Posts from June 2004

30
Jun 04

Where does the cheese go?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 454 views

Where does the cheese go? I made myself some leek and cheese sauce for pasta last night and forgot rule one of making anything from scratch. TASTE IT YOU FOOL. The leeks were nicely sweated in the butter whilst I grated away at some nice strong cheddar to make the sauce out of. I used the finest grating for ease of melting but forgot that of course this would also increase the amount of air. So after a bit of effort I had a big pile of cheese on my plate, to go with the knob of butter, flour and a touch of mustard powder (for kick). Slop the milk in, and slowly simmeringly stir my piles in.

RESULT: No lumps and nicely thickened. I was very pleased with this, so much so that I did not taste it.

RESULT: A milky, leeky sauce.

Of course this was remedies by grating more cheese on top, but nevertheless there is a lesson to be learned here and no mistake.

FT Top 100 Films 73: HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE

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FT Top 100 Films
73: HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE

The worst How To… guide ever. It should rather be called “How To Marry For Love Whilst Actually Professing That All You Really Want Is Money”. Monroe, Bacall and Betty Grable are the stars lined up to save the movie industry – whilst supposedly gold digging. They were gold digging, but for box office. The film invents a the chick flick, making a bid for Hollywood’s most loyal audience to come back from the goggle box. So you get three lovely ladies in a light as fluff screwball comedy in CinemaScope.

Cinemascope was a gamble. It was bloody expensicve to install and worked on the premise that what the big screen had going for it was its bigness. Problem with Cinemascope is that you can only look one place at once. Sure you get surround visuals, sure you are “in the picture” but the action still takes place slap bang in front of you. It is next to impossible to view HTMAM on TV because of this, it being the first CinemaScope film made it spends a lot of time shifting the action around on its huge canvas. TV pans and scans it to death, background trailing like a poorly animated cartoon. But it is best understood as the key armament in films new war with television. Cinema had the STARS, the SPACE and the SENSE OF OCCASION*.

So it is strange that the film is now best understood in terms of television. This is the New York tale of three man and money hungry gold diggers with names out of a Marx Brothers movie: (Loco Dempsey, Pola Debevoise and Schatze Page). Add one more and you have Sex In The City. Especially if you line up Betty Grable, a good ten years older than her co-stars, as Samantha. And it has much the same conclusions as Sex In the City too. So was it any surprise when cinemas enemy television decided to make a TV version of How To Marry A Millionaire as a sitcom five years later starring Barbara Eden. CinemaScope is not around anymore, television is, and the Sex In The City happens generally on the box.

*Sense of occasion in this case meant a five minute orchestral introduction which is universally reviled.

Bits of business

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 326 views

Bits of business: HELLO AGAIN I am back from Glastonbury. Who was best? Basement Jaxx were best, them and Daara J from Senegal.

The track currently on Radio 1 (Kasabian?) is baggy! I have heard this mob described as “Kraftwerk meets Oasis”, actually they are Campag Velocet meets The Soup Dragons – indie dance is so coming back. I’m rather enjoying this, oh dear.

Streets album at #1 again thanks to “Dry Your Eyes” thanks to the football, my Cassandra-like marketing skillZoR proved sadly right, XfM (damn them) were playing some of the commentary “highlights” mixed in apparently…

I am DJing tonight at the Chapel Bar in Islington for the Freaky Trigger Glastonbury Reunion night, a great evening will be had by those brave few who turn up, particularly if they were at the festival and know all the tracks I’m going to be playing anyway.

Speaking of which I’m finally getting into this 2004 singles thing, the office is loving “Some Girls” and I take back my catty comments re. the verses (except maybe “My baby drives a car – HEY!” which is the moment when the Dorothy of yr mind suddenly notices the shabby bearded man behind the shimmering pop curtain).

If you asked to be in the Freaky Trigger Pop Panel (and I’m still not more inspired as to a name) then you should have received an email from me. Shout at me if you haven’t.

I saw a juggler at Glastonbury.

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 361 views

I saw a juggler at Glastonbury. He was standing on a bicycle on a big pole, maybe 10 metres up, juggling a flaming torch and a club and I think a toffee apple. He looked like an ordinary sort of fellow, he said he’d been doing this since he was 12 but he didn’t look like a man whose main occupation was juggling. There was no mystique to the performance; his patter a mix of well-practised (but still perhaps not entirely faked) nerves, chit-chat and oiling up to the crowd. The actual juggling was as brief as the danger required, a quick burst of skill and then he climed down, profusely thankful. It was impressive, likeable, but the lack of pretension also showed up the lack of point – why do people do it?

It’s that basic bafflement that I’m sure lies behind the shorthand disdain for juggling and other feats of circus skill you find in rants like k-punk‘s. Juggling is one of those things which nobody will really contest if you take the piss out of – like pan pipes in music (which I also find quite pleasant). Why the blanket disdain? There’s the very rational urbanite’s distaste for street performers blocking off great chunks of road as they draw the gawpers. (But that makes no sense in a festival context). However juggling, fire-eating and suchlike are difficult to do and can be spectacular: they are also physical technologies that involve a re-imagining of one’s body and a grafting onto it of extensions – weren’t jugglers medeival posthumans, ur-cyborgs whose reflexes aspire to machine regularity?

Ahem. Anyway what I liked about seeing the one at Glastonbury was how quickly it happened – I saw a crowd, wandered over, heard enough to establish the parameters of the feat, saw it happen, wandered off to something else. The special flavour of Glastonbury comes from the combination of hippie languor (perry, ale, fields, sunshine, mild arcadian drugs) and an ultra-modern concentration of stimulus (so many people, so many things happening, so many freaks, something new every 2 minutes).* Very little indeed of that combination comes over in the music played on the big stages, which is why – sorry K-Punk – you really do have to actually go.

*(In the last issue of WORD there was an article on the festivals of the 70s which made the point that the key component of going to one was how little you actually did – waiting, waiting, waiting in front of a stage getting stoned or hammered with very little else going on. This seems hugely far away from the instant-city vibe of modern Glastonbury, and not in a good way.)

29
Jun 04

FT Top 100 Films 74: Final Destination 2

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FT Top 100 Films
74: Final Destination 2

Magnus Anderson says

You’ve seen this film, even if you think you haven’t. Its every fearful build-up, every sudden jump-out-of-your seat moment there’s ever been, from slasher flicks to public information films. And that’s all. Think The Towering Inferno. Think the first ten minutes of Casualty.

It’s pathetically simple as well. A dozen or so people learn that they are destined to die – not for any particular reason, just because fate thinks it’s a good idea – and then, by any means to hand, they do. Suddenly every rusty blade, every loose wire, every swerving car, is a threat, and more ominous still, every solemn look or ominous symbol is a deadly portent. I told a friend I dragged along that it would be about as frightening as Jurrasic Park, but I was so wrong. We spent two hours cowering behind our hands.

In shedding the horror mechanics that even its predecessor bore – the hand of fate was corporeal in that one, gliding water around to cause electric shocks and so on – it represents a purity in the horror, or rather shock, genre that I’ve not seen bettered. Perhaps there’s room to say something profound – that it’s a post-Omen superstition thesis for the secular generation – but the truth is that it can hardly be said to have captured a zeitgeist. The film knows its job and succeeds through accomplished execution rather than ambition. And it was the most fun I had had in a cinema for months.

Alan Trewartha says:

The modern (ahem) high concept teen slashers we’ve had since Scream (1996) often revolve around a whodunnit twist. Every phoney plot device is thrown at you to distract you from the final reveal. But does it matter? Choose a character. Right they’re the killer – circumstances can always be explained ad hoc to fit such a resolution, and no choice is ever any cleverer or memorable than any other. FD sidesteps such mundane matters brilliantly by not only telling you up front who the killer is, but also that the killer isn’t even a member of the cast. When you watch these films you don’t care whodunnit, but you are stealing yourself to see (and cringe from) how they did do it.

With a sequel of course you don’t even have to spend act one getting the order of things established – the concept is already sky-high, ballistic and waiting to land. So we can just sit back and watch whining teens (well 20-somethings) getting dispatched as imaginatively as possible. But the contrast to Omen 2’s po-faced parade of bizarre and arbitrary deaths couldn’t be more exact. The writers of FD tease us with great comic timing, using every ounce of the Casualty-prologue inevitability they set up, playing us against our expectations (the scene in the dentists is excruciating for all the wrong reasons), then delivering one final outrageous spectacle. Indeed the entire film itself ends on one final gunshot of a punchline.

Funny and scary are hard to pull off at the same time – they undermine one another too well – and the visceral joy of jumping from one to the other in the same breath is rare.

Getting back from Glastonbury is a tiring ordeal.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 338 views

Getting back from Glastonbury is a tiring ordeal. When you roll in you are torn when it comes to food. You have been eating out of vans for the last five days, you want home cooking. But you also, unsurprisingly, have no shopping in. So its off to the store cupboard to see what can be whizzed up. The rice was toyed with but I hate making a risotto without wine and the only fresh veg I had was an onion (and some garlic). But there was a tin of tomatoes, and some lentils and…

Half A Cup Of Lentils
Tin Of Tomatoes
Onion
Garlic
A few dried chilli’s
Olive Oil
Butter
Much seasoning.

Rinse the lentils, then boil in plenty of water for fifteen minutes. Fry the onion and garlic for about seven minutes and then add the chilli for another minute. Drain the lentils, reserve a few to eat with butter while the rest cooks and dump them into the onions and add the tomatoes. Season like a bastard and simmer for ten minutes. Serve with a big dollop of butter in the middle and plenty of fresh black pepper.

You could chop up some leftover meat into this: I was going to add some chorizo if it was lacklustre in taste, but it was anything but. I guess I was aiming at something dhally, but got something more middle eastern. I have invented my ideal post pub food. Thank you my store cupboard.

Philosophy Football

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Philosophy Football – a Euro 2004 sports blog with some of the music/cult-theory blogzone’s prominent members as contributors. Only 3 games to go but you can read back over their previous posts – and maybe they’ll keep it going for the new season…

Just back from Glastonbury and feeling the after-effects, my brain is extremely sluggish. Reports on watching the Euros on a Greek island to follow…

28
Jun 04

I’m no great fan of Football 365

TMFDPost a comment • 334 views

I’m no great fan of Football 365: they so often seem to take the easy, laddish option. Nevertheless, I’ve been impressed with the recent series on their Mediawatch page. They’ve spotted a commentary meme, the classic “…for a big man.”

So they’re building a picture of implications about big men (scroll down to the second item). It’s a vital public service, and I’m sure their defence of the big man is nothing to do with the 365 empire being tied up with pro large chap Danny Kelly, who seems like a decent enough fellow… for a big Spurs fan.

But by now it was taking some doing not to notice a qualitative difference between the teams

TMFDPost a comment • 284 views

But by now it was taking some doing not to notice a qualitative difference between the teams

Sonic Youth-Tunic

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Sonic Youth-Tunic

i’m writing this story about anorexics for the local daily, and have been listening to this song as a way towards thearpy, except its not really working…see the thing is that all of what i believe about anorexia is in this song, and also things im not quite sure of. The idea of it being about control is here, in how kim gordan (playing karen carpenter) has to move her voice into and out of the guitar scrawl…and how she isnt nesc. loud enough. Or about how the world wants women to be smaller, because smaller is easier to control, easier to leave behind—and how that you lose her voice in this, how the guitar is considered so phallic, and how it presents in a really agressive fashion, with an agressiveness that is abusive towards the female voice. Then there is the idea of a perfect world, wanting to please family, wanting to be happy, and only being happy when you lose that last ten pounds–but the irony there, the irony that the only way to mantain that happiness is to do so in heaven–the idea of the afterlife as perfect jam session (cf Dolly Partons Hillybilly Heaven). The last closeness is the obession with food, the liturgical naming of Carpenters actual food. The problem with the track is how happy some of it is, how freeing–around the 4 minute mark there being a fuck you to Richard, about how she has to go because of a gig–a gig away from the boys, away from fame, a self directed happy just being us girls, taking over the reigns, noisy, messy, guitary gig that collpases the rest of the song into almost farce.

(note: where are the pop songs about this sort of thing, where are the carp;enmter songs about love being a withering wasting–did the girl groups even do it ?)