Posts from 14th June 2004

Jun 04

I have always been wary of pubs named after the geographical area in which they reside.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 195 views

I have always been wary of pubs named after the geographical area in which they reside. I am always extra wary when they only just make it into that catagory. It seems a bit presumptuous, as if to say they are the pub the area is named after (which is occasionally the case admittedly). But for ever Nag’s Head there is a The Pub, Oxford. And in the later catagory fits the Bloomsbury, a Shepherd Neame pub on New Oxford Street.

Should I like the Bloomsbury? Shepherd Neame pubs have a good selection of ales and are generally comfortable. But there is something about them which is spectacularly unfriendly. They aren’t cheap, the furniture seems poorly laid out and the staff, surly springs to mind.

It was a nice Friday evening when we gave the Bloomsbury a go. One member of bar staff in partiuclar caused us trouble, she declared beers off which were fine before and poured drinks in the wrong order. But the big crux came at half eight. A general feeling of bonhomie was over us, and we were sitting undisturbed upstairs. We wondered if the pub wanted to put on Big Brother for us. She looked unimpressed. We pushed the matter, suggesting it was like a sporting event and would be attractive to other punters (there were punters at the bar who agreed). She said she would talk to the manager. She didn’t. Then she said no.

We should, of course, have left. Except it was Friday and we had seats (some of us would have left but the lazy arsed bunch that took up most of our group just wanted the beer). When will pubs learn? Its another dud Shepherd’s Neame pub though.

I’m Not Scared has a moment of horrific resonance

Do You SeePost a comment • 203 views

I’m Not Scared has a moment of horrific resonance for anyone who has watched the news over the last two months about halfway in. The little blonde child who has been kidnapped and hidden in a muddy hole is confronted by our ten year old hero Michele for questions about his family. “They are all dead, I am dead,” says the waif in return. A little bit too close to this story. It is rather jarring but is about the only smell of a serious theme in the film.

The aim seems to be to make a macabre Night of The Hunter/ Spirit Of The Beehive go at view adult horrors though the prism of a child (they should stop making children out of prisms). And the lead is cute enough, but his reaction to finding a kidnapped child of a similar age seems wrongheaded. He keeps it secret, does not tell anyone – not even his friends – and almost savours it. His actions are almost akin to torture themselves, especiallly when his daily visits are so brief. He could have saved the kid a good week before the climax precipitates violent action, so you cannot help but feel that he deserves what he gets.

Perhaps the problem is that the scenario is straight out of the Famous Five. And Blyton has conditioned a British viewer to think along the lines of child-like derring-do. Michele here has a gang who seem massively bored with their day to day games, why would he keep this secret. It is also a touch unclear who the title refers to, as Michele is scared for large chunks of the movie, and I’m Not Very Smart might equally make sense as a title.

FT Top 100 Films 82: THEATRE OF BLOOD

Do You SeePost a comment • 939 views

In this film Robert Morley is fed his own minced up poodles in a pie by Vincent Price. I really should stop there, if that does not convince you of the utter genius of Theatre Of Blood, not much of the rest of this will. Vincent Price hams it up something rotten, which is exactly the point.

Price was a proper movie star, in as much as his personality was generally much larger than any role he was meant to inhabit. Perhaps there is a touch of cruelty in asking him to play a lousy actor. And yet when you compare his over-egged performance to those of the critics involved in the film – you start to feel tremendously sorry for him. Price’s Edward Lionheart is a tragic figure: a man who can only be an actor, but who is lousy at it. Why not take it out on the critics, it is surely they who are wrong. The critics here are laughably pathetic, stereotypes who would never be good company: you wonder if Price is doing us a favour. When you see the self importance, pomp and vanity displayed by the critics circle you find yourself wondering if Wilberforces acting could really be that bad. Except since he is played by Vincent Price, you are always sure that it is.

Always a pleasure to stumble across at one in the morning, Theatre Of Blood is a fantastically silly movie with a very serious idea at the heart of it. The urge to criticise may well be inate, but equally the need to be critiqued sits at the heart of any performer. When this relationship breaks down, you really are only a few steps away from being drowned in a vat of wine. And that Shakespeare, he was one sick mofo.

The Best New Music Blogs

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 575 views

The Best New Music Blogs

Bloggers get tired or bored or busy or run out of things to say or just vanish – it’s the nature of the game. Luckily there are plenty more being started. All these made their first post sometime this year.

The Tofu Hut: more than just another MP3 blog, Tofu Hut is absolutely stuffed full of links and research findings, just like – gasp – blogs used to be. Friendly and enthusiastic (and yes you get MP3s too).

Gel In They etc etc.: stream-of-type hip-hop chat from Plum Drank, Mia Trill and the mysterious Old Stuffz.

Bang And Burn: sexily-designed MP3 and pop blog – sharp, loving commentaries.

Scissorkick: MP3s (undie hip-hop) and video clips and again a nice design.

Digital Music Weblog – links, facts, commentary on the digital music explosion: very informative.

There are lots of others but these stand out. My quick and incomplete ‘state of the weblog nation’ view suggests that Fluxblog is the current Preferred Model – the one newcomers want to emulate, much like Blissblog was 18 months or so ago. I think It’s a good model – emphasis on content, friendly, encourages comments, inquisitive. Fans like me of the long analytical ‘event post’ won’t find much to chew on in the newer blogs, though. The ‘music press in exile’ aspect of blogging is perhaps being superseded by a version of the music blog that makes more use of multimedia and interactivity rather than basing itself on rosy memories or fictions of pop writing. (Of course it’s not a binary – one of the things that makes (made?) Woebot so good is its combination of generous multimedia and good writing.)

If that’s so (big if!) I’ll miss it – the usual suspects had a great year or so, and they’re near the top of my read-list. But I’m excited about the newer trend, which seems to exploit the Internet’s potential so well (how ’98 of me!)