Posts from December 2008

4
Dec 08

Manga review #3: Absolute Boyfriend; I Won’t Let You Become A Star!; and Aromatics

FT + The Brown Wedge5 comments • 1,122 views

The story in today’s Independent on manga is pretty telling about what the author thinks of “comics for girls”. Quote: “The [typical] manga reader was a man, and he probably liked SF and he could be a student. But then they decided, let’s sell these as books. And so girls could walk into a book-shop and pick up their angst-ridden pretty-boy vampire comics and not feel intimidated by the smell or the staff”. Followed by in brackets, the shocking fact that 7%-85% percent of readers of ‘yaoi’ or Boys Love comix are in fact GURLIES. Anyway yesh but now onto the “real” manga. Patronising much, o fuckwit? There’s a picture of a manga written by a female author but you immediately realise it can’t go anywhere because half of the font is COMIC SANS.

Anyway, this article reminded me that recently I picked up my first SHOUJO MANGA (manga for gurlies, typically published by Shoujo Beat over here)! My decision to Try It (given that I hates all comics) was provoked by intense lolz from recent jdrama Yasuko to Kenji, which featured boyband drummer Masahiro Matsuoka as an ex-biker gang leader turned awesome shoujo manga artiste (each episode would feature him dressing up his two goons as eg swooning schoolgirls, cheerleaders, puppy-walkers etc).

I picked up “Absolute Boyfriend”, as I have familiarity with the jdrama (‘Zettai Kareshi’) based on the manga, which turns out to come with two further ‘stand-alone’ comics, “I Won’t Let You Become A Star” and “Aromatics”. I’m not sure if each ‘book’ has one ‘serial’ in each instalment, followed by two standalones or whether this is a one off as it was the last episode of ‘Absolute Boyfriend’, mind. As AB is the finale of a long-running story, it’s actually quite hard to say anything about it without talking about the drama which is a different kettle of cream-puffs. So I shan’t bother!

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JOHN LENNON – “(Just Like) Starting Over”

FT + Popular65 comments • 6,289 views

#471, 20th December 1980

I don’t remember John Lennon being killed. It would be more accurate to say I don’t remember John Lennon being alive. His murder is the first thing I knew about him, a founding fact of pop music: John Lennon is dead. For me he has been dead longer than Bolan or Hendrix or Buddy Holly, who also came packaged in their deaths, but who I heard about far later.

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Dec 08

ABBA – “Super Trouper”

FT + Popular52 comments • 5,749 views

#470, 29th November 1980

The mockery of pop stars who write songs about how tough their lives are is as routinised as any of the tour grind they complain about: a reliable cue to take a celebrity down a peg. “Super Trouper” seems to have escaped this, maybe because ridicule was diverted to its silly, awkward title – or maybe because its exhausted candour rings too true. “Wishing every show was the last show”; “bored of a success that never ends”; “how can anyone be so lonely?” – as sung here these aren’t just the decadent complaints of over-indulged divas, they’re the sound of a miserable woman who’s stuck on a golden treadmill and wants off.

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500: 1-16

FT25 comments • 1,262 views

Introduction

Several years ago I did a thing on Freaky Trigger called “Thousand“: this involved playing through the 1,000 MP3s I’d collected at that point – a very small number it seems now – and writing about them in real time: one play per song, one draft, hit publish, that’s it. It was a notebook more than anything else and not especially worth revisiting – since my blog didn’t even have comments at the time I don’t know what I was trying to achieve!

I liked the idea of that kind of on-the-hoof writing though and have looked for another opportunity to do it with a little more point and structure. The Pitchfork 500 seems like a good one: it’s a book laying out a history of pop from 1977 by way of 500 songs chosen by the editors. They’ve made every effort to make the book more than just a list – it’s implicitly also a story (of how music developed) and a statement (of what matters in music) and a musical experience (it’s sequenced as a playlist). It’s ambitious and thoughtful and if it’s wrong sometimes it deserves the honour of people working out why it is. So I think you should buy it. I also wrote a dozen of its 500 entries, so I’m not completely neutral here, but I have no inside knowledge about how the book was put together.

This series of posts – which will be intermittent, as I don’t often have uninterrupted two-hour writing/listening chunks – is simply me listening to the 500 songs, in order, and jotting down what I think. I’m also reading along, and sometimes that’s informing the notes I make. Where I’ve nothing to say about a song I will indicate that I’m skipping it.

Hope you enjoy it.

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2
Dec 08

The Douglas Bader Minefield Complex

FT1 comment • 574 views

I remember the Baader-Meinhof trial. I do. I was only five but I remember it being on the ITN news (you know the one with the jaunty jingle that was on after Blue Peter gave up the ghost on the BBC). I remember it because I also remember a wet Sunday afternoon watching Reach For The Skies, the Douglas Bader story, and getting the two Ba(a)ders mixed up. Frankly it did not help that Douglas Bader flew for the RAF (Royal Air Force) and the Baader Meinhof Gang were part of the RAF (Red Army Faction). I suppose it was instructive to my later career as an inveterate liar that all it takes is some random little coincidence to make a story all the more plausible. And that piece of the jigsaw fell in to plae years later when i discovered the theory behind minefields, misremembered the word Meinhof and that explained why Douglas Bader didn’t have any legs in the first place.

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BLONDIE – “The Tide Is High”

FT + Popular49 comments • 3,939 views

#469, 15th November 1980

Horns pitched to sound like strings; strings played low and swinging like horns; a pot-pourri of roughly Caribbean percussion – instrumentally, “The Tide Is High” is delightful escapism. Even so it’s a little bit of a let-down. Debbie Harry gives a gentle, intimate performance, but gentle intimacy isn’t really what you go to Debbie Harry for. Once she savaged her rivals and dismissed her lovers, now she’s playing a long game – with supreme and justified confidence, of course, but the woozy, flippant Blondie on show here lack the flash and fire of previous encounters. “Tide” is a postcard from a band on holiday, something to cheer up a dreary Autumn: the holiday just ended up a little longer than anyone thought at the time.

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Dec 08

Linkasaurus Rex

Do You See + FT + Pumpkin Publog + The Brown WedgePost a comment • 235 views

A bunch of FT writers and close associates have NEW BLOGS (or bloglike entities) which demand some of your attention:

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BARBRA STREISAND – “Woman In Love”

FT + Popular49 comments • 5,663 views

#468, 25th October 1980

Barbra Streisand won her fame as a musical star – in other words an interpretative singer. And so “Woman In Love” raises a thorny question: what happens to such a singer when what she has to interpret is gibberish? The brothers Gibb seem to have put together the song from a bunch of resonant phrases that they knew Streisand could really sell – “I am a woman in love!” “I stumble and all – but I give you my all!” – and then polyfilla’d them into place with some vaguely metaphysical cheese.

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