Posts from 3rd May 2005

May 05

One Of These Men Is Not Like The Others

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Amusing article about lookalikes which I initially clicked on because “Charles Kennedy” looks nothing like Charles Kennedy. Imagine my surprise when I read the piece to discover that “Charles” and the lookalike agency FREELY ADMIT this obvious fact. But “Kennedy” still gets work: one of the more telling and miserable facts about the Lib Dems’ public profile to surface this campaign, I think.

(The Howard and Blair lookey-likeys get about 6 out of 10 each, Blair being a little better.)

I’d Rather Be A Floater

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It strikes me that my demographic is not what is traditionally thought of as a floating voter. Floating voters are of course so named because most parties would like to subject them to a ducking stool test where the only RIGHT answer is to vote for US. But the traditional idea of the floating voter is someone who isn’t sure about the issues, is trying to work out what’s in it for them, stuff like that. It is almost seen as an insult I think to not have already made your mind up months ago. Which is why I and my flatmates feel a bit left out that we haven’t been canvassed. If I was I would say that Labour have annoyed me intensely and I fancy giving the Lib Dems another whirl .But on the other hand I do really like our Rebel MP (he’s Street Tuff) Jeremy Corbin and wouldn’t want to punish him directly for his parties errors. Oh, and its a pretty safe seat. But we are a flat of floaters.

To end such horrific stereotyping, and to feel part of the cut’n’thrust we proposed to join the band of people putting posters in their windows. But not for us the red of Labour or the yellowy-orange of the Lib Dems. We have proudly put a sign in the window saying “FLOATING VOTERS”. This probably reads “GIVE ME JUNK-MAIL” to the canvassers, but if it attracts their attention then so be it.

Actually it probably reads “GRANNY WHO WANTS LIFT TO THE SHOPS” to the canvassers but that’s their look out.

review without a title

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 212 views

yesterday was the final day of the christian marclay show at the barbican, which is annoying cz i caught it hour to spare and thus can only somewhat impotently tell you that VIDEO QUARTET is the best piece of video art i have EVER SEEN and if you ever get the chance to see it DO!

most of CM’s work = little conceptual sculptures based round Recording Culture, some of them tiny sight gags – a photo of a dog in a flea collar which instantly reminds of the His Matser’s Voice image – and some of them more elaborate: all are precisely and rigorously executed, though more are just funny than deeply resonant, i think (unless you bring your own freight of feelings about Recorded Culture to the picnic)

but it’s obvious even from the various record-sleeve collages – by concept no more far-reaching than an ILM sleeve-led thread, really – that CM has an extraordinary sense of colour and motion

this is what the VIDEO QUARTET exploits: four simultaneous screens, featuring clips from hollywood movies of every era (arty, cheesy, difficult, knockabout) crosscut against one another, the sound of all four screens combining, producing not chaos or cacophony – well a bit of both, actually, but always resolving more than it confuses – as elements of every kind, visual, sonic, narrative, emotive, symbolic, cheekily meta, weave into one another

i’m not a fan of filmed music generally: the picture you get when you concentrate on what you see, in rock, in orchastras, in almost anything, is distracting and even misleading… marclay (who has also worked as a ahem “turntablist” w. new york noiseniks like john zorn) has a real gift, i think, for discovering and amplifying aspects in the images which dramatise the least merely sociological elements in the music, and vice versa; for uncovering deep links and similarities in what would superficially seem unconnected and contradictory material

i think actually describing any of these links and similarities would misrepresent and diminish them: the things itself is rich and funny and odd and moving and addictive

why i wub pret #9384567903

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 262 views

this morning the girl who by looks reminds me of rainy’s early-days ilxor friend maryann asked me where i’d been all these weeks

it seemed kinder not to tell her, so i just said “away”

A Dirty Shame: The Paedo Problem

Do You SeePost a comment • 596 views

John Water’s new film tries so hard to offend that you cannot help be won over by its twee charms. Tracie Ullmann’s sexually repressed mother gets a bang around the head and becomes the twelth apostle of Ray-Ray, a kind of Jesus for sex addicts. Ray-Ray and his brethen are pit against the neighbourhood’s sexually repressed, happy to be self styled neuters. Along the way we get plenty of sploshing, exhibitionism, cunniliungus and micophilia to keep us happily pretending to be outraged. The films also shows the second time David Hasslehoff has been used in a slightly uncomfortable cameo role this year, marking him the king of the useless iconic celeb. Though I guess there is not supposed to be much crossover between John Water’s and Spongebob Squarepants audience. It is the funniest film I have seen this year, partially for its attempts at gross-out which come off as just a bit twee.

There is one problem in the film: which is happily embracing all sorts of sexual perversions and deviances (films terminology). One of the characters, the cop, who enjoys being a man-baby, uses the town invasion sequence to break into a house and replace a real baby. This briefly puts us in the uncomfortable position of seeing a grown man in a nappy gleefully picking up and removing a baby. For the first time the films drifts into waters Water’s probably would not like to get into, the freedom of sexual expression can also include acts which are socially a touch dodgy. Ray-Ray tries to counter this later with a good speech on not hurting anyone and consentuality of sex, but the damage is done. The neuters could easily use that one sequence to damn the entire film and its premise.

Still, “Let’s Go Sexing!” is the best movie catchphrase I have heard in years.

“shrewsbury votes the way the country votes”

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on sunday sistrah becky and i took dad down south and west, to the stiperstones, with its rocky outcrops, past the abandoned leadmine at snailbeach: he would lead student field trips out here fortnightly at least, while he was still teaching, though none of us have visited for years. he’s wheelchair-bound now, so we didn’t attempt the ridge, just the well-kept path from the highest car park, off round the side of the hill, for the view through the haze across the shropshire-cheshire plain, while nearby “talking fence posts” (you wind them up and a little voice talks from a speaker!) poshly unfolded fragments of the tale of WILD EDRIC and LADY GODDA harrying the normans

on the way across the county we passed every kind of election poster, left, right and just strange: on the stiperstones itself, the highest – right before the car park, on a local farmer’s land presumably – was a little bleat from ukip about not letting europe take control, plump frightened yeomen of the shire taking a stand against distant mordor

has any shrewsbury issue been of national significance since 1403, when owen glendower and lord percy percy henry percy were trounced? i’d say “i doubt it” but in contrary midlands dialect this means “i believe so”! plus also local lore – and i think actual real election science fact – sees shrewsbury and atcham as a weathervane constituency: its current MP, not standing again, defected from lab to lib-dem a couple of years back. actually the names of the main contenders this time suggest that the MORDORISTS HAVE WON: con = DANIEL KAWCZYNSKI (who is even taller than jess = 6’8″, and seems always to be photographed awkwardly half sittin down so as not to resemble an monstrous ogre EATIN the baby he is tryin to kiss); while lab = secret supergalactic agent MIKE ION….

by sight, much of shropshire remains nestled verdant yokel feudalism, unchanged since domesday, but actually it is crisscrossed with v.ancient ethnic fractures and subterranean social and cultural turmoil: ie telford is one of the most recent new towns w. a thriving japanese community, and in one of the newer estates on the south west side of shrewsbury there is a chinese takeaway boldly titled NEW GREAT WALL OF CHINA! and in the quiet little CofE primary school i attended 1965-68, the teams were named for protestant martyrs burnt at the stake by Queen Mary: latimer, cranmer, ridley and hooper!!

Beers Of A Different Colour (Strength)

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 5,338 views

The European standard it seems these days is to have two beers with the same name but of different strengths. We are not unused to this in the UK, pace Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export after all. Even Fosters made a brief foray into these murky waters. But the idea of Export lagers (and the odd phrase Export Strength) always confused me a touch. Surely Carlsberg was Danish too ? so it was also exported by the strict meaning of the word. A further understanding of the murky brewing world explained to me that Carlsberg may be made to a Danish recipe but was sloshed out buy the barrel load in Wrexham did not help. Because it turned out that so was Carlsberg Export. In the end the main difference was strength.

We now live in a premium lager UK. If it isn’t 5% then we are not supposed to want it. The same is not true of Europe where the “Export” battle is played out under a different name. Take Mahou, a very nice Spanish beer. I categorize the two as Mahou Green and Mahou Red. The actual difference in strength is about 0.5%. But Mahou Classic (Green) is more usual on draught and tastier than its red, stronger sibling. Mahou Green is particularly good with olives, and has a slight hint of vanilla in the aftertaste. Mahou Especial (Red) has, in common with many premium lagers over 5%, a less pleasant metallic aftertaste. A similar comparison can be made with Litovel, lager king of the Swimmer and its siblings. One thing to look out for though with a number of these European twofers, it is not always obvious which of the pair of beers is actually the stronger. Perhaps they should all go the way of Heineken and slim the brand to just one lager. But the fear is that if premium lager UK spreads to a premium lager world, we lose the beers that taste nice, in response to a world of strong, but slightly metallic tasting, 5.3% beers

Jazz etc is the second John Murray book I have read,

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 275 views

And now I get it. This is low-key storytelling at its best, the weaving of anecdotes into a whole: into a life. You can only tell a life in stories if that life is not too mundane, but what Murray challenges himself to do is walk the tightrope of a very ordinary childhood and a not particularly stellar adulthood with his chosen colour. In Murphy’s Favourite Channels it was television, which was perhaps too mundane in itself. In Jazz Etc it is Jazz, and in his leads passionate arguments about difficult jazz we are intrigued by the details. Much of which is made up, including the history of a Portuguese jazz violinist which is used to give the book some exotic colour. These just illustrate the strength of the supposedly ordinary Cumbrian bits, which you welcome back when they return..

Murray also knows how to litter his specific tales with small details which can resonate with a much larger audience (and see me on Murphy’s Favourite Channels for this). Here there are a few Oxford tracts which give you the “I know that” feeling. There are interesting constants between the books. Multiple marriages of the lead which are barely referenced, the Cumbrian childhoods. But if taken as a selection of very funny stories, Murray’s light diversions are surprisingly engrossing. And he pulls off the phonetic transcription of a North-West/Italian accent for both humour and pathos without it ever seeming dodgy, which is a wonder in itself.

Derren Brown’s disturbing video game stunt

Do You See17 comments • 7,265 views

I’ve openly admired most everything Derren Brown has done, with the exception of the silly Russian Roulette show. There was a so-so counting trick on tonight’s show with the episode’s “guest celeb” Jo Whiley which i could have done without, but the highlight of the show was a stunt that managed to appall me. He appears to send an unsuspecting man playing a (made up) zombie-shooting video game into a trance. Then he pops out of hiding and takes the mark and two of his friends to a building down the street. The building has the same layout as the game – obv the game is modelled on it. He then places a paint-ball rifle in the mark’s hand and hides again with the mark’s friends as they watch on TV. The mark comes out of his trance and looks around disorientated, but then actors start to shamble towards him in zombie make up.

The mark freaks out. Surprise. He acts immensely scared, running for, and banging on, (locked) doors, then goes Full Metal Jacket shooting the zombies. This went on for some time. I wanted it to stop. And when it did, as Derren sent him back under, he was clearly deeply scared or upset.

The “punchline” is DB then takes the mark back down the street to the video game in the pub, gets his friends to stand just as before and mark comes out of trance. When asked about the game by the “game’s designer” he calmly explains how great the game was.

I’ve not worked through exactly why I found this distasteful, but my first instinct is that it seems like a more mentally exploitative version of a Candid Camera trick. Derren’s marks are usually aware of their involvement – and this didn’t appear to be the case this time. Perhaps there was a reason for this, but I can’t see why the trick couldn’t have been otherwise staged. Even had that been the case it would have been a lot less “improper”, but still to some degree disturbing. Getting someone to manifest the appearance of being SHIT scared, though later they seem quite calm, seems out of place from the rest of the stunts in the series. Even in the fantastic seance he staged last year, the subjects only scared themselves – there is a difference in the subject’s volition. Perhaps this is the very point that does vanish under the extreme psychological states the show covers. Like I say, I’m still undecided on this. It is just a stage hypnotist’s trick, and i’m not one to be hating on the fun. Hmm.

One extra worry remains – this was a situation that deliberately appeared to blur fantasy and reality (though like I say, after the fact, the reality of that seemed to be largely forgotten). Isn’t this the core of psychosis? Again, perhaps I’m over-reacting, the simple definition of “the perception of reality is distorted” pretty much sums up a lot of DB’s tricks.

It would be unfair of me to omit the fact that DB later shows the mark the video of the full episode which he takes with much humour and appears to be enjoying.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been so upset if he’d sprung the trick on Jo Whiley.