Posts from 20th August 2004

20
Aug 04

One of the best things about living in a capital city

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One of the best things about living in a capital city is your constant proximity to THE NEWS. Yes, sorry all you buggers in the provinces think the news is too London-centric, that’s because a lot of the news happens in London. And often you brush up against it without realising. Now I know that saying Clare Short stole my taxi is
a) Not really news
b) Not really true
but that does not stop the frisson of significance it suggests. Primarily because if Clare Short had stole my taxi it would possibly to do be involved in some important governmental thing (this was back in the day when Clare Short, if she had been in a position to steal my taxi, was also in a position of influence in the Cabinet).

Anyway I digress. Here are some potential news stories I have been tangentially involved in, or nearby to.

a) The Anti-War March 2003. Admittedly there were well over a million of us on that one, so I am not claiming too much primacy over this news item being “mine”

b) The bombing of the Admiral Duncan and the Brixton Iceland. I was near neither at the time. But I have at separate times used both places for drinking and buying beer. You kind of point at the television and go – I know that. They you find out the Admiral Duncan was a predominantly gay bar, and keep that bit to yourself (a friend worked next door, its not exactly militant in there.)

c) An IRA bomb in 1995. I am a bit shaky on this one, as it never made the news, because there wasn’t a bomb. 1995 makes sense, but it might be the real IRA or I Can’t Believe Its Not The Provo’s or some-such group. Anyway I was having my haircut near the TUC when a policewoman came in to evacuate us. I was halfway through a haircut so had an even more unruly than usual barnet. I tried to see as many people as possible that evening as the state of my hair proved the story was true, which I suppose is preferable to there actually being a bomb.

d) The Kings Cross Fire Disaster 1987. This is the one that even I am not sure I believe any more. This much I know is true it was on a Wednesday and Wednesday was Games day at School which was the entire Wednesday afternoon of getting my head pummeled into the dirt. I was going home for lunches and quite often I would not return in the afternoon. The pay-off for the teacher not reporting me was him not having to teach someone so inept at catching. Often I would come up to town and mooch about Soho record stores. And I remember coming home, sitting infront of the television aghast at the Kings Cross fire because I had just been through there. Many tellings of this story have included me smelling tell-tale burning smells, but I recognise that this is just exaggeration. Even without the date, I knew Kings Cross tube really well and this was a massive shock.

And even if you weren’t there, you know it. Even when you close the door at night you can’t escape London. Some people hate this. I love it.

Catch them on the Flipside

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Innovative, audacious, useful…unimaginative, cowardly, lazy…You could apply any or all of these adjectives to Channel 4’s new late night show Flipside, that consists of a bunch of K-listers (MTV dudes), pwned props (Victor Big Brother) and meeja pundits (Heat’s Boyd Hilton) watching different channels on digital TV and commenting on them. My first instinct: you’ve gotta be kidding me. The logic behind it is highly apparent though: Let them watch other channels, but whilst still watching our channel. Genius. No. Bloody cheeky. Channel 4.

Funnily enough I had an idea similar to this a while back when people still cared about what should replace RI:SE. If C4 are exposing loopholes regarding broadcasting copyright then hats off, because I can’t imagine other channels are that happy about this. The sweetener is perhaps that they tend to only look at things like UK Gold+1 (so it’s not ‘live’ as it were), Babestation, E! and those terrible channels that get bundled with your Sky box that you never watch. Of course now that I know the latest incarnation of Japanese ‘punishment wins prizes’ show Endurance can be found somewhere in there, I don’t have to watch late night Channel 4 ever again – yay!

London Conclusions (thus far – 64 posts in 20 days)

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London Conclusions (thus far – 64 posts in 20 days)

London is expanding and vanishing at the same time. There is dogging in Green Park and strange characters in Epping Forest, Pete sort of designed a logo, rivers are fascinating (The Thames, The Lea and an old one called the New River), The West End is a shifting concept rather than tangible locale (So Solid Romeo is banned from both), Dave B has maps on his walls making him late for work (and toilets at stations delaying his journey home), Brick Lane is full of wankers obscuring great restaurants. London is mentioned in plenty of songs (although I’ve rarely heard of them), is great for Spanish vegetarians, there’s nowhere to put your trash and you’re buggered if you want to swim south of the river.

Food Court London

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Food Court London — as is unsurprisingly the case in this our world of everything and anything in one place at one time (if you have the money and access to the right location), there are about eight million restaurants in London that presumably serve not-English food (as seen through an American’s eyes, of course — in an American’s eyes something like spaghetti is American, and thus is our nation made great).

The key lesson I’ve learned over time about restaurants purporting to serve a certain style from somewhere in the world is that it’s really all about what the proprietor’s own tastes are, what they think will sell, and where they can best make their mark. I’m not so much a food cultural tourist as, if all goes well, looking into someone’s personal idiosyncracy made manifest in the way of food, and the least it can do is try and taste good for the price.

So if you treat London as a massive mall then all the restaurants are the extended food court, going everywhere in a big ol’ sprawl, tucked in here and there and everywhere. And unsurprisingly those places designed as an experience have to balance themselves between selling the experience and actually selling the darn food. So far I’ve been pretty lucky though I won’t pretend to have hit every place truly worthwhile, then again I’ve only had so much time and money, and more often than not I’m just tagging along because plans have already been made. I have no problem with that, I’ll try anywhere once.

The most bemusing place was the one Belgian spot where all that there was to eat were shellfish and all to drink was beer, and there were pictures of huge old Belgian guys with slightly sour looks on their faces mid-meal on the glass walls and separations, and we all sat at long tables. Slightly regimented, but perhaps that’s Belgium for you? Do they actually do this all day, eat in front of pictures of huge old Belgian guys?

And then there was the tiny but ridiculously delicious Swiss fondue spot, and yep you betcha, lots of dark wood finishings. Fondue eaten on tatami mats in light open spaces, when’s that going to happen? No, instead the alpenhorns are blowing in my mind and large mustachioed men shout ‘Ricola’ in the distance before I finish some ungodly amount of chocolate, and then out into the street where I conspicuously fail to run into a St. Bernard.

I have yet to eat in a sushi place in London, though, now that I think about it. Any good ones? And how’s their sense of design and cultural tourism?

Olympic Avoidance Log Triple Jump:

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Olympic Avoidance Log

Triple Jump: Keeping up my strong middle section with a brief accidental flight of fancy on the Triple Jump. You see Triple Jump was one of the few sports that my games teachers groomed me for. Looking back it was a bit cynical, but at the time I was suddenly pleased that there was a sport I apparently could do that the reasons behind picking a short-arse for the triple jump was never clear. The truth was, I was one of the few people in my school who could actually remember how to DO the triple jump. You know, when to hop, when to skip and when to jump. Despite it being rather easy and the name having a clue in it, everyone else would put in extra steps or muck up the bits in between.

So I spent a few weeks training with the long jump boys, thinking that if I remained the best at this sport, I would get to go to the District Games (the aim of any comp boy at the time*) and my PE report might not be A (Effort) 5 (Attainment) that year. Unfortunately it was not to be. I was a sap, a patsy. My job was to goad one of the long jump boys into thinking “Long jump is a bit competitive, I bet I can beat Baran at the Triple Jump as long as I learn how to do it”. And trust me, that is not a bet any bookmaker would take.

So this morning two minutes of my time were taken by looking at the silly distances they are jumping these days. 18 metres? Why of course. They are still using sand to measure it though. Which prompted me to think, what happens if they fart after they have landed. Would that count as part of the follow-through (for that matter…) Has anyone ever lost the triple jump due to a powerful guff pushing the sand back?

TOTAL SO FAR: JUST UNDER TWENTY EIGHT OLYMPIAN MINUTES

*Mainly because you got a day off of School for it. The teachers never understood that it would be a great incentive to make people good at actual school-stuff, if you got a day off for it. Imagine how pissed off I was finishing the maths textbooks (and hence the syllabus) six month early, to discover they could always find me more Maths. I wanted the time off.

FT Top 100 Films 43: ZU WARRIORS OF THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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FT Top 100 Films
43: ZU WARRIORS OF THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN

Martin Skidmore says: I mentioned director Tsui Hark in my review of Crouching Tiger a week or so back. I’ve seen, and loved, only a tenth of his films – there’s a recent sequel to this that I’ve not yet seen. He mostly works in the bonkers end of the fantasy martial arts spectrum, as far as I know, and that is about the most undervalued genre in the movie world, in my view. This is the movie that made him a star, and quite right too. It’s an astonishing film, full of ideas, with lots of scenes like nothing else I’ve ever seen. The swordfights are as good as any you’ll ever see, there is some serious thematic content if you want that (about war), there is wild fantasy with characters fighting with stretchy eyebrows and plenty of flying (this was the film that fused American special effects, hiring top techies from Star Wars and Tron, with Hong Kong movie traditions), there is the Brigitte Lin and (in two roles) Sammo Hung, both in their primes.

The narrative isn’t terribly coherent and organised (Hark was angry at the editing), and it’s a pretty silly film, but I find that extremely easy to forgive in a film as visually thrilling as this.

Apparently there is a dubbed version with a frame that turns the main story into a dream sequence, and with far less of the action, so see the subtitled one instead.

Bum Barometer

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Bum Barometer: David Mamet has a go at audience research in the cinema. Even though I have to stifle a cynical cackle at the thought of punters going all sensible and objective when confronted with a questionnaire, I think he has some good points. The knockabout thumbs-up/thumbs-down model of film criticism has a lot to answer for, and he’s right that people like the idea of being an adjudicator: it’s because they all would like to be Ebert (or Jonathan Ross in the UK’s case). And despite having a professional interest in market research I absolutely agree that people should trust their intuition more, and not just in ‘creative’ disciplines: the amount of researcher time wasted on plainly wretched products which would have been nixed at birth if anyone in the company had displayed a hint of balls… sorry. Rant off.

I think there is a place for quantitative audience research in commercial film-making but it’s only really useful for very basic questions like “Was the film too long?”. Mamet’s chosen alternative raises a smile, though – watching the audience from the back of the cinema. This kind of ethnographic consumer research is one of the hottest things in the research industry at the moment (like most hot research things, it is also very easy to fudge) – the same people handing out the despised cards at the end of the film are also doing exactly what Mamet recommends, and getting rich off it. We’ll make a marketer of you yet, David!

Casual Free Zone

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Casual Free Zone

Pubs in Leicester ban burberry and other (with apologies) chav brands. i had forgotten until a couple of weeks ago on a stag weekend that some bars/pubs still have “no trainers” policies (the lads i was with were otherwise well-dressed), so infrequently do i go to that sort of place (that’s not meant to sound as snobby as it does, i can’t think of a better way of putting it though). unfortunately we still got in as a lad we went to school with works for the company (why unfortunately? click here [caution: noisy site] to find out where we went…)

I just received this press release

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I just received this press release. How much would you pay for this unique slice of British Pop History? Wespecially to play three of their biggest hits (Feels Like Heaven?)

Insanity Artists Agency are proud to represent:

URBAN COOKIE COLLECTIVE

Title: The Key, The Secret 2004

Release Date: 18th October

Label: Feverpitch/EMI

One of the biggest records of the 90?s is being re-released on 18th October. “I’ve got the key, I?ve got the secret” is easily one of the most remembered lyrics from the past decade, and the track is heading to the top of the charts!!

Next week it will shoot to #1 MW Pop Chart and #6 MW Upfront Club Chart.

This PA is PERFECT for both Old Skool Nights and conventional club nights.

The PA includes 3 of the big hits:

The Key, The Secret
High On A Happy Vibe
Feels Like Heaven

This is 3 on stage, female vocalist and 2 dancers.

Dates will go very quickly due to the low price, book now or lose the PA to your competition!

More Oakey Pokey (fun at)

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I was willing to let Phil Oakey rot in a see of his own flesh and blood (he’s a man) yesterday, but my public cried and said “Slap Him, He’s From Sheffield”. Alan Trewartha, the FreakyTrigger resident design master (who has never touched my design I notice) reminded me of the truly stupid lyrics to Blind Youth

Blind youth take hope
You’re no Joe Soap
Your time is due
Big fun come soon

Phil was not wrong there in correctly projecting the rise of a boyband called Big Fun, but his knowledge of their sexual prowess seems too detailed. What would happen, one asks, if one of these Blind Youth (I assume he is using blindness as a metaphor here) was actually called Joe Soap. What is so bad about being called Joe Soap. Is it like being called A N Other and having hundreds of credit cards?

Dehumanisation
Is such a big word
It’s been around since
Richard The Third

I need say nothing about this drivel except to say that Richard III was knocking around in the late 15th century while Geoffrey Chaucer was writing one hundred years before. And yet what is this couplet from The Reeve’s Prologue:

“Deeth drough the tappe of lyf and leet it gon
From hence the rot of dehumanisation”

Not easy to make that rhyme apart from in old English. but then dehumanisation, being such a long word, is quite difficult to get your head around. Unless:

Dehumanisation
It’s easy to say
But if you’re not a hermit
You know the city’s OK

It is quite clear that Oakey should never be allowed near a pencil, let alone an music to write these stupid lyrics too. Blind Youth, I’m sure they were all clamouring to be deaf youth after this song came out.