Posts from 1st December 2003

Dec 03


Proven By Science5 comments • 21,385 views

Formicophilia is a fetish involving having bugs and worms crawling all over one’s body. For some reason, the few case histories concerning this have been reports from predominantly Buddhist countries. Perhaps investing all my savings in exporting ‘squish’ films to Thailand was a stupid idea. However, I could recoup the money by visiting the local shrine and advertising my flat as a commercial sex emporium, as I still can’t figure out where all the goddamn fruit flies are coming from, even though I’ve sprayed so much pesticide in there that I can’t even see out the window. ‘Squish’ films are often dismissed as an aesthetic cul-de-sac but in my opinion there are still avenues to explore. Perhaps featuring parasitic worms whose eggs hatch in the stars’ bodies at the moment of climax? There’s a vending machine on my street that dispenses flies and maggots for the canal fishermen. Maybe they should open up a whole store, put a red light in the window, and call it ‘Master Bait’. For the moment I’ll stick to popping bubblewrap, but then, I’m more repressed than most people.

Warrant – Cherry Pie

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 790 views

Warrant – Cherry Pie

It’s kind of like being one of the best dinosaurs ever, and then a comet hits you.

Warrant were the last great pre-grunge cock-rock, hair metal bands, and combined all the best elements of luminaries such as Poison, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Van Halen etc, big hair, big riffs, big chorus. The last pre-post modern party band, rocking out on MTV, whilst Kurt and his boys were playing shows in seedy backwaters. Cherry Pie was out in 1991, almost at the same time as Teen Spirit. Why hair metal and grunge couldn’t co-exist is anyone’s guess, it had an okay relationship with Thrash/Death Metal after all, but there was a growing stigma for cheesy power ballads and adolescent songs about girls. Rock and fun had a messy divorce at the beginning of the 1990’s it would seem, and yeah I’m stating that Green Jelly/o’s “Three Little Pigs” was not fun.

I remember the time well, things changed over night (well the day I bought Nevermind and Nine Inch Nail’s “Pretty Hate Machine”). Waking up the next morning thinking, “I can’t listen to Warrant and Poison anymore”. Please forgive me, I was just 16 at the time, and I’ve done my best to make up for this temporary flirtation with the cool.

In hindsight, Warrant should be out on the road filling stadiums on endless greatest hits tours, but it’s not to be. Five years too late, or twelve years too early, whichever way you want to see it. And, hey if you like the Darkness, go and get Warrant’s greatest hits, coz it’s quite a bit better than “Permission to Land”.

(More films I saw two months ago). If The Italian Job 2003 tells us one thing

Do You SeePost a comment • 561 views

(More films I saw two months ago). If The Italian Job 2003 tells us one thing, it is that the new Mini is not a patch on the old one. They should never have put an old Mini in the first half of this film, it makes the new ones look clunky. The other thing it teaches us is that the ‘It’s A Mini Adventure’ series of film ads are much better than two hour remakes of not very good films which exist primarily to sell your cars abroad. Mark Whalberg’s never ending quest to remake all of cinema history in a Muzak stylee continues’

The country music station plays soft/ But there’s nothing really nothing to turn of

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The country music station plays soft/
But there’s nothing really nothing to turn of

Dylan, Visions of Johanna

There are two country stations in Edmonton, and both of them tell us something about the way chart country is moving as a genre. About ten years ago, Nashville’s demographic moved from mostly rural to mostly suburban, and therefore from an audience that cared about farms to an audience where farms where a place for nostalgia (still country music is popular in regions where it’s audience is only two or three generations away from the farm.)

With this move, a certain sentimentality creeped into the love songs and drinking songs of its most popular stars. Compare Kitty Wells “Coal Miners Daughter” to Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love with the Boy”. One is documentary, and the other a pastiche of feelings, one lived through pain and hurt because of familial obligation and one had the cheery naivety of someone who thought love cured all. (Chuck Klosterman wrote an essay on the Yearwood song comparing it’s authenticity to NPR favourite Gillian Welch, and finding Welch lacking, the problem is that they are both simulacra, aimed at different audiences. )

KISN country, 103.9, is the Country music stations in Edmonton plays the music of Yearwood and her daughters, all sachraine love songs that do not feel real but focus grouped. Now, I do not expect Britney to feel every inch of emotion when she sings, and I really expect about as much from the Dixie Chicks, and I think that the audiences of this station expect about the same. The ads are for malls in the suburbs and the cars in the raffles are Rav 4’s. There is nothing agricultural here.

The station I listen to is different. 790 is an AM station, so it has a larger base in the rural regions, and has studios in Edmonton and Camrose to prove this–Camrose being a centre for agriculture in this province. Aside from a classic country show on Sunday Mornings, and a Bluegrass show on wednesday, the play list does not differ much from KISN but the advertising does. They shill Moran Livestock Accessories, Cattle Auctions, Pickup p Trucks and Western Clothing. They raffle off quater sections of Canola and tickets for George Strait rather then Shania Twain.

It is then what surrounds the music that marks a station as more or less authentic, it is their large rural base that allows them to claim being more local, and that localness is less rooted in a historical connection to the land and more connected to “real” geographical signifiers. I always feel, when listening, like an outsider.

This piece from The Observer

TMFDPost a comment • 295 views

This piece from The Observer is slightly provocative but seems to be coming along the same lines as what I posted below; the overall thrust is that the goose which laid the golden egg is slowly being killed; death by a thousand short-term decisions that almost imperceptibly weaken the overall league product, which as any half-decent US Sports Economist will tell you, is the main item for sale, not the individual club components of said league.

Rule one in writing a film about conmen

Do You SeePost a comment • 259 views

Rule one in writing a film about conmen. Name it after a name for conmen. Hence Confidence, The Grifters and the somewhat implausibly titled Matchstick Men. Unfortunately no Matchstick Cats’n’Dogs in attendance here – though there is a kid on the corner of the street, with a skateboard. All Matchstick Men really amounts to is a Nicholas Cage acting masterclass. Which is a pity because after Adaptation I thought he had finally got out of his bug eyed, slightly crazy over-acting. Still, at least he is actually playing a bug-eyed, crazy guy in this one.

Ridley Scott post Gladiator has obviously started worrying about mortality. Perhaps he took a look at Kubrick and noticed while his films were well loved, there weren’t actually that many of them. So Ridley has been knocking them out at a rate of knots, deliberately doing the kind of films he is not known for. Here he shows he can happily direct a tricksy conman comedy, it just is not very distinctive. When the major personal stamp on the movie is a use of George Formeby’s I’m Leaning On A Lamp-post. We know we are moving away from auteurville.

The nothing-special feel of Matchstick Men belies its entertainment value. If you can put up with Cage as a OCD sufferer then you might rather enjoy this. It suckered me completely for its final reel, though said twist is on reflection wholly implausible. The biggest question mark has been on its actual ending. Does it need this tagged on happy ending or not? Me, I liked the semi-happy ending. I completely understand why other people don’t, but for me it was more about the central character. The film is not really all about the machinations of a con, it is more about the development of Cage’s character. So where he is left before the One Year Later is a desperate place, a place which could well lead to suicide. Which is a bad place for such a genuinely likeable character. So I had no problem with the loose end tying up (no matter how obvious). Sometimes you want a bit of schmaltz and in a film which tries so hard to be likeable, you can’t help but want to like it. Stops it being iconic maybe, starts it being fun.

The Pumpkin Publog Advent Calendar of Alcohol: 0-1% by volume – Fentiman’s Ginger Beer

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 923 views

The world of very low alcohol drinks is a strange hinterland, an unloved section of the world of booze which pleases neither the boozer nor the abstainer. All manner of crimes are committed in the name of reducing the alcoholic content of That Which The Good Lord Intended To Be Booze.

For this first faltering step into our advent of alcohol, we choose to point at a drink which you might expect to be alcohol-free but which slips a drop of the good stuff in for good measure (at least some of the way to good measure anyway).

Fentiman’s ginger beer, then. It’s been brewed to a rockist-tastic original recipe since forever, listed in the Domesday book, identified as the source of an unsightly stain on the Magna Carta. And so on. Apparently its characteristic ginger `burn’ comes as a result of the same fermentation process which puts a mighty maximum of 0.5% alcohol in the mix.

My instinct is to dismiss this quid-a-bottle stuff with an airy wave in favour of something which looks more modern and brightly-coloured and poppy, and comes in at half the price. Look at the front page of their website: “Unlike other soft drink manufacturers, none of our beverages are ‘style’, they are
always the real thing!” It’s the kind of language which causes me to rile up something chronic. I mean, the whole Authentic Victorian Beverage thing is so hopelessly contrived, not to mention tired. And here it is: it pains me to say it but this stuff tastes fantastic. Really actually very gingery spicy, lovely.

I’m too mean to shell out regularly for Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. Most days I’ll happily stick to my cans of DG Old Jamaica: maybe a bit of its style will rub off on me. But for a treat, a taste sensation, Fentimans is just the thing. And it has booze. And it’s nearly Christmas.

Saturday morning’s “Ever Wondered About…”

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 350 views

Saturday morning’s “Ever Wondered About…” regularly features the same chilled soundtrack of Lemon Jelly and Zero 7 (even now), but when they kick in to their “here’s the culture” montage, it turns over to tunes from “i typed in the theme to our music database”. So obviously this past weekend when they did “Sushi” we got the tasteful mix of:

  • Daphne & Celeste “We Love Your Sushi”
  • Aneka “Japanese Boy”
  • Vapours “Turning Japanese”
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence”
  • Alphaville “Big in Japan”
  • Pizzicato Five “Twiggy v James Bond”

Now (for my sins) I love all these tunes but was a little bemused at the appropriateness of music from a film about the inhumane conditions of a Japanese POW camp (leave alone a song largely thought to be about masturbation). I was thinking if you’re going to put your foot in your mouth, why not just jump in all the way with OMD’s “Enola Gay”?