Posts from November 2005
Smiley Culture – “Police Officer”
It has been 20 years since this simple song was released and about a dozen since I fell for it, playing it on a dare in an 80s disco. I have listened to it well over a hundred times, and I’m not tired of it, which isn’t something you can say for many records where the pleasure is in the punchlines.
Certainly more feted ‘story records’ don’t come close. Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts” is by one of my favourite acts, on a really good album: it’s awful. The Shangri-Las’ death ballads are sublime but I don’t listen to them as much as Smiley, and I don’t smile at them as much either. What is it about this song?
Not the story, really, especially as the ‘twist’ is dumb: Culture’s already told the coppers his name a few lines ago. No, it’s the telling that stays fresh. That slight increase in tempo at the end when he knows he’s going to get away with it, and his natural cockiness reasserts itself, “me draw out me Parker”. The venal cop, all oily mangnanimity, “a favour for a FAYvour”. The bubbling pride, while the situation’s still in the balance, “number one was its number”. And the brilliant interrogation, switching on a half-beat between eager police and weary, hassled, contemptuous Smiley, “What you got in the boot then son? Me cyassete recorder.” Right then the police are everybully, and Smiley is you.
I will let you know who won the Weber Cup soon, and the interweb will tell you if you are antsy, but I want to share with you an honest to god sports injury I developed at the weekend. Not playing of course. Rather from watching. It involves trying to find our allotted seats at Deportivo De La Coruna. We were up in the football equivalent of The Gods, and a combination of the ticket being in Spanish and all the numbers being rubbed off the seats led to a merry band of nine of us traipsing completely the wrong way.
This was quite possibly my fault, and I paid for it (as unfortunately I believe did Chris) with a very painful calf injury. You see the steps at Depo are steeper than the pyramids at Teotihuacan. After motoring up and down these buggers, my little legs could take no more. Ow.
No, actually, his ghost. Haunting a coffee machine!
Catholic Church to bin Limbo: OK, this sort of nonsense is diametrically opposed to science, you might think. But actually the establishment of Limbo in the 13th century seems to me a reasonable bit of scientific thinking. You have a known fact (“The souls of baptised Christians go to Heaven”). You have questions that require explanation arising from that fact (“What happens to the souls of virtuous pagans, or of babies who die before baptism?”). Existing theories are inadequate (“They can’t go to hell or purgatory, because we know that those places for sinners, and these people haven’t actually sinned.”). So you arrive at a new theory, which explains the known facts, and becomes widely accepted. (“They go to this sort of inbetween place called Limbo.”)
Of course the ‘known facts’ are unproven to say the least, and also this sort of thinking just turned the afterlife into a complete fannydangle which was vulnerable to a convincing, simpler theory. And you also wonder whether anyone actually believed in Limbo, or believed in it in a way that made any differences to their lives. And if they did – say if they were a devout mother of a baby that died unbaptized, and found Limbo a comfort – what are they going to think now?
Not me!! Honest. My only familiarity with Dreiser is his use as a BIG STICK for G Groth to beat the readers of The Comics Journal with. Here we see my namesake blogging Dreiser’s works – and encountering a TROLL! Quite a verbose troll too, see the bottom comment on this post. All very curious.
(I know you would all prefer me to blog the picture of me wrestling a giant octopus. It must wait until tomorrow.)
I am sad to report the end of the MY BIG POT experiment. I am however happy to report that this end is not due to
a) Illness on my part
b) Mold or any other conspicuous nastiness in the pot.
Rather, MY BIG POT has ceased to give me time to consider the lessons learned. And most importantly, because I finished the contents. (Actual real reason, my mother is coming to stay and she would not approve…)
Yesterday was a make or break day. It had been three days since MY BIG POT had been heated. Whilst it was being thoroughly chilled during this period, there were questions about how safe the contents would be for reheating. I therefore reheated thoroughly. Also before I went a large dollop of wholegrain mustard had been added to the pot. Last night I went for the resulting remains, rather dry now much of the liquid had evaporated, with a degree of trepidation. I should not have worried. A much my astringent slop now, the potatoes had almost completely disintegrated and only the shredded cabbage from the sauerkraut had any crunch left. But the morcillo and chorizo were still going strong, as was the Turkish sausage which was really pepped up by the mustard. Going from a warming, hearty subtle stew to an almost eye-wateringly zingy sandwich filling (this is what I did with the last spoonful) in eight days is a success in my book.
Lessons learned will be seen in MY BIG POT 2: coming soon…
Two miles from Robert Smithson’s large spiral jetty, is an even larger spiral jetty. One is art, about land use and geographic history, and the epic interference with the land. It is a masterpeice, dependent on the rise and fall of the great salt lake. One is about allowing oil exploration equipment into the middle of the road. There is no oil in the great salt lake.
The thing is, that Smithson has gotten huge press lately, a bunch of articles, books, travelling shows, etc dealing with the aniversary of the project. He refuses to acknowledge the twin, barely 10 miles away. His ego and his presence only allows for the creation sui genris.
I think its a better idea to think of it as another (larger) example of how the creation of industry twins the creation of art, esp, in the 20th century.
I adored the National Theatre Of Brent’s laughably overambitious productions, with Jim Broadbent’s Wallace playing stooge to Patrick Barlow’s pompous twit Desmond Olivier Dingle, as the two of them tried to stage things a touch too large for them, such as the French Revolution. So I was quite excited to see a trailer for this new show, since it is presented by Barlow as a very similar character, Professor Simon Starkman.
It’s put on as a documentary about WS, presented by this new pompous twit – he opens with “Would a playwright by any other name smell as sweet? I don’t think so!” as if it’s a brilliant line. There are some great hopelessly awkward walking shots, the bane of so many shows of this kind. There are funny bits, beautifully written wrongnesses such as addressing Kevin Eldon (odd as ever) as WS with “William Shakespeare, I know you’re dead now, obviously, but if you were alive now, tell us how you’d be feeling, exactly, about what has happened to your work?”
The story being presented is the history of the differing interpretations and uses of the plays over the years, and the content is, as far as my far from expert mind can detect, largely truthful and not insubstantial, in showing how they were twisted into differing shapes to suit the age and the impressario. The trouble is, there is obvious nonsense as well, crass anachronism and ridiculous lines, the comedy approach of the dramatised documentary parts telling us that the show and presenter know nothing. This would be fine if it were just comedy, but it is hamstringing that part with the factual thread.
It also feels rather long. The comparisons here would be, in many ways, shows like People Like Us and The Office – and it is rare for any comedy show to get a full hour. It doesn’t seem to have quite enough ideas and gags to last really, though I find Barlow appealing enough to just about carry it through.
…No, fear not gentle reader, I do not mean the classic curse of the property-owning classes’ weekends, but something EVEN MORE EVIL!!! It is CD players wot insist on doing DIY glitchy remixes of all yr favourite records, despite all teh cash spunked on cheapo clean-your-cd-player cds with posh American ladies saying ‘when the music stops, play track three’ on them and claiming ‘the cleaning has now been completed’. OK, so our flat is k-dusty, which I can see is probably not good, but WHY OH WHY do some CDs work some of the time, and others never, and others all the time, and why does it sometimes happen at the start of the album and sometimes later, and why oh why oh why. I can’t afford to get another CD player :-(