Posts from March 2009

Mar 09

Things I Learned At Poptimism Last Week

FT1 comment • 236 views

Last Friday was a terrific return to form for Poptimism, for the first time south of the river at the Horse Bar in Lambeth. Much dancing and interesting records played in the correct spirit of bonhomie. Well except for the bloke who dissed Scooter who I will get on to shortly. Anyway, i learned three things at Poptimism on Friday which I think I should share with you:

a) Womaniser by Britney Spears is indeed a Pirate Song. Now I had already suspected this, so was quite pleased to have it confirmed that the lyrics do scan best when sung lustily thus:
Boy don’t try to front – A-HA
I know just what you ARRRRGGHHHH!

b) Lily Allen’s The Fear requires spooky noises at the end of the chorus.


Mar 09

Everything Starts With A Swastika

FT + Proven By Science + The Brown Wedge5 comments • 341 views

I’d like to propose a science historian’s version of Godwin’s Law: a historical conversation is over when a technology gets linked back to the Nazis in an effort to make it sound a bit sinister.

Actually it doesn’t have to be the Nazis. It could be Stalin, or the US military. The basic formula is the same:

“How many of the millions who use [x] every day of their lives realise that its story began in a secret research program in Nazi Germany…”

I spotted this pattern when I saw it three times in a couple of days.


Mar 09

THE FT TOP 100 TRACKS OF ALL TIME No. 31: Prince – “I Would Die 4 U”

FT/2 comments • 1,199 views

i-would-die-4-uMichael Jackson came in for some stick at the 1996 Brit Awards for dressing up like Jesus and surrounding himself with children, but he never pulled the groundbreakingly presumptuous move of speaking in the first person as Mr Christ himself. Somehow, though, Prince never sparked the embarrassment that MJ did, nor the outrage that Madonna cleverly cooked up for 1989’s “Like a Prayer”.

This might be on account of “I Would Die 4 U” working so well as a straight-up love song. (In the countless times I’ve danced to it, striking bravado poses during the wonderfully staccato chorus, I never thought much about theology.) Prince manages the trick of making a conversation between deity and humanity sound an awful lot like a declaration of love from one lonely individual to another. He’ll never beat you, he’ll never lie (and presumably will never give you up, or let you down). He, and this song, will be there for you whenever you need them, without judgement or condition.

He’s quick to protest that he’s not your lover, he’s not your friend. He is something that you’ll never comprehend.

Oh come off it, Prince – we know what that third category is. It’s “pop star”.

The International aka Shoot ‘Em Up 2

FT2 comments • 301 views

Shoot ‘Em Up was a action movie piece of fluff in the style of Crank, basically ridiculous gun porn in an over-the-top situation. Clive Owen played our grizzled anti-hero, surly and angry for no obvious reason. A man who is exceptional with guns, but tired by life. It is a ridiculous movie, but quite a lot of fun as very silly things happen and get shot.

The International is a serious Euro-thriller about the deadly effects of an International Bank. In positing a financial institution as a villain, it is pretty much aping the recent Bond films, but also commenting on the real facelessness of evil in the modern world. The bank buys assassins, countries, dirty policemen – it is said to be unstoppable due to its labyrinthine influence in the world. Into said world comes Clie Owen, a grizzled anti-hero, surly and angry for no apparent reason. In the flight between Luxembourg, Italy and the US we see the depth in which this conspiracy lies, and the difficulty our hero (and his equally personality free companion Naomi Watts) has to battle.

Shoot ‘Em Up is a better film.


Mar 09

HauntaMAGOGraphy: The Ash-tree

FT5 comments • 1,996 views

matthew_hopkinsTo read the story, click here; to read about our ‘hauntography’ project, click here.

“In March 1644 [Matthew Hopkins] had some seven or eight of that horrible sect of Witches living in the Towne where he lived, a Towne in Essex called Maningtree, with divers other adjacent Witches of other towns, who every six weeks in the night (being alwayes on the Friday night) had their meeting close by his house and had their severall solemne sacrifices there offered to the Devill, one of which this discoverer heard speaking to her Imps one night, and bid them goe to another Witch, who was thereupon apprehended, and searched, by women who had for many yeares knowne the Devills marks, and found to have three teats about her, which honest women have not


…And did we mention our disco?

FT + Pumpkin Publog//10 comments • 579 views

Poptimism is back! Back! BACK! This Friday, upstairs at The Horse Bar on Westminster Bridge Road, just across from Lambeth North tube. FREE entry, 7 ’til Midnight, hopefully the first of many.

If you don’t want to miss out on future Poptimism excitement, join the facebook group, innit.

King Lear at the Young Vic

Do You See + FT3 comments • 1,921 views

Pete Postlethwaite and Amanda Hale in King LearThe Young Vic is an exciting sort of place with a wealthy, sensual bustle to it. The lighting in the bar is of the kind that a friend once told me was “dark, so that everyone looks beautiful.” I was there, alone, to see Pete Postlethwaite in a new production of King Lear, which opened in Liverpool last year to a rare unison of disapproval. But first I would need a ticket.


Mar 09

Its TradIndie Dad!

FT9 comments • 340 views

This lacklustre ad for a festival (via Popjustice Twitter) for some reason reminds me of nothing less than how Trad Jazz bands used to advertise their niche wares in the late seventies. Much like much of the worst excesses of CAMRA, the affair seems there to celebrate an inbred scene which can only define itself against what it doesn’t like. In this case what it doesn’t like appears to be cheerleaders and fireworks.

Well, I don’t know about your festival going experience, but I can’t say I recall seeing that many cheerleaders at festivals. Perhaps in the 1982 Glastonbury headlined by Toni Basil, but not since. AND WHO HATES FIREWORKS. Only King Funhater III The Miserable, King Of Funhatingdonia in the continent of IHATEFUNOPA, that’s who. And that bloke who was blinded in the Public Safety Announcement by the rocket in the milk-bottle, who has probably emigrated to Funhatingdonia already for their No Fireworks policy. Not Oxfordshire.


Crime Writers: Jim Thompson

The Brown Wedge2 comments • 355 views

I like a writer who defies real comparison with anyone else in their genre. The closest to Jim Thompson would be Dostoyevsky, I think, except Thompson is far bleaker, far more negative about human nature. He’s also a stranger and more experimental writer. This is particularly surprising, given that his work was published far from any locus of critical acclaim: he wrote for crime pulps, and for cheap paperback novel publication.

You may have seen one or two films of his work: The Grifters was a fine adaptation of one of his last really strong works (his great years run from the start of the ’50s to the mid-’60s), whereas both versions of The Getaway graft on a lame happy ending. The actual ending is the most scary and depressing piece of writing I’ve ever read, creating a caged existence of constant terror.


NICOLE – “A Little Peace”

FT + Popular71 comments • 5,667 views

#500, 15th May 1982

In the world of Marvel and DC Comics, the 100th, 200th (etc) issues of a title were considered real milestones. To maximise sales of these anniversary specials, the companies would often use them to launch particularly big storylines: deaths, marriages, epic battles. But often this meant that the run of issues immediately before the anniversary were especially poor – the title would be in a holding pattern, putting out meaningless and unmemorable issues to kill numbers before the big one, and following it would become a chore. If the long-awaited 500th issue also turned out to suck – well, you can imagine how frustrating that was.