Bush of Goats

Life's too short for empty slog. ans.

Captain America

Image

Captain America (IMDB)

Superhero movies are a ten a penny these days, and this slice of franchise partly-entertained me one evening in a hotel in Basingstoke before Christmas.

 

Essentially, the second half conforms to the genre: action, explosions, travel, resolution of secondary plots with mechanised predictability, and a respected thespian cutting loose as the baddie.

But what really got me hooked was the great character relationship between the professor and the scrawny hero-in-waiting, who asks, ‘why me?’

The professor explains that only he, of all the candidates, knows what weakness is like. ‘They’re all bullies; they will take their new power for granted.’

That’s such a great set up and I would have loved to see it explored in greater depth. While I don’t know the history of the Avengers, and maybe that’s the role he goes on to take amongst their ranks, this seemed much richer and more fertile territory than that which the film went on to bulldoze its way through. I guess the rights and privileges of inherited benefit are difficult to discuss when Hugo Weaving is peeling his face off opposite you, and there’s a multiplex queue behind you. But what a great iconic debate for the Captain of America: from weakness to strength in one bound. (Which reminds me, I must remember to check out Chronicle)

Filed under: Uncategorized

day 14 – a song that no one would expect you to love

A Sort of Homecoming – U2

Note: the laborious task of ripping, copmressing and uploading an MP3 version has proved to be not only illegal (who knew?!?!1?) but too much effort, frankly. This is a link to Spotify. Other streaming musical services are available. 

It’s a hard one this. Primarily, because I have an uncontrollable urge to deny any kind of characterisation whatsoever. I think it displays an ageing middle-class rebel’s frustration and childishness in a particularly harsh and naked light, and I am therefore  proud of it. The very idea of a song no one would expect me to love gives me a kneejerk reaction (yeah, yeah. Just like all the other individuals).

Anyway, what about particularly this song by U2 is it that I refuse to acknowledge might betray some characteristic of me, by not being expected of me?

In one  of the many strange twists of the universe, I’ve ended up being friends-with-someone who works with U2. If I’d told my teenage self of this situation, he’d unquestionably be impressed. (And immediately try to cover it up by saying ‘I knew you were gonna say that’). For a while, from Under A Blood Red Sky’ through to ‘Joshua Tree’, I was mad for U2. The live aid performance that everyone remembers of them gave me a sense of intense pride in my band (a major win over my friend Kieran. He  liked Dire Straits; whose turgid pastel-hued performance earlier in the day had barely raised a murmur.)

The Rattle and Hum stuff kind of left me behind a bit and then we went off in different directions, but for that period, they were the sparky locals upstarts who became bigger than Jesus under my patronage (not me alone, obv.).

Perhaps that’s what it is. U2 are frowned upon now by many in the alternative musical landscape for selling out. I do struggle with that a bit. Success in rock music these days is a product of hard work. Take it from me (or more accurately, my friend) ‘life on the road with U2 is work. They have a great life, and its creative work, but you gotta work hard to succeed.’ You wouldn’t believe how many millions their current world tour has earned them. That’s what hard work gets you.

But ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ comes from a wet 1980s which offered little to working class men from Dublin. It lumbers out of a foggy bank, asynchronous booming drums bouncing off corrugated sheets of guitar. ‘B’ (that’s what they call him on the road’) lyrics fret, ‘… you know it’s time to go, through the sleet and driving snow, across the fields of morning, light in the distance.’  It sounds like a storm brewing.

But then the verse tension dissolves into the euphoric chorus’ eulogy of doing.

I guess that’s what’s unexpected about this being U2. Success doesn’t change the fact they wrote powerful, impassioned hymns to energy.

Our eldest is just starting to do cross country running. When she’s in her PE kit, her arms and legs fidgeting about as she gets ready to burn up the enrgy in her, I hear this. Arms and legs beset by a life of their own, and the happiness on her face as she runs. Simple pleasures.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Death and Taxis

The train sat at the station for 10 minutes before we heard anything.

“Is there a doctor on board the train please!? If there is a doctor aboard the train, please could they make their way to the buffet car, please?”
It sounded so serious, I considered pretending – especially when it became apparent there was no actual doctor on the 18.33 from Paddington. The member of staff rattled past a few minutes later and was told by a keen young man behind me that although he wasn’t a doctor, ‘he did have some first-aid training.’

Whoever this courageous beaver was, everyone was most  reassured to see him rubbing the back of the ailing passenger as they puked into the toilet at the end of the carriage.

The puking man was helped from the train to sit against the palisade fence of the station and to puke some more onto the lose macadam. The keen young man and the assistant train deputy management executive  took turns to lay embarrassed napkins over the vomit at the victim’s side.

An ambulance had been called, we were reassured. The train continued to wait. Paramedics came and asked questions while more napkins saved us from seeing what had been inside the man.

Bored, I wondered to an unobtrusive vantage point to hear him confess to having eaten a ‘chicken sandwich’ and, ‘a bag of crisps’.

I’m no expert, but the chicken sandwich seemed guiliter than the crisps.

But worse was to come.

It emerged that the man was actually called Derrick, and he WAS NOT a passenger, he was THE TRAIN MANAGER!

Alas, Derrick’s totemic status proved too powerful for us to go on: the train was evacuated that we might all stand alongside Derrick on the platform. The deputy management executive assstant conversed theatrically with her colleagues, and the now empty train was taken to a quiet siding and put out of its misery.

At this point I should confess to being approximately 9 units of alcohol to the good.

And so when the deputy assisant train information and buffet dispensary assisant walked for the third time to hover near the ailing Derrick and his growing coterire  of emergency staff, I lost my temper and pointed out how preposterous the situation was. I was asked by the flabbergasted dispensary assistant train manager’s ancilliary walking unit, whether, ‘O my god, are you being serious?’

I agreed, that yes; I was indeed being serious, and thank fuck this wasn’t a real crisis. I explained that whilst I felt some sympathy for Derrick, it seemed a little unnecessary for us all to leave the train and stand alongside him AND WATCH HIM HAVE HIS STOMACH CONTENTS VEILED BY PAPER FROM THE BUFFET CAR COUNTER-TOP NAPKIN DISPENSING UNIT (luckily I shouted that last bit in my head, but you can see where this is going).

So horrified by my evident heaterlessness, the assistant deputy ancilliary dispensation walking operative was reduced to tutting and huffing at my awfullness. A fellow traveller, also so moved by my heartlessness, pointed out that, ‘actually mate (he was antipodeaen) it was the train manager?’ Perhaps in Australia the vomit of minor officials is a delicacy? Who knows.

I think that had I been .5 of a unit closer to the good, I would have shouted what was on my mind, at all concerned. The following transcript should be taken under advisement:

“Are you fucking kidding? You think this is a crisis? Let me describe a crisis: How about the mother of two children I just left on a train  platform not disimilar to this, whose husband has terminal cancer and who is still managing to keep going, despite the financial and psychological burden of losing the man she loves? You think Derrick’s habit of eating past their sell by date chicken sandwiches is a good enough reason for her to shut everything down? I’ll call and let her know! Shall we all just GIVE THE FUCK  UP because Derrick can’t keep his snout out of the discount food bin? YOU THINK THIS IS A CRISIS? DOUBLE FUCK YOU, LADY, IF MY 62.50 RETURN PLUS 15.50 UPGRADE BECAUSE I MISSED THE SUPER OFF-PEAK TRAIN DOESN’T ENTITLE ME TO BE ANNOYED MY SERVICE WAS CANCELLED BECAUSE OF A FUCKING TUMMY UPSET”

 

Meanwhile, the apocalypse ground on. The tannoy recording  told us we were IN FACT being delayed by disruption to an earlier service.  Derrick’s chicken sandwich, apparently forming part of some sacrament (Those crazy Aussies!)

The electronic bulletin board (brought in to replace a human in the late 90s) was so beside itself at Derrick’s plight, it had resorted to flashing ascii characters at us all, babbling in tongues and serving only to heighten the sense of a society in freefall.

Eventually, the next train came. I got on. I planned this all out. I sucked down another couple of units and disembarked at my alloted station without further incident. I got into my usual cab and managed a grunt to Chris, my regular driver.

We’d turned off the main road before I asked how he was feeling (Chris was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer and was now ‘one down’ so to speak.)

“Well, I’ve got it in the other ball now – but they ain’t takin’ it out yet ‘cos they gotta check out all me Testosterone and Oestregen levels.”

“Oh Chris, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“S’OK, I am a bit cut up though. Me Mum died this mornin’ at her hospice. She had a load of cancer. They called me on the school run.”

“Oh Christ, you couldn’t be there?”

“Well, I saw ‘er last week and she looked so awful, I didn’t wanna see her again.”

Death, it seems, affects us all differently.

Chicken sandwiches, too.

UPDATE

My paracetomol and I should now like to apologize to the train assistant, my cab driver, my friends and Australians everywhere.

Names have been changed.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Mixtape: Roadskill

Pronounce as you like, take whatever meaning/individual files you want.

Roadskill

 

˜

Filed under: Uncategorized

Top Gear

The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory. That is our duty. If we don’t fulfill it, we feel unhappy. A writer or any artist has the sometimes joyful duty to transform all that into symbols. These symbols could be colors, forms or sounds. For a poet, the symbols are sounds and also words, fables, stories, poetry. The work of a poet never ends. It has nothing to do with working hours. Your are continuously receiving things from the external world. These must be transformed, and eventually will be transformed. This revelation can appear anytime. A poet never rests. He’s always working, even when he dreams. Besides, the life of a writer, is a lonely one. You think you are alone, and as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the center of a vast circle of invisible friends whom you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward.

Not my words, but the words of Jorge Luis Borges.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Playing a game of Limbo

My Xbox 360 has sat under all the TVs in our new house, but for the first time since we moved here nearly three years ago, I’ve recently found the time and the inclination to play it. My first act was to finish a game I bought from the arcade 18 months ago, but never really had the time for. But now I’ve played it and finished it and loved it.

Limbo is an independent production from Copenhagen and does game play just as I like it. Simple, with repetition in small part, not overly long, a plot you only really get to understand in the blank empty spaces as you try to figure out how the latest little block & weight puzzle needs solving, and perhaps most importantly, a really quick reload. Control is simple (back, forward, jump, action) and the manner of executions hilariously macabre: your little 8 year old boy is impaled by hidden spiders, crushed by blocks, drowned by dirty water and best of all, minced by circular saws. Luckily, all that horror and gore is depicted in a Jan Pienkowski-esque silhouette, adding to the fairytale feel.

Despite the youth of the protagonist, this is a very adult game (asides from the deaths) as you are given no real eexplanation for what is happening, or why. You must trust its worth it and do without the clodden hoofed exposition most games seem to think it is their duty to impart. best of all might be the ending, which tells you something – there’s a girl – but tells you nothing really. Seriously: she looks up; not even at you. I had feared the gloom would lift and it would be revealed as some kind of Nyan-Cat Mario-Land, but developers PlayDead held their nerve. I await their next production with much interest.

 

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Hunt of Tony Bliar

Last night m’wife and I watched, from a recording, The Hunt For Tony Blair.

The Hunt takes place in an imagined England of the 1940/50s and has an opening not unlike 39 steps, where the central ‘everyman’ (Blair) is framed for a crime and must flee to prove his innocence. Blair, on the run, searches for help from the friends he has bought along the way, who all hang up on him or double cross him. He eventually finds himself on a tumbled down neglected country estate, owned by none other than Lady Thatcher, sprawled like a 40s movie star across a chaise longue. In the end, it’s a crazed Gordon Brown who shoots Blair in the arse, falling from the open doorway of a cruise liner into the sea. After appearing to have drowned, lying facedown in the drink, Blair rolls over, and clasping his hands behind his head, drifts off to a happy ending.

Narrated throughout by Steven Mangan’s Blair, it is the view from inside Blair’s head; ‘of how it really happened, you know?’. He is, in his vision of what happened, immensely smart, somehow unique and surrounded by naive dummies. As everyone around him is forced to adhere to the rules of the genre , trapped and laid low by the challenges of an everyday Britain – Cherie appears several times to complain that the washing machine has broken – Blair himself is permitted to sidesteps the rules of his own imaginary universe. The restrictions of the genre, of the world Blair has created, act as a beautifully conceived cipher for the manner in which all around him is trapped by a certain comprehesnion of the universe, and are therefore incapable of thinking outside of the box. Only he is allowed to step out of the  game – like an 11-year-old forced to play with 7-year-olds, he must be allowed to manage the rules, because only he could hope to understand what the game is actually about.
Despite all this, it remained somehow lacking. The script was good, if not consistently brilliant, there were some lovely shots, lighting and dress, and it did on occasion feel like a lost Powell and Pressburger, but overall it felt laboured (which you could almost argue was a product of the millieu – the overlong look into camera – were it not for the looks of knowing on the actor’s faces). There were many great ideas (repeated references to the published biographies of Blair, Bush and Mandelsohn, Thatcher as a fallen idol, obsessed with ‘her war’) and some laugh out loud performances (Robin Cook chief among them) it just didn’t bite quite hard enough.

I heard a a thought on the radio recently (I cannot recall from whom or in what context, but it might have been Andrew Collins) about satire. He said, ‘the only satire which has ever worked was Smashie and Nicey. Overnight, every DJ on radio, everywhere, abandoned the radio personality they had spent years refining and began to speak normally.’

I wonder if in an even tighter homage to the era and its media, this should have instead been a serialisation: wherein the grinding ubiquity of Blair’s dogged adherence to his doctrine over everyone else’s might be exposed in its simplicity and unilateral benefit. If we were to have this week in, week out, it might start to have the imagined power of satire and perhaps even bring a closer examination of the man responsible.

Not ‘arf, mate!

Filed under: Thinking

CLARKSON POOS ON BABY!

I’ve never had any time whatsoever for Jeremy Clarkson. He’s an insufferable pillock, adept at moaning about how hard-done-by the well off are. I’ve never found him funny (intentionally) and his recent comments about Mexicans displayed not only the sort of lazy stereotyping you’d expect from men of his age and privilege, but a lack of awareness of just how much effort they’re currently putting into brutally slaying and torturing one another to death for the right to keep Americans high. His turgid attempts at sparking controversy bore me to tears, but in an astonishing twist of fate, I actually found myself siding with him over this preposterous hullabaloo about firing squads.

While the unions ‘sought legal advice’ over whether he might be arrested and made to pay for his inhuman suggestion and (currently) 21,000 of the professionally offended jammed the BBC switchboard, he managed to keep his massive flapping gob shut for once and allowed a spokesman to point out his comments were taken out of context.

Many’s the time I’ve heard people claim that their comments were taken out of context. For the first time this week, it actually seemed to be true. The first rendition of Clarskongate I heard featured only the line about the shooting. It was only later the full clip emerged and set his words in a wider context.

He’d begun by thanking them (the strikers) for keeping London’s streets and restaurants empty so that he (and his equally privileged chums, no doubt) could zip about more easily, before going on to point out that as this was the BBC, and they were required to present a balanced view, that they should all be shot. In front of their children. Clarkson said sorry, the BBC said sorry and th- OH BY THE WAY, DID I MENTION MY NEW DVD, FEATURING LOTS OF SIMILARLY FAUX CONTROVERSIAL TOSH, IS NOW IN THE SHOPS IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS? -en a subtext leaked out all over the place. Thank you Bonnie Greer – who I think I might actually love – once again proved herself to be the smartest observer in the room, in her appearance on Any Questions:

Bonnie Greer comments on ‘Clarksongate’. Any Questions, 2.12.11 ©BBC

My other favourite media was this little funny from The Times, spotted and tweeted by @IndiaKnight:

The last para    –      just here ^ .
So there we have it: JC has a DVD out for Christmas, the BBC is impartial and some people still take themselves and everyone else much too seriously. As you were.

 

Filed under: Noticing

Day 13: A song that is a guilty pleasure

The Boy is Mine – Brandy & Monica

My old friend Adam and I used to disagree vehemently over this. It came out around the time he left – as it proved, permanently for the Southern Hemisphere – and I did him a minidisc mix (ha! remember minidisc? No, me neither) which contained not only several false starts of it, but a complex set of gags about it using the editable track title function of said format.

How guilty do I feel? well, obviously not *that* guilty: it’s a great song. What is there to feel guilty about? If I wanted to have some actual guilt, I should prolly pick something by Screwdriver, or Wagner, or Tomorrow Belongs To Me (although the Cabaret scene is amazing), so there’s no pleasure part.

In my quest for guilt, I suppose there’s a not-so-subtle undercurrent of masculine infidelity, but the video puts the lie to that, with Mekhi Phifer getting the door slammed in his face at the end. He might have been slippin’ it both ways for an undisclosed period of time, but Brandi and Monica have come to an understanding and he gets a double rejection. (You can read a brilliantly deadpan promo synopsis and all the other details here.)

What occurs ot me now, writing this is that whenever I hear this, I end up thinking about a clip I once accidentally saw of R Kelly, dressed in a business suit, wearing earrings and lifting a pair of baby seats (containing babies) out of the back of a Ferrari. I’ve tried to find the promo it came from to check it is actually two babies, but after wading through the confused ego of R Kelly for twenty minutes, I can take no more. It’s a brilliantly lazy shorthand for half a dozen aspirational mores – ‘Hey, chicks, dig me – I’m professional, successful, caring and busy’ –  but it seems my subconscious has made the connection for me, whereby a pair of innocents are used only as ciphers in a male control fantasy.

OK, now I feel guilty.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Day 12 – a song from a band you hate

Wonderwall – Oasis

(It’s a strong word, hate. I don’t know I’d really say I hated Oasis; as someone very succinctly said of Ricky Gervais’ recent call to the haters to ‘bring it’, you have to care to hate and I don’t know that I really care enough about Oasis to hate them. But anyway, hate is the rules, so…)

There was a time when I was quite impressed by Oasis. I remember seeing the video for Supersonic on the Saturday morning chart show and being impressed with how arrogant and boisterous they were; how unlike the prevailing trend (this was 1994: the charts were a cheez-rave sponsored by Lucozade) and how they seemed to make guitars matter again. But as time went by, the bravura they showed in front of camera proved to hide nothing deeper, they were that arrogant all the way down. Money, fame and attention only made them (and by ‘them’ I mean the Gallagher brothers) worse. Noel proved himself a second rate Beatles copyist, and Liam… well. Rarely has so much affection and adulation been wasted on so underserving a wretch.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the working classes – why, great-Grandfather Daddo even worked at a colliery (admittedly, he was site manager, but he still washed his hands before he had a wee) – whereas Liam Gallagher represents just about every good reason why the class system should be firmly re-established. What little stage presence he had was based purely on his evident willingness to fight anyone who could get passed his minders; over the course of a decade he had the massive chip on his shoulder gilded, feathered and sequined in an attempt to convince all and sundry of his artistic relevance, while all the time decrying anything so fey as artistry. Oasis’ appeal is/was a largely working class one I suspect: there were a lot of people for whom feelings of superstardom and power were entirely bound up with weekend drug experiences and disbelief that fit girls would be willing to screw you if you acted like you deserved it. But Oasis never did anything more with this potential: they continued to act as if they were just like the audience: lads, out for a few, with a bit sniff on a Friday and Saturday night, when they were by now so wealthy as to be able to buy huge swathes of Manchester , should they so choose. But they didn’t. They continued to stick it up their noses, piss it up the wall and spend it on Rolls Royce’s in swimming pools for album covers.

There are many Oasis songs; I don’t even hate this one the most (the one about having, ‘been around the world’ makes me want to kill dead things). I chose Wonderwall because while on the surface it was a great record, it quickly became ubiquitous and was adopted by everyone as a special anthem. It was at this point I turned on them because everyone was starting to love them and if they were who they claimed to be, they should have been The Fall and told everyone to fuck off.

These days they’re reduced to whining at one another about clothes and side projects to drum up the column inches. Perhaps they only thing that depresses me more than the Gallaghers is the music press’ willingness to give them the attention they think they deserve.

Filed under: 30 days of music

Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Previously…

October 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Spasmodically Updated Image Feed:

Here we go again

Phlogophora meticulosa

Morning

More Photos
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127 other followers