'huge, queer and tawdry' but 'much admired by the public'|
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Sunday, November 10th, 2013|
Didn't quite do anything proper for Hallowe'en or November 5th this year, though there was some dressing up and you can hardly fail to see some fireworks over what's now more like Guy Fawkes' Fortnight (Guy Fawtesnight?) - that's the problem with festival creep, where you can't even quite fix on one of the adjacent weekends as the consensus alternative. Dear world, please stop getting festivals wrong, ta.
Accidentally let my Netflix subscription run over after Breaking Bad
was done, but regardless of how the US version has a lot more stuff* there was still plenty I'd been vaguely meaning to watch on the UK site. The Friends of Eddie Coyle
, for instance, with Robert Mitchum exuding the shabby grandeur of a moth-eaten lion, or the gloriously absurd and none-more-eighties Lifeforce
, in which a mission to Halley's Comet unwittingly unleashes a zombie plague (complete with Prefab Sprout posters visible in the background as they devastate London). The most notable casting is probably Patrick Stewart, who (SPOILERS) gets possessed by the sexy naked lady space vampire and so proceeds to do some gaying up (although it's shot in a way which would probably disappoing anyone going into the film just for that). Seven Psychopaths
is the thoroughly meta and possibly even better follow-up to the delightful In Bruges
, and more meta still is A Film With Me In It
, which manages a surprising amount of bloodshed for something starring Dylan Moran. The Cabin In The Woods
, on the other hand, I'd dismissed as a slasher movie with a twist (and Whedon dialogue), until I heard one recommendation too many to ignore. First surprise: the twist isn't, it's there from the start. And what that enables, and what lies behind it - that's utterly ingenious. Add me to the list of recommendations. Which is not something I can really say about Don Johnson in Harlan Ellison adaptation A Boy and his Dog
; post-apocalyptic black comedy it may be, but I found the whole thing just a little too queasy, and not always in a manner that seemed intentional.
Ian Hislop's dramatisation of the story of trench samizdat The Wipers Times
. As with Blackadder
, the horror of the Great War always hits hardest for me when it's presented with the gallows humour of the Tommies intact. Doctor Who: The Web of Fear
- a story which, this time last year, I would never have expected to see in my lifetime. And it stands up a lot better than most classic Who
that runs past four episodes, helped by the claustrophobic, iconic location - running down a corridor feels so much more satisfying when that corridor is part of an identifiable tube station. Victoria is still a dreadful companion, mind.
Idiotic horror White Noise: The Light
, which xandratheblue
and I watched on the simple grounds that Katee Sackhoff and Nathan Fillion would be suitable casting to play us in any film of our incredibly exciting lives. Sadly, it turned out to be a bad Final Destination
riff - but with more dodgy theology! And nonsensical numerology! And lots of RUNNING REALLY FAST. Repo Man
, which remains as profoundly peculiar and entertaining as ever (and I can't believe it never gets mentioned as an influence on Lebowski
). The Blu-ray extras are deeply rum, and include Harry Dean Stanton talking about life for 15 minutes before singing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', and Alex Cox showing the deleted scenes to the real-life inventor of the neutron bomb.
And on the big screen - Thor: The Dark World
. Certainly not the best of the Marvel films, but I find it oddly reassuring that they can stumble now without falling flat on their faces, and still produce a fairly entertaining picture which will fill up a cinema with casual viewers (you can tell them from the geek hardcore so easily, because they're the ones who don't even stay for the first credits scene, let alone the very end). Also, pleasing show of public right-mindedness in the way that everyone in the auditorium, regardless of class or race, agreed that the family with a screaming baby should take it the fuck out of the cinema - and rather than grumbling passive-aggressively, fetched ushers to enforce that verdict. See! Superhero films encourage viewers to take more responsibility for making the world a better place. *Such as Bob's Burgers, which I saw round the house of a friend who's hacked the relevant bits of science to watch the US menu. Like its fellow H Jon Benjamin animation Archer, this is allegedly on Freeview channels, but gets thrown away in graveyard slots. Baffling, given how funny both are at their best. NB: do not look for H Jon Benjamin's face online; you'd expect him to be less attractive than Sterling Archer, but I think he may even be less attractive than Bob. Current Mood: nights drawing in
|Monday, October 21st, 2013|
|Moments seized in the shadow of the beast
Been playing Space Crusade
again, after a gap of a couple of decades. Back then, I imagine people thought it would lose its appeal once I worked up the courage to talk to girls. More fool them. Align
is a tricky one to classify; not quite a play, nor a lecture. Call it a performance, it's probably as close as we'll get. Taking place, perfectly, mere yards from the actual Bridewell, it is a story of London's sacred geography which never gets too swivel-eyed, is far more 'wouldn't that be interesting?' than making foolhardy statements about what is or isn't true - and yet feels none the less mystical for all that. Rather than hang around afterwards, I feel driven to strike out along the Strand Ley about which we've just been hearing, and it's all delightfully numinous until I hit the smell of a freshers' event at the LSE. I doubt the bacchanals of our ancestors were any more fragrant, but I can edit that detail out of my daydreams.
Also tricky to classify: Neil Gaiman reading his new book Fortunately, The Milk
, with Chris Riddell illustrating it live. Already a little multimedia, but then you have it being acted out and sung and generally turned into something quite its own creature through the assistance of TV Smith, Tom Robinson, Mitch Benn, Lenny Henry, Tori Amos' daughter, Andrew O'Neill, and Faith from 'Jimmy's End' (who is much less haunted when she's playing a pirate queen, so that's handy).
Lots of gigs by the people whose gigs I see a lot - to whose ranks the Soft Close-Ups were temporarily restored when augstone
was briefly allowed back in the country. Neither show was quite as melancholy as the Sunday afternoon show a few months back, but still, when on a wet Wednesday night they played their adaptation of that Housman poem about death (tautology, I know), any plans I had for a straight edge gig crumbled. Good suppors at both shows, too - Parenthesisdotdotdot, aka Tim from Baxendale dressed as the chap from Dr Caligari
, and Marcus Reeves, who is essentially my friend dr_shatterhand
playing Marc Almond. At the latter show they also had me returning to the wheels of steel for the first time in some years. I always did prefer playing quieter sets. ( Read more...Collapse )
Other shows have been further from my usual orbit:
Martin Newell playing his annual show in a converted Colchester church in the shadow of the appropriately-named Jumbo water tower
, bearing a curious resemblance to William Hartnell as a Teddy Boy pirate. He's a charmingly shambolic raconteur, an occasional ranter, and a mostly mediocre poet, but once he's singing, oh, the songs.
A violinist plays Bach in another church, this time right on the border of the City. I conclude that Bach may be the music to whose condition art is said to aspire.
A distinctly white trio, playing the hipster pub sat incongruously opposite the East London Mosque, play a nameless and heavily highlife-influenced jam. Against all odds, it works.
In a bar inexplicably decorated with biscuits stuck to bricks, a jazz band have one singer who thinks Seasick Steve is a role model rather than a terrible warning about the gullibility of authenticity bores. But the other singer sounds far more like Billie Holiday than any modern Briton has a right to.
(And because you can't win them all, there was also the act who appeared to be Jack Whitehall fronting Reef) Current Mood: strangely lively
|Sunday, October 6th, 2013|
Not only for length, and permanence, but because here, unlike Facebook, there's no risk of a spoiler popping up on someone else's page and causing upset. I was a latecomer - I think I watched the whole thing over almost exactly a year. And maybe it's because I didn't live with the characters for as long as a lot of people, but while I liked it, that widespread temptation to give it The Wire
's pedestal? I don't see it. Not least because fundamentally it's one plotline from Babylon 5
with all the aliens removed so as not to trouble the viewing public, who may have been able to handle Battlestar Galactica
but that was just humans and robots. ( spoilers follow, obviouslyCollapse ) Current Mood: Sunday
|Tuesday, August 20th, 2013|
|While I wait for the Jimmy's End Cycle to download:
Just finished reading The Thin Veil of London
, a book loosely concerning the great Arthur Machen, and a companion to a walk I went on a couple of Sundays back. Elements which could have felt like am-dram instead felt like they were genuinely ruffling the surface and some Thing might chance through at any moment, as we walked streets I'd never seen within ten minutes of where I've been working for two years. And Machen's grandson was there, now old enough to resemble the great man's jacket pictures. Truly an experience to treasure.
Other London adventures:
- Victoria Park, which I have passed but never entered, finally visited. Would be lovely if it didn't have so many wasps and men who think they're it.
- The Archway Tavern has now become a tiki bar, and not in the half-arsed manner one might expect - there's even an indoors water feature. Also tequila girls and bog trolls. They come with the venue. The night, being loosely glam, had attracted a bafflingly mixed crowd, including some full-on townies and what looked like US-style good old boys as well as the obvious. Most terrifying, though - one man who looked like a seventies TV presenter, and one girl wearing the classic 'sexy school uniform' look. In defiance of all laws of comedy, they didn't seem to know each other.
- I've never sat in Greenwich Park and not faced the view North before. Around the bandstand it feels like another park, less London, older. I like it.
Saw Menswear again on Friday; I say 'again', last time it was Johnny Dean and the Nuisance band, but a rose by any other name would smell as Britpop. When I wear a suit, I can even confuse other nineties indie celebrities into thinking I am him.
I was dimly aware Art Everywhere
was coming, but it was very much background knowledge until I glanced at a billboard and thought, hang on, what the Hell are they trying to sell with John Martin's fire and brimstone? And they weren't; it was just saying 'Hey, look at John Martin! Isn't he good?' Second one was Samuel Palmer. I don't go to a lot of single-artist exhibitions, but I've been to see both of them. Approved.War of the Waleses
is, by its dramaturge's own admission, 'sillier and nastier' in its current version that first time out. I can see how the shorter version, with fewer actors, is much better suited to the practicalities of Fringe life, and making any play crueller about Princess Di is fine by me (the new line about her "simpering sedition" absolutely nails it), but I miss some of the Shakespeare resonances lost - especially when it comes to John Major and the vanished John Smith. The comparison of the two takes set me thinking - Major was our Yeltsin, wasn't he? By which I mean, a very long way from perfect, and you can entirely understand the pisstaking at the time, but it was a brief glimpse of doing things a slightly different way before the ancien regime reasserted itself, more dickish than before in so far as that dickishness was veiled around with a new insincerity.
I'm up to the end of Breaking Bad
's third season, whose pacing and tone seemed a little off - too often the show overegged the comedy, before slipping into mawkishness when it pulled back from that. Too much old ground was re-covered in the tension between the leads. And then I saw an interview with Bryan Cranston where he claimed that other TV shows were about familiarity, about seeing the same character each week, and nobody on TV has ever changed like Walter White. And I thought, no. Absolutely take your point about most network crap, and even some very good shows, but never say never. Because Babylon 5
had Londo and G'kar, and they changed like nobody's business. So this nudged me back towards my paused rewatch of B5
's second season, and I realised, it wasn't just the general principle of a character who changes: Walter is Londo. He's a proud man, feeling his time has passed, staring the end in the face. So he makes a deal with the devil and at first he's thrilled by the power, before realising that he has become something he hates, and there's no way to get off the ride. He even has a conflicted relationship with a younger sidekick possessed of a certain inherent haplessness!
Other television: Justified
got a fair few articles this time around about how it deserved more attention, which is more attention that it used to get, but still not as much as it deserves. I'm intrigued by the way other characters were built up this time out, especially among the Marshals - it could almost survive without Timothy Olyphant, I think, not that I'm in any hurry to see it try. The Revenants
was good, even if it did cop out a little by going to a second series WHICH HAD BETTER BLOODY ANSWER EVERYTHING. Speaking of cops, French police uniforms suck. I did love how unashamedly Gallic it was in scattering sexy superpowers around the populace. And BBC4 continues to brutally beat down every traitor who ever dissed the holy BBC. Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Burton and Taylor was a suitably meta final outing for their big dramas; just as Cleopatra
marked the end of Hollywood's grand era, so this brought down the curtain on BBC4's days of riches (at least, until I rule the world, when the accumulated wealth of the entire Murdoch mob - and the proceeds from sale of their organs - will all go to bolster the licence fee). But they still have their documentaries, the sort of shows other factual broadcasters pretend they're going to make, before wheeling out a load of gimmicky recreations, recaps and silly music. Consider the recent show about Ludwig II of Bavaria; I'm by no means unfamiliar with him, but there was so much here I didn't know. His grand castle Neuschwanstein is the basis for the Disney castle - but I had no idea it was itself a theme park, with modern architecture and engineering hidden behind the scenes, council chambers which were never used - essentially a private playpen. All this was the work of a constitutional monarch conscious modelling his private realm on absolute monarchies - yet at the end they talk to young citizens of Bavaria who acclaim him as too modern for his time. Most broadcasters would be unable to resist a honking noise then, a reminder of the mistake, but BBC4 trusts us to make our own connections. Current Mood: ecstatic
|Saturday, July 27th, 2013|
|Has not been read back, may make no sense at all, but let's live in the moment
A few weeks back, Livejournal stirred into something approaching life, and in the manner of the old days there was A Meme. About what people were up to a year ago, five years, ten. And the nostalgia of it all...well, people sometimes forget that the '-algia' in there is pain. That was an apt precursor to The World's End
. Shaun of the Dead
was already a film about the pain of growing up, so stack the best part of another decade on top of that, then go see it with some approximation of the old gang, and even a film assembling this much comic talent (and there are plenty of laughs) is going to feel like a twisted knife in places. I can't recall such a bittersweet comedy which is still so successful qua comedy since Withnail
. Part of the power is in the way it dodges polemic: yes, refusing to grow up is seen as a sad and sorry way to live, but so is growing up. In so far as there's any kind of answer, it's the knowingly grand and ridiculous grab for another, impossible option which reminds me of the Indelicates' 'Dovahkiin'
. It's not just a self-regarding elegy, mind - it also has lots to say about how the new cinema ideal of bromance is no more realistic or healthy than the Hollywood take on romance. Which is obviously no less saddening. I'm going to miss the Cornetto Trilogy, not mollified by their being in part films about missing the films you grew up on.
Also seen at the cinema (on the same day, which I don't believe I've ever done before - it does the trailers no favours): Pacific Rim
, in which Guillermo del Toro has giant robots punch monsters, and vice versa, in a delightfully solid way which always feels like a Guillermo del Toro film, until the humans start interacting with each other when his normal sureness of touch deserts him, and even normally dependable actors fall oddly flat (one excellent and un-publicised cameo aside). And not at the cinema, but on the same day as its cinematic release, A Field in England
. Which I applaud, even while thinking that a little more forethought about the casting might have made it more instantly convincing as the psychedelic horror it wants to be, rather than the oddball comedy as which it inadvertently opens.
More nostalgia: the Buffy
-themed bash at the GNRT. Even more so, back to the Woodbine for the first time in a while, and the last time was itself the first time in a while too. As if to emphasise how long it is since that was a regular haunt, there's foliage growing into the Gents' and a wine called Tempus. Subtle symbolism there, Life. Still, there have been times of living too. Celebrating the Solstice atop Primrose Hill, and walking back from Mr B and the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra along the dusky Parkland Walk, eternal moments when the level of drunk and the setting are exactly as they should be and one feels no longer apart from the world but in contact with the infinite and suffused with joy and peace. Took xandratheblue
to Devon and, in the five years or so my parents have been there, this was the first time I swam in the sea, as against paddling, because for once I'd timed it right weatherwise. And we found a dragon skull on the beach
. Then to lovely little Sherborne, and up Dancing Hill, which is in fact rather steep for dancing but I guess satyrs are nimble. Back in London, we were greeted by St Paul's and it's blue trees
as a reminder that, lovely as holidays can be, this is the place to be. Though we did then go see Eddie Argos in an Edinburgh show about holidays
, which might have made more sense before rather than after our own. Still lovely, mind.
(Other Edinburgh previews seen: Henry Paker, being powerfully bald, and Jeff Goldblum and his prawn (aka Ben Partridge). Not seen near so many this year as the last couple)
Wrapping up, since who knows when I'll get round to posting again: having chance to dance to Pink for the first time since Don't Stop Moving stopped moving, and 'Elephant Elephant' for the first time full stop, was a delight; I like the view from Telegraph Hill, though not the walk there in the sun (and it should have kept the old name, Plowed Garlic Hill); and I love how in a European city the Holy Thorn Reliquary
would be in the cathedral, what with having part of Jesus' crown of thorns inside, but in London we just stick it in a back room of the museum, because we basically have the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark
but let tourists wander around it 'cos we're cool like that.*I've seen the Indelicates and Keith Totp (&c) twice since I last posted, and the Indelicates don't even play London that often anymore. Even seen the very seldom-sighted Quimper, who are coming into their own with the new live set-up, all disturbing projections and shadowed lurking. Also Desperate Journalist, who already had a good soundscape going, but are a lot more compelling now exliontamer has started really going for it on stage. And Mikey Georgeson aka Vessel aka Mr Solo, formerly a frequent fixture (and I think probably still the performer I've seen live the most times) for the first time in a year or so. He was, of course, excellent - the new tracks as good as ever, in particular 'I See What You Did There' and the waltz which sounds like imperial phase Bowie working with Tom Waits. Current Mood: recumbent
|Wednesday, June 19th, 2013|
|You and your baby doll never went to the beach
First weekend of June was very much the first big weekend of the summer. Started early by playing to stereotypical associations of 'Japan', packing out xandratheblue
's local sushi place and all being a bit disturbing. Saturday was her official birthday, in Highgate Woods, with a pinata who died too easy. I the interests of keeping the jovial violence going, wrestling ensued, as a result of which I am still nursing a slightly stiff ankle I SAID ANKLE. In between - Nuisance with JOHNNY RUDDY DEAN FROM MENSWEAR fronting the house band for a set of Bowie covers - and, inevitably, an encore of his own material. All of it excellent, except perhaps the rather idiosyncratic choice of 'Crash' among the latter. The final track was a version of 'All the Young Dudes', which also featured Jaime from Marion and the word 'YOLO'. A perfect fusion of seventies, nineties and 2010s, right?
On the Sunday, my Cthulhuson was most impressed by all the diggers and forklifts clearing up after the Stone Roses clusterfucked Finsbury Park. I can't say I was quite so fascinated, but it was certainly more appealing that watching a tuneless homophobe and three hypocrites massacre songs that used to be quite good.
The week after that had little to report here - certainly not our ignominious placing in the Doctor Who
pub quiz, which wasn't even the only Who
centric socialising that week, not that I am a geek or anything. Then a quieter weekend, off to deepest Middlesex to see where wardytron
lives now he's allegedly a grown-up. Say what you like about the suburbs, and I do, but I will always be likely to approve of any party with a friendly dog. Then home via another party, with me refusing vodka on the train - not because I hold to the laws on that, or had suddenly turned abstemious, but simply because it tasted like Malibu. Ick.
Made my first visit to Finsbury Park's new theatre
last night. They've had various exciting new dramatists' stuff already, so obviously I went for the classic - School for Scandal
. I've never seen any Sheridan before, and I'm still not entirely convinced that watching Sheridan is as good as reading Cabell's chapter about Sheridan as epitome of the "glorious mountebank" in Beyond Life
, but the sheer wit and deviousness and moral vacancy of the whole affair was a delight. Could perhaps have done with spending more time on choreographing the key farce scene, though, and less on the musical interludes they'd added. Current Mood: content
|Wednesday, June 5th, 2013|
|London, summer, 2013
Feels like life has been fairly quiet of late, (except when it hasn't, of course - Hyde Park picnics, Leyton pubs that are at least decently apologetic about hating my people, SE14's answer to the Shaftesbury). But in early summer, especially this year as it's still picking up from the tardy spring, I don't mind that. The evenings are still simply beautiful, without that complex melancholy they acquire later on - though it would help if I had the park for them, when instead it's being turned into some sort of prison camp for Madchester arseholes (sorry, tautology, I know). Still, I've had my chances to go a-roaming - up trees, over banks, through hedges and across a Heath resplendent with buttercups like I've never seen. Even got to share a tree with a jay at one point - a much better companion than parakeets, who may be beautiful, but in prolonged proximity are no better than the sort of person who wears Beats By Dre headspeakers. Guessed a stranger's dog's name, too - though given my guess was Slobberchops, based on obvious physical features, I don't think that's much proof of psychic potential.
Been watching a lot of adventure series lately - The Avengers
, Brisco County Jr
, Adventure Time
- and hardly any films. One exception: Night of the Eagle
, which as the name suggests is close kin to the MR James adaptation Night of the Demon
. Peter Wyngarde - excellent value as ever - plays a sixties Richard Dawkins who discovers his wife's a closet witch and makes her burn her "protections", after which their lives go about as smoothly as you'd expect. There are loose plot threads all over the place and it doesn't even seem quite sure whether magic works or not in its world, but it's thoroughly eerie nonetheless. Spartacus
ended for good, and Doctor Who
for now; the former was the downer it was always going to be, the latter much better than I'd dared expect, though it may have helped that I had the contrast of having just finished the rambling Reign of Terror
, the first full Hartnell I've attempted in a decade or more.
And then after 'The Name of the Doctor' there was Eurovision, in which as ever the worthy victor was robbed - this time it was Romania (or rather Romoania) with the gay dubstep vampire. We left after that and Bonnie Tyler to see The French Electric live down the road, sounding like the National before they went boring, covering songs from Dare!
and getting away with it. They were followed by a tragic act who could have sounded like Mazzy Star or Lana del Rey if only the drums had been turned down (or preferably off), which was my cue to depart. Thee Faction and Joanne Joanne at the Buffalo Bar were excellent, same as last time they played there together, and once again I drank entirely too much. Possibly because I'd realised that, if they're a genderswapped Duran Duran and Keith and I had been hanging with them in the pub earlier, that made us genderswapped 'Girls on Film' video babes. I should possibly be seeing them again tonight, but outside was calling, and I'm still in a certain amount of gig-shock after seeing the Art Brut birthday gig on what they weren't allowed to call the Glass Ceiling Tour. Ten years! They've learned a lot in that time, though. And the Scala...I'd forgotten how much I liked that venue. I'd forgotten how much I like the rare big gig - and it turns out they do still exist - where the crowd Get It. And the support slot from Keith et al wasn't bad either - I think the best show I've seen them do since the Devant support with the spiralling, near-infinite 'One Thing After Another'. They're a big band, a big stage suits them.
Anyway, my dears, I think I need another cup of decaf tea before Justified
. It's a rock'n'roll life and no mistake. Current Mood: wistful
|Sunday, May 12th, 2013|
|For the record
Had a couple of weddings last month, out of London to varying degrees - one in a home counties barn, the other in Compton Verney, which is not the most accessible location but does mean you can have a reception surrounded by Cranachs, Holbeins and a coral nativity diorama which some enterprising Neapolitan crafted centuries back, and climb atop a bloody big rock if you need a break from the band. I'd decided to go straight from there to Devon the next day, simply because going back into and then out of London again appalled my sense of progress. This might have been a false time-economy, but the resulting vaguely diagonal journey did take me in a reasonably straight line across large swathes of the country I don't often see - a real 'How fares England? sort of journey. And despite what one might fear, every train involved was punctual bar one which was deeply apologetic over being a minute behind schedule. Inevitably, by the time I got to the seaside the warm spell had passed, so it was all sea mist and chopping up telegraph poles and being disappointed when local country acts didn't emphasise the side of their oeuvre which most appealed to me (the unspeakable bastards).
Other exotic locales I've visited include Walthamstow Village, where I attempted to convince people even less conversant with the area than myself that model butterflies were simply the giant fauna of Zone 3, and Peckham Rye, which seems to have a higher concentration of brilliant dogs than anywhere else in London (also a boy trapped in a tent, which is always good entertainment). And, as the year has made its stuttering advance into Spring, the Edinburgh previews have begun: I've already seen Thom Tuck (excellent as ever, even in the very early stages), Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe and, as a late sub for Ben Target, Matthew Highton - who looks like Frank Quitely drew him and tells stories (perhaps not wholly true) of a life Peter Milligan could easily have conceived.
Not a great deal of clubbing lately - though Poptimism did offer a chance to dance to 'Only Losers Take The Bus', so what more does one need? - and my pub quizzing, if successful, has been sparse. But there have, as ever, been gigs. The Bull and Gate is no more, because apparently Kentish Town needs another damn gastropub, so Keith TotP et al played a send-off - the first time in a while that I've seen the Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band on a stage large enough to contain them. In support, Dom Green's latest band, with a very apt set formed by pulling together songs from all the bands he'd been in before that had played there - and yet ending with a new one which may be the best thing he's ever written (but then, I was always a sucker for epics about London). Rebekah Delgado, supporting a bunch of steampunk tits at a rock pub, then off to Shenanigans. The Indelicates, still the best band of the moment, ever more romantic and ever more doomed. But I think my favourite overall event was the Soft Close-Ups show which was the only reason augstone
was allowed back over to visit us. They've always been a fairly melancholy band, but with the immigration-based reminder of how fleeting things can be, and a Housman poem set to music, this outing was especially mis. And yet, gorgeous. icecoldinalex
supported and, for a note of bathos, the venue was decorated in vintage soft p0rn. The sort of inexplicable afternoon which comes along too seldom.
The current series of Who
has for the most part continued on its profoundly underwhelming course, with a revival of hopes occasioned by 'Hide', 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS' and Gatiss' campathon undermined by last night's inexplicably middling Gaiman effort, but between Bluestone 42
, It's Kevin
and Parks and Rec
's second season, there has at least been plenty of good comedy on the box, and these are surely times in which we need cheering up, so thank heavens for that. I've barely seen any films of late: Iron Man 3
at the cinema, which was a joy; Skyfall
and Terror by Night
on DVD, which were a little less so. I just can't quite buy Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, he's far too socially adroit - even clubbable.
When this goes up, I'll still have more than a year's worth of posts on one page, where once a page would have not been sufficient for some months. And yet, we persevere, in some limping fashion. Current Mood: Sunday, Sunday
|Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013|
|What would Peter Wyngarde do?
Last time I posted here, I wasn't really aware of the comedian and Being Human
star Colin Hoult. Since then, I've beaten him at a comics-themed pub quiz, where he was teamed with Stewart Lee (of whom I am very much aware), and seen him play the romantic lead in a musical also featuring Thom Tuck, Kevin Eldon and catbo
(ditto). So well done Colin Hoult for effectively increasing awareness of your work among the key barrysarll
demographic. Because I was watching Kevin Eldon narrate martylog
's adaptation of ETA Hoffman's "last and worst" book, I had to iPlayer the first episode of his deeply uneven sketch show, and then further wonder why it was scheduled against another BBC show clearly appealing to much the same audience, the excellent zombie rehab drama In the Flesh
, which has been by some distance the best thing on TV recently. And Bluestone 42
's not bad either - between the two of them, they're in danger of giving BBC3 a good reputation. Doctor Who
, on the other hand...well, I went in to the mid-season whatever you call 'The Bells of St John' with low expectations after Moffat's last two episodes, and it was at least better than I expected, but I still can't decide whether it was actually any good.
In less grand gig news, not taking place in hidden Hoxton music halls, I've caught up with Bevan 17 successor entity Desperate Journalist, who have a very Banshees sound, and otherwise mainly seen former members of Luxembourg. 60% of them were playing 'Mishandled' and 'The 2 of Us' at a Suede tribute night in the Boogaloo, which was spine-tingling, and another 20% was taking pictures. I asked if he'd fancied joining in, but he insisted that it would only dent the chances of a big money reunion a few years down the line. And then the final 20%, Jonny Cola, was playing his first gig in a while, but given he's now down two of his old kidneys and up one of his fiancee's, maybe it was more like 19%? It's like a glam rock Ship of Theseus. Anyway, they were all better than hearing an oompah band covering Coldplay in a venue devoted to the consumption of beer and wurst, followed by a trip to Covent Garden's Roadhouse, a club where I suspect rohypnol and Red Bull is the house cocktail. A shame, as that day had previously been going pretty well, if you count loud discussions of dogging and Ulysses
in a riverside pub as a good afternoon, which clearly I do.
Other than that? Photo exhibition launches, book launches, the general whirl of media scumbaggery. Waiting for the Spring to finally arrive, like everyone. Watching Yahoo Serious' Mr Accident
(it's no Young Einstein
). Being astonished that an unremarkable Earl's Court pub can charge £4.55 for a pint. Hoping that the Leisure Hive does well, because clubs like that make me feel a little less old. Writing this at a gallop because if I dither now it'll take another fortnight. Current Mood: optimistic
|Sunday, March 3rd, 2013|
|Not my most deathless prose, but I want to get this on the record, and I also want to sleep
So, since last posting, I've been to new places. Kensal Green, land of the golden Nando's, whose great graveyard is home to many grand figures whose resting places we didn't find, and one murderous quack of whom I might still be ignorant were his epitaph not so passive-aggressive
. More exciting still, a lovely long weekend in Margate! Which in places is a sort of North-London-on-sea, as against Brighton, which is of course East-London-on-sea. xandratheblue
chose well when she booked us into the Walpole Bay Hotel
, which is essentially the sort of place Poirot stays, but festooned with Tracey Emin napkin art, alarming mannequins, a room full of hats and so forth. If Sir John Soane were a hotelier, the result would be along these lines. A similar spirit of eccentricity pervades the town; there's the old world stuff, like the hotel, the Shell Grotto, the Mad Hatter's tearoom and the decrepit lido; but there's also the huge array of wind turbines out at sea who can be dimly seen on the less cloudy days, standing sentinel, and the surprising number of rockabillies for a fairly small town. It is, in sum, Unusual, mostly in lovely ways. And especially so last weekend, because we'd unwittingly turned up at the same time as GEEK, a computer-game-centred thing which enabled Alex to talk knowledgeably about computer games while I pouted at the lack of the advertised strawberry cider. In your gender-defined face, gender roles. The other result of this was that whenever we attempted to just go look at some art, we kept on getting lured into INTERACTING. Fine when it was the squishy stuff in Turner Contemporary, less so when we were sent on a somewhat confused melon-themed treasure hunt/RPG around town, or found that what we'd thought was a small gallery with a show of automata was in fact a couple's basement workshop. Still, at least the latter meant we got tea. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy all the community art, you understand, so much as I wasn't expecting it. And being ambushed by art does start to make one a little nervous after a while.
Margate also has one of two very fine pubs to which I've been introduced recently, the Lifeboat, which doesn't quite have a sea view but otherwise - casks of local cider, lots of wood, a roaring fire - is pretty much how I picture the ideal seaside pub, just as the Earl of Essex is exactly the pub I always hope to find in quiet London backstreets. Both are let down only by some of their food; take your own ketchup to the Lifeboat (outragrously, there's none on the premises!), and avoid the risotto at the Earl.
All the TV I've watched lately has been going for an overall mood of 'unsettling'. Black Mirror
, still not quite perfect, but better to have Charlie Brooker not quite being Rod Serling on C4 than degenerating into Harry Hill on the BBC. Utopia
, which managed that rare feat of genuinely shocking violence (as much in how it was shot as in who was shot, stabbed, and so forth) in a conspiracy thriller which didn't feel as played-out as the rest of the recent glut of conspiracy thrillers - maybe because ( spoilersCollapse )
. Breaking Bad
, where the second series had fewer moments of 'Go Walter!' than the first, and a lot more wincing. Even the Honor Blackman episodes of The Avengers
all seemed to be predicated on Steed's uncertain loyalties, and beyond that to be odd in so far as they still didn't quite feel like The Avengers
yet, and predicated their plots on such TV-friendly themes as the Companies Act 1928, and the evasion of inheritance tax. Whereas the few films I've watched have been thoroughly straightforward good vs evil stuff, with square-jawed heroes - Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness
, Christopher Reeve in Superman
, which is every bit as charming and *right* as I remember from childhood, not to mention much smarter than I ever picked up on. Current Mood: listless
|Monday, February 11th, 2013|
|Black Mirror cannot be as disturbing as the show currently preceding it
Snow again, and I've not posted since the last bout, in which I got to cross St James' Park by twilight. It's not my favourite London park, but that little chalet by the lake does look ludicrously idyllic when the weather's this Alpine. I was there in between my inaugural visits to the museums Petrie (dry) and Grant (terrifying), and Parliament, where I was headed mainly to see Paddy Ashdown talk. And good heavens, he's still full of fire. I miss him.
So I went to see a Tarantino film in the cinema, which I've never done before (and it was Dalston Rio, where I've never been before, but which is rather nice, isn't it?). Django Unchained
is neither as thorough an explanation of the monstrousness of slavery, nor as gloriously OTT an exploitation romp, as Spartacus: Blood and Sand
and its successor series. But it is pretty fine nonetheless, and oh, those landscapes looked magnificent on the big screen. Some - including Charlie Brooker, whom you would have hoped might know better - have complained that this isn't historically accurate, simply because it's not a tediously worthy slog, but the only time I found myself unconvinced by it was when they were discussing business at the table, with a lady present. Really? Beyond that, I think this is the most plausible South I've ever seen on screen. Interesting, too, to see Christoph Waltz, the link to Quentin's previous not-quite-history film, and wonder if his part as the Good German here was by way of an apology; certainly his last line was ventriloquising Tarantino.
Less seriously: Will Ferrell and the weird guy from The Hangover
in The Campaign
, a very silly film which, like Django
, is far better on a serious issue (here the dirtiness of US politics) than an entire awards ceremony's worth of more desperately serious films on the same topic. It even has the alarming stuff liable to upset some viewers (warning: contains scenes of pug distress). Plus, it is clearly a love letter to Trading Places
Comedy: Ben Van Der Velde was a bit too Mission for me (Dave Gorman, so much to answer for - that structure really is the bane of Edinburgh shows), but James W Smith did very well considering his planned show about whether he was ready for kids was derailed by the fact that yes, he's now expecting one ready or not! And admitting that to strangers 12 weeks into the pregnancy = very brave. Given which, you could forgive the show being rather unformed - much like the baby at this stage, I guess.
Gigs: I've seen a fair few acts I've seen before and they were still jolly good, but the news is the venues. Like: the Water Rats is returned to us! And still has one of the same bar staff. Like: there's a half-decent venue just across Finsbury Park from me, and how come nobody I know has played there before? Or clubwise, the basement of Aces and Eights, which is just like all those basement venues we used to go to which I thought had all been tidied up and sold off. Pubwise, the Catford Bridge Tavern - a proper old pub, and I am much more likely to forgive the pint of cider I ordered being off if it is one of five draught ciders rather than the only bloody one.
Also, we completely owned the Monarch's Doctor Who
quiz, even in the face of a BBC Worldwide team and other pro geeks. Result. Current Mood: anxious
|Monday, January 21st, 2013|
So, it is January. Which means cold, and little on, and even when snowy not really quorate for a proper snow day given all the departures from parts Finsburatic. And hence, films. From rewatching Powell & Pressburger's strange and timeless Canterbury Tale
(I remembered its profoundly English mood, and even a little of its plot, but had never registered before that it had a character from the Seven Sisters Road and a minor role for Charles Hawtrey), to what I'm fairly sure will be the only viewing I ever afford The Watch
(Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are on complete autopilot, but in places Richard Ayoade *almost* salvages it). Tintin and the Blue Oranges
is at once an incredibly faithful live action addition to the boy reporter's canon, and quite stupendously gay; the short films of Jan Svankmajer are even more rum and uncanny than I recalled, especially when live animals meet stop-motion. In comparison, Steve Aylett's ridiculous Lint: the Movie
almost makes sense. But only in comparison. The Dark Knight Rises
, as I noted on Facebook, seems to have been inspired less by any of Bane's comics appearances than Disney's Princess and the Frog
, whose plot it strips of charm, drenches in portentousness, and then serves up as Serious Cinema. Also from the House of Mouse: Scotcom Brave
, which does a very good job of finally providing a Disney princess you wouldn't be utterly depressed to find a friend's daughter idolising*. And which, like so many Pixar films, is *almost* eclipsed by its delightful accompanying short, in this case 'La Luna'.
At the grittier end of proceedings: Shame
, which is good, but not as good as a film featuring Magneto and Sally Sparrow naked ought to be. And, in more of a rush than it really deserved, the first season of Treme
. Sometimes I love it when a bold artist realises they've had a big enough hit to get a captive audience, and goes for broke. This was one of the other times. Truism though this has undoubtedly become, David Simon created something astonishing in The Wire
. Many of the same components are here, but the problem is, now I can see the working. Political points felt like they emerged naturally in his Baltimore tragedy; too often the commentary on post-apocalyptic New Orleans is preachy. And there's a lot of jazz. Not even the good sort of jazz. Nonetheless, I burned through ten episodes in a week; despite himself, he can't help but create intriguing characters (mostly: some of them are just planks, and worse, this time out, unlike with eg Ziggy, the show doesn't always seem aware of that). Simon also contributes, incidentally, to Storyville: The House I Live In
, a painfully well-argued documentary about America's 'War on Drugs'. One of those remarkable pieces which you assume will be preaching to the choir, but leaves you realising you were nowhere near anti-enough something you already thought utterly asinine.
But back in 2012 (Do you remember 2012? Is it time for the 2012 revival yet? I bloody hope not), I did go to the cinema. A whole twice! Miracle on 34th Street
was utterly, tear-jerkingly joyful, and cannot meaningfully be discussed again until December. And then there's that astonishing mess Peter Jackson has made of The Hobbit
, a film trying at once to turn a children's story into an epic (just as the Narnia films so spectacularly failed to do) and create a backstory to The Lord of the Rings
. The problem being, as so often with retcons, that you violate both your stories in the effort to tie them together with appropriate guest appearances. ( spoilerCollapse )
. And as much as the narrator's intro may be much-loved, you can't give those lines to Bilbo if they result in him explaining what a hobbit-hole is like to Frodo! The jeopardy levels are inconsistent with the results, turning one sequence in particular into a show-off's Mario run-through. And yet, for all that, there is not the remotest chance of me not catching the rest of the unnecessary trilogy at the cinema.
(The best piece I've read on the film
, which to be honest renders most of my thoughts there superfluous, but having already written them in note form, I was damned if I wasn't going to Speak My Branes)*Yes, obviously Leia now counts also, but that happened after Brave. Current Mood: accomplished
|Monday, December 17th, 2012|
|Albums of 2012
It hasn't been a vintage year for music, has it? I've tried a fair chunk of the stuff making the more mainstream album-of-the-year lists, and at best found a track or two pleasant enough. Some of my favourite acts released profoundly underwhelming records - Pet Shop Boys have now perpetrated a couple in a row, but I had high hopes for Words and Music by Saint Etienne
, only to find too much of it sounding oddly tired. Sproatly Smith, Death Grips, Martin Rossiter and Gallon Drunk all released albums which had glorious moments but felt samey when taken as a whole; Godspeed, Madness and Guillemots (that plan to release four albums this year went well, didn't it?) all seemed to be operating well within their comfort zones. And I think the only hit single I registered with any interest was 'Gangnam Style'. Still, let's attempt to pull together a Top 20 from the wreckage...( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: sniffly
|Wednesday, November 28th, 2012|
|Thank heavens for days off
Last weekend, I got the equivalent of one of those experiences where people who baffle me go into a sauna (bad enough in itself), then run out into the snow. Saturday night: the first big gig I've been too in a year or more, Crystal Castles. Who at least have an audience smaller than those at the last big gig I went to, Magazine - they mostly appeared to be tiny children with brightly-coloured hair or Siouxsie Sioux eye make-up, which makes for an adorable agglomerate. Brixton Academy remains a great venue, despite the management's best efforts, and Crystal Castles continue to be one of the few modern electronic bands who really impress me, on account of having a bit of Digital Hardcore somewhere in their make-up - that old idea of a song at once physically painful and catchy. Plus, all the lightshow one generally only sees at gigs which are supposed to be A Bit Much in films. In short: delicious overstimulation. And then, on Sunday, Boring
, a day of talks devoted to the mundane. Obviously the idea is that considered in enough detail, the most superficially tedious things can reveal fascination - or terror, in the case of ASMR
, a subculture of which I was happily unaware before rhodri
Conclusion: they were both lots of fun. But I still have no intention of rushing out of a sauna into the snow, thanks all the same.
Otherwise: went for a wander with Paynter and found various odd little London delights along our way, all of which were supposed to be closed but, because it was one of those evenings, weren't. Such as a Soho gallery full of clocks become castles, and mutant taxidermy. Or an enormous free tire slide plonked in Leicester Square as promotion for a film where Wolverine plays the Easter Bunny. Finally managed to beat Charlie Higson and David Arnold at the pub quiz - but on a week where they weren't on form, so as to still only make third. Perhaps we shouldn't have named ourselves after a supervillain team, given their success rate? Saw the Pre-Raphaelite and Turner Prize exhibitions, each containing some good stuff alongside a great deal of embarrassing filler, though obviously the dead guys' ratio was a bit better. Went to another gig, at more my usual level, where Joanne Joanne were again delightful (they've started to incorporate songs from the cocaine soul years now), and Shrag played their song very well. Went on a Tubewalk, and discovered that in Lambeth it's easier to find leopard pigs than a bearable pub; the first was playing the sort of jazz that gives jazz a bad name, the second too full and too gastro for words (and had signs urging us to 'follow our banter online'), and the third was set on closing half of its floorspace for no apparent reason. And they wonder why people prefer to drink at home now.The Guard
is a black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson, a man whose face is so expressive that I could happily watch a film of him doing his weekly shop. It somehow comes across as low key in spite of all the swearing and violence - much like In Bruges
, which also stars him and whose director is The Guard
's director's brother. Also like In Bruges
, the rest of the cast is packed with great actors - Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong as a particularly philosophical drug dealer, Don Cheadle as the FBI agent out of water in rural Ireland. Strangely moving, unlike How to Steal a Million
, which I'd seen years ago and which is still as gorgeously empty as prime Wodehouse, a beautiful insubstantial rainbow which would evaporate without Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn anchoring it by sheer charm. Both are of course vastly better than Prometheus
, two hours of sound and fury signifying nothing but the bleeding obvious. But then, I've already discussed that on Facebook, haven't I? The same place we all now tend to put anything pithy, anything intended to get a mass response. The latest wave of spambots has taken me back to a few old entries on here, just to delete their spoor, and I'm amazed each time by what a busy poster I was. So young, too - there's a spot of anti-RTD hysteria in one of the entries I saw which makes me sound about 12. Even some of the longer, more considered content isn't here anymore - my book reviews are on Goodreads
now. And yet, this is kept going, in part simply because it has been kept going, and so it would seem crazy to abandon it now - a very London attitude, beyond which, I never did like lines drawn under the past. And I suppose now, unlike February, June, July and October 2012, I've made it at least one more month with more than a single post. Livejournal Abides. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Saturday, November 10th, 2012|
|Should be out of bed by now. Am not.
Just finished two months with Netflix - a free trial followed by a period paid-but-with-cashback-coming, courtesy of Quidco
. The selection of films is patchy, though I did enjoy the Norwegian oddity Troll Hunter
and the gleeful retro vigilante pastiche Hobo With A Shotgun
, and to some extent Double Indemnity
, even if a noir classic is always going to be slightly hobbled if, as here, the obligatory femme fatale resembles Frankenstein's monster in a Little Lord Fauntleroy wig. Where the site really excels, though, is TV. No HBO, alas, what with Murdoch having still not had all his ill-gotten gains prised from his dying grasp - but exactly the sort of thing you want to watch once but not own, and might not get through in a week from the library. The second series of Whedon's Dollhouse
, for instance - which, while still sometimes deeply creepy in ways that don't seem wholly intentional, gets away from the generic episodes that clogged too much of the first series, moves the action on while only feeling *slightly* rushed, and - uniquely for a Whedon TV show - feels like it ends at just the right spot. Or Killing Time
, the true story of an Australian criminal lawyer who comes to a bad end, starring Faramir. I also got through the first season of Breaking Bad
, but that's a different matter, feeling more like the start of a new obsession.
But that's done now. Ditto the final Thick of It
, Silv in Lilyhammer
and Frodo in Wilfred
. Parade's End
and the misfiring Doctor Who
seasonlet feel like they were ages ago, Misfits
has gone off the boil, and I don't feel quite ready to embark on the second series of Blake's 7
just yet. So until I commit to another box set, the extent of my TV commitments would seem to be Friday Night Dinner
. Guess I might finally use up some of those library loyalty cards and catch up with all the films I've not seen this year; only one I've borrowed lately was A Fantastic Fear of Everything
, which is far better than the artistic output of Crispian Mills has any right to be.
Otherwise, there was Bonfire Night, for which I did nothing in particular but still saw fireworks because London, and Hallowe'en. I only dressed up on the Saturday before, and yet even with the cape sweeping behind me felt deeply underdressed at the American Hallowe'en bash. How I would have coped the Saturday after next to xandratheblue
as Judge Anderson, I dread to think, so I kept it suited and booted. And in between, on the night itself, there was the terrifying spectacle of Keith Top of the Pops and his ALL WEARING KEITH MASKS Backing Band. Chilling. Though less so than Without Fidel, who featured a glockenspiel and had a singer playing the awkward schoolghoul, and did covers of 'Super Bass' and 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' which made a strong case for outlawing cover versions. Still, Her Parents were great. Hardcore is still not something I'd necessarily listen to at home, but they do a very good show. Current Mood: lazy
|Thursday, October 25th, 2012|
Once again, I've failed to post anything here in approximately forever. First of all there's not enough for a post, and then there's too much but not enough for two, and so on and let's just bloody write something, eh? So:
I went on a walk around London locations from The Prisoner
. Walking down the corridor from the credits was quite an experience, though I can exclusively reveal that the reason he looks so disgusted, and perhaps for the resignation itself, is the overpowering smell of urine. Some of the rest was a bit niche for me, and that was aside from the brief detour into the inevitably schismatic politics of UK Prisoner
I went on another walk across the Heath, and then down for a pint. And another pint. And a couple more, and half a bottle of wine. But it started with a walk, and thus it was a very healthy day, right?
I found out where Hither Green is (seriously, I hadn't even known compass points a few months back), and that not every 'Something Cottage' in London is bullshitting with the name.
Outnumbered, I was part of a quiz team up against a celebrity all-star line-up of Caitlin Moran, Charlie Higson, David Arnold and friends. And we almost beat them, holding it to the second tie-break. A brave effort, if I do say so myself.
I saw a play about a haunted sock in my normal comedy venue of choice, and a dozen or more acts on one evening's bill elsewhere. In the latter instance, I was there for Rich Hurley, who was as full of hate - and as funny - as I'd have expected from my first meeting with the splenetic bastard, more years ago than I care to put in writing.
I've had some quiet weekends, but also managed some clubbing - Nuisance twice, new boy Some Weird Sin, Black Plastic, retro_geek
's glam night in the implausible Cakey Muto.
I went to an alliterative gig, featuring Mikey aka Mr Solo and the Melting Ice Caps and Alexander's Festival Hall (who don't begin with M, but now sound like the Monochrome Set, so that's OK) at the Monarch, except it was the Madness for the night because it was hosting an album playback.
Best of all, though, Rebekah Delgado's album launch at Bush Hall. Which is the perfect setting for the Drugstore-y, Mazzy Star-like, late-night music she makes, all ballroom grandeur - but better still than the gig was being on the balcony early on and seeing xandratheblue
sweep across in her grand new winter coat and getting one of those moments of yes, this life is a film, and sometimes it's a bloody good one. And rather than just throwing some other friendly acts on the bill there was a guitarist as we filtered in, and an acrobat, and human puppets, and the whole evening felt like a Moment. Even if I did miss much of the main support because I was talking to Art Brut about dogs in the bar, he had something too - a young man, but with an old man's voice and suit, like he'd just regenerated. Name of Tom Hickox, and deserves to go far. Current Mood: tired
|Friday, September 21st, 2012|
|I miss Shoreditch Twat. The magazine; the species is alive and well.
Went to 333 last night for the first time since it was still vaguely cool. It's a lot better now it isn't, although there were still residual traces of venue-that-thinks-they're-it cluelessness. The ground floor has become essentially a normal pub called the London Apprentice, to the extent that I was wandering baffled around the frontage looking for where the venue entrance had gone to hide, and had to be assisted by one of the Ethical Debating Society (who are much tighter these days, though seemed surprised to hear it). Then there was another band who had a keytar in their favour but not much else, before The Murder Act who were looking very striking and sounding more so, somewhere between Gallon Drunk and One More Grain. After which we pissed off to drink cans in the street because we are that cool. Q and I, both having recently been touched for funds by our alma mater, got a picture complete with cap in hand, which we may or may not send them by way of explaining our refusal.
Other gigs seen since I last posted about gigs seen:augstone
in acoustic troubadour mode on Upper Street, on the day when Upper Street was haunted by a most unpleasant smell. No connection, I should add. At least, not so far as I'm aware.
Brontosaurus Chorus Dom's new band, who were a bit loud for the 12 Bar, supporting Rebekah Delgado and her sexy weeping angels.
The Gonzo Dog-Do Bar Band, whose Bonzos tribute bafflingly omitted 'Sport (The Odd Boy)' in spite of the show coming right before the Olympics. Still, they finished with a damn fine 'Mr Apollo', and generally did justice to songs which can easily lose the appropriate strangeness. martylog
's Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra supported, with a very eerie new song about allotments the high-point.
The Thlyds - or rather a tribute - in a show which can be heard here
. If The Thlyds did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them - a voice for disaffected young Britain which, crucially, isn't the risible Plan B. 'Let's Have A Riot' at the Olympics fell a little flat, what with us doomsayers having been proven wrong for once - but the rest was brilliantly sneering.
Gyratory System, in the perfect venue of the Social, which is to say a fashionable breeze block. They sounded - or more than sounded, felt - like a burning robot factory - but with a groove.
Thee Faction, incendiary in another sense of the word, and Joanne Joanne, an all-female tribute to...you can work it out. But only the early stuff. More punk than Rhodes, Taylor and le Bon ever sounded on record, but that works.
Keith ToTP and Dream Themes. I've written about them both plenty on here before. Whatever it is they have, they've still got it. Current Mood: relaxed
|Sunday, September 2nd, 2012|
|September's here again
Well, if we overlook an astonishing disappointing Dalek effort from the once-great Moffat, that was rather a lovely evening - lounging in a Crouch End gazebo by candlelight, all suitably louche. And at lunchtime I'd finally got round to attending one of the Union Chapel's daytime concerts, with (The Real) Tuesday Weld taking full advantage of the pulpit; the night before I'd walked through Holborn, along the South Bank and then down to the deep South for my_red_dream
's wedding reception, where pretty much all the old faces were together again for the first time in I don't know how long. It has been, in brief, a pretty satisfactory weekend.
At some point I got very behind writing about shows I've seen; Edinburgh is done now, and I've not even caught up with the last of the previews I saw before it kicked off. Impressed to have caught three of the Best Newcomer nominees (including the rather surprising winner) courtesy of diamond_geyser
(all mentioned in previous posts, I think) - but then there were also the very sweet Grainne Maguire (who is not a character act), curly-haired Matt Highton (for whom I became a professional gag-writer), Phil Nichol (a sort of Canadian Al Pacino who was probably great once he'd learned his material), and Nick Doody (wrong and brilliant). And then, at a normal venue, whatever the opposite of a preview is, so now I have *finally* seen Dinosaur Planet
Also, there were plays! At the Bridewell Theatre, which is not just a name, for said well half-blocks the entrance to the basement bar. I was there to see perfectlyvague
's Thatcher in Berkoff's Sink the Belgrano
- which is treasonous rot, but part of being one of the good guys is being able to enjoy art even when it's wrong. Also on the bill was Man of Destiny
, the first George Bernard Shaw I've seen in ages. He really was much better at speeches than drama, wasn't he? Current Mood: relaxed
|Saturday, August 11th, 2012|
|Summer in the city
Been on jury service this past week, and while obviously I can't say anything about what happens inside, I can say that it chucks out earlier than work, and closer to home, and while this weather has been a little
hot, better now than in the rain, right? So I can stop off in a park to read and bump into the Cthulhuchild and family en route to the slides, or wander via Ally Pally to see the inflatable Stonehenge
(though I didn't bounce myself - far too many rules for something called Sacrilege). And I have to admit, the Olympics haven't been the bane I thought they would. Transport has been standing up, there's a certain quiet happiness in the air, and even if I still don't care myself who done the best swim or whatever...it's all very nice
. Perhaps because everyone is on the same side, as against that nasty tribalist twinge to the footballism? Even the opening ceremony, which I skipped because a) sport and b) it's a decade since Danny Boyle made a decent film - well, by the sound of it modern masques are more his forte than films now. I was rewarded with the emptiest streets I have ever seen in Finsbury Park or Dalston, though.
Peckham Rye, a park I've never quite found before, for the first picnic in too long. I think we got out of the habit of organising them, when summer seemed to have turned traitor. They have been missed.
Camden for a quiet afternoon pint, which turned into a pub crawl home. If nothing else, I have now finally been to Kentish Town's Pineapple. It is quite good.
Devon, to see the parents. Did lots of active, rural things, like hefting logs up hills, and clambering around on cliffs just along from where there was that fatal landslide a few days later. Didn't die, obviously, because I'm not a loser. But I did get melancholy over the way the streams, beaches and fields in the distance always seem so unattainably lovely, and when you get there, they're perfectly pleasant but ultimately just a stream, or a beach, or a field. This point has already been made by better writers than me, of course.
I think this feeling was accentuated by coming back on a Sunday, which may have been a mistake - instead of returning to London's bright lights and fun, it just feels like the end of the holiday.
|Saturday, August 4th, 2012|
|Little people in a box
So, the Olympics may not have been quite as disruptive to London as we were warned (if anything it's quieter, most especially during the opening ceremony when the streets were the emptiest I have ever seen, including the not-so-'dead' of night), but the TV schedules are a desolation. Nothing since The Hollow Crown
, and even that was disappointing in places, most especially Simon Russell Beale's mopey Falstaff. Yes, there is great pathos in Falstaff but you don't go straight there or it counts for nothing, you show him full of life first!
Hiddleston was great as Hal, though. And before that there was Spartacus: Vengeance
, which is clearly aimed at people who felt Blood and Sand
didn't have enough ultraviolence. SOLD. But now we have to wait for the final series, and hope they don't lose another Spartacus
in the meantime, though I suppose it does all contribute a certain 'No, I'm Spartacus!' quality, doesn't it?
So with nothing new to oblige me when I want to watch moving images, I've been catching up with films. Green Lantern, for instance, the one flop among last year's big superhero films. And deservedly so, because i
t is a characterless mush. Assuming you know the basics of the mythos, you might as well watch it in Uzbek, because the script does no work at all. It's all placeholder dialogue - 'Difficult father/son conversation', or 'inspirational reminder from love interest', or 'sneering veteran belittles rookie'. Horribly lazy, and it's not like Ryan Reynolds - the world's most generic leading actor - was ever going to be able to enliven it.
Conversely, another supposed flop, John Carter
(it didn't do all that badly, in spite of being a victim of studio politics and a spiteful whispering campaign) is not bad at all. Which comes as little surprise - Andrew Stanton's previous film was Wall-E
, so we know the man can do films about desolate planets. It doesn't quite know whether it wants to be Flash Gordon
, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings
or Star Wars
, but while the tone could perhaps have been a little more solid, that's not to say it ever feels jarring (Hell, they even manage a non-shit cute animal sidekick, and that's not easy), and I'm convinced a second and third film would have built on what was already achieved. I suppose I'll just have to get them from the alternate reality DVD shop one day, along with seasons 2-5 of that other unfairly-treated space/Western hybrid, Firefly
And then there's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
. The previous Ghost Rider film also starred Nic Cage, so this is a sequel rather than a reboot - and has ever a sequel sharing the same lead so outstripped its predecessor? The first was dull, I think I managed maybe half an hour of it and there was still little sign of anything happening. Whereas after a mere five minutes of this you've already seen Stringer Bell as a drunk biker priest who has a brief argument with Giles, then gets into a gunfight and a car chase. This is what happens when you do the sensible thing with an action franchise and get the men behind the peerless Crank
in. Ghost Rider has always been a brilliant concept who is for the most part ill-served by his stories, but Neveldine/Taylor are the sort of men to whom you say 'a biker with a flaming skull for a head' and they give you a film. A damn fine film. A film where the Ghost Rider pisses fire
(though in a rare missed opportunity, not on anyone. Because he would be pissing on someone who was on fire, like the figure of speech, but it would in fact be his fault they were on fire! Seriously, it would be poetry). Anyway, it also has Christopher Lambert from Highlander
, and Ciaran Hinds as the Devil (there's one deleted scene where he hires a car which works as a short film in itself) and, as you may have gathered, it is bloody brilliant.
Oh, and I've also been attempting to knock off the last few complete Doctor Who
stories I've not seen ahead of the new series. The problem being that in some cases - I'm looking at you, Attack of the Cybermen
- there are reasons I've not got round to them sooner. Most recent, though, was Claws of Axos
, from just the point where the Pertwee years were settling into formula. But it's not quite there yet, meaning you get something more reminiscent in places of a classic stand-alone alien invasion story than of Who
, even to the extent of the Doctor calling things completely wrong at times (the foolish, hubristic scientist). He's also a much more ambivalent figure than one expects, to the extent that when he offers the Master an alliance, you're not wholly confident it's a trick, even watching with hindsight. Current Mood: blank