Posts from 3rd February 2005

3
Feb 05

Day 18: Hey Manhattan AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 608 views

Day 18: Hey Manhattan
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

Simone was true to her word, she knew a metal shop. Not just a shop which sold metal, it was run bey a metal shopkeeper or as I would put it, an ironmonger. Heavy Metal Gates of Coney Island. Imagine, a place named after the grimmest of ugly music, in a place named after a rubbish Lou Reed song. I almost vowed never to leave Bloomsbury again.

Simone’s friend turned out to be an even bigger rap fan than she was, bigger in all senses of the word. Tattooed up his arms were the names of all the Wu-Tang Clan, with the unfortunare Inspecta Deck stretching agross his shoulder-blades. His right forearm was dominated by ODB’s name before he changed the meaning of the letter D. I pointed out that he might want to get that redone and he grunted. Still after a fair bit of grinding, not in a dancehall stylee I hasten to add, I was finally free from Simone and the shackles.

“Well I can’t say it has been a pleasure,” I said. “But I hope I have taught you something Simone. Music has already done irreparable damage to you, denounce it.”
“I ain’t denouncing nothing,” she said, damning herself to hell. “You are a weird one Tanya, but hey, I think we’ve shared something in our time together.”
“Intense irritation?” I suggested.
“Sisterhood. Hey, if you’re doing anything tomorrow, I’ll be at this party,” she slipped me a flyer which I might as well as binned straight away. But it went into the horrible sweat pants I was wearing, and I even waved when I left.

Now I had to find out if Crispian had survived, if I could get any money and continue on this already jinxed trip around the world. So I bunked a Subway barrier and set off for the island of gleaming spires, Manhattan. I was pretty sure there were some bars there.

PREFAB SPROUT – Hey Manhattan

Paddy Macaloon shouts “Hey Manhattan here I am.”
Manhattan shouts “Who gives a fuck.”

I mean really. The British public might have fallen for the so-called perfect songwriting of the halfwit Paddy Macaloon, but the US weren’t going to. Instead they rightly noted that he was the bloke who had a really, really big hit about frogs and hot dogs and filed him under rubbish novelty act.

Prefab Sprout (oh, always with the sprouts, as if they are inherently funny vegetables) were yet another British band who were sent to save pop music. Clearly they were sent by some sort of alien agency who
a) Did not know what pop music was
b) Did not care too much for saving it
c) Wanted to get rid of Paddy Macaloon and the bird with the long face.
I certainly remember when Steve McQueen came out, this album which was apparently going to return pop music into the hands of proper songwriters. The last people you want as custodians of pop music is songwriters, next you’ll be suggesting Edwyn Collins should look after it.

No: writing ironical songs about Elvis, and faux show-tunes about Manhattan is no way of safeguarding the future of pop (obviously a good thing for me). I fear my six month picket of record shops after Steve McQueen came out gave ver Sprout the idea for Protest Songs. I believe Macaloon may be cited as a witness in the Michael Jackson trial as well, but then they did release an album called Jordan: The Comeback.

He writes theme tunes to kids TV now.

Myst: Revelation

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Myst: Revelation
Conclusion: I enjoyed this game, but it’s not a good game – I’d say it’s worth 75% of the cover price.

I love the Myst games – I’m just not into games like GTA OK? Even if there was GTA meets Myst (which there isn’t). I like wandering around beautiful locations – somewhere I’d want to go on holiday AND STAY – and solving problems (ew!) by observing, working out what’s going on, how things work, and so on. Plus I can’t stand the “meat puppet” character animation you get in other games – a bit of “canned” live action is much more preferable.

So I’ve played all the “core” Myst games, and the games have got technically better, but the quality of the puzzles and story has declined since Riven (Myst 2).

From our flat panelled, millions-of-colours world, the original Myst’s images are disappointing. But much worse, the puzzles were (with one or two exceptions) laughable – jammed into the environment with all but “this is very contrived” daubed on them in 9ft grafitti. It was a game before its time perhaps, and the 5 CD epic follow up had the storage to be much more clever, better thought out, with a nice mix of puzzles that required observation, thought and a “global” understanding of the Riven world.

Since then the quality has dropped some, and (for me at least) the full 360° views never made up for this. I’d say that Revelation has only slightly better puzzles than the original, and there is an over-reliance on elaborate “combination locks” – possibly inspired by the fine central combination puzzle in Riven. Graphically, the consistent Myst design ethos is as beguiling as ever, and the technical improvements in “immersion” include an impressive depth-of-field trick and much more movement from the water, flaura and fauna around you.

There is however one really awful thing in Revelation, worse even than the child actor – at one key point you have to sit through… an exclusive Peter Gabriel track, with Gabe in full new age mode wittering on about curtains. Groo. Pretty video though.

Gloria 2: The Curious Case Of The Tangled Tides

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This particular Gloria really came into its own a few years ago, when Atomic Kitten’s “The Tide Is High (Got The Feeling)” was number one. Not many people (apart from the quite a lot of people buying it) liked the Kittens’ track. “It ruins the Blondie original”, some said.

Cue Gloria.

“Of course the Blondie version was a cover too – the original was a reggae version by The Paragons”.

I have heard the effect rather spoiled by the knowledge-dispenser remembering that there was a reggae original but not knowing who it was by, or perhaps assuming that all reggae ever is done by roughly the same people viz Bob Marley and his mates.

Rarely is a qualitative judgement implied by people who cite the original, it’s a pure show of expertise. But for the sake of this feature we’ll pit all three versions against one another in the factual crucible of the Poptimizer. So – comments box people – the Paragons’ “Tide Is High”, the Blondie hit, or the Kittens parenthetic version? Over to you.

THIS MEANS

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 228 views

THIS MEANS YIYOU!

viz it is LESS THAN A WEEK till chinese new year – passing out of the horrible year of the monkey into the generally better-favoured year of the rooster – so here is what to EAT: “sweet steamed glutinous rice pudding”

“tofu is not included… as the color signifies death and misfortune”

EXPERIMENT: YOUNG’S ‘ORDINARY’

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EXPERIMENT: YOUNG’S ‘ORDINARY’

The question was, what happens when I drink exclusively Young’s Ordinary of an evening? The location was The Plough, Museum Street. And the occasion was Alan handing over some flyers. The results?

I only realised I was eligible for an experiment status on my third pint. I only drank four, and left at 10:45, so there was time for another quickie (if only half). So result one: Young’s Ordinary is a beer I can easily stop drinking. The Plough is not a Young’s pub, but rather a relatively rare breed of all-rounders which is nothing special but serves a wide range of guest bitters. The taps have a large Tetley’s logo on them, but you cannot buy Tetley’s. These are all things I approve of. The only problem with ordering ordinary in non-Young’s pubs is that they tend to call it Young’s instead, which is often confusing.

The pub was packed with people watching the genuinely exciting at the end cricket. I was genuinely excited by it anyway, so:
Result two: Allowed me to be genuinely excited by British sport.

Myself and Alan were both firmly on the Ordinary and it provoked enquiring pub science. Indeed what with this and much newspaper baiting, it is clear that:
Result three: Young’s Ordinary stimulates the inquisitive part of the brain.

I think I was also rather empathic when discussing personal issues later as well.

CONCLUSION: Young’s Ordinary promotes a feeling of caring wellbeing, and stimulates the brain, but does not seem to make me want to drink to excess. Possibly ideal for our unthinking, binge drinking society therefore.

PUB SCIENCE or Let’s see if our brains still work

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PUB SCIENCE
or
Let’s see if our brains still work

Myself and Alan were in the pub last night reading the paper, and we started to panic about our brains. Possibly something you do when downing intoxicants, how much of our brains which the government spent a fair bit of money developing, still worked. Well they worked enough for us to laugh at the story that a child’s home chemistry set caused enough “toxic gas” to have an entire street cordoned of 24 style. But could we still do science in the pub. Well Maths at least.

Alan raised a problem he had been think of for some time. Where on earth could you, if walking at normal human pace, could you effectively walk without moving relative to the earths rotation. A moments thought threw forward ideas about needing the circumference of the earth and nonsense like that. And then, ping, our maths brains turned on and it was simple.

Assuming that we walk at 3mph, and the earth rotates at 1/24 rotations per hour, we needed to find somewhere that is rotating a 3mph. 3mph = 72 miles per day. So circumference is 72 miles, hence radius is 11.46 miles (just under twelve we reckoned last night). Assume a negligible curvature of the earth, the answer is just under eleven and a half miles from the poles. Of course it might be quite hard to keep up such a steady pace in polar conditions but this was a thought experiment. And out thoughts still work.