Posts from 3rd August 2004

3
Aug 04

PRESENTERATOR

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,768 views

PRESENTERATOR

an occasional series rating the modern British television presenting animal out of 10

#2: “The Curious Case Of” SUZI PERRY

Suzi Perry, for the unfamiliar, is first and foremost the presenter of the Moto GP (i.e. big fuck-off bikes ridden by tiny wee men) races on BBC 2. In that guise, she’s a woman in love with her job, a cheery, knowledgeable presence with a delightful Wolverhampton accent, a knack for getting good interviews out of the riders, and fine relationship with the rather wonderful commentary team of Charlie Cox & Steve Parrish.

However, Suzi’s got a problem. She’s not very good at working off a script. This is most painfully evident in her advert for Freeview that occasionally gets screened in the daytime. Suzi is sat on a sofa in a room, watching television. Then, very slowly – “Do you ever wish you had more choice on your television? Well, now there are six new BBC channels…” She carries on very slowly explaining, then very slowly walks over to the television and very slowly explains that it’s available on cable, satellite, and now also on Freeview (the process feels like it’s taken half an hour by now). Then she very slowly explains that Freeview is a one off payment with no contract and you get a small box that you plug in. Then she plugs in the small box. The whole thing is done in the manner of something designed to reassure Daily Mail readers that Freeview is not going to make their teenage daughters pregnant on illegal Eastern European nude swearing drugs. It is agonising. She then used to do a voiceover explaining what the six new channels are again, but the BBC presumably realised what a monster it was begetting and got someone who sounds like the boring, monotonous priest out of the Christmas special of Father Ted to do it instead.

And this is the thing – Suzi Perry is on quite a lot of television programmes now, and never seems quite sure why. She always looks cheerful and comes across as being entirely likeable, but talks like a particularly nervy and stilted GCSE German listening exam, as though all she wants is to be back in the pits in Assen asking Norick Abe about his levels of grip. It can get very nerve wracking watching her muddle through these links that you’re not sure she really has any clue about. You end up feeling sorry for her, which isn’t quite the purpose of an introduction to an item about some bald bloke dropping a Mac G5 off a balcony. 7/10 for Moto GP, 5/10 otherwise.

SABALON GLITZ

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SABALON GLITZ
Ufonic

Or, whatever happened to that one guy that was supposedly going to be famous, 1341541564th in a series.

For the first time, I’m getting around to listening to the (I think) one album by Chicago group Sabalon Glitz from back in the early nineties. And I recalled the little spat that resulted in Thomas Frank’s story here and Brian Doherty’s followup about band guy Chris Holmes (not the WASP dude) and his sins and successes and how it all seemed vaguely important if you cared much about it all.

I admit, I didn’t. Just seemed sorta dorky, though I’ve got the Yum-Yum album around somewhere. And this is the most recent thing I know about Holmes:

The prolific University of Chicago grad Chris Holmes has been a member of many bands including Sabalon Glitz (space-rock), Ashtar Command (techno), Yum-Yum (orchestral pop) and the Smashing Pumpkins (rock). Multi-instrumentalist Holmes owns an impressive collection of keyboards, musical gadgets, and old instruments (including the Mellotron that was used in the BBC’s old “Dr. Who” television series). Holmes also wrote the original songs for the indie feature ?7 Songs? which screened at the Method Fest in 2003.

I suspect he should just go ahead and change his name to Sonic Doom now or something, since the Sabalon Glitz album has enough of a Spacemen 3 vibe to it already. But hey, I’ve heard worse.

THE EVERLY BROTHERS – “Temptation”

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#121, 22nd July 1961

Another tense, riddling song – everything in the tune is pitching and yawing, rising and falling, the brothers howling and sea-tossed in the middle of it, spun around by a whirlpool whose name is woman. “Give me your heart, I’m your slave! I’m your slave!” – the temptation is clearly strong and obviously fearful. You can guess why it’s irresistible easily enough; the song’s strength is in refusing to explain the dread temptation brings. Though you might feel it, and remember for yourself, and shudder.

FT Top 100 Films 50: ANNIE HALL

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FT Top 100 Films
50: ANNIE HALL

I love Annie Hall. There you go, not much more for me to say on that subject really. It completely invented a type of romantic comedy, and laid the template for the standard Woody Allen film that he would flop back to when his experiments went too wild. Striaght to camera narration, snappy one liners and the kooky girl (Diane Keaton). Its all there.

Except for the animated sequence. I remember the first time I saw the film in the cinema my jaw dropping at the ineptitude of the animation. I have the script to Annie Hall where it clearly states that the sequence should be a Disney interlude. Yowsa – Walt would be turning in his grave to take a look at this. It is about one hundred times worse that the worst animation in a Disney film*. My teeth still grit when I see it now, and oddly is a reason I have often cited why Annie Hall never quite makes the cut for me. If I make the cut in Annie Hall, I can get back to loving it.

Anyway: here is a quick list of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall remakes, and the twist, perhaps it is worth seeing them as a season to try and build the uber-Annie Hall.

(Proto Annie Hall’s : Sleeper/ Love and Death for the relationship with Keaton.
Play It Again Sam for the romance).
Annie Hall – the classic model
Manhattan – Posh Annie Hall, in black and white and everything.
Hannah And Her Sisters – Annie Hall all growed up
Bullets Over Broadway – Annie Hall with gangsters
Manhattan Murder Mystery – Annie Hall with its origianl plot (true – and fun to boot)
Mighty Aphrodite – Annie Hall with the other woman
Celebrity – A grumpy Annie Hall post divorce
Anything Else – Annie Hall for the kids, and a grumpy get on the side.

So that’s a good sixteen hours of Annie Hall action. And only one of them has a really crappy animated bit in it. Bah!

*Pete’s Dragon.

map that proves that london is donut-shaped

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map that proves that london is donut-shaped

it is simple:
i. the City of Westminster cannot be part of the city of london by logic IT IS THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER WITH A COMPLETELY DIFFT NAME!!
ii. City of London – called ‘City’ on official map further up for reasons of tinyness – is inside London yes, which is a city yes, but the former must clearly be DISTINCT from the latter or it wd not need to be named CITY OF LONDON!!!
iii. hence we have (at least) three distinct entities, the city of London, the City of Westminster, and City of London QED

(to come: why the thames marks the southern boundary of the world’s grebtest capital; redbridge wtf; oxford: it’s on the fkn tube isn’t it?)

Return to Treasure Island

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 324 views

Return to Treasure Island

[See also here, here, here and here]

In Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates Harry Ritchie remarks, a propos the legends of Kidd’s lost treasure, ?the idea of burying loot on a tropical island would have struck [the men who turned to piracy] as insane?. Oh dear – game over for Mr Stevenson? Ritchie makes some sensible remarks on the likely fate of Kidd’s treasure, and also points out the possible tactical advantages of an alleged secret treasure stash to any pirate facing down various legal squabbles in the colonies prior to being shipped back to England for show-trial and a gibbet at Execution Dock.

While Marcus Rediker has shown that there were good incentives for sailors to turn pirate when given the chance, since the rewards were certainly much greater than in the merchant marine, or even the navy, life expectancy for either seaman or buccanneer is short. So there was little incentive to save, and although some pirates sent money home to their wives and families, most were like Ben Gunn, who blows his thousand quid in a mere nineteen days. (Not sure how to calculate the relative value of this, but one version gives ’140,000. Another source suggests this would be 500 times what a labourer could earn in a year). Silver of course, saves: he is a gentleman of fortune in both senses!! Which is merely one of the reasons why Long John Silver, one of the world’s most famous pirates, is nothing of the sort…

Also: why is it that in Treasure Island the history all works, whereas in The Master of Ballantrae, much more obviously a ‘historical novel’, in its exploration of the aftermath of the 45 at home and abroad, Stevenson should send the Master aboard Captain Teach’s ship, when he was killed in 1718…

If Ping Pong was too tame for you

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If Ping Pong was too tame for you, and the lack of death in Shaolin Soccer got you down – there is always Battlefield Baseball. Probably not coming to a cinema near us soo.

My favourite views of London

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My favourite views of London

(There’s a few of these so I’m going to write about them across the month)

There’s something about seeing a big city from a distance that’s really satisfying, not only do you get a sense of the size of the place, you also tend to get a sense of the architecture too, purely from silhouettes.

When I first started visiting London I’d get myself on the bus, down from Chesterfield, along the M1. If you were lucky you’d get to travel on a double decker, if you were *really* lucky, you’d get the front seat. So then, there I am, my first trip down, copy of the NME in my lap. Headphones on, sense of anticipation of visiting places that I’ve only read about (you know, the sorts of places that your parents wouldn’t have taken you – the Powerhaus, the Sir Georoge Robey, that aort of place). I’m casually looking around, aware that we’re somewhere in Hertfordshire, ahead of us I see a big bend, and gradually, as we round it, there’s London, spread out all before us like a huge grey carpet covered in bobbles. My breathe is taken away and my mid races at what fun I’m going to have (in the end I think I saw the Happy Mondays at Wembley, but hey, bear with me here).

On the right there’s this weird tower block with a gap in it (this would be Trellick tower then)there, straight ahead is the Post office tower (I still call it that) and to the left, there are a group of tall buildings struggling upwards through the murk (the city). It’s a truly beautiful sight.

Through the years since I’ve watched the view grow as I’ve arrived in London to visit and to live, I’ve seen Canary Wharf scuttle upwards, the Gherkin’s erection and the rest of Dockland go up at a rate of knots, but every time I go round that bend I remember the first time I saw that view, and everything that London’s given me since.

BLUDY Observer Sports Monthly!!!

TMFDPost a comment • 1,195 views

BLUDY Observer Sports Monthly!!! I’ve been talking about doing this (or similar) for weeks and they beat me to it. They have missed out a couple of classics though, which i shall tell the tales of here, once i’ve worked out which of the 30 boxes in my new house has got my “big book of the ‘lympics” in…

It means nothing without Zone 6

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It means nothing without Zone 6 — my first impression of London whenever I’ve visited isn’t of London per se. Or maybe it is but I’ll let the hair splitters decide whether Heathrow is part of London or not.

So what for those in London is the city they grew up in, around or hearing about elsewhere in Them Isles for me is always defined in large part by this experience:

* Landing the plane in Heathrow and not elsewhere. This is more important than you might think, one time I was stuck in a plane sitting in Manchester for something like three hours because the radar was down at Heathrow, allegedly. The various noises my fellow passengers made were of the frustrated and vaguely annoyed sort.

* Getting the plane to the appropriate terminal. At another point, I think this took something like half an hour.

* Opening the door. A STRONG challenge for some. The delayed Manchester flight I mentioned had this problem when we finally pulled up at the gate.

* Leaving as quickly as possible. OH GOD DO YOU EVER WANT TO GET OFF A PLANE IMMEDIATELY AFTER A LONG FLIGHT. I cannot emphasize this enough. You want to crawl over everyone in front of you.

* Ads. In the terminal one will see plenty of them for mysterious and strange products and services, and yet they are in English. Clearly I must be in London or near it.

* Passport control! This has never been a problem for me as such in that all you have to do is wait…a bit. And a bit longer.

* Baggage claim and customs. It’s about this time that I almost wish some of the stereotypes were true and that Robert Morley would come to visit me in his bowler hat and umbrella and give me some tea. Those ads over here back in the very late seventies caused quite an impression on my young mind.

* A long, long, long walk to the Heathrow Underground station nearest me. It is partially assisted by moving floors but right now all I really want to do is get to…

* The ATM. I can see it in my mind’s eye, there’s this basic generic ATM just sitting there after I turn a corner, I’ve used it every time I’ve visited. I immediately withdraw some of those English wampum bucks that aren’t as glorious as the dollars of the USA HOORAY! oh sorry I’m projecting oh god I couldn’t get any sleep on the flight why can I never do this I’m going to collapse on top of my green LL Bean luggage any second now (this ramble accurately captures my state of mind at this point, I am somewhere between sleep and the need to NOT sleep quite yet).

* The ticket purchasing counter or machine (I use one or the other depending on my coherence, and I either purchase some basic one-way thing if I don’t know what I’m doing next or some sort of further pass if I know I’ll be doing quite a bit in the next day or two — I also ponder some card for oysters).

* Ah, sweet sweet train, you are here. I sit down and somehow wrangle my luggage so I’m still in charge of it, and am usually surrounded by about fifty other people similarly inclined.

* “This train goes to Cockfosters.” The announcement that I knew would please Mr. Dan Perry when he finally heard it (and I was right).

* Lots of suburbs. What is on that stretch of track, anything? Has anyone interesting ever come from there or has anything striking happened? I just remember getting out of the tunnel and seeing lots of trees, low buildings and a general sense of…well, something. I do enjoy seeing the various business signs that must leave everyone there with a sense of dull familiarity but which makes me think “Hey, I’m here now!” If I’m not rambling even more in my head.

* Switching. Somewhere. I always have to switch somewhere and I always hope it’s at a station where there are peeling ads for bad musicians and horrible movies interspersed with random design features that allegedly tell me where I’m at. This is how I know the area around Charing Cross consists solely of people colored black and white who are vaguely medieval. The design wouldn’t lie to me.

* My final destination, whereever it is. Usually I walk a bit to the appropriate domicile, say hello to whoever is kind enough to host/put up with me this time around, then either immediately shower or immediately collapse.

Welcome to London! (No, really, I like all this. I just like it even better when I’ve finally got the jet lag out of my system.)