Posts from 26th March 2009

Mar 09

MADNESS – “House Of Fun”

FT + Popular50 comments • 7,311 views

#501, 29th May 1982

“House Of Fun” finds Madness – one of the most consistent and successful singles acts in Britain – on a cusp. They’d made their name with busy, high-impact ska-derived records whose bristling arrangements and comical touches often hid more pointed subject matter. They were heading towards an incarnation as traders in pop art melancholy, an inheritor of the Kinks and prototype for Britpop.

But this record is the band biting off almost more than it can chew. It’s Madness’ skankin’ nutty-boys incarnation pushed to the limits of cohesion, Suggs trying to squeeze a complex sitcom sketch – in which he acts every part! – into under three minutes, jostling for space with a beat and a load of fairground-music instrumental lines.


Look Who Stalking?

Do You See2 comments • 198 views

A semi follow up to Martin’s Lem piece (a writer for whom the only affection I have is due to him sharing the first name with my grandfather). I went to the NFT a few weeks ago to see Stalker. OK, Roadside Picnic is not by Lem, but Tarkovsky did try to rectify what he disliked about his own version of Solaris in Stalker. Namely, he didn’t want it it look like science fiction at all. And so he boils the Strugatsky Brothers novel – already quite cerebral – into an elongated philosophical joke about a writer, a scientist and a priest* in a pub. A very elongated joke indeed, albeit one with a terrific psychological punchline. How well do you know what your hearts desire is, really? No, really? Would you trust the fate of the world on it? Cos really, deep down, aren’t you a misanthropic, evil little sonofabitch?

Stalker is in many ways the ultimate anti-sci-fi movie. It has a vaguely science fiction set-up (aliens list, vanish leaving unstable, dangerous “zones” full of alien technology) but is presented in a near luddite way.


Me Hearties

Blog 7 + FT + Proven By SciencePost a comment • 171 views

As you might or might not know, I have another blog which focuses mostly on market research, social media and speculation about how the two fit together.

I’ve been really enjoying writing for it lately, and I think it’s got rather good. I try to do stuff that’s interesting whether or not you’re in the marketing loop. Some posts, I admit, are craven attempts to write in the punchily stupid style favoured by the modern business dude, but some of them I’m pleased with. Here’s a little digest of the best recent Blackbeard stuff:

Humanists and determinists battle for the soul of research.
The Twitterphant in the room
The “Bulworth Effect” and the limits of representativeness.
What we used to believe vs what we now believe about teh internets (this is part of a series called “Digital Colonists”)

Format swap: Heston’s Feasts versus Big Cook Little Cook

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I’ve noticed many people saying the only thing wrong about the crazy world of the Heston’s Feasts series has been the celeb diners making their inane comments. So yes, the format is great — a talented man’s fabulous cooking inspired by myth, fable and history — but the guests he’s cooking for are (mostly) rubbish.

I’ve not, so far, seen people making the complementary complaint about cBeebies ‘Big Cook, Little Cook’. A long description of the show can be found on an old post on Richard Herring’s blog, but in short the eponymous cooks have to cook for a character from nursery rhymes or fairy tales (Snow White, Old Macdonald). The problem is that as a show meant to inspire children to cook, the options are limited to recipes involving mashing together cottage cheese, crushed up crackers, toast and food colouring, with specially shaped-cutters (stars, fish, etc) to theme it up a bit.