Posts from 4th April 2005

4
Apr 05

Day 29: Philadelphia AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

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Day 29: Philadelphia
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

According to a local bystander it was like watching a giant orange streak across the sky, ie a bit like Rod Stewart being fired out of a cannon. It was certainly accurate as we were in a giant orange spacehopper heading for the Earth. We passed out due to the heat, and when we came to we disembarked the alien craft to find a small welcoming party.

“We come in peace,” Crispian said.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“Philadelphia,” A cop trying to work out if we had broken any laws said.
“What’s the date?” Crispian asked, I think trying to convince them he was some sort of season space time traveler. They told us.
“That leaves us fifty one days,” Crispian said.

Oh. The going round the world thing. I had kind of hoped that plummeting from out of space would have increased our progress a touch, but Philadelphia was almost a step back from Florida. Still, while there I could look in on one of my favourite musical instruments in the world: The Liberty Bell. Not a favourite because it is an awesome reminder of the principles of the US and life, liberty and freedom., Rather that it has a great big crack in it and is therefore busted.


NEIL YOUNG – Philadelphia

So there is this film. A serious, serious piece about homophobia and HIV with hard hitting actors Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks (Well at least Denzel hits hard, he has played a boxer). And they need a theme tune which explains to people how serious the film is. Who do they go to?

Bruce Springsteen.

Well yes. Stupid as that might seem getting the three minute blue collar cliche king to knock one out for them .But they also went to Neil Young. Were they hedging their bets in case Bruce delivered something rubbish? But hold: you remember the Streets Of Philadelphia. A more dull tune you could not imagine from Bruce, coupled with pedestrian lyrics. Which therefore can only suggest one thing. Neil Young’s song Philadelphia must be EVEN WORSE.

So imagine. Worthy lyrics: check.
Appeal to so called life and liberty in Philadelphia: Check
That nasty high singing thing Neil does: Double Check
Cacophonous feedback: Left in the toybox that morning thank Christ.
Mixing up fraternal brotherly love with full on male homosexual sex so as not to worry deep south constituency: Check
Really really rubbish song: What do you think?

“Just A Bit Of Fun”

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This must be number one on the list “phrases you don’t want to find yourself saying”. Or more accurately, be reported as saying*. It means one of only two things:

– your thoughtless play has inadvertently caused some ghastly and tragic accident.
– you are on totally the wrong side of a political argument.

In the former case the phrase adds a bit of cheap poignancy to a story of people being total idiots. Bits of fun here tend to include climbing pylons, larking about on railway lines, teasing lions etc.

In the latter case the phrase is a way to duck out of expressing contrition after you’ve been a knob. In its mild form it is found next to “We’re sorry for any offence caused”. In its more virulent form the mantra “blown up out of all proportion” is probably close at hand. The bit of fun – maybe a jolly racial epithet, or a bit of low level sexual harassment or maybe a sliver of gay-baiting – is often described as “harmless” and is generally being criticised by “busybodies”.

Phrases like that become common because they work. The offended party is thrown onto the defensive, smeared as humourless or socially inept. Unless your cause is particularly just you have to spend time explaining why something isn’t “fun” – that’s if you get right of reply at all. The liberal mind though tends to shy away from using “just a bit of fun” as a weapon, it seems reserved for the, uh, culturally traditional. The defenders of Jerry Springer: The Opera or Brass Eye have to use all sorts of cumbersome ideas like satire and free speech, for some reason they can’t just invoke fun and end it there. Wonder why?

*(Apologies to the member of FT staff who found himself in just this situation.)

Little Britain is the Boyzone

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Little Britain is the Boyzone

As is the way with list television, I stumbled into the 50 Best Sketches last night and got sucked in. Lord knows why, it was an intensely irritating programme. Comedians sitting around, discussing why a sketch is funny and how they made it interspersed with bits of the sketches. Firstly the pool of sketches to choose from were miniscule, hence much repeated Monty Python, League Of Gentlemen etc. Obviously this list was skewed towards the most recent sketches (how the mighty History Today has fallen). But considering how long the sketches were, and how much time they had, WHY DID THEY NOT SHOW THE SKETCHES IN FULL!!! Instead we had little way of judging exactly how funny a sketch is.

As for the Lou and Andy sketch that won, it was – like the League Of Gentlemen and Ralph & Ted sketches – a strange hybrid. The humour relied on repetition, on us knowing the set-up. The comedy is cumulative, which is a companion who had never seen Little Britain was remarkably underwhelmed.

dog versus bumblebee

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(incident occurred too late for ANIMALS blog so mentally shoehorn it into POLITICS blg by means of METAPHORICALISM plz thx)

SCENE: MY PARENTS’ HOUSE: My old room overlooks the neighbours’ backyard. They have a small black-and-white terrier. Yesterday it was busily guarding its masters and their property against ALLCOMERS when it spied a BUMBLEBEE crawling across the concrete, fooled by the early warm and banjaxed i spect by the cool that followed.

OK, so most of us have watched a cat playing with mouse/bird/spider etc, and been perhaps distressed by the deliberate playful meanness on display. The terrier by contrast had so convinced himself of the GRAND NOBLE FEARLESS PURPOSE of his defence against the bumblebee that he had become frightened of actually touching it (in v.small dogbrane “i am so brave HURRAH” => “it is therefore so mighty ULP”): time and again, he hurled himself at the tiny round slowly crawling object, only – at the last split-second – to twist sharply and awkwardly away; he would make as if to catch it in his mouth and flinch just before he did so. This demented little ballet went on for ages, in tremendous, ceaseless earnestness (and silence, but for a terrier he is very unusually quiet): the dog relentless but secretly terrified, the bumblebee apparently unaware of the dog.

I *think* in the end he did squish it, kinda by mistake – but it may have finally flown (or just walked) away, and what i tht wz the slain corpse wz just some fluff or dirt.

Ananova have good story, but greedily they want better story

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Ananova have good story, but greedily they want better story

Local news teams will be waiting with baited breath to see if this 16 goal haul is actually a record: my hunch is no. My hunch is also that with a little bit of a backhander to an opposing keeper, this record would not last for long anyway. Everyone wants to be in the Guinness Book Of Records after all, and scoring sixteen goals in a Sunday league game seems one of the easier ways.

So after extensive watching of the refurb,

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 186 views

So after extensive watching of the refurb, I finally roused myself to wander down to the Shaftesbury. What had bothered me about its refurb was
a) cream walls, wood floor hell!
b) the decking out front
c) removal of televisions
d) seeming absence of punters.

Well on a nice spring day like yesterday, all of these innovations made sense. It was a nice, light, cool airy pub, the equivalent of wearing a linen jacket. The decking was good coupled with its picnic tables and frankly if you were not in the pub by 1:30 you had no chance outside. But the main revelation was that the pub now did a mean pint of Sussex (a favoured ale of mine) which I found thoroughly unexpected. A good, but cheap, pub menu (with hundreds of endearing typos*) improved things no end. What with the Kings Head suddenly doing interesting beers, and the Shaftesbury refurb not being the washout I expected, Crouch End pubs are looking up.

*Highlight being the John Dory served with a sauce made of smoked prawns nad.

5 x 2? Surely that equals 10.

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5 x 2? Surely that equals 10. Which means that Francois Ozon’s new film is merely a remake of the Blake Edwards misogyny fest or Abbas Kiarostami’s driving round Tehran hating men film. On balance it is more of the latter, the male character generally coming off worse than the female. However this five part, reverse chronology story of a marriage allows us enough leeway to also dislike the female lead too, leaving its hopeful how they got togethe rending with a very sour taste.

It is one of those films where you get to talk about a terrific rape scene, which is a phrase that one should never really get to use (nevertheless it is one of the most powerful scenes of its type I have ever seen). It is a nicely controlled, small film, centering completely on the couple. Problem is with its naturalism you get to nit pick when odd artistic choices are made. For example the end (which is also the beginning of the story):

Lead male turns up on beach for a sunbath after leaving his girlfriend. On beach is his future wife who he works with. They chat, and decide to have a swim together. Cut to the pair walking into the sea, as the sun sets. It is a beautiful image but contradicts the fact that they were out sunbathing. Who starts sunbathing, or goes swimming at 7:30. This really should not be a problem, but is. I would say it is probably me, but nearly everyone I know who has seen the film says the same thing. That said, I liked it better than either 10.

Blog 7’s April theme: Politics

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In April Blog 7 will be a blog about politics. However we are not going to announce this yet out of respect for the Pope.

I must say the delaying of the election date announcement (not the actual date of course) is most puzzling. Is it something the Pope would have wanted? I suppose we would have to look at his own commitment to democracy, being the product of a constituency of a billion, leader voted for by about one hundred exclusively male and old. What this respect really means is that they want to hit the front pages of the newspapers. Which is in itself unlikely considering that every vaguely connected person in the world (my route is via Boyler) knows it will be the 5th of May to coincide with the local elections and Poptimism.

So let the posting and the voting commence. In April Blog 7 is a blog about politics.