Posts from April 2004

Apr 04

JOHNNY PRESTON – “Running Bear”

Popular17 comments • 3,114 views

#98, 17th March 1960

These days dead rock stars leave back catalogues full of convenient foreshadowings and tragic – but marketable – hints. The Big Bopper’s posthumous contribution to the British pop charts, on the other hand, is a jovial rocker about doomed Injun love. Preston plays it straight but not sentimental, and the Bopper’s ‘war-chant’ backing vocals and whoops fill out the Native American gimmick a bit without making “Running Bear” feel entirely like a novelty. In fact it’s a reminder that the category of “novelty” as something separate from “pop” is a fairly recent conception. “Running Bear”, written and recorded by two respectable rockers, is a neat demonstration of the classic record biz approach – release anything and see what works.

If it had been made a few months later in the flush of the teenage death boom, “Running Bear” might have been played for tears (and ended up quite charmless). Instead Preston presents Bear and Little White Dove’s deaths as a matter of fact, window dressing for the record’s floor-friendly jump from verse stalk to chorus swing.

Farewell ‘4 million

Do You SeePost a comment • 393 views

Farewell ‘4 million: That’s how much the Sci Fi channel is spending on an attempt to attract GURLS, sorry, “to target a more mainstream unisex audience”. If a more mainstream unisex audience wanted sci-fi, I rather think it would be on our TVs instead of Footballers Wives. But fie on my cynicism! The main planks of the ‘4m push? A promotion of, say, Buffy and ads on, oh, Capital? Not quite – a push for The Twilight Zone and ads on XFM.


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,279 views

BRANDWATCH: Precious little food-related info in Marketing this week (lots of other stuff though, which will fuel posts elsewhere on FT). Two frozen Princess Dream nuggets stand out though –

– the nationwide launch of fruit drink “Tropical Rhythms” with a tartrazine-crazed Shaggy on its ads. One of the flavours is called “Reggae Medley”.
– the insertion of special microchips into packs of Vitalite which will make them SING in the manner of those rotten birthday cards. If you get a singing pack – the tune is, naturally, “Israelites” – you have won a PRIZE! The chips activate when exposed to light, so if you do win you will be reminded of your good fortune every time you open the fridge.

Fanny Dangle Watch

TMFDPost a comment • 740 views

Fanny Dangle Watch: Panna Ko is currently running at the Nike Town store in central London. CAUTION: link contains large amounts of flash and larger amounts of vicarious ‘streetwise’ copy. By all accounts the game is great to watch and fun to play – a one-on-one street football duel. The winner – not a novel concept this – is the player who scores the most goals. There is a way the game can be won outright, though, by a player nutmegging his opponent.

I’ve been racking my very limited sporting brain to come up with absolute victory conditions in team sports. Football of course may have started out with one – if your enormous team got the ball to the other end of the village it was game over. But in the modern, rules-based era absolute victory has generally been written out of the game. One-on-one games need it, though (are there any one-on-one games that can end in a draw? Ten-pin bowling and bar billiards are the only ones that springs to mind). Panna Ko being a combo of football and 1-on-1 its dual set of rules seems rather odd – you can score lots of goals, but it’s all over if the opponent nutmegs you. It seems unbalanced. In bar billiards you have the risk of losing all your points but even then you can (in theory) claw back.

I blame JK Rowling (a tiny bit anyway). When she sat down to invent a team game her great innovation was to include a move which carries such a huge points bonus that it essentially acts as a victory condition. From a literary point of view it works – it gives Harry P something to do – but it seemed unsettlingly unbalacing when I first read about Quidditch and it still seems so now. Why does either team bother scoring goals? Why don’t they just spend all their time distracting the geezer who has to find the little flying ball?

Viktor Lazlo — ‘Breathless’ (aka PopNose 12)

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 635 views

Having moved to Belgium to study and model, the French femme fatale Sonia Dronier was discovered by Francis Depryck, the producer who had made Plastic Bertrand. She re-invented herself as Viktor Lazlo stepping out of Casablanca. In many ways she resembles Sade: not only does she have the same non-threatening sexuality, she makes lounge/jazzy music seem a good thing. I remember seeing her present the Eurovision Song contest — courtesy of Sandra Kim winning the year before – and I was just enthralled. The 80s hit ‘Breathless’ – a brilliant song that should not only be remixed by Wiley (see comments) but begs for a horrendous muzak version – was written by Sonia Dronier and Philippe Allaert, who went on to form Vaya con Dios. The last thing that was heard of Viktor Lazlo on full CD format is the Sly & Robbie produced Verso, if you find it send me a copy! :-)

Today’s Office Debate

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 387 views

Today’s Office Debate – where did the word “OK” come from? Pausing only to lament the way in which promising office conversations can be ruthlessly squished by Google, we discover two conflicting origin tales – the more widely accepted idea that it comes from a mis-spelling of ‘orl korrect’, and the slightly more romantic story of Andrew Jackson and the Choctaw. I actually prefer the first, ‘humourous misspelling’ story, with its hopeful hints that interweb slang will also endure. Does immortality await plucky little ‘grebt’ and its fellows?

Dirrrty Pop

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 599 views

Dirrrty Pop: Another pop blog, if you like “Talent In A Previous Life” or “Enthusiastic But Mediocre” you should look this one up too. I really should give my links sidebar a good kicking, I should also categorise them a bit more perhaps since there are several different ‘blogospheres’ colliding and a bit of guidance would be no bad thing.

Oh, speaking of the sidebar, a little way down it you can now find a box marked “Recently On Freaky Trigger” which is a chronological update of everything new on any of the FT blogs, including the ones you probably don’t read. This useful thinglet comes c/o Alan and his RSS magic and will soon appear on all the blogs, except Popular.

On the Achievement of No Spoilers

Do You SeePost a comment • 446 views

On the Achievement of No Spoilers: I’m quite pleased with myself that last night, when I finally viewed Kill Bill I, I had not read a SINGLE THING about it more discursive than a billboard. Unfortunately I now suddenly realise this means anything I say abt it you may have read like 1000000000000 times already. So I liked that Uma Thurman does subterranean Clint Eastwood impressions throughout the “Sergio Leone” section: that made me laugh.

(And oddly enough Pam Grier was in the Fresh Prince earlier in the evening…)

Apr 04

ADAM FAITH – “Poor Me”

Popular6 comments • 2,141 views

#97, 10th March 1960

Faith’s second No.1 is a confident redux of his first. Style wins out entirely over content – “Poor Me” poses as a jilted man’s lament but is scored as a modernist celebration, all pops and jabs and rushes and sharp corners. John Barry’s artistry as an arranger has taken a jump since Faith’s previous hit – “Poor Me” spends its 1 minute 44 seconds pushing and niggling at the established edges of pop. A breakout into abstraction is prevented by Barry’s sense of dynamics – the way his dozen ideas dance to the front of the mix and back again makes the record a nervy tour de force of string-driven pop. As for Faith, he takes the opportunity to polish up his range of music-hall shudders – the fun he has with just the two title words is delightful. Despite its brevity, “Poor Me” is a slightly exhausting listen, a curio that’s easier to admire than connect with or love.

“I met my husband through D&D and we are still playing regularly twice a week, some 16 years later.”

TMFDPost a comment • 339 views

“I met my husband through D&D and we are still playing regularly twice a week, some 16 years later.”LJS, Stockport, UK

Clearly a lie. It must be. This is taken from comments on 30 Years of D&D on the BBC site. Less of a lie would be “I am now 33 and have to say that some of the most memorable moments of my life involved 20 sided dice!” — Matthew Harffy, UK. And (surprisingly?) it’s still going on today – stop this sick filth.

Nobody has ever been surprised by my gaming past, which rankles. So to up the ante I have to explain at great length the maps that I drew, the campaigns I had planned, AND THE FACT THAT I STILL HAVE THEM TO THIS DAY. In a green folder, under the shelves. This usually gives the correct response of a lowered head and a gentle shuffling motion. That or pointing and laughing. Which is fine.

But I’ve been thinking – why can’t I bring myself to play this as an adult? I mean I lost interest for a reason, and it wasn’t just social pressure, but surely there would be nothing wrong with getting it together to play this again for the nostalgia? It’s largely seen as socially acceptable to play multiplayer video games as an adult, so why not these more low-tech games? More often than not these role-playing games had the ability to put you in quite imaginative situations.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the ability to realise those imaginative situations was seldom realised. Where a simple dungeon crawl was eyes-wide fun the first 10 times, you start to get blas’ about any encounter, be it 10 puny Kobolds wielding a magic wand, or a blue dragon dressed in a smoking jacket.

In the end it’s a band of friends against the wit of the dungeon master. Now imagine all taking a turn as the DM, take away the geeky pencils and dice, but keep the rather bizarre banter, and what have you left? A PUB CONVERSATION. But better: you are in a pub, you are drinking beer, you are getting drunk. Brilliant.

I think I shall forever be playing “Pub Rules” from now on – the D&D “Levels Beer to Gin” Set.