Posts from November 2009
You’d think that “Wanna Be Startin Somethin” would be the ideal way to open a movie about Michael Jackson. In This Is It, though — patched together from four or five rehearsals for the 50-concert extravaganza which famously never took place — Jackson just sort of shuffles to it, stiffly, barely dancing, like a Frankenstein parody of Bill Cosby’s own parody of dancing. I wondered if I had wandered into a Kraftwerk concert film by mistake. That hip shake looked seriously Teutonic.
“Good God,” I thought to myself, licking my lips from a shoe-leather and cardboard sandwich gleaned from the Trocadero’s downstairs Subway sandwich stall. Had this all been a terrible mistake? Not just my decision to see what had become of MJ, but MJ’s own decision to find out the same thing. It turned out — not at all.
Having worked around Covent Garden from the middle of 2002 I’d walked past the Newton Arms loads of times (not least on the way to Parker Place where the original Club FreakyTrigger was held) , but always thought it looked a bit, y’know, Local. It looks like an Estate Pub without being attached to an Estate (although there are a surprisingly large number of people who live round there) and the cheap beer deals and garish posters in the window put me off.
The thing that finally got me through the door was horse-racing.
Saw New Moon tonight. Survived the emoness of the film, though was disappointed by the halfhearted emo-ness of the soundtrack. Yes Death Cab For Cutie, yes Lykke Li, and how you managed to get proto-emo Thom Yorke on the soundtrack I don’t know. But what they really wanted was a thematic soundtrack by one band only. And there is one band who have already written a soundtrack for this more lupine entry of the Twilight saga. And that band obviously being Duran Duran. So the soundtrack as it should have been:
New Moon On Monday – only totally relevant if you see it on a Monday but New Moon On Sunday also works,
Girls On Film – for when Bella gets her camera as a birthday gift. Its digital but how could Le Bon have predicted that?
Ordinary World – What Edward wishes for Bella when he leaves.
My first M R James story was Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook, which is also the first in the book. I talk about it at some length here, and most of the way through it I have to confront the issue that I did not find it very scary as a ghost story. So now coming back to James and in particular Count Magnus I wondered if he had developed his hang on the chills which need to go with his detailed prose and his generally excellent pacing. And it is interesting that Count Magnus, a tale which shares a huge amount with Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook (including much of its plot) is by degrees considerably scarier, but only due to the use of what seems now like quite hackneyed set pieces. From the Canon to the Count there is a development which pre-figures Lovecraft by adequately also maps a general shift in how horror has developed in the last 100 years too.
Count Magnus is yet another of James’s second hand tales, this time our narrator is telling the tale of Mr Wraxall, a learned but potentially slippery writer of travel books. As is often the case James is comfortable with having his leads as academics, researchers or authors, but you get the feeling that Wraxall is seen in a less favourable light than Alberic’s Dennistoun. Wraxall is nearly a fellow of Brasenose, and yet his only published work seems to be of his travels in Brittany.
Whatever happened to this series? Work happened, and continues to happen. This is the crunch time for about three seperate projects, with a fourth waiting in the wings. Expect forward progress on TMIGEM to be glacial, two a week or less – but it WILL get finished. At some point.
In the meantime, goodbye touring, hello great whacking doses of LSD!
That’s not the Beatles, but Beyond, a chirpy Japanese pop combo with some kind of fun fetish. But even they can’t get away from the song’s central brand – the image of that big yellow sub, made famous by the cartoon – and neither can the Beatlebots, as we’ll see in this special warming-up-to-it-again edition.
Soft, white-rinded, raw-milk sheep cheese, from Sussex, bought from Neal’s Yard Dairy
Flower Marie comes in little brick-like squares. The rind is white with gentle pink tinge, and adorably soft and velvety-furred and strokeable – like a baby animal. The cheese inside’s pale and creamy, a touch crumbly in the centre, and sticky – almost liquid – directly under the rind.
It tastes bright and light and salty and fruity, and very rich and creamy. There’s just a hint of a herbal, floral flavour, and soft and gentle caramel and nutty flavours. Towards the rind there are hints of mushroom. Overall, it’s sweet and rich and mellow, gentle, varied and subtle.
Tempting to give this one the deep consideration G. Michael did when writing it, i.e. none at all. A final Wham! single was required, yes, but “Edge Of Heaven” doesn’t round them off in any particularly satisfying way. Instead it rather coldly underlines quite how vestigial Wham! had become to him, as a band and brand. It’s another pop-soul pastiche, full of dutiful yeah-yeahing, differentiated from previous Wham! number ones mostly by the bitchin’ axe solo that wanders through on its way to someone else’s record. It could have been written specifically to fill a gap in a future megamix.
It’s not terrible, but there’s no fun in it either, and Wham! without the vigour are nothing. “I’m a maniac!” pleads George, followed rather deflatingly by “I’m a doggie barking at your door”. In truth he’s neither, he’s a man marking time until the end of an awkward date.
It’s an all too common problem for the modern web surfer. There you are, browsing the internet, when suddenly you encounter a blog post informing you of the death of hip-hop. Shock! Horror! Why were you not informed?! Can it be so? While our own commentary on this important issue may have to wait (perhaps indefinitely), what we can provide you with is a simple and practical FLOW CHART to help you decide what ACTION to take when you encounter a death of hip-hop piece.
There is a sequence in Werner Herzog’s Encounters At The End Of The World, where we see the Camp McMurdo safety training procedure. There is a large proportion of it that involves people wearing buckets (which the recruits have painted happy smiling faces on) on their heads to simulate the complete lack of visibility caused by a whiteout, a storm where literally all you can see is snow. Its a well shot sequence, funny without ever losing the edge of danger.
There is a similar sequence in Whiteout, the South pole crime thriller whose trailers pretended it was potentially a horror film. In the Whiteout sequence the camp Doctor gets some newbies to take their jackets off outside, to explain to them how quickly the cold will effect them. There are no happy smiling faces on buckets, just a man vaguely injuring people to tell them how much they would be killed if they were to do something as stupid as what HE TOLD THEM TO DO. It is symptomatic of Whiteout’s stupidity
Every year has its flukes but this is one of the more inexplicable – unknowns before and since, amiable psych revivalists by the look of their discography, scoring a massive international hit with this unexceptional cover. Everyone I knew hated it, but even so I suspect it was one for the kids, powered along by Doctor’s big-haired visual hook – part Arthur Brown, part Roy Wood, all panto.