Posts from 18th March 2002

Mar 02

Stand, sit, stand

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 411 views

Stand, sit, stand I agree with Tom but I feel I should highlight the risks associated with beer-arm fatigue, as these are often underestimated. The particular danger arises when you are stuck without anywhere safe to put your pint. This often leads to attempts to secure your pint somewhere unsafe (top of jukebox, thin window ledge etc). Disaster awaits.

The other option of just hanging onto your drink all night is possibly worse, as it always results in fast drinking. Chat, sip, chat, sip, sip, chat, sip, sip, sip, sip, sip… next pint! If you’ve got no table or bar space, it is not possible to count how many you’ve had by looking at your empties.

A huge faux pas is to stand next to someone else’s table, then rest your pint in their space. Grrr! If this happens to you when you’re sat down, you are well within your rights to knock their pint “accidently” off the table. Or at least say to the glass-collecting staff ; “no, this drink doesn’t belong to anyone, go ahead and take it away”.

Is there a third way

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 248 views

Is there a third way – on the sitting standing conundrum? I’ve always considered the bar stool to be a decent compromise. Its high enough to converse with standing punters whilst combining the comfort of being seated. Nevertheless there is probably some truth in what Tom says – and certainly when I go drinking with my Dad I never sit down. There is the suggestion of the ability to leave the company of a dull associate – but there is more tradition to it than that. We have our set space at the bar, we lean at the bar – and to be fair the only place I like to stand up in a pub is at the bar. This is where some of our latter problems with the Blue Posts, Rupert Street come in. Which also used to be generous with the high bar stool


New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 273 views

R-E-S-P-E-C-T?: Subjects given their first entries in the new [E]ncyclopaedia [Britannica] include lesbianism, the drug ecstasy and hip-hop music. Well, it’s only taken hip-hop a couple of decades, but LESBIANISM? I have a hunch that conservative bugbear’s been around a wee bit longer than E & rap. A spokeswoman for the Encyclopaedia Britannica said the work “remains entirely in tune with the world today”. I guess that’s why they’re including an entry for Peter Sellers. Coming in the next Britannica update – the Internet, the Equal Rights Amendment, Roe V. Wade, and Clara Bow.

And, damn it, we KNOW Madonna plays guitar. Move it along.

Is standing in pubs underrated?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 197 views

Is standing in pubs underrated? Well, not underrated precisely but is it not quite the evil it is made out to be? Yes one goes to the pub to relax after a hard day/week at work/arsing about online, and relaxation is best attempted with one’s bum comfortably on a seat. But let us face the realities of the modern world – gone are the days when pubgoers, or certainly the pubgoers we all associate with, retired to the pub after a day’s backbreaking labour in field or forge. Not to put too fine a point on it, we already spend all day sitting on our arses: standing should from an energy-level point of view not be much of a hardship.

Also a standing group has greater mobility and flexibility, especially in conversational terms. This becomes especially key when a pubgoing group is made up of both regular drinking comrades and newer arrivals whose conversational skills may be – to put it crudely – lacking. Escape is much easier in a standing situation. The greatest disadvantage of standing is beer-arm fatigue and the consequent rapid drinking, and for this reason it is surely still preferable to sit. But standing in pubs, even for quite a long time, is no barrier to an enjoyable evening.

POP-EYE 18/3/02

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 246 views

POP-EYE 18/3/02

There was a time, about two years ago, when the news was a wee bit slow and silly season had kicked in when the papers suggested that the UK charts were too fast. Singles were barrelling in to number one and bouncing way back out again two weeks later. The blame was put on pitifully low sales, pre-release playing to death and over-motivated fanbases. The general opinion was that this was a BAD THING.

Of course those newspapers got back to the business of doing the news and did not write a pop column every other week. And frankly this year has been slow. And I think this has been a BAD THING. Not that any of the new releases out this week particularly deserves to be a number one — but boredom sets in. So suffice to say that Will Young is still number one and move on. Nothing literally to see here.

Number two, and possibly on a normal week the power of the novelty celebrity comedy single would have fired up Julie by Shaggy and Alistair Lesley Graham. Musically it is pretty minimalist with Shaggy doing his dirty growl and Sacha Baron Cohen trotting out as many Ali G catchphrases and double-entendres as he possibly can which showing what a lousy rapping voice he has. Problem is the whole affair turns out a bit sweet rather than uproariously funny. Not a good Shaggy single, not a good comedy single — it just is. And in two weeks time, after the film has come out, you will never ever hear it again.

I have a difficult relationship with Jennifer Lopez (mainly predicated on the fact that she never returns my calls). I was initially annoyed that someone who I considered a good actress was become all precious and pop star on us. Especially since her first batch of singles were poor. However the last few things she have done has all had a few redeeming features and this remix of Ain’t It Funny is no exception. The relentless looped beat is repetitive and most of the monotonous verses grate. But then she has easily one of the best self-referential lyrics I’ve heard in years ‘Thought you could bribe me with you blingy-bling/Thought I told you love don’t cost a thing’ ‘ topped off with the schoolgirl ‘Hey boy is that your girlfriend‘ chant which I find rather irresistible. Not great but not bad.

The other two new entries in the top ten are old stalwarts — with so much in common. Celine Dion and Iron Maiden. Only one of these artists are truly scary and that honour goes to Dion. Unfortunately she is back and All Woman collections are waiting with baited breath. I’ll admit that I have not heard ‘A New Day Has Come’ — but I feel I can safely say that its not a new day in the sense of musical directions. When it comes to ver Maiden’s Run To The Hills it is also a matter of the same old same old. Literally in this case as Run To The Hills is about seventeen years old. I understand that the historical metallers are doing a world tour to raise money for their drummer who is ill (and obviously did not save during the fat Dickinson years). Run To The Hills itself is one of Maidens best singles — and also works rather well as a piece of GCSE History empathy coursework about Native Americans. It also shows those nu-metallers a thing or two. Mainly about annoying things like twiddly guitar solos and pointless tempo changes.

This week is a bad week for the Kerrang sponsored folk. System Of A Downs’ well described Toxicity and the Lost Prophet’s Fake Sound Of Progress both fail to pierce the top twenty. I would say this is because neither are much cop (and I would say that) except the ‘Back (Nickleback for those of you who don’t wear black, poorly printed T-Shirts) are still in the top five.

It is very easy to get the Wrong Impression about Natalie Imbruglia’s pop career. One good single off each album followed by something mature, guitary and bland. Number ten is far too good for this poor impression of The Sundays. And equally poor impression was the one when I initially thought of comparing Tillman Urmacher’s Run For The Sun with a train. It is sleek, it fast and it has chuffing and whooo-whoo noises on it. Solid piece of trance house — but its always nice to have a German in the charts.

So with a brief mention of Popstars rejects reject Warren Stacy’s creditable if forgettable My Girl at twenty five, Bjork settling dorn to getting similar critical raves and charts success as PJ Harvey we get to Felon. West London singer so called because of the time she spent in prison for attempted armed robbery. Only twenty one she recorded this in prison. Must we throw this pop filth at out kids? Well its that or Gareth Gates. Next week. I’m leaving the country.

Familiarity Breeds Surprise

FTPost a comment • 608 views

I’ve just returned home after spending six weeks in Egypt. I can’t pretend I developed much of a liking for Egyptian pop – it featured voices flying all over the place at complete random with an annoying nasal tone, and songs that were desperately trying to be glossy and Western but that, because of a cultural divide that wasn’t fully understood, just sounded wrong (a bit like me deciding I have a perfect knowledge of the Quran after watching someone attempt to summarise it on Sky News) and also became something of a pointer to how sad and horrid the whole process of Westernisation can be. I was never going to get very far with the stuff, so frankly, I didn’t try. The problem was, it was everywhere. Completely unavoidable. Every shop, every bus, every taxi would have a knackered old tape player constantly turned on and constantly at maximum volume, and if, by some miracle, you somehow got out of range, some hormonal teenage boy would clearly be carrying a ghetto blaster (and proud of it) and be just around the next corner. You couldn’t escape.

But this isn’t travel writing, I know. I don’t want to bang on constantly about travelling around the world in some half-baked search for spiritual enlightenment. It’s just a device to let me talk about something I’ve been noticing for a long time now. In those six weeks, there was one song I kept hearing more than any others (I reason this entirely as it has embedded itself in my memory). Unfortunately, it’s going to be fairly hard to describe this song other than that, yes, it sounded like most of the other Egyptian pop I heard, and that it had a verse and a chorus, the chorus being quicker than the verse, both being repeated several times. It was, if you will, a pop song.

The first time I heard it, it annoyed me intensely, much like everything else I’d been hearing. I walked off, forgetting about it, not caring in the slightest. I’m guessing, however, that said song was a hit, because I kept hearing it, and every time it would become more and more irritatingly familiar. Eventually, our relationship was mutually agreeable – it would play, I would not complain about its existence.

The last time I heard the song I was strolling down the street on a hot day and a group of kids, lolling around outside on holiday, had it playing. At this point, I felt a spring in my step and a joie de vivre that I only seem to have when music somehow really connects with me. The thing was, I didn’t even think I liked this damn song. What (to put it mildly) was going on?

Then I thought – not the first time that this has happened really, now is it? (And I sincerely hope it won’t be the last). As the stereotypical mid-teen indiekid it was almost expected of me to dismiss out of hand anything in the top forty no matter how much I actually liked it, or could have liked it, if only I’d given it a chance. Then last year I spent some time temping at a warehouse. The daily musical accompaniment to my pet food lifting action was provided by ‘Berkshire and North Hampshire’s 210 FM, the best station to listen to at work!’ etc etc. They played about six different songs a day. After a few weeks, the only song I still couldn’t abide was Robbie ‘n’ Nicole. Even Westlife weren’t annoying me, and no one, however much they claim to like pop, likes Westlife. My judgement was completely down the pan, and I kind of liked it. But none of these songs really gave me the same kick as I got in Egypt. Why?

This is the bit that scares me. I’d realised a long time ago, if I listened to something enough, I’d either develop a liking or apathy for what I was listening to. It’s like trying to ‘get into a difficult record’. At least you’d know it backwards even if, at a guess, you never really liked it. It’s the same with the radio. Background music is just that – it provides a hummable, non-interfering, non-offensive background to whatever you happen to be doing, and as such you don’t mind any of it because it’s not as if you cared in the first place. You can sing along and be happy but it doesn’t really affect you in the way good pop should, it’s all such a blur. So…what’s the point in trying to listen to and like everything?

Because, occasionally, as happened to me in Egypt, an odd, surprise moment of connection suddenly occurs and it affects you somehow, like music should. This is why being objective about pop stinks. It’s also why you should listen to everything, but not too hard. I know this sounds cheesy as hell, but let it surprise you, it’s better that way.


written by Bill Carruthers, March 2002

FT Birthday Update (And Other News)

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FT Birthday Update (And Other News)

1. The response to the birthday thing has gone from good to spectacular – I now have around fifty entries. Thanks!

2. I’m extending the deadline anyway because the entries have been so good and I want even more of them. So if you haven’t done it and fancy doing it – go for it!. Those of you who did get it done on time – entries will be printed in order of arrival, so your ones will get more hits by the secret laws of the Internet.

3. Very big apologies to anyone who got a virus sent via my e-mail address. My anti-virus software has been creaking for a while now and I clearly need a new one. So fingers crossed it won’t happen again.

4. I’m going away on Saturday and so is Pete, so updates to NYLPM might drop off entirely – except of course there are a host of team members itching to post (ahem). We’re going to France for a week with a bunch of friends. I would love to get another FT update done before I leave, which means practically speaking on Wednesday evening. So if you have any articles you’ve been sitting on or dallying with, please send them to me before then! Thanks! The article pile is running low generally, so submissions are more valued than ever.