Posts from 13th April 2004

Apr 04


Do You SeePost a comment • 732 views


Thank you for making me an abuse loving fighter

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 527 views

Much has been made of my flinty personality. Tanya, people say couched in the armour of booze you seem to be a pretty tough cookie. After setting them straight vis a vis the provenance of cookies and the far more preferable biscuit, I admit to their bruise visage that yes, perhaps I could be seen as a self-sufficient, ball-breaking kind of woman. Examples of balls I have broken recently have been propelling Justin Timberlake and The Darkness up the pop charts. But how did I come to be this way.

Well, let us look at two other single minded, tough girls. Look, there is the Betty Spaghetti of pop, Christina Aguilera. And the kiddie pants buying Brummie R&B siren Jamelia. What have these hard honeys got in common. Well they have both recently released records explaining that their strength comes from being hurt. Physically, emotionally by ex-partners and in Christina’s case at least, make-up artists. Indeed it is key to hear exactly how this relationship has made a six million dollar woman out of Aggie:

Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter

Frankly going out with a crap bloke gives you a veritable SHAZAM! of superpowers. Notably though it did not make her any prettier. In comparison Jamelia merely gets a bit stronger because of the million ways her fella hurt her. Perhaps though, with this being her only power, it’s a bit like The Hulk. Certainly she always seems to be bursting out of her clothes. Perhaps Jamelia is strongest of them all.

But no. Of course this is not why I have this tough personality. At least not exactly. No man has ever left me in tears, that is my job. There is a reason most bands take two years to make a record, and that is the time it takes to get over my vicious personal attacks. But I suppose when I realised that I literally could not stand music; well there was the first cut. And as we know, that cut is the deepest. The over 50 million blows that is everyone who ever turns a radio on has made me a touch defensive. So maybe I have been made stronger by the constant lash of tunes on my poor brain. And perhaps it has made me a fighter. But unlike the abuse loving Aguilera and Jamelia, I’m not saying thank you.

Survivors Series 2 finally released on DVD

Do You SeePost a comment • 476 views

Survivors Series 2 finally released on DVD
I really do only pop up on FT’s blogs to mention two things: Survivors and Graham Nelson. This DVD release is presumably quite an (economic) feat by DD Video considering that the BBC never managed to get round to issuing series 2.

Here’s a well written review of the Series 1 DVD written by Graham Nelson.

Speedier Dating.

Pumpkin Publog1 comment • 422 views

Speedier Dating. Want to go speed dating but
a) Put off by the expense
b) Put off by the (really non-existent) stigma that hangs over the whole billy-no-dates deal

Well just go to the nearest pub to a speed dating venue half an hour before the event starts. The place will be full of singletons who too are a touch unsure about signing up to the whole deal drinking steel-your-nerves juice. Only a modicum of charm will be needed to drag these people away from the soul destroying twenty five three minute dates, because everyone wants to say the pulled the normal way. They would rather spend the evening in the Cock And Camel with you than running through their life story for the twentieth time*.

*Cock and Camel, Oxford, chosen for being the home of this observation.

The British love the underdog.

TMFD1 comment • 284 views

The British love the underdog. But the British have long memories. So in the FA Cup final puts the neutral in a difficult situation. It being the battle between Man Utd (no-one likes them except their couple of million supporters, they don’t care) and Millwall (really no-one likes them, and they really don’t care). Millwall’s status as the bad boys of football has caused them much more trouble than it is worth. No team has gone further in the last few years to try and get rid of the unsavoury element of the fans than Theo, Millwall’s greek owner. It is easier to get a ticket to Glastonbury than get a season ticket at Millwall, not because they are sold out but you need to show passports, give a DNA sample and undergo an anti-racist polygraph.

Problem is, if you are famous for something, you end up being vaguely proud of it. In football it often is better to be infamous than just another mid-table plodder. Which is potentially why the so ironic it hurts appointment of Dennis Wise seemed to be a nail in their coffin. A player known to be dirty, volatile with a criminal record. And it has worked, because Dennis has suggested to the team and fans than Millwall could be known for something else as violence. Being actual contenders.

On the train up to Manchester last week I shared a carriage with Millwall fans travelling to the semi. There was a pride in that carriage that they had reached this stage, and a resigned understanding that there were only two trains to Manchester that weekend partially because Millwall were playing. The carriage started jolly with a chorus of ‘Super Dennis Wise’, when the final member of the party turned up, a largish tattooed fiftyish fella who looked exactly what you imagined a Millwall fan to look like. ‘You took your fucking time’, a wag shouted at him.
‘Easy,’ he replied. ‘None of that language, there are kiddies on the train.’
And the three hours passed with much boisterous boozing, but not a single swear word.

Everyone hates them, they don’t care. I think they care quite a lot, and I for one don’t hate them. Hate I reserve for Brentford.

The rule of the comic horror movie is simple.

Do You SeePost a comment • 297 views

The rule of the comic horror movie is simple. The monster is not funny. This is what An American Werewolf In London and Shaun Of The Dead understand. The remarkable thing about Shaun Of The Dead is it understands this whilst co-opting one of the funniest monsters, zombies. Slow, weak, easy to outrun, not even that hard to kill, George Romero’s zombies are pretty lame villains. They are funny themselves, without ever undermining their true nature. To take the piss out of vampires, the vampires have to step out of character.

What Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg saw in the original Dawn Of The Dead was possibly not what was intended. The zombies are, generally, spectacularly useless. Compared to the new retooled Dawn with the snarling, running zombies and you wondered why anyone would ever get a sleepless night. Except these slow, brainless, shuffling zombies are us after death, the uselessness of the human condition made flesh. As Shaun Of The Dead imagines it, there is not an awful lot of difference between a zombie and a very pissed person. Except one is after human innards and the other pork scratchings. There is something admirable about the power of the zombies in the new Dawn Of The Dead’s, much like vampires they seem like souped up, if evil, humans. There is nothing attractive about the zombies in the old Dawn.

So Shaun Of The Dead sets up its situation (and this is nothing if not an expert situation comedy) and runs with it. The situation is the oldest in the romantic comedy book, our hero has been dumped by his girlfriend and needs to prove to her he is worthwhile. The zombies could be irrelevant and we would still be in a film significantly more convincing than anything Richard Curtis has tossed out in the last ten years. If there was one thing that Spaced did well, it was capture the minutiae of a slack generation. The film opens this out a touch, but it gets the shared house hell, the 29 year old panic and the potential salvation in disaster. The comedy is in the characters, not the situation. As, surprisingly, is the emotion.

Profoundest apologies for the Easter shutdown

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 286 views

Profoundest apologies for the Easter shutdown – nothing to do with religion, everything to do with leaving my job, the attendant hangover, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually get the flat tidied up. I’ve also had the pedantic joy of transferring and re-categorising 5000 or so MP3s that were saved from the wreck of my ex-employer’s laptop. Who knew I had so many Spandau Ballet files? Not me!

I did find the time to watch Channel 4’s Battle Of The Boybands, a documentary tracing the rise of ‘male harmony vocal groups’ basically from the New Kids onwards. Ian McKellen, no less, was on hand to narrate – surely for love not money – and while current boybanders were represented only by Busted a fair few old lags were on hand with memories and cautionary tales. It was a frothy, cynical, pleasant 100 minutes. The tough question of what a boyband is precisely was asked and then ducked early on, though everyone agreed that the Beatles certainly weren’t.* Similarly, everyone agreed that boybands weren’t about the music, though a common thread was how good some of the records were. (Chris Cowan, ex-Top Of The Pops producer, played the hardline rockist throughout – “At least the Monkees pretended to play an instrument” etc – but the mask slipped when he eagerly praised Five’s music!**).

Seeing as they’d got Busted on to speak, not talking about them was a missed opportunity. Of course they’re ‘not a boyband’, blah blah – actually they ARE a boyband, they’re the successful implementation of something the record companies have seemingly been trying for ages (usually with girls it seems) – bringing guitars and hence ‘rock’ back into the teen-pop set up. The problem of course is that boys who play rock somewhat inconveniently like rock too and hence want to make 10th-generation grunge – with Busted part of the appeal is the tension between their ear for a hook and their disdain for what might come of it. The consumer upshot is wretched singles like “Who’s David” in between the good ones. Not that Busted’s chief rivals, Blue, are any better – also absent from the documentary by the way, except in video clips of Lee pulling his keks down – as trotting out Elton John and poor old Stevie Wonder for guest appearances is surely the direct equivalent of Busted’s fruitless quest for the proper rock song.

When the C4 programme repeats, have a look at it, particularly for Louis Walsh’s rage at the rivals who slagged off Westlife and his (conscious?) Kevin Keegan moment – “I would love it – just love it – if they beat the Beatles’ record for No.1s”.

*Are the Beatles a boyband? Probably not, but only because the idea of the ‘boyband’ as a separate entity from the rest of pop wasn’t current when they (or the Monkees, who did feature briefly in the docu) were around. In the early 60s the whole of pop was a boyband or girl group – pretty people singing goofy or gloopy songs to screaming teenagers is a norm for pop music, it’s not some terrible modern aberration.

** The documentary inspired me to dig out Five’s Greatest Hits, a charming record and – the whopping mis-step of “We Will Rock You” aside – solidly fine throughout. Their attempts to ‘do’ hip-hop should by rights be horribly embarrassing but never are, possibly because there’s no hint that they’re trying to be streetwise at the same time: they would gamely turn their mad mic skillz to raps about Inspector Gadget. Finest moment: “Closer To Me”, the great farewell ballad in an East 17 style, not a dry eye/seat in the house.

Who the hell queues?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 356 views

Who the hell queues?

Good food in comfort trumps ‘happening scene’ any day for me, though I’m not actually inverse-snob allergic to the latter: trendiness happens, and instant abreaction is as much a prison as kneejerk attraction


I cannot imagine joining a LINE for somewhere soi-disant classy (though I am of course quite happy to put up with it for somewhere generic!)

We were all happily tired ‘ Dr Vick’s brother had been giving a lecture on the Mores of Anatomical Dissection in 18th-Century Amsterdam (here), and afterwards the nearly-complete Royal Tenebaums set went shopping and criticizing ‘ so Thai sounded a good idea (translation: caused least sibling dissent) but there were like 30 ppl standing outside ALREADY (7 o’clock) and it was COLD! (We went to the Moroccan place next door to Mamma Mia in Old Compton Street)