Posts from January 2009

31
Jan 09

Final Crisis & spinoffs by Grant Morrison and others

FT2 comments • 364 views

I’ve just reread all of this, and I totally love it. It is difficult and demanding, and I wonder if the editors were tempted to provide annotations, footnotes or some such – but eventually I decided they weren’t needed. I’m not sure I have read stories featuring the Monitors before, and they are half of the key to this, and I have no clue what the fuck happened to New Genesis and Apokolips which is central to the other half, but I had no problems, given some concentration. The content is here, not reliant on outside knowledge. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exploit the history, because it does, often brilliantly, with loving references to the past (Flash saying “Flash fact” twice – Grant and I always shared a love of the Silver Age Flash comics) and countless invocations of what makes me love superhero comics, right down to Superman saying “This looks like a job for Superman” and the line “Superman can,” which seems to sum up (in its context) as well as anything ever has what makes him the greatest. I can’t imagine anyone with a love of superhero comics being unaffected by such moments.

30
Jan 09

THE POLICE – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”

FT + Popular37 comments • 2,626 views

#488, 14th November 1981

Gratifyingly throwaway by the increasingly intense standards of The Police, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” is the band at their most blithely enjoyable. A lot of that’s down to the arrangement – steelband percussion, Jean Roussel’s delightfully rolling piano, and the uplifting synthesiser chords coming out of the middle eight and colouring the fade out. The whole thing has an off-kilter charm to it slightly reminiscent of XTC, though more straightforward than anything that band did (which is why this is as close as we’ll come to discussing XTC on Popular!). The only downside is – yet again – Sting’s singing, a closed-in growl in the middle of all this splashy colour.

Visual (Gastro) Porn Of The Week

FT + Pumpkin Publog3 comments • 740 views

Title of this piece comes from the Pitchfork Graph link comments when someone called the charts visual porn, only to be chided that porn, on the whole, works via the conduit of the optic nerves*. But graphs? Hey ho, whatever turns you on. For me, its this photo from the Dos Hermanos website, from a review of an old regular of mine which has been gastrofied, the Bull and Last in Dartmouth Park. Click through for this image of loveliness (Safe For Work, Not Safe For The Hungry).

29
Jan 09

10 Years Of Freaky Trigger: March 1999

FT11 comments • 797 views

Original FT Logo Freaky Trigger is ten years old this March. We’re going to have a few things celebrating that fact – some kind of party, some other bits of special content – but this is also a really good opportunity for me to revisit some of the stuff we’ve published over the last decade. Hence this series, which will showcase one post from every month we’ve been around. If you want to just follow the showcased material without my linking waffle, this is the page for you! Go there right now and enjoy it as we add things to it, bit by bit.

Blog ’92: THE MUSIC WAS FANTASTIC

FT8 comments • 1,089 views

24. The Orb – Blue Room

It was a dark day when my tape of Rave’92 broke. Repeated rewinding and pausing had caused a hole to develop in the tape, and my rubbish cassette player refused to play it unless I wound it back manually and flipped it over to the other side. I ended up too scared to play the tape at all in case the whole thing spontaneously combusted.

Missing out on Praga Kahn was bad enough, but I was devastated at the loss of ‘Blue Room’. No more mesmerising dance routines incorporating several jumps off the ladder of my bunk bed. I had dreamed up accompanying visuals (just as I had done for ‘Assassin’): an underwater vista filled with shooting stars and bubbles, flicking montages of news channels and snippets of black and white films. I allowed myself to be completely absorbed into the music, to escape the harrowing pressures of… being eleven years old? Er, what?

28
Jan 09

DAVE STEWART AND BARBARA GASKIN – “It’s My Party”

FT + Popular70 comments • 4,553 views

#487, 17th October 1981

If the Number Ones of 1981 had been scripted, this is where the editors would have stepped in. “Sorry, darling, you’ve gone too far. War Canoe? Great twist. The leather boys doing that old soul tune – brilliant stuff, really edgy. But two prog refugees with an experimental version of a girl group era classic? Nobody will believe it! You’ll lose our credibility. One of them used to be in Gong, for pity’s sake!”

27
Jan 09

It Was Only A Christmas Tale

Do You See + FT6 comments • 157 views

I am not a film distributor. I just go see the blasted things. But even I can see that the release of A Christmas Tale (the new Arnaud Desplechin movie) might have been a touch botched, with it coming out mid-January. But then I saw it, ALL 150 MINUTES OF IT, and its release date makes a little bit more sense. Because A Christmas Tale seems to exist to absolve you of hating your family over Christmas. It says that all families are dysfunctional, so its OK. Unfortunately it tries to prove this by creating a family with so many dysfunctions that you’d need a misuser’s guide just to make it not work.

It took me about two hours to work out exactly who was related to who, who was married to who and why they hated, loved, we cruel to, or having sex with each other.

26
Jan 09

Crime Writers: Andrew Vachss

The Brown Wedge8 comments • 258 views

Vachss is a unique writer. Most of his novels centre on a man named Burke, someone far enough beyond the underworld that they don’t know he exists. He makes a living ripping off child porn fans and wannabe mercenaries, and will take a PIish case if it grabs his interest: basically this means if it involves abuse of children. Vachss himself is a lawyer specialising in such cases, a recognised expert on the subject, and his all-encompassing hatred and understanding of abusers makes for often heavy going. He also understands the victims, the effects it has one them. He’s not remotely part of the legal establishment, with no interest in convicting people – he wouldn’t consider getting someone arrested instead of killing them. Obviously many crime writers hate their villains, but none of them despise them like Vachss does.

500: 64-77

FT6 comments • 412 views

A quick recap!

This is a series of posts “liveblogging” the Pitchfork 500, reflecting the book’s dual purpose as criticism and playlist. The ground rule is that I do the writing in real time as I listen to the music: no edits after that (except of typos). Posts in this series are intermittent, because I don’t have a lot of uninterrupted writing time.

Disclaimer: I write regularly for Pitchfork and contributed a dozen pieces to the book. I have no insider knowledge of how tracks were selected, had no say in the selection, and any commentary on the book’s purpose etc. is purely speculative.

In this episode: Hip hop! Hip hop! Hip hop! Plus a smattering of post-punk and post-disco, and a listening session is rudely curtailed.

Reasons Why Slumdog Millionaire May Win The Oscar

FT7 comments • 367 views

Bear in mind that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is made up of a ragbag of old people and industry professionals. What does this superficially hip, nearly MTV edited, earsplitting, scatalogically* partial subtitled film got over the other contenders. The main argument may be that the other four nominees are worthy but not exactly demanding: biopics or based on source material with little need of a cinematic treatment (hmm, another German prison cell…) But there are plenty of good reasons why Slumdog Millionaire may triumph. Very few are to do with the quality of the film. Here’s how:

a) In the old days the movies HATED television and HATED films about television. This has softened with the barriers being broken down between visual media, and massive cross-ownership of independent film production companies. Even so whilst SM shows the unifying cultural power of television, it also shows it as venal, corrupt and in the end not worthy of its self reflected adulation.