Posts from June 2009

Jun 09

The Alka-Seltzer

Do You See + FT4 comments • 259 views

This summers hit comedy, The Hangover, is one big lie. Firstly, as hit comedies go, its not all that funny. For a shaggy dog stringing along of vaguely absurd scenarios it has a paucity of imagination about how absurd it can get. Whilst pitching as the height of madness the kidnapping of a tiger is pleasantly odd, having a shotgun wedding in Vegas is screenwriter 101. But for all of that it has a pleasing structure, which masks the loathsomeness of its protagonists which also provides needed momentum for the flick. But its odd when in a big comedy you exit with admiration for its structure over its actual gags.

So the structure. Three semi-friends take their mutual BFF to Vegas for a last minute stag night (the type no-one ever has anymore, and this film will continue to have banned). The three friends wake up the next morning with the titular Hangover, memory loss and having misplaced the stag – also with a baby, tigers and some chickens to hand.


Jun 09

ROD STEWART – “Baby Jane”

FT + Popular41 comments • 4,118 views

#523, 2nd July 1983, video

A blowsy wreck of a single, this, keys and sax and guitar and Rod all fighting for the same earspace over an aggressively chuntering rhythm. What you really notice is how one-note and shot Stewart sounds – his great strength as a vocalist, that way he could lead you into a story, completely gone. Though even if he did still have the power to turn “Baby Jane” into something that might intrigue you, that clunking chorus would kill the momentum anyway.

Jun 09

THE POLICE – “Every Breath You Take”

FT + Popular49 comments • 4,982 views

#522, 4th June 1983, video

I guess the mid-paced slog of a rhythm which dominates “Every Breath You Take” is meant to suggest its narrator’s implacability – the unresting patience of a stalker. Rock is a generally lively medium though and it takes some craft to build a “classic song” out of stony resolution, so credit to Sting and crew for that much at least. It must have been quickly obvious that “Every Breath” was going to be with us for a lifetime, a grey new fixture in the hall of fame.


Jun 09

London Belonged To Them

FT5 comments • 723 views

I have been very remiss in not pimping the reissue of Saint Etienne’s Foxbase Alpha in a grand 2CD deluxe edition. (A similarly deluxified Continental is also out: other records will follow across the year.) Not only is it one of my favourite 90s records, the new edition boasts extensive sleevenotes by… me! They weave interviews with Bob, Pete, Sarah, Ian Catt and Martin Kelly in with my own theorisin’ about the record. When you’re done squinting at those you can look at lots of lovely photos of the band in the bloom of their youth, and also – of course – enjoy the excellent music.

Below the cut is an extract from the sleevenotes, talking about some of the album tracks:


NEW EDITION – “Candy Girl”

FT + Popular38 comments • 4,140 views

#521, 28th May 1983, video

“Candy Girl” is one of those irritating records that I feel I ought to like more than I do. Certainly within the schema of Popular it should be a pretty ‘important’ single – it’s the first number one with rapping on, for goodness’ sakes. The only problem is that Maurice Starr’s use of the old Jackson 5 playbook is so flagrant and calculated it overshadows anything else going on in the track.


Jun 09

Knowing Nothing

Do You See + FT4 comments • 310 views

As one of the few people who can speak confidently on higher mathematics AND popular trashy cinema, my heart always sinks whenever the lead in an action film is a maths academic. Its not that the ranks of professors and dons are not by nature action heroes, David Hilbert was a well known athletic rock climber and mountaineer after all. But the crossover between mathematics and action films is always so banal. Jeff Goldblum has essayed a number action mathmos, knocking out the aliens in Independence Day with a computer virus and working out the probability of things going wrong on Jurassic Park was VERY HIGH. Neither was a proper use of mathematics, neither swelled the ranks of undergraduate mathematics course.

Nicholas Cage is not a mathematician in Knowing, but he does end up playing with a lot of numbers. No instead he is an astronomer, in which he is as convincing as he was as a cursed motorcycle stunt rider or a man who could see a minute into the future. Knowing is a spooky thriller which turns into an odd action film and while you are watching it you allow it to spout the most ridiculous nonsense at you. But the moment you are away from its garish thrall you realise how absolutely terrible its premise is. (Almost bad as its poster which suggests the city is being menaced by a giant Nic Cage head).


Torta de Barros (cheesy lover #4)

FT2 comments • 758 views

Stats: A raw sheep cheese from Spain, made with a thistle rennet.
Bought from: Brindisa
Tasting conditions: I had this for lunch, on wholemeal bread.

This cheese appears hardish, and has a slightly translucent pale yellow rind with spots of green-grey mould. It’s softer and paler inside, sticky and a little paste-like.

My first impression is that it’s surprisingly sour. Slightly pungent, very citrusy and tangy; the tartness almost overwhelms the creamy texture. There’s a bitter herbal, floral aftertaste, which reminds me of thyme – and lots of mouth-tingling flavour.

The rind is sweeter, and crumbly, with musty, mouldy aftertaste. I’m not sure if you’re meant to eat the rind of this cheese, but I like it.

I was slightly taken aback by the sour lemonish-ness of the cheese. The soft and creamy-feeling cheese fooled me into expecting something soft and creamy tasting, too, and I spent the first few mouthfuls being slightly confused. Once my brain caught up with my mouth it was all good.

Cheesy conclusion: This was really interesting cheese! And also the first cheese I’ve ever bought from Brindisa.

THE PUB SEVEN DEADLY SINS: 6: Over Aggressive Table Grabs

FT + Pumpkin Publog15 comments • 660 views

Just as there is a thin line between love and hate, or strong ale and LOOPY JUICE, there can some times be not much between excellent pubcraft and pubtwattery. One man’s smart land grab for a table in a pub is another’s aggressive take-over bid. So instead I shall describe a scenario and see if you feel this fulfils sin or is actually impressive work. Note, this is in the PUB DEADLY SIN section so it is clear what I think.

I was in a pub with a friend watching the cricket. The nature of this pub is that the table was close to the TV, so the best angle on the cricket was from one end of the table. The other end of the table was bookended by the window in the pub. Nevertheless we had happily shared this table with a French couple having a slightly disappointing Fish And Chips. Who left after being slightly disappointed. To be replaced by a couple of Finnish women who asked if the end of the table was free. Yet again, showing excellent pub manners, we assented.


Jun 09

les hommes fous

Do You See + FT3 comments • 6,694 views

Louis de Funeshaving recently obtained “le gendarme integrale” – a collection of the six louis de funes movies wherein he plays a fiercely proud yet totally hapless member of the french national guard – it occurred to me that there’s an entire genre of movies whose underlying ethic is a simple, full-on embrace of the fabulousness of tourism.

the usual story is that air travel became affordable in the 1960s, so these movies functioned as an advertisement for and reflection of this new kind of activity. but i’m not sure that entirely explains them, and why they stopped. after all, with the advent of ultra-budget airlines in the late 1990s, europeans have become able to fly to all sorts of spots whose prior inaccessibility made them terra incognita. so why don’t we get “herbie goes to pristina”? “le gendarme à rzeszów”?


Jun 09

Freaky Trigger and the Lollards of Pop – Series 3, Week 14

Lollards PodcastPost a comment • 105 views

All four sports-bloods: Steve H, Tim E, Tim H and TimPete B. Featuring Elbow, Horse Man and a song about football.