Posts from 17th August 2005

Aug 05

Day 42: East California: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 368 views

So there we were, not so much getting our kicks on Route 66, more getting a good kicking. The truck, with its mysterious driver kept buffeting out rear and I had no illusions that if he managed to draw level, he would be able to force us off of the road.

Luckily Crispian’s driving was so poor under these circumstances that I was forced to take the wheel. As I was a very large number of sheets to the wind my driving was erratic to say the least. If you have ever tried to overtake a drunk driver you will know what I mean. I managed to keep the demon trucker off our back until we reached some services. At which point I got out to give the truck driver a piece of my mind. I am fearless.

Turns out fear would not be required anyway, as he just wanted to get our attention to let us know we had a busted tail-light. I tend to be of the opinion that he may have caused this. Nevertheless, I suppose any vaguely smart psycho might change their opinion when a gin-fuelled harridan like me baying for their blood. I might still have had stains of Elvis’s blood on my person too.

A quick night passed in the motel before we hit the horrid road again, for the last five hours to Los Angeles. And it was strange as we drove through East California that the was a real sense that we were leaving America when we hit West California. And then I remembered why…

KIM WILDE: Kids In America

From New York To East California
There’s a new wave coming, I warn you

So sang the youngest scion of the Wilde family. But one wonders, why would this “New Wave” of what she speaks not penetrate West California? After all it managed to conquer all of the East Coast (perhaps not the furthermost easterly bits of New England) which is at least as sophisticated as the Californian coast. Having flooded all of Utah, New Mexico and both Dakota’s it seems unlikely that half a state could resist. No, there must be some sort of conspiracy here. It strikes me the possible answers are as follows:

a) The “New Wave” originated in West California. Possible, though unlikely. Unless Ms Wilde was prophetically talking about West Coast Gangsta Rap, there aren’t many musical trends, let alone New Waves, started in LA.

b) The “New Wave” was deliberately avoiding West California. To be fair, LA and San Fran have a nice coast line, a pretty high standard of living and more films stars per acre. Isn’t it only fair that they lose something in the process? Like a “New Wave”.

c) Ms Wilde was a little shaky on geography and though East California was the coast. This is the most credible explanation, as Kim was always a bit thick, Cambodia was not exactly the most geographically sensitive song ever.

Alternatively you can stop worrying about what is a lousy pop song, destroy the copy and go out and do something less boring instead. Like gardening, eh Kim?

Onion Takes On Evangelical “Science”

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 226 views

Creationism – take that:


“Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein’s general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world,” said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. “They’ve been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don’t know how.”

The Illusion Of Small Change

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 548 views

(reposted from my l1v3j0urn@l)

I like comics in theory. I am very glad I am reading this Summer’s mainstream crop for free, though. It used to be that superhero comics were like summer blockbusters, i.e. Check out this FITE! No check out THIS ONE!!!! OMG NO HERE’S THIS ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

This is a good use of superhero comics in my opinion.

Also unlike real actual blockbusters they were being written in 10 minutes by some guy who had another seven to write the next day. So they were often madder than action films. (I am basing my knowledge of the film production process on the Orange cinema ads mind you.)

An example: in the issues of the Mighty Thor I was reading last night, Thor is having a big FITE with Hercules, who sings “HO FOR THE JOY OF COMBAT!” a lot. Thor is doing OK but then his Dad Odin is persuaded to take half his powers away mid-battle. (Because Thor has been at it with a mortal). OH NO! Hercules wins! Hercules is then offered to become a MOVIE STAR but it turns out that the film producer is none other than PLUTO god of the UNDERWORLD and the contract is really an oath saying Hercules must rule said underworld FOR EVER. Hercules notices this and says “Hold on this contract says I must rule the Underworld forever” and Pluto says “No no thats just the plot of the fillum”. Great film eh? So Hercules signs! OH NO! Luckily Thor sorts it all out.

Anyway this gets the thumbs up from me. Then superhero comics got a bit more sensible and literate and well-characterised, and that was pretty good too, even if sometimes I wish it hadn’t happened.

But now? Well now the market is pretty much all people who’ve been reading them for ages (LIKE ME OH NO) and theyve seen all the blockbuster stuff, AND the literate stuff, and so now the model is basically PORN, not your interweb g@p1ng @rs3 porn as being spammed onto an ILX thread near you in which you get what you pay for and then some, but old-school UK style mucky vids where the entire thing would be an enormous tease hung on a flimsy story and at the end you’d get some unconvincing softcore action and be left with the deflated feeling that anything interesting had happened offscreen.

All this years big comics storylines (I will spare non-readers the actual details, they do not involve ruling the underworld forever tho) have been going for 3 or 4 months now without much actual story emerging, just continual promises that the BIG CHANGES and the BIG SURPRISES are coming next issue…no next….no, next one. DC Comics has been trailing its “Infinite Crisis” for 6 months and about 25 issues and nobody has any real idea what it’s actually going to be about. Apparently they have an exciting conclusion in mind, which is more than I do to this post, other than to say that comics are rubbish and read by suckas (sob!).

Also characters poll, last few days, vote!

100 Reasons To Like Cricket

TMFDPost a comment • 461 views

As extolled by this ILx thread. In many ways it is symptomatic of a cricket thread that the first five posts are on a complete tangent about a doll. At time of writing it had made an impressive ninety, lets hope the thread makes its century. Worth it for the list of sledging alone.

Sledging of course being the name the gentleman’s game gives to being offensive about ones opponent’s wives, culture or race. Sometimes I think cricket professes its superiority to football on the grounds of politeness far too much than is strictly defensible.

THE FT TOP 100 SONGS: No. 82

FT + New York London Paris Munich/1 comment • 1,860 views

Jimmy Cliff – “Many Rivers To Cross”

A conversation I had about Many Rivers To Cross today.

Me: Have you got a copy of Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff.
Her: Yes. It’s great.
Me: You couldn’t play it down the phone to me.
Her: Sure. I’ll just try and find it.
Me: Is it quite sparse, arrangement-wise? All I can think of then I think of the song is the Aswad version which is pretty syrupy.
Her: Did Aswad do a version?
Me: I think they did. Didn’t everyone soft reggae do a version?
Her: UB40 did a rubbish version. I know that because I am from the Midlands and UB40’s career is etched in my brain as some sort of racial memory.
Me: Oh Christ, it was the UB40 version. Sorry Aswad. You know Aswad were pretty hardcore when they started, like Steel Pulse.
Her: What? Sorry, still looking. I thought it would be in this pile. Hold on, what’s this? A operatic version of The Handmaid’s Tale directed by Phylidia Law. Isn’t that Emma Thompson’s mum?
Me: Yes. Put that on while you keep looking.

Scary opera of The Handmaid’s Tale goes on. The clacking of hundreds of out of order, badly indexed and containing the wrong disc anyway CD’s continues.

Me: Doesn’t matter if you can’t find it.
Her: No, no I’ve got it here somewhere. Maybe in the reggae section.
Me: Why didn’t you start there?
Her: I don’t really think of Jimmy Cliff as reggae.
Me: Okay. Er-
Her: (Defensive) I thought it would be in the singer-songwriter section. Or the dead bloke section.
Me: How many sections have you got?
Her: It’s not my record collection, it’s my husbands. Sorry. Maybe I leant it to someone. I was listening to it last week.
Me: It doesn’t matter, I just said I’d write about it on Freakytrigger because it has been getting in the way of finishing the Top 100 Singles.
Her: What number is it?
Me: 82.
Her: What was number one.
Me: I can’t tell you.
Her: Spoilsport.
Me: If I told you then you would tell other people, negating the exciting point of a chart countdown. Anyway, you heard it last week, how does it go? Is the arrangement sparse? I think it would have a sparse arrangement. Does it sound like seventies reggae?
Her: It sounds like Many Rivers To Cross. You know?
Me: All I remember is the UB40 version.
Her: Well in your case then, it sounds better than Many Rivers To Cross.

Conclusion: Many Rivers To Cross is great because it sounds better than rubbish versions of itself that I can’t get out of my head.

Crashing Bore

Do You SeePost a comment • 354 views

Not really. Crash is probably the middle-brow hit of the summer. Entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking full of medium sized stars. The kind of ensemble piece that makes you feel good afterwards, and since it shares structure with Traffic, Short Cuts and Magnolia, the fact you get change out of two hours is a bonus. The downside? Who wants to spend just under two hours with a bunch of racists being racist to each other?

Crash does start with a terrible crash itself. Not a car accident (it starts just after one of the many car accidents in the film) but rather with a speech that poor old Don Cheedle has to spit out. It is a philosophical comment on the reason people crash into each other in Los Angeles, and makes no sense, and sounds like an op-ed piece. Here it is:

It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.

If you can get past that, the rest of the film is really rather good. It has the benefit of being the first film I can think of in years that actually talks about race in the US, and its conclusions are (sweet snowfall notwithstanding) pretty dire. As is some of the dialogue, which I initially thought was a flaw of the film. But actually I don’t know how racists speak in their day to day lives, especially when they are going about their racist business so I can’t claim lack of verisimilitude. Crash is a tricky film, which almost falls apart in so many places. But its better than David Cronenberg’s. Which really was a crashing bore.

Shift In Experimental Variable Does Not Change Result

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 433 views

Often in science, there are baseline variables that come with the scenario that people do not consider changing. For example it is taken as read that the glassware used un test tubes is inert to the experiment going on and contributes nothing but containing. But containing is very important, the alternative may be having potassium permanganate stains all over your hands and looking like a stupid armoured car robber.

The same is the case with pseudo-social experiments. Consider this very simple experiment:


Skipping the method, diagram (never was that good at drawing zits or hoodies) and results, the conclusion we should agree on: ABOUT THREE SECONDS.

However there are a number of baseline variables here which we may not have considered changing. So let us examine these, with suggested conclusions:
How important is the bus? Not very, though the enclosed space stops us walking away.
How important is the make of phone? Not at all. All the phone needs is two separate tunes to hit the 3 seconds.
How important is the presence of the phone? Very. Teenagers can be annoying anyway, but removing the phone will cause them to be creative with shouting, chips and potentially knives.

However one variable I though would be important, turned out not to be at all as I discovered this morning.
How important is the fact they are teenagers? Before today I would have suggested that this would be very important. However on the way to work today I came across two people in their sixties, scrolling through the various tunes on their new phones with glee. 3 seconds was all it too for these grey panthers to be fucking annoying. And they really, really did not need to play the Nokia tune TWICE