Posts from 22nd July 2004

Jul 04


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Head of Frampton found on bikini

I really really dislike “Year Of The Rat” by Badly Drawn Boy. Just so you know. The perils of the mid-paced rocker: don’t try it kids.

Handy summary of the current file-sharing flap.

What footballers listen to. Bit sneery (it is the only Google result for “indie footballer” though). I’m always intrigued by the little “what’s on in the dressing room” box in the Guardian of a Monday. The way athletes in different sports listen to exactly what you’d expect: proper classic rock for the rugby boys; R&B in the football dressing room, and so on.

“”I rock” is much better than Iraq”

You know those things?

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You know those things? Toys, right, and you have a horse on a pedestal or sometimes a man, and you can push the bottom of the pedestal and it relaxes the wires in the horses legs? And so the horse can dance about? And if you push it right in the horse collapses like its been nobbled with a stun gun? Somewhat creepily? Yes? OK. Do they have a name?

PET SHOP BOYS – “Hey Headmaster”

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There is a type of critical practise which I have decided to call Carmodism (cf). It involves hearing echoes of political events in contemporary pop records and vice versa – divining invisible connections that can, when the intuition is right, cast entirely new lights on pop (and politics).

I am not very good at Carmodic readings of pop. But this song was an instance where I was sure I’d got it right. “Hey Headmaster”, released in the Autumn of 1993 as a B-Side, was clearly – clearly – a cutting sketch of the Major government’s disintegration into impotence and squabbling after Black Wednesday. The well-meaning but ineffectual head of a tradition-choked English public school, “being patient with the boys who fool [him]”, struggling to cope with rebel factions and staff apathy – this seemed the perfect metaphor for the uselessly ‘decent’ John Major. The song (a melancholy jewel, incidentally) ended with a repeated plea – “Hey Headmaster, aren’t you gonna go?”

And then I get the re-issued and well annotated Very and lo and behold, not a mention of John Major from Neil and Chris – it’s about a school, and was written ages before the group even formed, before anyone had heard of the ‘grey man’. But the great thing about Carmodic criticism is that intentionality can be discarded completely – if the divined political reading is strong enough then it can override such fripperies. In other words, I was right and still am. Damn it.

National Geographic

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 265 views

National Geographic have reprinted a series of adventure & exploration classics. The usual suspects are included; Lewis & Clark, Cherry-Garrard, Howard Carter etc.

I’ve read a couple and the original text has been left unaltered, with an introduction clearing up errors and revisionist thinking. Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Pichu in Peru highlights the necessity of this approach. Bingham mistakenly confused Machu Pichu with the Inca stronghold of Vilcabamba and went to the grave believing he had discovered the site of Manco Inca’s exiled stand against the Conquistadors. The introduction adds biographical data and subsequent archaeological evidence to disprove the theory, but justifies the author’s thinking in the context of the times.

Amusingly, a notice on the website says, “Your purchase saves animals”

Songs about or by puppets #3: Barry Grey – “Aqua Marina”

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 841 views

After an exciting half hour of underwater daring do, with the brave Captain Troy Tempest saving the world what would be more stirring than a fine piece of outro music. Well obviously what would be more stirring would be a soppy (and sopping) ballad about a mute bird who moons over said hero. Marina, mysterious woman of the waves, was one of the few Gerry Anderson puppets whose communication was not troubled by shoddy lip syncing, because she never spoke. This obviously made her attractive to the egotistic Captain Troy Tempest, something which makes the ballad even more unbelievable that it might be from his point of view.

Marina, Aqua Marina,
What are these strange
Enchantments that start
Whenever you’re near?

You would imagine that those strange enchantments would be a particularly strong fishy smell, considering her preferred habitat. Actually all the songs in Stingray were rubbish. The opening theme tune included. It may have kicked off with some stirring drums, but we were then promised that “Anything can happen in the next half hour”. I suppose given the liberating special effects of puppets this might have been true: but you could bet you bottom dollar it would be underwater. Submarines are rubbish on land.

Borges in Nepal

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 354 views

I saw  a show of fairly typical Himalayan mountain crafts today, and they didn’t really move me in any way, they were nice, and there was something to be said against aesthiciasing functional objects, but nothing that hasn’t been said before. What wasn’t talked about was three Nepalese prayer blocks stuffed in a far back corner on the second floor, against other noise and bumption.  It was as if the curators intended for those objects to be overlooked.

The blocks were used to imprint prayers on flags, wheels and other meditative objects, and when the prayer block had been worn to the point of illegibility the monks commission an often illiterate carver to make the next set, using the last as an example. So eventually, the explicit words related to explicit practice becomes abstract words (glyphs) related to abstract practice–and this moving away from concreteness is viewed as something that happens to our words (and our selves ?)