Posts from February 2006
Yes! They will be MUCH DRUNKER!
Yes, the fine fares of the Brothers Bar, Jazz Word Stage, Worthy Farm will shortly be available in pubs, supermarkets and indie toilets near you! In four flavours including:
– Apple cider!
Would the last person to slump in a bin please turn out the light?
i had thought that w.PPG and cow’n’chicken IR Weasel and dexter’s lab in the autumnae of their respective senescentia, the amazin NON-adult cartoon bonanza of a decade ago had fizzled a bit but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The Fairly OddParents:
The sort of song “Something Stupid” is depends very much on who’s singing it. Sung as a solo it’s a more bitter than sweet dispatch from that relationship relegation zone known as the ‘long game’, the limbos between friendship and more, or between casual and serious. Sung as a duet – each partner trading lines – it’s a light comedy of misunderstanding, an are-we-aren’t-we pas de deux.
And this? This is neither. It’s a duet in the most unequal sense, a Frank Sinatra song with his daughter treading gingerly and exactly in his footprints, a ghost on the fringes of the record. Frank takes the lead in the phrasing (and sounds professional, if not heartfelt) and what, exactly, is Nancy doing here? It’s especially odd given what a charismatic presence she could be on her own singles. The first time I play the song her dutiful background lilt sounded strange, on repeated listens it’s actively irritating: a distraction to a song which could have been charming.
I cannot seem to garner too much excitement for the Jurassic Beaver. Beavers are cute enough, and I had a soft spot for the cartoon the Angry Beavers (though much more for the angry bit than their genus). But what is aprticualrly nice about htis BBC Science story is the “artists impression” of the beaver.
I am not convinced an artist has been near that photograph of what a beaver looks like, today.
So it has come to this. Final Destination 3. A film whose relation to the original pair is merely a concept, and the amount of fun said concept (killing people in far fetched accidents) can provide. When a film gets to this point in a franchise however one wonders where it can go.
STRAIGHT TO VIDEO SEQUELS: This I find quite exciting. The FD films are not very expensive, but clearly the directors have always had enough money for their excessive exploding head effects. But as the concept of the film is innovative accidental death, surely the smaller budgets of STV could actual improve the possibilities. As noted, the deaths in FD3 rely and awful lot on bloody, pulped bonces. Where are the comedy poisonings, the falling from heights? Low budget often leads to innovation.
TELEVISION: Consider this. Final Destination Investigations. Someone dies in mysterious circumstances. The police think it is foul play. But actually it is just death getting what was cheated from him. The FDI have to prove this. All the time while bizarre deaths go on around them.
Or of course they could always just take the boring medical bits out of Casualty…
“Release Me” spent 56 weeks on the UK charts, but its position in modern pop history is as a footnote – the single that kept The Beatles’ “Penny Lane”/”Strawberry Fields Forever” off number one, an injustice so apparently staggering that it’s often the first case cited when critics want to cast disdain on the entire singles chart, or the public who help create it.
I’m not going to argue that “Release Me” is a better record than the Beatles’ one – because it’s not – but I was interested in exactly why it gripped the charts so hard. Listening to it on the train home tonight what struck me was its directness – “Release Me” is a three-minute divorce plea, never cruel but frank, reasonable and allowing no way back. I can’t offhand think of another huge hit which had tackled that sort of subject – break-ups yes, but the word “release” implies a contract. (The line about “your lips are cold” suggests that the lady might be dead, but Engelbert doesn’t play it goth!)
A quick bit of research turned up a couple of intriguing facts. During the mid-late 1960s the median age of first marriage was at a historical low point – the lowest it would be through the entire 20th centry, barely over 21 for women and 23 for men. I can think of a few possible reasons for this – higher affluence, increased sexual pressure, earlier puberty – but whatever the reason the median age had been falling since the end of the war. So the generation of teens who had been buying cheap gramophones and records by the ton in the late 50s had also been getting married earlier than ever.
The divorce rate, meanwhile, was rising – it hit a post-war low at the turn of the 60s and then increased sharply every year since. In 1969 the Divorce Reform Act was passed, making “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” grounds for divorce and cutting the legal barriers which had made it such a difficult (and humiliating) experience. It came into force in 1971 and the divorce rate skyrocketed. It almost trebled over the next three years, suggesting that there were a lot of unhappy marriages which could now be mercifully ended.
A lot of young people in the mid-60s, in other words, were caught between a pressure to marry young (for whatever reason) and the ever-increasing possibility that this decision need not be irreveraible. In 1967 though, divorce was still difficult even if it was more common, and it’s hardly a surprise that in these circumstances “Release Me” struck a massive chord. The particular genius of the record was its slow, soothing arrangement – too stark and the lyrical pill would have been entirely unsugared. As it is, for someone in the agony of a failing relationship, Humperdinck’s appeal to reason might well have seemed like a sympathetic and necessary shoulder.
Of course this isn’t her song (that would be “Downtown”). It’s Charlie Chaplin’s song – the royalties from it helped pay for the final, flop film it starred in – which may explain why it sets its cap so firmly against the sounds of the 1960s. With its slightly awkward phrasing and chintzy light opera arangement it could have fitted into an early Eurovision contest from a decade prior, though it’s too unsophisticated to have actually won. Chaplin’s rhymes and sentiments are mawkish and impersonal, and Petula’s decision to weight every noun so heavily makes her sound like she’s had a course of vocal botox.
Put The Book Back On The Shelf (no really – this is a comic shop, not a library)
THE BELLE & SEBASTIAN COMIC.
Read it and feel all sensitive.
Science geek girl sticks hand down toilet, cleaner than fast-food ice she finds. Twelve year old girls are funny aren’t they. Especially twelve year old brain-box girls. Who spend too much time watching Supersize Me.
I suppose we are supposed to be surprised that the water in the toilet is cleaner than the ice. But I was talking to a public health virologist the other day, and she explained to me that more water is always better than cleaner water. The source of most waterborn or water carried diseases is usually a high concentration of bacteria in a small amount of water. An ice cube is a small amount of water compared to the two pints of water in the average toilet bowl. What’s more, how did she test the ice? Did she wait for it to melt, thus giving the bacteria a chance to grow.
I am sure her methods are all fine and above board, and that she used proper disclosing tablets to get her results. I am just not sure what the story MEANS. I’ve always known the water in toilets is pretty clean. THAT’S THE POINT OF THE WATER!!!
Watching the only Spielberg film wot I have never seen at the weekend, got me thinking about form and content. I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about television. What it can, and cannot do well. And watching The Terminal it suddenly occurred to me that this was actually a sitcom, or a comedy drama at least, waiting for a NBC run.
The sit: A man becomes stateless in the air, is not allowed to enter New York. As such he ends up living in JFK airport in the passenger lounge. It is a situation without an end in sight, it is only cleared up when the civil war at home ends. And as we know from M*A*S*H, wars last as long as the series needs. There is a quirky supporting cast of cleaners, immigration official, baggage handlers. There is a nemesis who can be constantly thwarted. A love interest in the stewardess who comes through occasionally. And there are endless story opportunities with the passengers passing through.
Oh, and your lead character can have a funny accent.
The Terminal’s strength as a sit-com are its weaknesses as a film. The interminable battle between Immigration is seen as a petty personal vendetta, rather than anything worthwhile. There are about six sub-plots which are all rather extraneous to a movie plot. The romance (rightly) never goes anywhere, which would be perfect in a sitcom but feels wrong in a film. And we know the film is going to end in two hours, it is not time-bound.
The Terminal is Spielberg’s strangest film: perhaps as for once it is not long enough*. It needed to be eight series of twenty four episodes rather than a two hour film.
*It is still too long as a film.