Posts from 3rd December 2004

Dec 04


Blog 7Post a comment • 408 views

Christmas 1972

Bobby looks very solemn with his Snoopy pajamas and Bicentennial kitsch drum, but sooner rather than later that drum’s gonna a receive a whack too hard and off to the trash it goes. Not that I blame him any — I mean, what good is a drum to a child if he can’t thrash it, right? I salute my parents for selflessly feeding us rock-ish instruments again and again, with the final upshot, after many formative years of clangs and bangs and disembowelingly huge bass sounds, being 1) a son who spent some years drumming on a professional basis 2) another son who spent some years DJing weddings and parties on a professional basis 3) yet another son who reviews records on a semi-professional basis. (Go me.)

Mom has clear memories of Jerry Lee Lewis playing the Brooklyn Paramount; the really shocking thing to her was not the sex & religion thing but seeing him DISRESPECT the piano. Growing up, pianos were not to be toyed with, they were expensive and your key to mobility up and out of Brooklyn. But (I’m supposing) the family was already out of Brooklyn anyway. The family ended up largely avoiding “proper” instruments, maybe thanks to my parents obnoxious recollections of endless piano lessons: some family photos show an upright piano in this room that disappears prior to my existence and I even wanted to learn the violin at elementary school but I vaguely recall my parents discouraging it.

Also, you can’t really see it but right next to Bert is a card or a box (hard to tell) with a flag on the moon and an astronaut waving hello; the final American lunar landing was only days before, and God, what a waste of time that all seems now. I also salute my parents for feeding us with mild patriotism, though the good that did us has been largely fuck-all.

Here my parents first employ a trick of placing “stocking stuffers” (gifts not really significant enough to be wrapped) on large patterned sleeping bags, giving the illusion that the floor is covered with more stuff there’s more than there really is, which is still quite a lot of stuff. And this isn’t even Christmas proper yet — the unwrapping of the REAL presents, following tradition, would be much later in the afternoon.


FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 976 views

Pop Factor: 258 Controversy Rating: 214

Brian McFadden’s two-fisted attack on the Catholic Church is a braver and more lucid political statement than anything, say, Bono has ever managed. That it’s also part of the most naked grab for cred since Robbie at Glasto just makes things better. But for even the most ardent pop fan there comes a point at which the hilarious context must face up to the reality of the record, and in this case the reality of the record is that it’s shit. 3 (Tom)

Poor Brian. Such are the mental scars from being regularly whipped black and blue with a rosary for failing to recite 1 Corinthians c.4v.32 from memory, its impaired his judgement. Here, Brian unwisely attempts to make the jump from boy band member to Serious Artist in the space of just two singles. If ‘Serious Artist’ entails ‘sounding a bit like Bryan Adams’.

Sadly, Raging Bri falls at the first hurdle, in that for all its burning iconoclastic fury, Irish Son fails the Born In The USA Test. Which is, of course, if you’re going to say something angry and political, say it in the chorus. What you shouldn’t do is rely on people listening to the lyrics in the verses, especially if you are otherwise known as The Ugly One From Westlife and no rockist in their right mind is going to take you seriously.

Irish Son, however, ignores this sage advice altogether, hitting the prime ‘Guinness in the air’ moment of frenzied climax right on the words ‘THIS IS THE CITY THAT RAISED ME!” thus ensuring that no one will listen to anything after that and declare it a great patriotic anthem for as long as anyone cares.

And Brian’s wrong anyway. To borrow a phrase from another of pop’s great political commentators – ‘We share the same biology, regardless of ideology, what might save us me and you, is that the Catholics love their children too.’ 0 + JOKER (Matt DC)

Wow. This is pretty unlistenable. Like a Phil Collins song with three coats of wax. Or what Mike and the Mechanics would be if they could just “mellow out” a little. Yeah, I can’t get through two listens. Pretty bad. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing here? 0 (Forksclovetofu)

From the soaring instrumentation – check out those strings – to the introspective lyrics Brian McFadden has shown his sensitive side with “Irish Son.” The divorce has matured Brian McFadden, turning him into a rugged lad with a golden heart. What a step from Westlife to this solo single. Brian McFadden may have turned a tinge too Bryan Adams gone Irish, just listen to those touching lyrics. Brian has obviously suffered a lot during his childhood. There’s no pretense, it’s all heartfelt. “Irish Son” takes a step back, trying to aim for a well-written tune, but like Brian says, this Irish son has moved with the times as well. Perfect for a Christmas gift but it also fits on every radiostation. Just don’t dare play it in my house unless you want to DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH. 0 (Stevie Nixed)

It’s like the 60s never happened! Faith in God; the comforting straitjacket of morality; lyrics which adults have to explain to their kids. If that’s not bad enough, it sounds like U2 when they were in their “earnest, standing next to trees” period. There will be a picture, behind McFadden, of an aged, venerable oak on the album cover, mark my words. “This double CD of God songs is not avaiable in the shops. Order now and get a free crucifix worth more than Brian McFadden’s entire oeuvre” 2 (Derek Walmsley)

It has the slick music of a proper pop song, but the lyrical and vocal style is rather more indie. I like the keyboards and violins, but the dismal whininess of the rest of it is not at all likeable or appealing. The music rather overwhelms the very weak singing, which is probably for the best, but it does suggest a (suitable) lack of confidence in the words and/or vocals. I guess he’s probably hoping to be the new Robbie Williams, and this is plainly supposed to be a declaration of spiritual maturity and independence, but he’ll surely have to do better than this in every respect to get a big new audience – perhaps learning that going a bit hoarse and strained here and there is not enough of a vocal repertoire for a solo singer, when you lack tunefulness and power and brio. Though come to think of it, I’ve never quite understood how Robbie got where he did, so what do I know? I do feel confident in saying that this is not the new ‘Angels’, however. For the quite pretty music: 3 (Martin Skidmore)

Me, I disconnect from you. (Me = the lyrics, you = the music). The “think for yourself” theme couldn’t be more at odds with the drippy MOR song stylings. (“Stylings” almost always being a bad adjective). Pity, since the “fact-based” lyrical sentiment is timely, given the recent election in America and the current over-reaction to the importance of moral values. The more forgiving part of me would like to think that the guitar (keyboard?) track is both a U2 pastiche and parody, but the overall “Songs Of Praise” feel give lie to that notion. Brian McFadden should borrow some bile from that other Irish son, Cathal Coughlin. 3 (Henry Scollard)

I want to run. I want to hide. Tear down the walls. Dye my eyes and call me pretty. The band should stop listening to Train. Give me a sign (and a break). 4 (David Raposa)

standard irish bleating, really quite over the top and useless, would have been a moving and worthy indictiment of religous abuse and the dangers of faith, if it was quieter and more subtle. (and that indictment is legitmate)

would like to have seen sinead o connor do this–because she understands both anger at god, and anger at church. (cf her cover of joni mitchells magdaelene laundry) 5 (anthony easton)

Hmm. So this fellow is a pop star? I’ve had to do some research, you understand; I’m afraid I’m an American. This is pretty innocuous music. It kinda floats here to there until it’s gone. I suppose that’s comforting if nothing else. This is the kind of song that would ingratiate me if it became ubiquitous. Fortunately, I am an American. Isn’t that nice? 6 (Atnevon)

That would be an ecumenical matter. 5 (Steve M)

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Films #3: Scrooged

Blog 7Post a comment • 1,538 views

(Oh, a key bit of business. Whilst this is a list of Christmas films, they are not all about Christmas. Instead they are Christmassy films, films which remind us of Christmas and sometimes films which are always on at Christmas. The usual veto and nomination process was adhered to and so I will be able to proffer a list of films which did not make it…)

I am one of the few people I think who does not like Scrooged. I think it is because of a genuine misunderstanding of the film. I remember Bill Murray at the time being asked what the moral of the film is. And he said that it questioned why we should be especially nice at Christmas, when we should be nice all year round. In retrospect maybe he was taking the piss. His schtick is that deadpan stuff after all…

I agree with this point he makes , but the film does not really play this way. And since I already have a definitive Christmas Carol (in the Muppet version) no matter how good Bill Murray is (which is pretty good) it does not really work for me. Not even on Christmas Eve.

The Bad Game

Do You SeePost a comment • 244 views

The Bad Game (as we have taken to calling Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) has received surprisingly little coverage here on Freaky Trigger. This is possibly because those of us who own it haven’t had time for blogging due to playing the damn thing or, in my case, are scared of broadcasting their lack of progress to be laughed at by the people who’ve already finished the game… However, over on ILE [CAUTION: VAST THREAD WITH SEVERAL SPOILERS], there has been a lovely sense of community about the whole thing, with those more advanced players helping out the remedial kids like me, without giving too much away.

Onimo also brought our attention to this, which I am happy to blatantly steal. Also, I’m very disappointed at the tiny range of official clothing available from rockstar, where is my Dribblers basketball shirt with 69 on (and my helmut obv)?

…anyway, got to go and take denise out for fried chicken and a drive-by now, see you later [ahem] homies.

Pub Science Experiment #1 Pub 4: The Bow Bells, Bow Rd, E3

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 716 views

Pub Science Experiment #1

Pub 4: The Bow Bells, Bow Rd, E3

Category: Nearly Railway

A few yeards from Bow Church DLR, and a few more from Bow Road tube, this pub is much more like it. I laugh when I see some more tongue and groove but this is old and battered and not-pine and varnished and lovely. This is a biggish pub, unusually L-shaped, but comfortable and friendly, with delicious, cheapish pints of Breakspears (and two other bitters I don’t remember). The barman smiles happily as I wander to the bar and keeps amiably nattering to his two mates.

I have no idea what the Bow Bells is like in the evening: maybe it turns rowdy and nasty, though I’d be very surprised. It seems like it’s set up for comfortable drinking and the advanced, lubricated talking of utter nonsense. This is the sort of place which makes me sorry I don’t come to this neck of the woods very often. I could imagine growing to really like it here.

Overall mark: (out of 10): 7

The Advent Calendar Of Comics: Dec 3

Blog 7Post a comment • 203 views

PCGMwatch: November 2004

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 206 views

PCGMwatch: November 2004

Mental state of political correctness worse than ever!

– “Sydney Scrooge” accused of “political correctness gone mad” – her crime was to put a Christmas tree in the City Hall at Christmas. Oh no, hold on, her crime was to put only one “meagre” Christmas tree in the City Hall at Christmas. Madness indeed.

This one is fast becoming a seasonal standard as the twin nightmares of modern life – PC lunatics and the lurking pervertalist – clash at the Nativity play.

– More from Australia – suspension of schoolchild is, you guessed it…

– And back to Scotland: hard-hitting editorial or auto-written mixture of the sneery and the pious? You decide!

– Christmas really is the prime time for this stuff – more op-ed from Canada, as ever the primary question of “why are you wasting editorial space on this shit?” goes curiously unasked.

– What is it with Scotland and PCGM? Nursery rhyme study is etc etc. – I’m guessing in fact that the nursery rhyme study is an entertaining and cheap way of getting some publicity for a Children’s Hospital, but each to their own. Best headline of the month though.

Real Bet’n Balompie

TMFDPost a comment • 479 views

Real Bet’n Balompie

More top comedy from Spain:
Can’t they resurrect Greavsie’s Gaff to get these people in for an interview? I hereby volunteer to do interpreting duties.


Do You SeePost a comment • 907 views


I saw Wayne’s World in Oxford at a midnight preview screening when I was a student (George Street, Screen 1 which was huge before it was parcelled into six screens). The week before I had seen a midnight screening of The Exorcist with a jibbering Catholic who ran out half way through. I did not know what to expect from Wayne’s World, the media blitz had not quite hit, but it did have the words cult comedy attached to it. I would like to say I was there because of Mike Myers Wide-Awake Club performances in the mid-eighties, but who am I kidding. But a midnight movie was getting to be a bit of a ritual for me, the bar had closed and I did not want to go to the ropey Friday night clubs that Oxford offered. I went with one friend who was not that keen.

We were possibly the only English people in the audience. Oxford in term time has a fair share of Americans, postgrads mainly, and it was as if in some sort of Pavlovian bell had rung and here they were. This was US youth culture writ large, their Saturday Night Live favourites on the big screen and they were two months behind their countrymen in appreciating it. (Actually it was quite clear that half the audience had seen it before.) But it was the first time I had seen a movie American style, with the whoops, hollers, rowdiness and applause at the end. Thankfully it was a comedy; otherwise it may have turned me off of live cinema for life. Instead it did the opposite.

I love cinemas. I love seeing films with an engaged audience, be they hushed with awe, fear or excitement, or rowdy with kids as The Incredibles was last weekend. If I want to see a film on my own, I can, huzzah for DVD and Video. But I like the room, I like the projection, the big screen and – yes – I even like the other people. Wayne’s World taught me that you have to see a comedy with others. On video, on my own*, would even the Bohemian Rhapsody bit be funny? Probably not. As a film it is patchy: has possibly one of the oldest plots in the book and mishandles it (though kudos for its politics). Wayne’s World 2 is probably better. But as a comedy it rarely sags, the throwaway jokes are there, and with a receptive, pissed audience it is a winner.

*I am increasingly of the opinion that the best way to see a comedy is actually on video/DVD in a room full of pissed up mates – but there is still the community aspect I am referring to.

Cryptic Clue Corner

TMFDPost a comment • 371 views

Cryptic Clue Corner

Mysteriousness from Popjustice: “there are five utterly amazing new tracks due out next year which will blow each and every one of your heads off. We’re not really allowed to tell you anything about them – although we can tell you that one of them’s by an ex-footballer – so you’ll just have to watch this space.”

Who can it possibly be?!