Posts from 25th August 2005

25
Aug 05

My Mutha Was A Hairdressa

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Actually she did six months sweeping the floor in a salon when she turned sixteen. As soon as it looked like she might have to be taken on as an apprentice rather than just be paid a thrupenny bob bit a week (her words) she was sent packing. Nevertheless this did not stop her believing she was a hairdresser. Which meant that either
a) she cut my hair, brutally
b) she was too bolshy at the barbers.

I hated the barbers as a kid, partially because my Mum talked to Aldo as if she was a fellow pro. “Thinning scissors”, she would say when he started using the thinning scissors. “You’ll have to watch his crown,” stuff like that. She also made me wait for Aldo, rather than let the chain-smoking older barbers touch my hair, as that way I got the best cut. The first time I went in by myself I let a chainsmoker do it. It was much better than fancypants Aldo (I think there was a flirt going on).

Anyway, I hated the tugging, the preening and the way my neck would itch for about five days. But that was generally better than Mum cutting. While she did have a basic idea what she was doing, she was prone to going in to the head at a funny angle and stabbing the back of my bonce with the scissors. All this changed when she got a special hair cutting comb. Unfortunately not for the better. The special comb supposedly had razor blades at angles safely behind the tines. This was fine until they went blunt (one use). After which the way it cut was basically ripping the hair from your scalp. And sometimes, some of the scalp too.

So if I ever have crap hair, blame my Mum, Aldo and that comb. And if the barbers had head hoovers like in Cut when I was a kid, I would have gone all the time.

Ukelele Rave

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 295 views

2 in a Tent – “When I’m Cleaning Windows (Turned Out Nice Again)”

Will there be mandolins, a suspicious potential punter asked before the last Poptimism. I replied that no, there would not be mandolins, but I was planning to play something with a ukelele in it. Namely this, a raved-up version of George Formby which you might remember nudging the early 90s charts.

I like it, I think it’s funny – not as funny as the original, of course – and I don’t really need to intellectualise it. But I might anyway – it strikes me this is a funhouse version of the approach that Moby took and made millions of dollars from: take a snip of pre-rock sound culture and use ‘dance music’ as a kind of amber to frame and freeze it. Except Moby was all about creating a phoney pathos borrowed from the real sadness of archaeology, 2 in a Tent are all about amusing you for three party minutes. But still they make me fix on little tics of Formby’s voice and delivery, that superb and dying phrase “nosey parker” for instance…

The Future Shape Of London

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 373 views

Store Street has suddenly become arty. There have been a couple of galleries opening – including the Political Cartoon Gallery which confirms that political cartoons HAVE NEVER BEEN FUNNY. But best of all is the New London Architecture exhibit in the Building Centre. This is a permanent home for NLA and its job is to have those debates about architecture that Prince Charles always gets really wrong. And the current exhibit kicks it off (and kicks ass as well).

The Changing Face Of London has as its centrepiece a 1:1500 model of central London (along the river in particular) in 2016. You can see the Shard, City Road Basin, Stratford after the Olympics all in one huge model. The model almost overshadows the rest of the exhibits, which includes a borough by borough look at current developments. As well as this there are more detailed models of some of the projects, including a wonderful cut-away of Battersea Power Station*. Its a lovely little drop-in exhibition, but I have found it rather addictive over the last few weeks. The big model is a permanent exhibition, but the more detailed models are there til the 10th September, when more architecture comes in, but do yourself a favour and have a look. You won’t regret it: even if you hate some of this stuff, you’ll know about it…

*Which will never be built as this is the law of Battersea Power Station.

THE HEY YA EXPERIMENT

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 304 views

Premise 1: The rap artistes Outkast released the single Hey Ya in 2003. It was very, very popular.

Premise 2: With its instantly recognisable into and catchy beat, it quickly became a banker in any popular music disc jockeys set.

Premise 3: So much so that it was a lazy trick to play it, and therefore influential popular music website Popjustice instigated a Hey Ya Boycott in November of last year.

EXPERIMENT: To see what a half full dancefloor & half full club of savvy pop listeners aware of the boycott will do, if a DJ dares to break this rule.

AIM: To see what they will do.

APPARATUS: Twin CD Decks that now work, a great club wot is called POPTIMISM (mid Fridays every month), a DJ, a stick that says POP and INDIE on it, a copy of Hey Ya.

METHOD: With a half full dancefloor courtesy of Vanilla Ninja (shame) the infectious intro to Hey Ya is cued up. The sign saying POP is waved as ver Ninja fade out, and the pause button is played on the crossfader. The crossfader is flicked with some panache.

RESULTS: Instant excitement on the dancefloor. The odd cheer. There is an almost instant reaction from those not on the dancefloor with a mass stampede. As the song kicks in proper there are pained looks from people who were already on the floor, as if they are dealing with some insurmountable personal dilemma over whether to dance or not. No-one leaves dancefloor. Occasionally punter comes and waves comedy fist at the DJ, who explains that this is not breaking the boycott, merely an experiment.

CONCLUSION: The power of Hey Ya is greater than even a Popjustice boycott. And note, the boycott is equally explicit about what the crowd should do when it is played, they should not dance. I broke the boycott in the name of science, you lot just broke it on purpose. (It also means rubbish DJ’s should have no fear of the boycott. As I am not a rubbish DJ, I shall revert to not playing it.)

Food Science prequel: Pork Tatin

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 563 views

In which two different types of food are rammed together in one. It came to me that pork is good with apples, and that there must be a fancy, schmancy way of presenting this that just a gloop of baby food on the side. Thus the idea of Pork Tatin was born. Its a tart tatin without the tart, and pork instead of pastry.

So slit and flatten a pork fillet and season. Fry for two minutes both sides in a very big frying pan. In the meantime caramelise some sugar in a baking tray (on the hob) and then cover with thinly sliced Bramley cooking apple. Place the pork on top of the apple and slam in the oven for 8 minutes (Gas 5-ish worked). Then up-end the tray on to you big serving plate and you have a wonderfully presented dish with nice half moons of caramelised apple on top.

At least that was the idea. What the prof of food forgot was that caramelised sugar = sticky and the method used for turning out a tortilla would not work. What actually happened was the pork fell on the plate, the apple stuck. And the apple was not coming off without serious scraping. Reducing the apple to a sticky gloop not unlike apple sauce. It tasted great, but lacked the presentational finesse I had hoped for.

But then I thought, Pork Strudle…

Pecking Order

TMFDPost a comment • 390 views

I wish football journalists and commentators would stop talking about strikers “dropping down the pecking order” at their clubs. This dreadfully scratchy expression appears at least 46 times a day on the BBC’s football website.

I believe it is reckless and irresponsible, as Europe struggles to contain the threat of bird flu.

Super Mini-Thin Screen TV

TMFDPost a comment • 451 views

Couple of notable things about last nights Everton / Villareal game. First, ITV2 screening this big tie seemed to have a bit of an aspect ration problem. At 4:3 the screen was taller than it was wide. At Widescreen it did not fill the screen. Therefore the match appeared to be taking place between two teams comprised of characters from Lowry paintings.

And talking of paintings, the walking representation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, was refereeing. Apparently the Italian league have bent their age rules and extended Collina’s contract. David Moyes seems unhappy about this and even the commentators suggested that Collina had “Duncan Ferguson’s card marked”. This would be a terrible abuse of power, but hold up. If you were going to “mark the card”, and prejudge the motivations of hard to see challenges, then Duncan “I’ve spent a bit of time in chokey” Ferguson is exactly the kind of player you would pick. You can’t have a hard man reputation without the ref’s picking it up too…