Posts from 22nd August 2003

22
Aug 03

Memorably grim nightspots #1

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 220 views

Memorably grim nightspots #1: a double birthday celebration, maybe five years back, at the Troy Club in Hanway Street, and one of the birthdays – we didn’t know this till we got there – was the landlady’s. OK, you’ve read Gormenghast? So imagine a bar in Barquentine’s bedroom, peopled by ancient Soho soaks, actors you haven’t seen for years, pucely embalmed bar-phantoms that would spook Francis Bacon: this was the Troy Club. There weren’t enough chairs, though there were a few aluminium beer kegs- these have sharp rims and not much else. The landlady sang many many Irish ballads, accompanied by a man on electric piano. Even she thought he was rotten, complaining several times and asking him to be less florid. Then a man got up and began to declaim a poem on the terrors and splendors of cocaine addiction: this lasted about 25 minutes. When he finished, it was discovered that no one else in the room knew who he was – each party assumed he belonged with the others. Out of maybe 15 people in the group I was with, the evening produced two lasting relationship break-ups.

Pirates!

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 198 views

Whilst we all soak our knickers with the cinematic masterpiece of Pirates of the Carribbean and it’s zombie pirate monkey over on certain other FT associated blogs, let us not forget the grebt historical precedents of pirates in wot one might call HEM HEM classic lit. Whilst I would never suggest that we should not give Mr. D. Defoe his dues for his book on pyrates inc. BLUEBEARD, the selection that classicklit dot com suggests falls shoddily short by not including a certain story by the Henry Rollins of the early 1900’s, William Hope Hodgson.

Far before Orlando Bloom was ARRsing about being a pirate, William Hope Hodgson (WHH for short, wouldn’t you think) wrote not only The Ghost Pirates but also a large selection of ph34rs0m3 good ole SEAFARING FICTION. Sadly, Ghost Pirates is the most rubbish of them all despite a fantastic title. The large majority of WHH’s books feature an incredibly huge range of boggly eyed and hideous monsters that could easily be lurking in the vortex lurking down at the bottom yr garden underneath the shrubbery (this from The House on the Borderland which features no pirates but however includes SWINE CREATURES and an incredible trip through time and some ‘green orbs’ yeah yeah whatever you say Mr WHH). HP Lovecraft also called him “a classic of the first water”. Do you SEE??

Another book of his which doesn’t feature PIRATES and able seamen (I said seamen) is THE NIGHT LAND which proves a remarkable abillity to break with tradition by being EVEN MORE MENKO than ghost pirates, swine creatures and the disappearence of the sun combined. Written in cod-17th C langwidge, the protagonist lives first of all in Olde Englande and falls in love with a Lady. Isn’t that always the way? Bloody women. Later on he goes to sleep, and awakes in the future, where he is the resident psychic of a pyramid where refugees from an Earth taken over by Dark Creatures wander about being stinking old hippies by the looks of things. Skip to the end, and he goes on a mission throughout the wilderness, searching for someone who may be his old love, also awakened into the future, in an attempt to rescue her and her group of settlers from evil snakes/dogs/ferrets etc. Once thou managest to forget how godammed dreadful the attempts at Olden Days Speech are, thou hast quite a tense and rollicking adventure UNTIL he finds the lady. And then the remainder of the book is nothing more and nothing less than a potted guide to Victorian style attitudes towards women which stick out like a sore thumb in a book which is supposed to be set in a future far beyond imagining. A ludicrous story is made even more ludicrous by lines such as (paraphrasing here) “and thus she wast a naughty Wench and I did bide her in mine body which hast been made strong by my journeys” ect ect.

Amazon link. NB WHH is also published in a selection of GOTHIC FICTION huzzah huzzah so don’t say I didn’t wARRn you. Yar!

You cannot beat a good opening line

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 249 views

“The Pope is getting Married” is, in theory, a cracking opening line. Things look even better when, within ten pages we get this crisp piece of dialogue: ‘ “How could you even think of defying me? I’m the fucking Pope!” ‘. So what grounds do I have to slag of the millenial, end-of-the-world pot-boiler that is Thomas F.Moneteleone’s The Reckoning? Mainly because it is slip-shod, ignoring all the interesting parts of the premise with poorly justified and motivated action sequences (guess what, the Knights Templar rock up too). And that opening line, well it is the first line of Chapter One but we’ve had a quote from the Bible (Revelations natch), a foreword and a prologue explaining the premise first.

The premise – well it’s 2000 so the world is going to end. Especially because, ignoring much of historical precedent, a new Pope has been voted in on what appears to be a whim and decent PR. And, well, it is not clear whether he is a good bloke or not. His parentage is pretty good – I’ll go back to the other juiciest line for the text for that one:
“Considering the sensation the cloning of that silly sheep had caused, thought Giovanni, the world media would create a feeding frenzy of speculation and moralizing if they ever discovered the Pope had been cloned from blood off the Shroud of Turin and brought to term in the teenage womb of a virgin nun.”

Anyone who can write a sentence that good cannot be all bad, though in the rest of the book when stupid implausibility piles upon stupid implausibilty you stop caring for this everyday tale of Pope’s fiances, living saints and assasin priests. The ending – taking place naturally in the Pyramid of Giza – is supposed to leave us conflicted as to whether the Pope is the Anti-Christ or the Second Coming (or both DYS?) Instead you have to re-read it five times to work out who kills who, if it’s the little Chinese bloke from page 50 who can predict earthquakes who saves the day, or the virgin Nun/mother of the Pope. And what sunspots have to do with it.

The Reckoning? I reckon it is rubbish.

Tom talks about San Miguel below

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 332 views

Tom talks about San Miguel below – I had the privilige of driving past one of its main Spanish breweries last night (a welcome adjunct to Malaga airport). I must admit however it is not a beer I favour. There is a very metallic tang to its taste, which may suggest potency but to me suggests – well metal. San Miguel may be the patron saint of Spanish beers, but I tend to prefer some of the lesser known Spanish beers such as Cruzcampo and Mahon.

There is obviously a different aim in brewing a beer to be drink in the sun. One expects this to be to point of many Spanish lagers, easy drinking, rehydrating stock. In reality they all have rather strong tastes: I expected to be able to compare them with Mexican beer but unfortunately Mexico wins hands down with bothe range and breadth. All Spanish beers seem to be punishingly strong for sun quaffing, all the beers above seem to tip 5.2% and seem to be brewed primarily for their golden colour. In my brief beer hunt (by no means exhaustive and please e-mail us to prove me wrong) there was nothing to match the dark wonder of Negro Modelo or event the easy drinking Corona. This is probably just ridicuolous language and climate typing, the Mexican beer industry has a large German heritage after all.

The one thing the Spanish do well is serving the draught stuff very cold. This casues common condensation drippage. in common with much of Europe a beer comes in a small glass as well – which is probably all for the best in the heat. But I cannot say I would naturally grant San Miguel its premium status, its more bog standard than that. But then San Miguel = St Michael = own brand Marks’n’Sparks beer. What do we expect?

(Update: the question of San Miguel’s country of origin bought into contest.)

Birth Of A Hit

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 203 views

Birth Of A Hit: lengthy and quite interesting article exploring how one of the UK’s best-selling singles of recent years was produced. (Thanks to Alan for the link!)

I have a feeling that I am the only one who likes the vaguely redemptive ending of

Do You SeePost a comment • 239 views

I have a feeling that I am the only one who likes the vaguely redemptive ending of Roger Dodger. Most reviews I have seen think it is a cop out that at the end of this admittedly slimy mans day of breakdown that there could be anywhere for him to go. Which in the end I find a bit mean spirited. The appeal of the character is his awfulness certainly, but also there is something charming in his wrongheadedness, in his know-it-all savvy that knows nothing. The opening where he proves his case that men will be obsolete within a hundred years is delivered in a boorish fashion but is still the delivery of a man who know his time is up. The fact that his downfall is not due to his boorishness at all, rather that he gets tossed away like a plaything by his boss/lover is the heart of a rather dark movie that very few people seem to have noticed. Instead they see the rather more simple satire on misogeny (which the film – and Roger – with his constant appeals to the superiority of women is never convincing on).

Campbell Scott does a terrific job in humanizing this one man script deliverer. That other characters get a touch relegated is due to the fact that there literally is not any room. At turns car crashingly awful, it might be more of a commentary on the superficiality of the advertising industry than anything else. Choose that meaning if you want, I prefer looking at Roger in a more humane way. If you look at it that way, you can see it as once of the most authentic being dumped movies ever. Yes Roger is an arsehole – but even arseholes have feelings.

THIRST on Greek Street

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 379 views

THIRST on Greek Street: This is the bar I went to briefly last night. It has a bar area up top and a dancefloor downstairs. The dancefloor bit looked fine and the music sounded great (I had to go home at 8 so I didn’t really experience it). The top floor is a nightmare though. The tables are small and cramped, the drinks are expensive, the d’cor very uninspiring (huge neon ‘THIRST’ sign was fun but took on a black irony when I first paid ‘2.90 for a San Miguel) and worst of all the seats are tiny metal stools with holes in the middle. That isn’t a seat, it’s a polo!

My bar-o-phobia is well established but I simply cannot understand why anyone would go to a place like this before the dancing gets going ‘ it’s not welcoming, it’s not friendly, the crowd isn’t particularly good looking (even before we arrived), it’s uncomfortable and expensive. The company was of course excellent but I’d have liked it so much more in a pub ‘ a d’tente between Bar Culture and Publog Culture remains a distant prospect.

We are featured in this month’s The Wire (August 2003)

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 389 views

We are featured in this month’s The Wire so hello if you came from there. It’s a flattering write-up which credits Freaky Trigger with being one of the originators’ of music blogging online and also has some well-deserved praise for a few of the links on the right. NYLPM did have a big impact on people starting music weblogs I think but it wasn’t the originator – I got the idea from Josh, whose blog is surely the longest-running online music thing of this kind (weekly or even daily review sites aren’t really the same thing). It’s still going, it’s still good, though the days when it was on every links list are sadly long gone: but if you’re interested in the origins and potential of personal music diaries/blogs online then Josh Blog is I reckon the real Godfather.