Posts from 16th August 2004

Aug 04

you know yr living in the future when

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 424 views

you know yr living in the future when

you discover that in predictive txt if you write “tongue” but omit the “e” you get “vomit”

you know yr living in the future when

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 341 views

you know yr living in the future when

you read a headline like DRONES PING TERRORISTS’ MOBILES

(it’s up there w.”btw i haf queued all yr grime”)

From borscht to barbeque

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 237 views

From borscht to barbeque — one of the treats about the get-together at my friends Hans and Kathy’s place, besides the excellent range of food (extremely well-marinated steak, excellent chicken, a good selection of salads and so forth) was the presence of a new member of the household — an excitable and friendly pit bull stray that had appeared the previous day — and another excitable and friendly personage, the three year old Jackson.

He’s a Ukrainian by birth, only three years old, and recently adopted by two acquaintances Audrey and Andy, who I usually see at these get-togethers. They were over in Ukraine around the same time I was Venezuela, I gather, and they had things to say about the cuisine that indicated that sunflower oil is a key cooking ingredient (in just about everything) and that they were glad they were walking a lot to burn off the calories. Sounds wise enough, a full month of that diet might have been more than a little wearying on the system otherwise.

So Jackson had what I guess was his first American summer barbeque meal — the Southern California variety at that, warm without being humidly hot, a classic ‘this is suburbia and darn if it isn’t pretty good’ setting. Everything grilled up accordingly, the corn was fresh and newly roasted, it wasn’t too busy a presentation all around and a marvellous meal was shared out between about ten people all told. Jackson, being three and not really knowing much English yet, contented himself with nibbles on bread and corn and rice as he sat in his new mom’s lap. I suspect he’ll fit into this place just fine — it was a lovely first time experience.

The Robin Hood is a

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 817 views

The Robin Hood is a People’s Pub. All the net profits are given away to worthy community causes. Hurrah! I have no idea how much money is actually left after costs are met but judging from the beer prices (usual Brighton extortion) it must be a fair bit. Although the website gives the impression of a burgeoning network of pubs run on this principle, it seems like the Robin Hood (do you see?) is the only one at present. So does its social conscience make for a better pub experience? Well, it’s big, red and friendly. Not much different inside from your average nouveau pub – rough wooden tables, sofas, youthful trendy bar staff, usual limited choice of beer etc. You can get a stone-baked pizza for £4.50, and watch local news with the sound down. I was sort of hoping for a hotbed of revolutionary activity, but if this is indeed where the last remnants of Brighton socialism hide out, it wasn’t obvious. I certainly couldn’t detect any particular aura of community spirit emanating from the clientele on Friday (we were all silently goggling at the Olympic opening ceremony). But I did leave with a warm glow that was surely only partly due to the ale. I hope the concept does sweep the land (although maybe it would be simpler and just as public-spirited to spend the profits on giving the bar staff a living wage?)

Where ARE the trash cans?

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Where ARE the trash cans? — it’s a sign of my swaddled and coddled existence being an American that one of the first frustrations I had in London when I started visiting again regularly in 2000 was the lack of trash cans in certain areas, usually transport-related. I’d be munching on something, perhaps usually some form of fried grease (they do that very well in London, I’ve noticed, and this is no insult — the American style seems to stick to the wrapper too much), and having consumed would seek to throw away the remnants. And then I would be stymied, and would search around for a trash receptacle…a can…a random dumpster even. I must have looked a sight jerking my head around several directions at once in the middle of a fairly crowded King’s Cross or Paddington station, convinced that the trash cans were in fact not only in plain view but were having a great laugh at my expense by running around everywhere that my eyesight wasn’t. I seem to recall solving my initial dilemma by taking the remnants into a nearby restroom, but I can’t even be positive about that. Perhaps trash elves just removed it from my hand without my noticing.

Earnest queries led to the explanation that IRA bombings in the past meant the removal of trash cans, and what was initially a bizarre quirk took on a more sober cast when it came to their absence, and since then I’ve always done my best to eat elsewhere and just show up at a station with nothing to worry about but my possessions and my bodily integrity, both elements of particular value. However, it seems that at least one American argues that it’s not so much the threat of terrorism which removed the cans as it is the desire to be socialized for the better in this, our vale of tears that is the modern world:

“Humans alter habits to meet environments. And (as I discovered) nobody wants to carry an apple core from Tottenham Court to Warwick Avenue?so they wait until they?re above ground. The result is the cleanest, most-attractive public transit system this side of Epcot Center.”

Congratulations, oh Londoners! The truth was that all this time you were in fact moving more in line with Disney’s dead hand controlling the future. No wonder you all visit Florida.

The film opens. We’re under water.

Do You SeePost a comment • 595 views

The film opens. We’re under water. The credits bubble up, just the producers and the films title. And there. We see a girl, trapped in a car which is sinking. And then Will Smith wakes up. He does not like this dream. So he puts on Superstition on his CD player and cracks open a new pair of Converse All-Stars. Dips his finger into some pie and heads out for the day.

Cut to the outside. Its a normal street scene but, what’s this, the cars don’t seem to have wheels and there are all these robots about. SHOCK! This film is set in the future!

That is the idea. The reality. I paid my four quid to see a film called I, Robot. The credit that came up in the underwater sequence says I, Robot. I know it is set in the future. I know what it is about. So this opening sequence does not work for me. And indeed does not work for everyone else in the cinema who knew what film they were going to see. Which, barring a couple of amnesiacs, would be everyone.


FT + New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 230 views


We do actually have a Square Table homepage, though something evil has happened to the formatting. Go here and learn about the contributors.

Interesting discussion on Enthusiastic But about MP3 blogs, their increasing appeal to indie pluggers, and what happens if you opt out of backscratch culture.

Why is Mousse T’s “Is It Cos Im Cool?” getting so much airplay (and presumably a UK release) now? I thought it was years old! It’s awful, anyway, the lazy face of Europop.

Interesting comments from Woebotnik on the Babycakes single (Aug 14th post) being a step backwards (2 steps back, har har). What strikes me is how popular it is – No.1 by a mile apparently. I never quite understood how garage lost its commercial clout in the first place – it wasn’t the turn to ruffer MCing styles surely, So Solid did very well for themselves but sometime in 2002 the gild went off the lily and More Fire, Genius Cru etc. started selling bugger all though the product was up to scratch. Babycakes – which I love – suggests the demand for garage in the wider public never went away (unless it is purely selling as a novelty?) – so what went wrong? Record company faddishness?

From that comment – “Hearing it is like being at a club where the DJ has panicked that he’s cleared the dancefloor and just slams on a tune he KNOWS will keep the party going, that desperation audible, permeating through the gaps in the track.” – the cringe of recognition!

why are the bananas at pret so horrible currently?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 373 views

why are the bananas at pret so horrible currently?

if i weren’t going on holiday for two weeks to somewhere where they possibly don’t have prets (= france!) i wd pursue this fiercely –> they taste ok-ish kinda at point of chew but th aftertaste is sawdusty they are v.small and they look grey and the texture unfortunately reminds me of maggots >:(

THE SQUARE TABLE 11 / Busted – “Thunderbirds Are Go!”

FT + New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 3,096 views


The new Thunderbirds are not puppets any longer – and so who better to soundtrack their adventures than Busted… who… are also… not…. gnarrrrr. This record exists beyond all definitions or pretensions of ‘artistry’, it’s a three minute jingle and it doesn’t even make me want to see the film. The plainly disaffected Charlie Simpson should though take heart from Outkast, whose last work before their critic-slaying double CD was the similarly crass “Land Of A Million Drums”. If Andre 3000 can rap about Scooby Doo then you, Sir, can suck it up and jump about for Brains and Lady Penelope.

From that you might think I hate the song – or that I contrarily adore it. Neither, really. I don’t feel a thing listening to “Thunderbirds” – EXCEPT – Busted’s unerring ability to hit the accelerator at just the right moment to make you wish you could jump like them survives any commercial indignity. Damn it, boys, you win again. Hardly their best or funniest record but I can’t help smiling and bouncing: a fine, professional job done. 8 (Tom)

Few things more dizzyingly exciting than songs that sound faster than they are: this rattles past, breakneck, passing overhead in a sonic-boom rush and – BANG!- gone.

It’s all in the backbeat. The brass fanfare’s at the same 200bpm as the rest of the song, but parade-ground percussion holds it down with gravity and gravitas even as the clarion cornets stretch up ad astra. That was the original Thunderbirds, held down to martial tradition, old pomp and grandeur doing their best to smother the thrill of spaceships and rescue and action.

This is the new.

A guitarneck squeal, violins shooting off like fireworks, and that breathless off-beat batter bouncing your feet off the ground. Even Charlie Simpson’s voice, so languid and gravelly against the nasal whine and strained yelp of the others, can’t escape the urgency. The tune of the chorus hurries forward before the beat or even the words can catch up, the string section cruising at altitude in the background stratosphere.

It’s insistent, irresistable, when the bridge pits panting vocal against snaredrum snap; when guitar and bass hammer demandingly at a single chord like tantruming toddler fists; when the instruments and harmony drop away to make the title stand out more; when the violins twirl in their spiralling rise; when, after a scant two lines’ hush (don’t despair – they’ll be there), everything crashes back in and piles up on top of itself, struggling to be heard in the busy rush–

And then – BANG!- gone. 10 (Cis)

I saw the movie. It wasn’t very good. And yet when it finished, and the screen went black, no-one moved. There can be no greater demonstration of “Thunderbirds” status as a world-striding pop colossus. It is so good that I found out well over thirty Plasterers worked on Thunderbirds (the movie).

First time I heard it I was annoyed there was not more of the old Thunderbirds theme tune in it. But just the sting of orchestra at the beginning is all the homage needed. The theme tune is the theme tune of the film anyway, this just caps it off. The gags in the song are cheeky rather than pedestrian, and they do this with a surprising amount of meaning. If the film had been as good as this, it would have been my film of the year. Busted Jumps Are GO!!!! 9 (Pete)

OK. They have won me. I’m melting with the ELO-like string arrangement and verse structure.. And because I reckon the tune is not very memorable, I guess that after all I’m sold cheap. 7 (Diego Valladolid)

Replacing the theme tune feel wrong, but then again the film is strings-less so anything goes I guess. It’s not as cartoony-cute as ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ by FAB feat. MC Parker, but it’s still good. “Rhythm guitars- up”. The usual bouncy-ball style pogo-ing kicks in, tweaked a little by the addition of soaring strings. The sonics are unimportant- the song is galvanised by vocals (poised chummily between a UK and transatlantic twang) that are as playful as a kitten in a box. “You always look so cool when spaceships come out the pool. You know that you’d be such a fool to be a bad guy”. Spot on. 7 (Derek Walmsley)

Neat! Not my cup of mud, but one can only be so critical of a song that reminds one of little kids in Tough-Skin jeans riding Big Wheels through a makeshift moto-cross course. Exists somewhere between that horrible Spiderman song and Ray Parker Jr.’s great “Ghostbusters”. 6 (Henry Scollard)

The start reminds me how much I like the original theme tune, and it’s a shame they don’t really continue it much. Still, the choppy guitars suit this well enough, though the chorus seems a bit too smooth, not punchy enough to fit the rest. I feel as if I am being too picky, as this is so much better than a Thunderbirds theme song could have been, but I think it’s only okay, and the singing on the bit where the music drops out is very weak and flat. 6 (Martin Skidmore)

I’d offer nothing more than a cheap shot & say that Ash (or Metallica!) does this bombastic punk-pop-meets-Boston-Pops a sight better than these nasal chaps, but… Yes, I’m upset that they pull the old punk trick of starting a pro-forma 4/4 tune w/ an intro that promises some nuance (or, in this case, martial Bolero-esque bombast), just as much as the inevitable run down the guitar neck to bridge the gap between intro and gabba gabba hey brings forth tired sighs from my dead ass, but… And clearly my inner 12 year old is dead to the world, as the shout-outs to kicking ass and spaceships looking cool coming out of pools make me roll my eyes and shake my fist (oh, I’m a bad guy! that’s so not cool!), but…

Well, as the blog put it, “([A]lmost any time you read a guilty pleasure piece, half of the piece tends to be about refuting the concept.),” so I’ll just be a hard grader and leave it at that. (And why the hell do I think they’re singing “ThunderCATS are go”?) 6 (David Raposa)

Bloody Thunderbirds! I hate them!

Let me explain, when I was very young I used to love the show. The angriest I remember being as a kid was when the BBC cancelled an episode of Thunderbirds to make way for a repaet of the royal wedding, grrrrrrr! Then, a few years later it was on again, the whole country was Thunderbirds mad, I settled down to watch it, and the sinking feeling of its awfulness overcame me, another childhood memory betrayed! Just so so bad.

Oh, the Busted song? It was written in about 5 minutes, contains a nod to Thin Lizzy and sounds like every other ‘Sted song, yet not quite as good. The curse of the Thunderbirds. 5.5 (Jel)

I dislike being manipulated by a song, especially when it’s done in a very base level. Swell the strings, cue the harmony, bring in the horns and keep playing those two chords over and over again, don’t forget the echo effects and the brief quiet moment just before the third chorus THEN bring the whole crew in at 11. Formula rewarmed. Didn’t Smashmouth do this same song for the Scooby Doo movie? Or Matthew Sweet for Josie and the Pussycats?

I imagine this is meant to have some sort of nostalgia value attached as well, but I’ve never seen an episode of the Thunderbirds. As it is, I’m just nostalgiac for when every pop-phenomena film didn’t require a poppity-punkity theme redux as de rigeur.

I can’t be too hard on this tho’; it does what it’s supposed to do, which is to make me want to go drink a Mountain Dew and go kick some ass with the T-Birds. It’s just rare that I’m in that kind of mood these days. 5 (Forksclovetofu)

This is good fun as standard summer pop fare, better if you don’t think of the television show, but then that is usually the case. 5 (Anthony Easton)

Somewhere there’s a great joke to be made about puppets, spacemen’s helmets and cock-rockets. But not here. 5 (alext)

I am sure those trumpets are the sign that these nubile – yes, i am hinting at the effeminacy of Busted – lads are ready for the charts once again. “Thunderbirds are go” is your regular Busted material: buzza-chugga geetars, squeaky clean helium voices, sugary Pop-Punk, singalong lyrics… It isn’t that I hate the way they made an adult-approved version of Buzzcocks mixed with Bros – what is a kid left to do when s/he’s over the latter and not ready yet for the former – it’s just that I don’t want to be reminded of the fact I am old. There I said it… I am too old for this fodder. 3 (Stevie Nixed)

You Don’t Win Anything with Kids

TMFDPost a comment • 871 views

You Don’t Win Anything with Kids

Tom’s mention of kids in restaurants reminded me of one of my bugbears; kids.
I was at a barbecue on Saturday. Lots of thirty somethings drinking in the sun. Loads of kids. Location was Essex, so most of them had stupid names, “Shania, get mummy a Bacardi Breezer.” I tried playing football with them. A couple of flicks and a Cruyff turn. Things they could learn from, like. But no, they just started holding my legs and then when I feigned to shoot, let go and sat in the goal. I couldn’t pull the trigger or there would have been tears.

One kid kept yelling ‘Offside’ every time I ran through the middle. I patiently explained I was in a passive position and that only by touching the ball would I become active.

One of the kids did a step-over. A two-footed lunge cured that. His mother looked at me warily, “Come away, Dwight.” Should have worn shin pads. It’s a man’s game. You don’t win anything with kids.