Posts from March 2005
Television’s Favourite Search Engine
search-wise.net – as seen on Dr Who, and Footballer$ Wives. “set up for clearance purposes so that it can be used in film and TV productions”. Bah, and I thought the logo was some deliberate pastiche of the “Eye of Horus” for Who nutters.
Music Sounds Better With Evil Corporations
Last night I walked past two major record stores in Boston. As I crossed in front of the Virgin Megastore, they were playing “Hombre” by M.I.A. When I went into Newbury Comics, they were playing Bjork’s singles in one half of the store and some anonymous-sounding, boring guitar band in the other half. At that moment, I desperately wished that Virgin sold comic books because it was blatantly obvious that Newbury Comics had jumped the shark and put itself in a little musical cul-de-sac that refused to acknowledge music after 1997 and I didn’t really want to be in that place; I wanted to run through 2005 with M.I.A. on one arm and Stush on the other.
I found it to be a relatively jarring moment because I’ve been retreating without complaint into musical nostalgia over the past couple of years; I’ve felt little-to-no desire to investigate musical scenes any deeper than what gets presented on MTV and the local ClearChannel radio stations (outside of keeping an eye out for musical endeavors pursued by people I’ve met online), plus I’ve felt almost no desire to buy/download anything that I either haven’t heard before or wasn’t done by an established favorite. Newbury Comics, which (to me) used to be the Boston bastion of forward-thinking tastemaking, seems to have retreated into this shell as well, pandering to the most conservative musical instincts in my body, but as I walked past Virgin and heard those braying, discordant “HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY”s ringing out over the street, I felt, I don’t know, alive, like I was about to be transported naked onto a dancefloor with 8 million clones of my wife begging me to dance them into orgasm. Entering Newbury Comics felt like turning my back on a shiny, candy-coated version of TEH FUTUR. Almost every fiber of my being wanted to run into the street, dash over to Virgin and spend my entire paycheck on new imports, like I did in my early 20s. It was a crystallized moment of pure aural-consumer desire the likes of which I hadn’t felt since 2000. Instead, I wandered to the counter with my X-Men book and a copy of Actually and wistfully thought back on the days when I wasn’t old.
I guess it isn’t a big surprise that the big conglomerate would be better at pushing “CONSUME!” buttons than the “plucky-local-kid” conglomerate that still thinks chrome-plated Dr. Martens are the shit, but it’s been YEARS since I’ve felt that overwhelming need to buy music. Even though I’ll probably stay in my hermetic navel-gazing bubble for the time being, it’s nice to know there’s a manic monster in my heart that would like to make a gigantic grime-and-reggaeton jock strap and give me the world’s funkiest wedgie with it.
TV Diary: everything I watched on 30/3/05
England vs. Azerbaijan: The usual coverage. An absurdly one-sided game, finishing 2-0. Pundits claim it’s the highest chance to goals ration for one team ever. We won, and I don’t care too much about the rest of it.
Blackadder: The Elizabethan series. The one with the rich puritan relations coming round. A very forced plot, but lots of terrific performances (Miriam Margoyles, hurrah!) and some excellent lines. About the fourth time I’ve seen it, so hard to get too enthused.
(sorry, that’s all I watched tonight. Wasn’t much on, wasn’t in the mood, etc.)(and there may be a blank tomorrow, by the look of it)
(Caution: contains spoilers)
Out of long habit I will read any comic which cover-features the magic words “N-No! It can’t be…YOU“. The shock revelation (be it ever so bogus) is meat and drink to my somewhat jaded brain.
This time the Cantbeyou is indeed a shocker. If you’re not a comics reader you may remember a bit of press back in the late 80s when DC decided to kill Robin, then set up a premium rate phone line to allow readers a vote to let the lad live – or confirm his fate. They voted for death, causing much outcry and hand-wringing, not so much over the death of Robin but over the corruption implied in encouraging people to waste their money on frivolous phone votes (how little we knew). The Robin in question wasn’t the Robin who is currently – comics time – hanging around with Batman, or the Robin who you may remember from the films, though he looked broadly the same. He was Jason Todd, a snotty 80s street-kid Robin, created and written as an irritating caricature who the fans never took to.
Because of his semi-democratic fate Jason Todd has always been regarded as one of the untouchable comics dead, immune to shock return. Until now, when he’s back, in a thoroughly entertaining story – violent, slick, promising much convoluted explanation in the future (if you like that sort of thing – I tend to thrill on the shocks and try to ignore their doughy justifications). He’s posing as tuff new hoodlum the Red Hood, whose exchanges in this comic with Gotham City kingpin the Black Mask are a lot more entertaining than Batman’s dialogue with Robin. The other Robin. Todd comes across as a likeable, if nasty, type, much more so than he did in his first life.
At the same time though I have to laugh. The Todd story was big hot news a few years after I started reading comics: it was the hype, the buzz, the change-everything storyline. It makes me feel a little bit old – seventeen years ago? In 1988 I didn’t care about them killing Jason Todd – a sophisticated 15-year old I had decided to give up superhero comics – but a lot of people cared a great deal. I’m not sure what the moral for fans is: don’t be upset about anything, or be upset about everything.
Day 27: Subterranean Homesick Alien
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES
Deftu’s citadel on the moon (I just love starting sentences like that) turned out to be really rather luxurious. If it was not for the constant piped music it would have been idyllic. After our conversation the alien returned to his job and gave us the run of the place. I found some foreign liquor which tasted a bit like sloe gin, only it got me drunk quicker. I guess some sort of fast gin then.
Anyway despite getting really rather sozzled, my duty to the Universe remained paramount in my mind. It did so also after a rather filling three course meal, some coffee and a nice long nap in a very comfy bed. I awoke the next morning with a determination to do something about The Listener. And I wouldn’t use guns, I wouldn’t use bombs I would use the one thing I had more of (than Jarvis Cocker even) – and that was straight out and out bastard sneekiness.
“Deftu,” I said walking in to what he called his listening room, and interrupting his intense concentration on some godawful Jem single. “Are you aware of self-actuated music?”
“The music made by someone listening to music.”
“Oh, you mean people singing along badly in their cars?”
“No, not really. The nature of living things is often to create a sympathetic harmonic with anymusic it is listening to. All you need is the right equipment to hear it.”
I took a long look at the large, state of an art we had not yet encountered stereo and nodded.
“Give me half an hour and I can rig this up.”
Half an hour was actually spent tracking down the worst possible record just so I could snare Deftu into my trap. I sent Crispian off for more gin while I was at it.
“Now you just sit there and I’ll attach this microphone to you. Now if you can think about your favourite music -”
“Radiohead,” he said both confirming steroetypes about their average fan and making me shudder.
“And then hopefully we should pick something up.”
Pick something up we did, a strange howling sensation that could only be feedback. Or a Mogwai B-side.
“How is that?” I said.
“Fascinating, how long does it go on for,” he shouted, and the squeal got louder (as I increased the mike sensitivity.
“Ooh, a while.”
I had to protect my ears as the piercing noise did all but destroy the sense of sound of Deftu and anyone listening out on his live, universe-wide feed. In its deafening unpleasantness it was not unlike being at MC5 gig. Finally I turned it off.
“Ringing,” Deftu shouted. “In my ears.”
“I know,” I said. “Its cheaper than an I-Pod. Its the secret music of truth,” I lied.
However Deftu seemed happy to just sit there listening to noises in his head. Thus I asaved the universe from music with just the help of a Mogwai B-side. Sometime you have to play dirty.
RADIOHEAD – Subterranean Homesick Alien
What do aliens like to listen to? Well space jazz obviously, and really, really boring music like Radiohead. Subterranean Homesick Alien is a perfect song to represent all of Radiohead’s career ever: and not just because it is rubbish. Look at the name: does it not remind you of the name of another song? Oh yeah, its a play on a song title by Nob Dylan, who Radiohead admire in as much as they want to be as annoying as him.
A lofty aim but one I would have to admit they have tackled well.
So the plot of SHA (missing a T obviously) is that Thom Yorke is wandering around his sleep town, and aliens keep buzzing him. When they are not buzzing him they are drilling holes in themselves – one imagines to remove the noise of Johnny Greenwood playing guitar down the road. Anyway poor mixed up Thom is so bored (and boring) that he wishes the aliens would take him away.
SO DO WE. Oh to be spared Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief.
But they don’t and Thom moans that he is uptight. Well there is a shock. Uptight about what? The wonky eye, the lack of songwriting ability? No, just uptight in general.
And people ask me how I got into the hating music business. Sheesh!
…but not these animals. They are the ones who FAILED to get voted on to the Top 25 list.
Okapi (late doors admission to mammal kingdom)
Bat (“sonar”? The rest of us call it HEARING THINGS.)
Willy out of Free Willy (A robot.)
Coelocanth (worst resurrection ever)
Werewolf (not a real etc.)
Chameleon (blame D.Bowie for this one)
Dogs in clothes (a pitiful sight)
K-9 (Even a sponge has more life than he.)
Gila Monster (medium size lizard, in no sense deserves name ‘monster’)
Dogs (just closing the loophole there)
Schnappi (was robbed)
Manticore (see Werewolf)
Unicorn (see Manticore)
Hydra (see Unicorn, NB there are animals called Hydras aren’t there? Or are they secretly plants?)
Tarkus (shows what I know)
Baboon (look! his arse is purple! hilarious!)
Newt (sorry Ken)
Look, we were in the pub, OK?
So what have we learned about animals from this list? We like animals which:
– eat lots of different things (#2 – goat)
– are like big versions of small cute animals (#3 – capybara)
– are ruthlessly destructive in terms of getting their grub(s) (#4 – anteater)
– look great when robotised (#5 – owl)
– swarm unstoppably over the urban environment (#7 – pigeon*)
– are actually quite odd when you think about it (#8 – badger)
– endure massive death rates on the roads (#9 – hedgehog)
– can be very extremely dangerous (#10 – shark)
– need regular haircuts (#11 – sheep)
– can be transplanted successfully to non-natural environments (#12 – stick insect)
– are deeply hierarchical (#13 – penguin)
– live a long time and have a deep sense of history (#14 – giant turtle)
– is a monkey (#15 – world’s smallest monkey)
– eye-friendly exterior conceals brutal truth (#16 – polar bear)
– congregates in massive labyrinthine towers (#17 – ant)
– highly socialised family units (#18 – meerkat)
– remains mysterious in many ways despite lots of investigation (#19 – giant squid)
– is endangered largely because of its own idiocy (#20 – giant panda)
– breed like (#21 – rabbits)
– photograph well (#22 – kittens)
– able to channel and amplify sound (#23 – narwhals)
– cleverer than it looks (#24 – pig)
– will go to almost any lengths to empty a nutsack (#25 – red squirrel)
So our favourite animal should combine all of these. And we do.
*We also like widgeons, which aren’t remotely like humans.
True Story (yeah I know): As a child I went down to my cousins and stayed overnight with an elder and somewhat aggressive child. At one point I was woken in the night by him shining a torch. Apparently I was grumpy as he and his younger brother asked me “Are you afraid of ghosts?”
“No. Of course not,” said I. What was there to be afraid of. White, shaggy, bleating creatures whose young are called kids. Nothing scary about them.
This mishearing came back to haunt me a few days later when at a petting zoo and a goat tried to take my arm off with its waste disposal unit gob. Actually I am a bit afraid of goats, because they can and will eat anything. They say the cockroach is natures ultimate survivalist. Well that is okay if you want the quality of life of a bug, but if you want to roam free, majestically on a mountainside and eat rocks for dinner – you’ve got to be a goat.
The ghost/goat dichotomy did strike me as apt though. Consider a case of goatish reincarnation. Man dies, and is resurrected as a goat. Bleating his way forward with the knowledge that all that matters is freedom, sex, eating and decent facial hair. (Making really nice soft cheeses would also be added to the equation for me.)
Oh: and as a child my nickname was Goat Peter. I would like to think it was for my rugged, outdoorsy charm. But actually the terribly tedious teatime trials of Heidi were to blame.
Hearts And Minds: US Army to produce free comic books for Middle Eastern kids.
So Mourinho gets a two match ban then. Let us set aside the issue of whether or not Mourinho has brought the game into disrepute: frankly only football would equate “making something more entertaining” with “disrepute”. What are the particulars of a two match ban?
Well according to the rules he cannot be on the touchline but must be in the stands. He can of course talk to his team before, half-time and after the game and of course coach them all the way up to it. If one assumes the team will know where in the stands he will be, and that he will be in constant touch via mobile phone to the bench, is there any actually punitive value to this punishment at all? Jose if anything will get a slightly better view. The rules say nothing about where in the stands, so “just behind the dugout” would be fine. There must be better ways of enforcing this.
Let us just hope that Carlos Alberto does not get the same treatment for his even more entertaining diatribe against Michael Owen: THE MIDGET.