Posts from 5th May 2004

5
May 04

I have discovered the MOST DIFFICULT PROBLEM EVAH

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,065 views

I have discovered the MOST DIFFICULT PROBLEM EVAH: where will Thom and I have our post-marriage dinner pah-ty?!? The problem isn’t seating a gazillion guests – we’ve decided to only invite family and a few very close friends – but the fact every guest has his/her own specific taste which doesn’t match the other’s palate. My parents basically only like Japanese cuisine. Thom’s parents like *traditional Belgian food*. Thom and I would love to have Indian food but the rest of the family and friends don’t want to run for the loo after a soopah spicy curry. WHAT TO DO!!!!????!!!

PUB QUIZ QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 807 views

PUB QUIZ QUESTION OF THE WEEK

(From the super hard Haringey Arms quiz last night)

What three tube stations have all five vowels in their names?

Fears that football films will glamourise hooliganism

Do You SeePost a comment • 604 views

Fears that football films will glamourise hooliganism. Do films automatically glamourise their subjects. Hmm, methinks knee-jerk reporting here. And in the comments section please a list of things which have never been glamourised by film. Michael Winner springs to mind straight away.

(Welcome to Football day here on Do You See by the way.)

Is this football’s worst nightmare. Possibly British footballs worst nightmare.

TMFDPost a comment • 460 views

Is this football’s worst nightmare. Possibly British footballs worst nightmare. Two football hooliganism films coming out before Euro 2004. Of course all involved will stress that the films do not glamourise hooliganism and the timing is a coincidence. Certainly the Football Factory’s release date of a week before Millwall star in an unlikely FA Cup final is publicity it could not have dreamt of. But looking at a previous hooliganism film I.D. the idea of it as a call to arms seems unlikely.

Instead let us look at the films a little bit closer. The Yank is the easiest one to discard. The idea of a disillusioned US college student getting embroiled with a West Ham mob already stinks of cliche. Put Elijah Wood in it and you have some strange sort of hybrid movie, The Littlest Thuggo or something. And luckily looking down the cast list we have further guarantee of rubbishness – Claire Forlani.

The Football Factory seems an altogether more credible affair, music by The Streets, based on a best-selling book, good looking young cast (no Sean Pertwee in sight). Aiming for credibility is a good thing for a lack of success however. It may end up too violent, too bone crunching and the leads become fantastically unattractive. Which is a recipe for a potentially good film, but a box office flop. But really, releasing it a week before that FA Cup is a bit unkind to Millwall.

Thinking about Dave Clarke vs Jive Bunny

FT + New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 740 views

Thinking about Dave Clarke vs Jive Bunny (see below) gets me thinking about DJing and ‘art’. Clarke implicitly puts what he does on a higher aesthetic level than 2ManyDJs (and Jive Bunny obviously) – he doesn’t say why; it may be those acts’ populism, it may be that they have worse source material or mix it less competently, or a blend of those things. I suppose the fundamental thing that interests me is populism. Can a live DJ set be considered ‘good’ if most of its potential audience don’t enjoy it? Applying the same question to a CD by Dave or Jive would be a non-starter – collective response is beaten out by individual response; if I get something out of “Red 3” or “That’s What I Like” it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. A relationship with a released artefact is generally one-on-one and evaluations of the artefact work on that basis. But a live set that only one person goes mad for is surely an aesthetic failure. I have a feeling Dave Clarke would disagree – but I can’t see any way to judge DJing other than on performance.

I’ve never liked Will Buckley’s pieces in the Observer

TMFDPost a comment • 400 views

I’ve never liked Will Buckley’s pieces in the Observer, and until today had put it down to his schoolboyish byline photo rather than anything concrete in his writing or attitudes. Surely my dislike was down to envy of his twinkly-eyed pertness. But the front of G2 today shows a grizzled man on the threshold of middle-age, weighed down by doing a job he hates, viz. football writing. I expected the piece to be a familiar list of gripes: the game ruined by money, boring boring Premiership, bad boy players, wherefore the Corinthian ideal etc. All quite sympathetic but hardly fresh. But Buckley’s problem runs deeper: he has woken up and decided that the state of the game is not the issue, it’s that the game itself is childish and trivial, fans are bores, and the whole thing is a nonsense one should basically grow out of.

As someone who grew into football I’m not convinced. Mainly I’m not convinced by Buckley’s rant about people who live for football, and their team. As a perpetual neutral you’d think this would be the one thing that strikes a chord, but no. The fact is that Will’s Arsenal-obsessive mate and his ilk simply do not target innocent non-fans with their stats’n’banter. I worked for two years with a keen Rushden And Diamonds fan and never once got an unsolicited football opinion out of him. I had been identified as not interested, the matter rested and we got on very well. Will Buckley is a target for these people because he is a sports writer – his business is having opinions so people expect him to have them when they ask. It’s a bit of a chore I’m sure but it comes with the territory – it’s like a pop journo writing a piece saying “You know what – I hate being a music writer, because idiots keep thinking you’ll care about the crap CDs they send you”.

So is the G2 essay Buckley’s farewell to the world of football writing? Hardly. It turns out in the final paragraphs that it’s a plug – a very, very blatant plug – for his new book, a novel called, um, The Man Who Hated Football. Cheeky, no? My sense of resentment at the article at this point turned into a full-blown feeling of having been swindled.

The backlash begins? Too Many DJs Snub

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 339 views

The backlash begins? Too Many DJs Snub 2 Many DJs: “I often have 2ManyDjs enforced on me by women on tour buses. It’s f*cking Jive Bunny that’s done in such a trendy type of way it suits Post Menstrual Stress.” Dave Clarke (via Pulp Issue 41 and Tranzfusion)

Language and the brain

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 845 views

Language and the brain

There are a bunch of conditions that affect how the brain handles language. The ones that are reasonably well understood relate to damage to specific parts of the brain or are genetic in origin, but there are others where we don’t know the cause. They all suggest interesting and complex things about the way our brains process language.

Category 1, the well known ones resulting from small areas becoming damaged in the brain, include Wernicke’s aphasia where the sufferer speaks apparently fluent gibberish, and Broca’s aphasia where speech is stumbling (because the damaged brain area helps control the speech organs) and rather agrammatical, but remains pretty comprehensible.

Genetically determined conditions include Specific Language Impairment where the grammatical rules are not learnt at all, so sufferers have no clue what the present participle of ‘take’ might be and are as likely to guess at ‘takement’ or ‘takesh’ as ‘taking’ – all cases have to be memorised individually. They also struggle with fitting the right version of words in sentences, frequently using plural and singular wrongly. Williams Syndrome sufferers go the other way, and have great difficulty learning that the past tense of ‘I take’ is not ‘I taked’, and they also struggle to find the exact word, using ‘wolf’ when they should say ‘dog’ and so on.

But there are all sorts of odd ones that, as far as I know, are not at all well understood. Bilingual people have been known to lose one language but retain the other, which sound comprehensible enough, but then they flip and only the other is available to them, then back again. Some have lost the understanding of verbs but not nouns – even when they are the same word. Some can read but not write, or write but not read even what they have written. One man suffered the loss of the odd but very limited set of words for fruit and vegetables.

I find all this dizzying, every case suggesting some new way that language might work in the brain, some added complexity to how language is constructed and understood – and maybe casts more doubt on Chomsky’s belief in a Universal Grammar hardwired into all human brains: surely these imply a greater degree of variation and complexity than that requires?

I wz sat next to the designer (a very old friend)

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 195 views

I wz sat next to the designer (a very old friend) and behind the adaptor-translator, who i had just that evening met and liked, so my response to the African-politics reading of Mother Courage at the Hackney Empire is far more tied into friendships than cold hard observation. That sounds like damning w.faint praise of course: actually I really enjoyed it, and admired the ambition of it, even if too much was inaudible from where i wz sitting, and – as the designer quickly pointed out – the players were tired after a six-month run and coasting on easy gags, esp. in the first half. The crude jokes (abt condoms, macdonalds, man u.) got laughs – but sometimes they sounded a bit lazy (against an imagined background of way-better crafted humour readily available for us on TV etc) where they should have come back at us, even as we laughed, as shrill (against an imagined background of endless life-is-cheap panic). The extra inner loop that didn’t always fire was the one which insists: ok yr sneering but this is what YOU TOO would find say and find funny in this situation, and if you flinch at that, that’s bz a tumble into surgeon’s/mortician’s humour is what bullets and shells and bombs do to all the people involved that they AREN’T hitting. It’s interesting that the hardest thing to keep alive and vivid on-stage is the acute terror and uncertainty of life in a warzone: why is THIS the aspect audiences are most blas’ about, the aspect which gets reabsorbed and covered up quickest? Bcz we’re so distant from war, and naive – or bcz we’re so surrounded by it, and jaded?

Anyway the other thing to note is that the refurbished Empire – opulent pastiche Regency built abt 100 years ago by Frank Matcham – is a ridiculously lovely place to be in for an evening, so don’t be put off by the theatre-types doing the breathless promo: they’re right…

FOOTBALL + KUNG FU = SURE FIRE HIT

Do You SeePost a comment • 654 views

FOOTBALL + KUNG FU = SURE FIRE HIT

I think we can all agree that this equation balances. But FOOTBALL + RIDICULOUS CGI(KUNG FU) = LESS OF A SURE FIRE HIT seems to be the rationale behind whomever has the distribution rights to Shaolin Soccer in the UK. It came out in Japan in 2002, and has only just poked its head out in the US. And they do not even like football there. Shaolin Soccer is a gem of a movie, that trancends its inital beezer concept to throw in a dishwasher full of other fun ideas. Annoyed by the way the leading lady always looks great, well have one with appalling skin. Want a musical number or two, why the hell not. Want to point out that the team Shaolin FC have to beat are the bad guys, well just call the Team Evil.

So FOOTBALL + RIDICULOUS CGI(KUNG FU) + SIGHT GAGS(NOSE PICKING + MUSICAL NUMBERS) = BEST MOVIE EVAH.

Okay this equation might not balance but as you walk out to the strains of the Bus Stop (featuring Carl Douglas) version of Kung Fu Fighting, you start to believe it.