Posts from 18th August 2004

18
Aug 04

USE OTHER HILARIOUS STORIES PLEASE

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USE OTHER HILARIOUS STORIES PLEASE: comedy listing of unpopular player on eBay = new sporting ritual. Reporting of same as spacefilling news story = stop it now. (Related question: what did lazy editors do before eBay?)

Now I’m feeling zombiefied

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Now I’m feeling zombiefied — well, I had a longer blog post here but the computer ate it and I’m sad. But in brief, I come here to praise Alien Sex Fiend not bury them. Everyone so often I have a phase and I’m in one now, plunging through a few collections and things, and remembering how much I like these ridiculous characters. Like the Cramps — Nik and Mrs. Fiend being the group’s Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorshach, the eternal beating heart that hasn’t just found a niche but made something of — they are dedicated to something that holds them through to this day — no worrying what the current standard for cool is, entertainment as the end goal, and the joy of making a whole mess of noise. Goth as pantomime, Screamin’ Lord Sutch via Alice Cooper and the Damned, cackling raspiness. They established a sound that’s much a fusion and celebration as the Cramps’ own hotwiring of styles, not so much garage rock as beatbox capering, and more than once on a song like “Ignore the Machine” their own form of rattled sublimity. Something becomes a trend somewhere and they usually do something with it, techno remixes, sampling hooks (but sampling stuff like Blackadder punchlines), god knows what else. Bandwagon jumping? No more than we all can be bandwagon listeners, and if the likes of Andrew WK want fun, so do these folks — they just have a different way about it, and having it for twenty years can work just as well as for twenty minutes.

PRESENTERATOR

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PRESENTERATOR

Did you miss it? No? Alright then…

#3: RISHI “I’ll definitely be watching that” PERSAD

Rishi Persad was introduced into the BBC’s horse racing team at some point last year. Ever since, he’s been a somewhat awkward, hapless presence, plunged in amongst a field of ‘sons of’ and ‘daughters of’ and ‘former riders and trainers of’ and desperately trying to look a bit credible, without much success. He always seems to know what he’s talking about, but just seems that touch peripheral or surplus to requirements. However, seeing him on screen is infinitely preferable to seeing, say, Angus Loughran or any of the Channel 4 Racing presenters.

Unfortunately, poor old Rishi’s just been lobbed into a situation that finds him even further out of his depth – co-anchoring the BBC’s Olympic coverage. This afternoon-to-early-evening found him sat, sweating like a bastard, next to Sue Barker in the BBC’s studio in Athens, and looking utterly hopeless. Now, some people can get away with sounding somewhat stilted when reading off autocues. Steve Rider, for instance, sounds exactly the same, all the time, regardless of what he’s saying. You get used to it after a while. Some people can even make a decent fist of sounding like they could give two shits about the table tennis.

Rishi Persad sounds like he’s reading off the autocue. He sounds utterly disconnected from the action, like he’s going entirely on what he read in the David Mellor column of the Evening Standard. He’s just sort of there, reeling off a list of things and occasionally inserting an “I’ll definitely be watching that” as though the man at the other end of his earpiece has told him to. Sue Barker looks a bit sorry for him. You know how she feels. 3/10

FT Top 100 Films 45: MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN

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FT Top 100 Films
45: MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN

If Brian is not the Messiah, just a naughty boy, then this is not so much a film as a collection of rather good quotes strung together in a facsimile of a religious satire. As satire it is stupidly broad. As a film it is really rather badly made (HALLO – MR TERRY JONES). But as a collection of skits and gags about religion, plus the usual Monty Python nonsense of blokes being dressed up as women – well its about as good as you are going to get.

The idea behind the Life Of Brian is admittedly terrific. Its a year zero (or year 33AD) Zelig, full of Brian being mistaken for some sort of saviour and – on the whole – denying it. Not blasphemous of course, except perhaps the idea that the people were so zealous and pissed off they would claim anybody for a Messiah. Indeed the lack of blasphemy is possibly a let down. How radical were the Monty Python troup of they could not face telling serious jokes about Christianity (they did get round to this a bit later in the Meaning Of Life, but this was a better opportunity). However given the choice of watching this verses the Passion, I know which one I would prefer.

Oddly the final sequences of Brian matches nicely with the ending of The Passion. In Gibson’s flick Jesus has been tortured constantly for about two hours before he finally gets nailed up on the cross. Brian has a lot less flaying, but – and here is the key point – he didn’t do it. If Jesus’s crime was being the son of God, and he didn’t deny it, then at least his sentence was justified. But Brian, poor sod, gets crucified for no reason at all. Not only that but even though Calviezel has barely any skin left on him at the end of The Passion, he has not had to put up with the real torture that Graham Chapman’s Brian does. Gibson is far to literal in his interpretation. You can hurt the body, but you cannot break the spirit. Unless of course you have a massed choir led by that knob-end Eric Idle singing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life strung up next to you. Now that is torture.

Looking for CDs in all the wrong (but mostly right) places

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Looking for CDs in all the wrong (but mostly right) places — the first time I visited the UK I actually didn’t spend much time in London itself, instead I was in Oxford, Glasgow and somewhere in Devon, which actually created a nice if limited sampling of what the island has to offer in terms of different vistas, accents, experiences and so forth. The one time I slipped back into London before my departure was a day trip from Oxford because I wanted to find where the big record stores were and go nuts. As this was 1992 and I didn’t really know anyone who lived in London, I had no clear sense of where to go beyond knowing that there was this place called Oxford Street and that somewhere on it was a huge Virgin Megastore as well as a big ol’ HMV.

I did all my shopping at the HMV, which I should note has always prompted a bit of relative mirth with me given the dog/gramaphone logo — in America that logo is an RCA trademark, so why it ended up with EMI in the UK is a bit strange to me. The experience was on the one hand overwhelming — I literally had never been in that huge a record store ever in my life — and on the other hand pretty damned handy for me. While I didn’t pick up all the things I was looking for via press mentions (“The Drowners” in particular seemed to have been completely sold out for weeks), I did get a slew of early Marc Almond reissues, Main’s Hydra-Calm and perhaps most importantly Disco Inferno’s In Debt. I had heard about this band enough that I knew I had to take a chance, and my god in heaven, was I ever glad I did so, then and now.

Following visits led to other areas of exploration, though it bugs the hell out of me I can’t remember the exact name of the one street where it seems all sorts of me-friendly stores are located. I think it’s around where Ye Olde Sister Ray is located, though I actually haven’t done as much shopping there as elsewhere — there’s one store nearby that I picked up my copy of the Position Normal CD from (whatever happened to them, anyway?). But last time around when I did some shopping I ended up at an HMV again — I think the one on Oxford Street but Jel can confirm or deny my memories there. And I picked up the Pulp DVD and the Brasseye DVD, but I’ve since misplaced the Pulp DVD. And darn it, I’m mad! Maybe I’ll have to get another one when I return.

The logic of Boots Meal Deal

Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 3,739 views

The logic of Boots Meal Deal

The Meal Deal costs ‘2.49. You get a sandwich, a drink and a snack. You would expect naturally that you would be saving money with this combined purchase. Nevertheless with some of the sandwiches in the deal costing ‘2.50 by themselves, it is almost counter intuitive that the sandwich-only fan buyer HAS TO buy a drink and snack. Rehydration is all good, but you also have to get unhealthy stuff like crisps or a chocolate bar.

Luckily they had a packet of dried prunes as the snack as well, so all was right with the world. If not the Easyjet flight I embarked on just after I ate them.

Olympic Avoidance Log: Eight Man Coxed Rowing

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Eight man coxed rowing: Okay, I had an interest in this. Not that I was interested, but this is the only competitive sport I have ever represented anything at. I coxed at University (a perfect position for someone who likes shouting at sportsmen and doesn’t like doing any exercise). So when I saw the four teams lining up (Canada, Germany, Poland and plucky GB) I suppose I briefly forgot the avoidance and watched.

Well this rowing isn’t the game it was when I did it. For one they had a nice open bit of flat water. Not for them the battling with currents from the nearby weir, tributaries and getting round bends. Frankly beyond shouting (and I did not see them do too much of that) it was not clear exactly what the coxes were doing. Two teams qualified, suffice to say that despite coming back quite well in the second half of the race, the GB team was not one of them. Indeed we clocked in a time of just under six minutes. Which is when I flicked over to watch Trisha. Just Under Six Minutes

VANISHING LONDON: The Plaza Cinema, Lower Regents Street

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VANISHING LONDON: The Plaza Cinema, Lower Regents Street

I liked the Plaza, it was a cheap and cheerful, and like its equally disappeared neighbour, Tower Records, seemed proud of the fact. Actually the Plaza, much like Tower records, wasn’t really all that cheap – but it was one of the few places in the Leicester Square area which did students discounts all weekend.

It was four screen cinema, notable in particular for it one enormous screen. Rarely was this screen tested with blockbuster material, I think I saw Being John Malkovitch there. It also had, annoyingly, a really wide centre aisle which meant you could never quite sit in the middle of the screen. But it was comfy and showed plenty of good films, its arthouse sheds downstairs in particular were home to some good flicks. It partnered the UCI Empire Leicester Square nicely – that was all bombast and crap, the Plaza was all Ben And Jerry’s ice cream and good films. I think I saw a lot of previews there too, back when I was in a desirable demographic.

There is now a Tesco Metro where the Plaza was. I hear rumours (and have seen ads) for the all new Apollo cinema on Lower Regent Street, though this might be in the hole the Odeon Regent Street used to live (less loved cinema which had remarkably seventies d’cor). Anyway, I miss the Plaza, though it is handy to get bottles of drink at supermarket prices on Piccadilly Circus (aka London Square).

I took my first painkiller in over ten years last night.

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I took my first painkiller in over ten years last night. The rumours of my unbreakablility it seems have been exaggerated. I always assumed that it was a temporary state of luck and would end soon after I hit thirty. Well I go eleven months grace on that. Suffice to say that After flying back from Scotland on Monday my ears did not pop, an annoying if not life-threatening situation which then led somehow to a some throat, flu symptoms and pain in the whole ear, nose, throat department. Pain which got so unbearable last night that I experimented with the painkillers in the cupboard. There was an out of date bottle of paracetemol and a packet of Anadin Extra. Anadin Extra seemed awful powerful, but then I was in considerable pain. Mind you the criteria on which I can judge pain is minimal, having barely felt any since age sixteen except for the odd stubbed toe and the obligatory twenty-something heartache.

First thing I learnt: I am rubbish at taking pills. My gag reflex is impossible to ignore (something not new to anyone who has ever spent time with me in the pub). This hard plastic pellet of Anadin Extra rolled around my mouth as I necked about four pints of water. I?d have happily broken the thing down and smoked it. Nevertheless the pain was ramping up to hammer of the gods proportions on my ear drum and I needed sleep. With a cavalier gulp, the whole thing washed down into my stomach.

I could feel it sitting there. I am not sure what I expected. An instant blissed out feeling of painless joy? Tendrils of soothing calmness slowly radiating from my belly. How did it know all the pain was in my head. What if it took away all the feeling from my legs instead? I went back to bed, feeling sorry for myself and noting that my shunning of proprietary medicines seemed all the more justified, the people at Anadin were charlatans. As I moaned, Lavigne like, on my pillow I imagined waking up (or not waking up) with a coroner over me expressing cerebral haemorrhage, and my parents taking that Stelios from EasyJet to court. As this amusing idea drifted into my brain I noticed, after Stelios had employed his all orange wearing EasyLawyer, that the pain seemed to be subsiding. Ah ? I thought ? happy thoughts, funny thoughts. We all know this is natures own medicine. So as my Stelios baiting fantasy increased the pain in my throat and ear subsided.

Who needs painkillers? Well, it turned out, me, as when I woke up this morning, the throbbing was back. And yes, I am going to the doctor later, to be told that I am a hypochondriac and that the blood dribbling out of my ear is perfectly normal.

Terry And June

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Terry And June: a long-cherished memory of mine is the episode of Terry And June in which Terry is playing golf with his boss and hits a shot which lands in the back of a lorry bound for France. HOWEVER I have no idea if this seminal TV moment, in so many ways the quintessential T & J event, actually happened.

This episode guide is little help. But it is great browsing in its own right, for the number of episode titles where you can guess precisely what happened, which particular facet of suburban humiliation Terry experienced. “Flying Carpets”, “The Lawnmower”, “The Raffle Prize”, “One Arabian Night” and – surely the peak of excruciation – “Disco Fever”. (I think the episode I’m after is “The Golfing Weekend”.)