Gallery, London

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 437 views

Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective, Hayward Gallery, London

Pop Art sways to the whims of fashion. One minute it’s equipped with a Hoxton fin, the next it dresses like Chris Eubank. Judging from the hoards of people, it’s back in vogue again. Or perhaps London’s dismal weather is responsible. On Sunday, a cheeky entrepreneur stood outside the Hayward Gallery selling umbrellas for eight quid a go, his only competition the gallery itself, the same price as an umbrella.

I must say, I’ve never been in and out of an exhibition so quickly. That’s not a reflection on the number of paintings, but the nature of them. Whereas Rothko can suck you in and Warhol bashes you around the head with repetition, Lichtenstein’s pictures just left me with the impression of a two-minute pop song. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s just disposable, next-one-please, throwaway fun.

The vivid comic scenes are the images commonly associated with Lichtenstein. The exhibition provides context with the original comic books and a selection of the artist’s early scribblings. In every way the finished product is identical to the original. Like Borges’ Pierre Menard; recreating Don Quixote word for word, Lichtenstein starts from scratch and perfectly recomposes the original.

An early sixties painting, proudly announces ART. A bold taxi-yellow background highlights the letters and it positively screams at you, as if the artist is saying, ‘I call this art, therefore art is what it is, bollocks to the rest of you.’ Later in his career there’s a similar painting with those same three letters. But this time the message isn’t so clear, blurred lines cloud the image. Self-doubt seems to have crept in.

The rain had stopped by the time I left. The umbrella entrepreneur was probably in the pub with the curator of the gallery, drinking through their profits, laughing at the rain that made them money.

Hog’s Wash

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 318 views

Hog’s Wash: Rebranding outside the pub sphere is something I’m quite sanguine about. If the criticism is that it’s a cosmetic and meaningless change then why get worked up about it? Within the world of booze though rebranding goes hand in hand with refitting, and also implies a fixed set of rules to guide the refitter’s hand. The Laurel Pub Company seems to be particularly keen on branding, committing the basic marketing error on its website of listing its different brand umbrellas (‘Champion’, ‘Town Tavern’, ‘Traditional’ etc.) while offering no definitions of same. One of the brand umbrellas is “Hog’s Head”, and here we come to an example of rebranding which seems asinine even to me.

The “Hog’s Head” pubs used to be called Hogshead pubs, you see, and Laurel Pubs is proud to announce that it is rolling out its ‘new concept’ for them. The new concept being its discovery of the apostrophe, presumably on the grounds that it gives a more ‘traditional’ pub name air to proceedings. Unfortunately hogshead is itself an old, traditional, beer-related word and a perfectly sensible pub name.

What does the rebranding amount to inside the pub? Less ales, according to Pete who knows about these things. In fact, no ales, just a few lagers. I’m no great friend of CAMRA but this does seem a bit much. The other novelty is Pub TV. Not, I stress, TV in a pub.

The concept of Pub TV is simple. People like watching TV in a pub, but if you have the actual TV on in a pub then your punters could see all sorts of horrid and brand-negative things, like people being blown up or G-Unit videos. So the Hog’s Head has a TV which shows its very own channel. What this means in practise is:

– one advert for the Italian Job DVD.
– some old pop videos (nothing after 1988)
– a graphic showing the words “HOG’S HEAD” splitting up and spinning around.

Over the course of a few hours in the pub we had seen the advert and the spinny graphic perhaps 80 times each. The experience was very similar to being stuck at the front of a London bus and having to watch Travel Eyes non-stop but with even less variety. The videos were fine and sparked conversation a little but the obvious thing for the chain to do is buy a Video Jukebox, not waste its money and our time with the illusion of content represented by Pub TV. Although as it stands the Pub TV service is entirely in keeping with the vanity and lack of marketing and financial suss represented by a rebranding which changes only the punctuation.


Do You SeePost a comment • 241 views

Advertorial: the new (2004) edition of LMA Manager is out on the PS2. I LOVE IT. It’s better looking than ever; the new features are exactly what I’d have asked for; the match engine produces something which looks a little bit similar to actual football; and it seems to be even tougher to get it together in the lower leagues, which is all to the good. The level of realism and depth, though still not exactly high (Leeds start ‘7m in the black; players and board alike shrug off transfer offers from Man U), is at least getting to the point where I don’t feel quite so much rockist guilt about never being arsed with Championship Manager. Your reviewer’s summary: NUM NUM.

This month’s tenth planet

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 524 views

This month’s tenth planet found in Kuiper Belt – anyone following the links on the right of the BBC’s story will find many remarkably similar stories in the archives, though my favourite extra planet story is still this one (itself the runner up for best ever BBC space story, second to this and its terrific pub-quiz-busting punchline). Meanwhile, what of Sedna? It has to stand a chance of acceptance – it’s got better planet PR than Quaoar, which stumbled at the first cosmic hurdle by, well, being called Quaoar. Reading these articles I get the feeling most of the astronomers concerned would be quite happy with none of these blobs of rock being called ‘new planets’, but that Pluto has muddied definitions too much. I imagine the words “Bloody Pluto!” ring out when one of these stargazing bods picks up the paper and sees this kind of story (unless it’s their new planet of course, that’s a different matter).

If Pluto was downgraded to not-planet itself it would be a big shock: like many a curious child the names of the planets were one of the first things I ever learned. It’s actually odd to think that there are people still alive who will have clear memories of an extra planet being glommed on to our Solar System in the first place – what did they think? did they care? how long did it take for Pluto to become just part of the rote fact-baggage people carry around.

It’s an interesting question in general I reckon – facts you grew up with that have been proved wrong. I can’t think of any offhand, that may just be because it’s 9 in the morning though.

ELVIS PRESLEY – ‘A Fool Such As I’

Popular5 comments • 2,351 views

#85, 15th May 1959

An enticingly louche guitar line is sabotaged at once by Elvis, whose absurd baritone makes one thing very clear: from now on, he’s playing for laughs. People who nod approvingly at Presley’s record tally of British #1s tend not to mention that we got to him late and that most of them are trifles ‘ in this country at least, ‘what made Elvis great’ has little crossover with ‘what made Elvis money’. But both sets of records made Elvis Elvis – the consummate pop star, equally capable of uncanny wonders and have-a-go follies.

And anyway, this is a fine little record ‘ it’s relaxed, Presley is having fun, the goofy voice works, and when he does flip back to the good old uh-huh style his casual smoulder makes your doubts seem footling. His string of ’59-’62 hits were commercially minded, to be sure, but the eclectic approach also sounds like a man trying things out, fooling around not to fool you but to keep things interesting for himself. Some of the things he was given to try were awful, but that’s another story (or several).