11 December 2005
As Fats Domino puts it...
"You know the sun never shines in whiskey heaven,
It rains Jack Daniels all the time"
15 November 2005
Dizzee Rascal - south London grime MC who's finally banished all Americanisms from British hiphop (not that Roots Manuva hadn't done his best already, of course).
Put them together and you get the tightest, meanest and most interesting tune this side of some of the RZA's weirder productions.
The whole album, Glassbreaks, is more of the wonderful same, and available (for now) via Mashculture. Get it while it's hot!
30 October 2005
29 October 2005
Anyone got a spare garden?
24 October 2005
22 September 2005
For fuck's sake. If this is the level of our police intelligence then we're all headed for sunny Cuba. Remember to publicly praise Bliar in earshot of every copper or you too could be tortured in Egypt, no expense spared.
Cynical mod out.
20 September 2005
Well, maybe not, but having just got back from a jaunt to Scotland I was struck by how little goes on up there compared to southeast England. Less people, more space. It's a salutary lesson, probably in economics and the lack of manufacturing industries, but anyway. It felt nice to me.
Oban is a small port town which seemed to be doing alright on tourism, but by far the largest taxpayer must be the local distillery. We went on the distillery tour, which was fascinating for many reasons, mostly how they make the stuff, but also to my mind how such a small (in physical size) business can make so much money, mostly for the government.
The Oban distillery covers about the same area as a medium sized supermarket, employs 7 (seven) people to shovel the malt and move the pipes around, and manages to produce around a million bottles (offsite) of whisky every year. Impressive. What's even more mind boggling is that at around £30 a bottle, and the tax on every bottle being around 70%, this one small factory in a small community miles from anywhere gives somewhere in the region of £21m annually to the Exchequer. Which is madness. But it's madness that's been in motion for centuries and you can't fight that sort of inertia. The Treasury is never going to give up on that sort of money; Oban is one of the smaller distilleries and the largest producers must pay many times that amount for their skill in boiling up some barley and water and adding yeast.
In these times where idiotic petrolheads complain about how much it costs to give children asthma and fuck up the planet, surely a word should be put in for this harmless eco-friendly industry (they use the leftover malt and hops for agricultural purposes, and recycle the casks, which were secondhand to begin with), which for me is one of the great pleasures in life made ridiculously expensive by our avaricious rulers. But barricading the gates of distilleries would be as stupid as barricading oil refineries. And twice as ineffective. So what are you going to do?!
25 August 2005
But anyway, tea's up, it's raining outside, so here goes...
10 years ago...
Enjoying a summer of cool as my musical tastes meld seamlessly with the best Glastonbury has to offer, Massive Attack, Jeff Buckley, Spearhead, Red Snapper and so forth. I then spent the rest of the summer working in a brewery. Not quite as cool as it sounds, honest.
5 years ago...
Hmm. 2000. Not a very good year. Someone's dad died, someone else's mum died, a friend crashed his motorcycle and died, and my mum had a stroke. I got very good at drinking in this year.
1 year ago...
I was probably living by the sea, smoking a bit more dope than I currently do, and wondering if Liverpool will ever win the European Cup in my lifetime. What a difference a year makes...
Work, pub, curry, 2 episodes of "Spaced", bed. Tough life
Work, Super Cup final vs. CSKA Moscow, beer, silly conversation until too late, bed.
Five snacks I enjoy...
Marmite on toast, chocolate hobnobs, apples (I know, I know, but I do!), curried scotch eggs and tea. Which counts as a snack. No, really.
Five bands whose lyrics I know most of...
Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, the Beach Boys and the Boo Radleys.
Five things I'd do with $1m...
Buy a house, buy some art, travel, have a big pirate-themed party, invest the remaining 100 quid.
Five places I'd run away to...
New York, Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool, Buck's Mills (Devon).
Five bad habits I have...
Eating chocolate hobnobs, smoking when drunk, drinking too much, an inability to be arsed with serious financial matters, pathological hatred of christians.
Five things I like doing...
Reading, listening to cricket on the radio, drinking, arranging things in alphabetical order, playing guitar.
Five things I wouldn't wear...
Brown shoes, patterned ties, anything with a noticeable label or manufacturer's name on, trainers unless I'm playing sport, a Nirvana tshirt.
Five TV shows I love...
The Sopranos, The West Wing, Absolute Power, the Mark Steel Lectures, BBC4 documentaries.
Five movies I love...
Once Upon a Time in America, Three Colours Blue, Top Gun, Withnail & I, Head.
Five famous people I'd like to meet...
Joni Mitchell, John Cale, Brave Captain, Iain Banks, Christy Moore.
Five favourite toys...
My laptop, my guitar, my ipod shuffle (although it's giving me tinnitus), my long wave radio (for the cricket) and crosswords. I know the last one isn't really a toy, but unless I'm allowed books or my aviator sunglasses, I can't think of anything else.
Five people to tag...
The Count, who's currently extremely incommunicado and won't get anything I send him.
The Desk of the Sellout Generation, who'll shout at me for tagging him.
...and er, that's it.
I don't know too many bloggers. Yet.
19 August 2005
Now that I've got your attention...
I just read this BBC news story. In short, an artist called Mark Chamberlain had a show at a posh New York Gallery featuring the above painting and similar others, including a lovely shot of Robin and his bum, as part of a whole collection of gay Batman pictures. Although they've been there since February, DC Comics have only just got their act together and sent the lawyers in.
Now, I'm no lawyer, and I'm sure it's important that copyright on something like Batman is protected, otherwise clearly the world will end and no-one will get any cake, but doesn't the fact that it's "art" count for something? How come Warhol didn't get sued for his Campbell soup tins? Also, isn't there a world of difference between the mafia selling millions of fake dvds and one bloke painting some pictures? Apparently not, but that's lawyers for you. No sense of beauty or appreciation of how hard it is to afford good quality brushes.
So is there more to it? Is the fact that he portrays them as gay the problem? Given they've spent decades prancing around in tights, I reckon the cat's out of the bag on that one, and DC should learn to live with the fact that people's perceptions may not match the company line.
11 August 2005
I was in the British Museum a couple of years ago when I came across the death mask of Oliver Cromwell in one of their display cases. Oh, I thought, so that's what he looked like. That's the bloke who killed a king and helped drag Britain kicking and screaming into the 17th century. Oh, and killed a bunch of people, many of them Irish.
(And even a couple of kilos of plaster of paris can still be controversial).
You don't really get a sense of a person from a painting, at least I don't, but with a death mask you can look at the shape and size of someone's head, and imagine them lying there, asleep, about to wake up and invent gravity (as in the case of Newton).
They were created as soon after death as possible, to get the best likeness. The one above is of Beethoven, and obviously was once dropped by someone. oops. Other famous death masks include Jonathan Swift, Dante, and Hitchcock, oddly enough. For anyone who's as morbid as me, there's an excellent list here with pictures of Princeton's collection.
In the immortal works of Nick Ross, don't have nightmares.
08 August 2005
But having a quick google, I found this superbly bizarre fact...
"In 1852, Mantell took an overdose of opium, the drug he used to alleviate his pain, and later lapsed into a coma. He died that afternoon. His postmortem showed that he had been suffering from scoliosis. Richard Owen, his one-time nemesis, had a section of Mantell's spine removed, pickled and stored on a shelf at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. There it sat until World War II when it was lost, presumably destroyed, during a German bombing raid"
A little harsh, I feel, just cos the guy was right about dinosaurs and Owen wasn't. Although if anyone wants to remove any of Alex Ferguson's vertebrae I'm willing to pay top whack.
Richard Owen wrote a very cool book about dodos, which reminds me that the dodo was initally given the latin name "didus ineptus". Whether Owen had a hand in this I don't know, but again, a little harsh considering they couldn't fly and the humans had guns. But, phew, google informs me that they've posthumously been renamed "Raphus Cuculatus".
So that's alright then.
06 August 2005
There was a bittersweet piece of genius in this morning's papers - the infamous and excellent London graffiti artist Banksy has just got back from the middle east, where he tagged the wall that the Israelis have erected to, well, fuck over the Palestinians and steal their land (is there another interpretation?!).
Of course he did more than tag it - he produced some of the coolest images I've seen and without a word made a more eloquent statement on Israeli policies than a whole raft of Panoramas, Dispatches and newspaper articles. We all know what's going on, we all think it's wrong (don't we?), what's to talk about? If they won't listen, tag 'em!
The google news link above has some pictures here and there, but you can see all of them over on the Wooster Collective site, which is the online motherlode for all things spraypainted as far as I can tell.
My favourite one is above - I'm a sucker for a good stencil - but some of the others are technically more superior. Some paper this morning was suggesting he should be entered for the Turner Prize, and apart from the fact it'd go against his entire ethic, he'd surely win. Better than video loops or installations of rubbish. And funnier too.
His site is extremely cool, this or this for example. I'm not a big fan of simple tagging, but then if it wasn't for the penalties imposed for graffiti people would have more time to hang around and be creative. There's enough state-sponsored visual pollution already after all.
28 July 2005
2. Leave your flat thinking that while the skies are grey they're a kind of bright grey.
3. Wait for the bus, noticing as you do that you can no longer see the horizon out to sea.
4. Realise on the bus that a serious sea mist is descending.
5. Arrive at the ground to find it's so misty that you can't see the middle.
6. Go for a pint, and enjoy that instead.
So that's twice this month an attempt to watch sport has led to drinking instead. I should cut out the middle event and stick to the pub.
In other news, Police give a 74 year old Muslim woman a heart attack by pointing guns at her 12 year old grandson. It's gonna get worse before it gets better...
27 July 2005
"The high rollers of rap are back in your town
So let's rock this boogie with the woogie-oogie breakdown"
The woogie-oogie breakdown. That well known LA dance step. Maybe. But then what does rhyme with boogie? It's a tough life being an MC. I'd imagine. Storming tune all in, though.
(Drunk) mod out.
12 July 2005
The Lyrics to the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire" if they were written by a Muskrat instead of by Billy Joel
Genius. I looked into the possibility of picking up copies of the McSweeney's magazine over here, but it seems unlikely. I guess I'll try to pick up a few secondhand until the postage costs bankrupt me.
As a result of this and other sources, I've been on a bit of a Dave Eggers kick lately. Until recently he did a column in the Saturday Guardian called "Short Short Stories", which was unfailingly brilliant and also perfectly pitched for my average attention span on a Saturday morning. My favourite one is here, it's all about how bears don't like E.M. Forster and I refuse to believe you haven't got the 60 seconds it'll take to read it. Click. Go on. I'm not going to say anything interesting for the rest of the post, you might as well take off now. Go on.
It occurs to me I once knew all the lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire" off by heart. The shame.
05 July 2005
"Cos he said they'd live in New York
And the stars would be their own,
She was Debbie Harry
He was Joey Ramone"
In self-defence I googled it and found that it wasn't out for 2 weeks. Aarrgh. In the intervening time I did wonder whether it was just one of those things and whether I'd actually like it when it finally arrived, but of course I did. And I still do. I had to exercise extreme self-control at the station last week to prevent myself from pogoing in front of other commuters when it came on my headphones.
So, without further ado, the Single of the Year (and possibly the Decade) is...
Debbie Loves Joey by Helen Love, off their Bubblegum Killers EP.
Imagine if the Pretenders met the Stranglers, had a snog in Cardiff and drank some scrumpy. Go on. You see? The other tracks are great too - one includes the killer line "She says 'You're as dull as the Stereophonics'". Woohoo! Give these women some medals and chart exposure. Beats Chris Martin wetting himself any day.
04 July 2005
2. Make sure you have any or all of the following - waterproofs, umbrellas, newspaper (for reading and/or drying your seat), pork pies, fruit, bottles of water, a fatalistic attitude to the weather.
3. Turn up to said game in the rain among cheerful crowds of punters hoping for the best.
4. Sit for half an hour while they take the covers off about a third of the ground. Spend the time thinking about how driving those little tractors all over the field looks kind of fun.
5. Enjoy 5 overs of cricket, even though pajamas aren't the coolest things to wear under any circumstance. Endure blasts of shit euro-techno every time a boundary is struck or over ends.
6. Sip a one pound cup of tea while it rains on you for 20 minutes. Eat your pork pies while the covers go on, and eventually come off. Try to decipher a sound system they've clearly borrowed from a local parish fete.
7. Enjoy a further 3 balls of cricket before the rain starts again.
8. Decide to head for home as the rain falls even harder, learning on the way out that 6 overs of cricket constitutes a game, and therefore you won't be getting a refund on the 34 overs of cricket you didn't see.
9. Shrug at the penny-pinching bastards who run Sussex CCC, and go for a pint.
Where else would this happen? Anywhere else there would be a goddam riot until we got a refund, dancing girls, and cake. Oh well.
03 July 2005
No, what really got me was the endless hyping of the event by everyone involved. Every act was "fantastic", "unbelievable", "superb", the day was "memorable", "life-affirming", "astounding" and tons of other tired superlatives. I guess they had airtime to fill but it doesn't excuse them. It's the old adage that if you keep being told what a great time you're having then you can't have one at all. Or is that just me?
And the guff being spouted by the people onstage. I got in last night just in time to hear Natalie Portman giving the Dave Matthews Band the kind of welcome speech usually reserved for Nelson Mandela or human rights campaigners in Burma. Jesus. David Beckham introducing Robbie Williams has to be the lowest point of this young century and made me shout "fuck off" about 10 times in a row. I was drunk, but it needed saying.
I'm sure it's all done a lot to raise awareness of the issues. I have no problem with that. It's just the small matter of popular culture being so fucking lame and so reliant on everyone telling everyone else how wonderful it is. Emperor's new clothes syndrome, in a nutshell. When the Who came on and stormed through "Won't Get Fooled Again" it was like the gods had descended to show the pygmies how to do it properly.
So all in all, I could have done without it. If it has the desired effect then who cares what I think, of course. I still reckon some kind of constructive torture involving honey and fire ants would be more effective on the G8 leaders though.
25 June 2005
So last night was the beer festival in Lewes, with 50/60odd ales on tap and a Town Hall full of happy people. You never see angry real ale people, I've noticed.
Drink was taken, shite was talked, fat people with socks and sandals and big bushy beards were spotted and quietly mocked, and a storming time was had by all. And having spent the last couple of hours quietly moaning and watching Wimbledon the votes are in for the top 3 festival beers, as voted for by, well, me...
1. O'Hanlon's Port Stout, 4.5%. A ruby-black gem, according to the leaflet they gave us. No argument from me. Makes Guinness seem like a mass-produced over-advertised con. Which it probably is but in a world full of lager what are you going to do? I might have to move to Devon.
2. Downton's Chimera Raspberry Wheat, 4.5%. Wins the best name, too, but this was a light, refreshing draught with fruity overtones and other pretentious qualities. It might well have had a long hoppy nose but I can't remember.
3. Harvey's Tom Paine. A dark powerful beer that isn't for the faint hearted. You can keep your Kronenburgs and your vodka/red bulls, thanks. Named for the very cool 18th century radical whose pamphlets inspired both the American and French revolutions and thought both the Monarchy and the Church were shit. Cheers!
17 June 2005
Take some Tuaca. Add the mule (ie ginger ale and lime), get involved with crushed ice if your kitchen is up to it, and paradise awaits...
There's a company in Brighton who have the importation rights so we see a lot of it around these parts. That's reason number 32 for living here, by the way.
Mod out (for the evening).
14 June 2005
It's not that I wanted an innocent man to go to prison, I just really hoped they'd convict him and he'd be put away for ever, with the knock-on effect that no-one would ever play any of his fucking awful music ever again. Since Rockin' Robin it's been one long squeak-filled shower of shite, and ever more expensive videos covering up for the lack of musical ideas. And all that crotch grabbing. It's just not right.
Maybe he isn't guilty. Maybe every parent in southern California is in it for the money. Who cares. I just wanted all his fans to feel betrayed and sick. It would have made me laugh...
13 June 2005
But the noodles were good (and cheap), and going to the British Library was as cool as ever this morning (they'll give me any book I ask for! The power is mine! woohahahaha...) but my god it's nice to be back by the seaside again. If I lived in London I'd murder someone in weeks. Or at least get in a fight. And lose.
In other news, welcome to the rantiest of bloggers, Mr Falling Carefully off the edge of any given metaphor. He makes us all seem sane and rational, so kudos for that.
06 June 2005
Continuing (allegedly) on the football theme, I caught a favourite Super Furry Animals lyric on the train tonight. From their obscure but winningly out-there tune "Smokin'" comes this gem:-
"Gonna manage my time just like Johann Cruyff
If we do it together we've got meaning of life"
So. How does one manage one's time just like Johann Cruyff? It's bothered me for a while now, and I have a few options which seem suitable...
1. [The SFA's approach]. Write good tunes, always appear stoned and terminally Welsh while effortlessly churning out another genius album/dvd/remix project and slowly take over the UK pop landscape by stealth. Huzzah!
2. [Only if you're Dutch]. Captain your country to the World Cup Final while playing some of the best football the world has ever seen. Wear orange. Beat defenders so skilfully that they name a turn after you. Later in life, chainsmoke while guiding Barcelona to many trophies.
3. [The mere mortals approach]. Enter a local newsagent. Pick up a pint of milk, drop it, and then flick it with your instep between your legs onto the counter. This may take time and much training, but assuming the proprietor doesn't start shouting at you and accusing you of having carnal knowledge of mental patients, it will pay off. Instant karmic kudos. You may now chainsmoke.
4. [The zen approach]. Don't do anything as crude as actually kicking a football (or a pint of milk). Instead ask yourself at every tricky juncture "What would Johann Cruyff do?" I myself favour this option, and it's amazing how many times bringing on an extra holding midfielder has helped me catch the train in the morning, or complete the crossword. I also find reverting to a 4-4-2 formation works wonders for the washing up.
Johann Cruyff is 68.
02 June 2005
A week on, I can just about relax into it. The nagging feeling of other clubs winning every-fucking-thing has gone, replaced by an almost beatific sense of the restoration of the natural order. I even got to seriously take the piss out of some Man U fans this afternoon, which hasn't happened for a while.
As a result, nothing's bothering me really, hence the lack of blog. But here's a few things that amused me about the whole farrago, first Xabi Alonso's comment - "I'm enjoying this triumph like a child. The secret is that Liverpool is as strong as a pine cone". Uh-huh. Righto. This must be some Spanish metaphor to do with forest fires or something...
Secondly, here's Jamie Carragher - "I'm on a bender for a week". Bless him.
And apparently Milan Baros dented the trophy by dropping it on a grand piano. While singing songs from West Side Story.
...that last bit might not be true. In other news, I got a nice little booklet today in the post from Mr. isthisyou with some random but carefully thought out images of his logo around town. One caption reads "You have a duty to improve your surroundings", which is presumably why some prankster created these posters, very much to the point...
And this one for that matter...
We are surrounded by geniuses, and they aren't the ones busy being famous. Mod out.
26 May 2005
24 May 2005
My friend Mr. isthisyou has put together a superb exhibition of graffiti art, including a lot of things that I've noticed, loved and photographed (if I've managed to remember where I saw them and they haven't been painted over in the intervening time) over the last few years. Some good pictures of the exhibition can be seen here, including the pics I've posted.
The two above are by Void, and are usually spotted as just fairly perfunctory black magic-markered outlines of yer monster, but once you notice one, you notice thousands all over town, watching you and keeping his own tabs on your activites...
Well, that's the way I feel.
The stuff below is by Hutch, who's my personal favourite. I must have walked past his Johnny Rotten off London Road a thousand times.
So in case anyone is near enough, there's one more weekend to go, at the Open Gallery in the middle of town, just behind Boots, 11am-5pm. Map.
20 May 2005
I'm not sure where I stand, and not sure if I care in any case. I believe in justice for all, even Saddam, but also don't really care if he's photographed in his pants. I don't buy the Sun anyway, not since Hillborough and the lies they printed.
No, what's really got me is the Bush administration bringing up the Geneva Convention for the first time. Um. Hi there, George. What about Guantanamo Bay? Or about the countries to which you export suspects so they can be interrogated using less than constitutional methods? It's kind of funny to hear you getting all self-righteous about some petty pictures of an old man in his pants. But not funny haha really. More funny you-sick-fascist-fucks.
So, Dubya vs. the Sun. A match truly made in hell. May they both lose... not sure how that's going to work really, but it's the only outcome I'll be happy with.
19 May 2005
Twelve strands from double helix
No, I haven't seen Kes, Neelix
'Oh yeah? You stay away from her with those lyrics'
Please, ain't nobody fucking after her
I'm out of here as soon as I fix the flux capacitor"
- "Dead Mouse".
There should be more of this, instead of endless lurid tales of braggadocio and sexism. Oh well.
17 May 2005
A recent discovery (via a superb BBC4 documentary) who's very quickly become one of my favourite people. Anyone who's done over 20 Peel Sessions , appeared in Magical Mystery Tour and played the Royal Festival Hall at 81 is clearly doing something right. But what exactly? At first listen, it's a rickety Scottish gentleman either reading some lightly surreal poetry or playing the harmonium - badly - and singing some fairly monotonous tunes over the top.
After a few pieces, though, you realise you've never heard anything like this. Completely deadpan delivery and some really odd content - bats play Brahms, fathers take children to Hypocrisy Day and good old fashioned words like poltroon or alum get an airing. He tells oddly compelling shaggy dog stories about a darkly humorous childhood. It's not to everyone's tastes, certainly, but it's a million miles away from the shiny happy people we have to stomach these days, which is good enough for me.
My favourite song is The River Bends...
"Where the river bends, the blind men fall in,
Where the river bends, the blind men fall in,
Where do they come from, the blind men,
Why do they all fall in?
I don't know, and neither do they.
I walked round to where the river bends, and I fell in,
I walked round to where the river bends, and I fell in,
Where do I come from?
Why did I fall in?
I don't know.
We all went back to the bank,
And fell in again and again, and again and again and again and again,
And again and again."
...some kind of Glasgow zen maybe? Fair play to him, in any event.
Ivor Cutler yahoo group
Deary deary me. It's almost as if he was embarrassed for Art Garfunkel and was trying to draw attention away from Art's "finger in light socket" look. Still when you're a genius you can get away with these things. Mozart had a mullet, of course.
16 May 2005
Ok, there is that. And that. Ok, ok, point taken. But that was the thought that got me onto this site. A late-night screening of Manhattan at one of the finest little cinemas in the world, and it's minutes from where I live. Good carrot cake, too.