Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Spirit of Darkness

The BBC are having a competition to find the greatest public information film ever made.

My money is on the one about water safety, where a sinister cowled figure tries to lure children into dangerous pools of stagnant water. I still have nightmares about him.

Think Bike is pretty good too. I tried to explain its magic to my beloved, but she grew up in Patriotic TV Land, so her idea of a good public information film is that "oh my achin' back" one or that one about how if you go deaf your life is over.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ever Been In A Riot?

Yesterday's events in Dublin were somewhat unusual. Indymedia has some exciting pictures of the action, although they have taken the strange decision to block out the faces of random people. More here.

Because I am a bit stupid, I went looking for the riot in the afternoon so that I could take some pictures of it. Everything seemed to be over by then, although O'Connell Street did look well bashed up. But that's what it always looks like. I noticed that someone had chucked a chair through the Progressive Democrats' offices on Sth Frederick Street.

Overheard remark: "Laying into the Guards is fine, but buring cars - that's out of order".

Here are some pretty scary pictures of rioters laying into some Chinese guy on Westland Row for no obvious reason: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~z/today/ (thanks to Paul for this one)

Don't talk, just kiss

Does anyone else in the world typically refer to Republican Sinn Féin as The Freds (because their initials are the same as popular band Right Said Fred)? Or is it just me?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Comics Roundup 23/2/2006

This is actually several weeks worth, because IR slackass.

100 Bullets # 69 by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso has sadly become so complicated that I can't really follow what's going on anymore. The fractured time sequence does not help either. And is this the second or third time that a character has had bullets pumped into them only for them to show up a few issues later going "Wow. that was a close call"?

Loveless #3 by Brian Azzarello & Marcelo Frusin: with a lot of of my regular titles folding I am flailing around for new things to buy. This is an ongoing western series, written by Azzarello and drawn by some other geezer. Azzarello has done western before, in the wonderfully bizarre "Diablo" limited series (about a Dublin country band who keep it real). Sadly, this title seems like it's already crossed the Azzarello event horizon and is barely comprehensible to a casual reader. Whatever happened to those "in previous issues" things you used to get at the start of comics?

DMZ #3 by Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchelli: Another try-out. There was a lot of buzz about this title before it started, but it seems a bit so what to me. The premise appears to be that some kind of WARRE has broken out in the USA, and New York is now divided up like Beirut or Mogadishu. Makes you think. But not enough to buy again.

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy by Joe Kubert. At last, a good comic, with a cute puppy. Easy Company finally learn the somewhat hare-brained purpose of their mission, but things still rock along in an excitingly grim manner. I am really curious as to how Kubert will extract the squad from Latvia, not known for its accessibility to American forces in 1943.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In the lap of the Gods

I've been thinking about lapdancing again. One of the great things that's happened here recently is the opening of a Stringfellow's here in our great city. For too long we Dubliners have had to put up with inferior local lapdancing businesses; now at last we have something conforming to the very highest international norms. However, I gather that not so many people have been going to the club as expected. My suspicion is that this is down to poor advertising, and I feel that what Mr Stringfellow needs to do to get more punters is to utilise the power of the wireless. I am thinking of something with memorable jingles reminiscent of such classics as the radio ads for Northside Shopping Centre, Bargain Town, or the late lamented Nite Owls.

Anyway, I have helpfully come up with the words for this jingle, and hereby make it available to Mr Stringfellow at no charge. It is the least I can do to advance the cause of lapdancing in this country. So here are the words:

"If you want to see some ladies in the nip
Then come to

Try it at home, and see what kind of catchy tune you can come up with.

Here is a picture of Mr Stringfellow:

And look, here is John Stringfellow, pioneer of air travel:

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sun City

Periodically people ask me why my beloved is so engaged with the struggle for Palestinian freedom, as though there is something childish about being involved in political activity.

Perhaps this might help, an article by a journalist who has worked in both apartheid era South Africa and Israel-Palestine. It is a long and detailed article drawing close comparisons between white South Africa and the Israeli regime.

In other news, the Israelis are demolishing a Palestinian graveyard to build a Museum of Tolerance.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Forthcoming Attractions

Here are some things I am writing about for the next issue of Frank's APA, which means you will get to read about them here in a couple of months time.

"March of the Penguins" (film): Have you heard about how the King of Norway has made this Penguin an officer in his army, and keeps promoting him and giving him medals? What makest this even wierder is that the Penguin is not even in a Norwegian zoo.

"The Ipcress File" (film): Swirly light brainwash.

Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction "The Very Best Of" (album): Sometime Bill Drummond associate Z takes a break from copraphi1ia to release an essentially lame metal album redeemed by comedically sexist lyrics.

Steppenwolf "Born To Be Wild - the Best Of" (album): Heavy Metal Thunder.

"TEH LAND OF TEH DEAD" (DVD): Romero's latest zombfest suffers from being a bit low on relentless zombie assault action. Asia Argento is pretty hot, though.

Belle & Sebastian, (gig and album): Now that B&S no longer sound like themselves, maybe the hataz will start to like them.

Prison Love (gig): Drop not thy cleansing tallowe - here be sodomytes.

"Grizzly Man" (film): Grizzly Bears are very fierce.

RTE Living Music festival (musical event): John Kelly is ill-served by his frequently reproduced photographs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Just say no

More here.

Subjects for future inquiry: The political economy of Morris

This is largely triggered by a pub conversation with my old friend and quaffing partner Eoghan Barry. Basically – English people generally hate Morris dancing. Yet there is a general wuv for the folk culture of other countries, especially ones that can be thought of as “backward” or pre-modern. Why is the Other’s folk culture lauded while England’s own is hated? I contend that this is to do with imperialist and racist mindsets that assert a dualistic relationship between a modern and technological Us and a primitive and unmediated Them. They have folk culture, we have shiny futurism. We love their natural sense of rhythm and primitive culture, but we revel in our modernity and technological advancement as signifiers of our superiority.

In professing to like Morris dancing, we people of the Other are putting the English in their pre-modern place.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dirty Three – The Village

Inuit Bikini Scarlet Carwash records my life, but not contemporanaeously. Thus it was a while ago that I went to this concert. You know the Dirty Three, they are these three Australian guys who never wash and (unlike so many of their countrymen) they also make music together. It has been a while since they last played here, possibly because Warren Ellis has been busy with the comics and playing with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. In the meantime he has grown a beard oddly reminiscent of that of cockfarming Irish journalist John Waters. Fortunately he did not see fit to entertain us with gibberings about how feminists have taken over the world and enslaved men.

So yeah, the music… more of the same really, if you are familiar with the Dirty Three. Ellis plays fiddle, some other guy plays guitar, and the band’s powerhouse plays drums. The whole thing has an air of Appalachians go Jazz to it, a process aided by the sudden appearance of support act Josh Pearson, who joined them on banjo. Mr Pearson has the kind of beard not seen since the death of Stonewall Jackson, and boasts an austere manner to match. I was sorry to have arrived too late to have caught his act.

You are never alone with the Dirty Three, they say, and indeed the place was a bit crowded. Afterwards we repaired to Devitts for pints, and Dave’s friend Jan (yeah?) regaled us with anecdotes about this guy who used to eat raw white pudding while talking about what he had seen on Jalfrezi TV the night before. You had to be there, and it is the worse for you that you were not. Jan was from near Trim. Co. Meath, so we asked her for the inside track on Jimmy Ben-nett and "Fatal Deviation".

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Where Europe leads, others follow

The USA is to develop its own rubbish monoglot version of the Eurovision song contest.

They seem to be trying to turn it into a reality TV show.

Nul points.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Culture Club

My beloved is in with noted modernist composer Raymond Deane. Thus we found ourselves on the guestlist for a premiere of his latest new piece in the National Concert Hall. And so we were able to hob nob in the interval reception and get tanked on free booze, which rocked. And whom should I meet there but my old friend and quaffing partner, Conor Kostick. Fun was had by all.

Oh yeah, what was the music like? Ah you know, grand stuff. I’ve never really known how to talk about the old orchestral music, apart from using clichés, and no obvious ones applied here. But I did most definitely find the music very enjoyable, and said as much to Mr Deane. “Enjoyable, eh?” he chortled, and I mumbled something about not having the vocabulary to describe classical music, in a possibly vain attempt to remain on the list for future première invites.

The orchestra also performed Dvorak’s New World symphony, which brought back many childhood memories for my glamorous assistant. Burr burr burr.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Comics Roundup 7/2/2006

The Exterminators” # 2 by Simon Oliver and Tony Moore

This comics concerns two dysfunctional guys who work as pest exterminators. Unfortunately this issue sees the unlikely death of the more entertaining character, meaning that this comic might already be in decline. Oh well.

Fantastic Four & Iron Man: Big In Japan” #4 by Zeb Wills and Seth Fisher

The final issue of this bizarre limited series, which saw the titular heroes go to Japan and fight giant monsters. The art carries the story, which is some ways unfortunate as the artist has just gone and died.

Gotham Central” #40 by Greg Rucka, Kano, and Stefano Gaudiano

The final prog. This comic was a police procedural set in Gotham, where the cops have to contend with costumed freaks in the course of their work. In the early issues Batman tended to appear as a dues ex machina to resolve each story, but he has not appeared so much lately. The last run of stories have seen the main characters (honest cops) face off against the crooks who make up the majority of Gotham’s finest.

I’m sad to see this title end. It managed to deliver nicely character driven stories set in a world of seedy corruption. The story does at least end well (in narrative terms), with the last couple of episodes bringing things to a natural end.

I don’t know if there are any plans to reprint this in trade format, so maybe you have missed the bus.

Y: The Last Man” #42 by Brian K. Vaughan, Goran Sudzuka, & Jose Marzan Jr.

You know the score: mysterious plague wipes out every male in the world simultanaeously, apart from this escapologist guy and his pet monkey. This episode is mainly about the monkey, now separated from the bloke.

This is a funny title… by its nature it should surely be heading towards some kind of conclusion wherein they somehow work out either how to bring men back into the world or to continue the human race without them. But it never seems to quite reach that point, and never shows any obvious sign of needing to in the short term. Rock on.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Film: “Sophie Scholl: The Last Days”

Or – Belle & Sebastian Meet TEH NAZIS, given the nice cardigans and things that the kids wear. Scholl’s story is famous. She and her brother were part of an ineffectual resistance group in Munich during the Second World War. They posted anti-war leaflets out to people and painted occasional bits of graffiti on walls. Then they got a bit cocky and decided to leave their leaflets in the university some of them studied in. Unfortunately, a janitor saw them and snitched them up to the cops. The film follows Scholl over the two or three days from the group’s copying up the leaflets on a Gestetner duplicator, to her arrest and execution a couple of days later. The film is a very effective portrayal of the small ways in which people can face down terrible evil.

You could maybe question why the filmmakers felt the need to focus on Scholl rather than any of the more active people in the group, but I suppose attractive young women sell films. Also, the contrast between her and the pompous and nasty Nazis is very striking. The trial scene does this particularly well. This was meant to be a political show trial where the Nazi regime would strike terror into its internal enemies. Instead, the defendants, and particularly Ms Scholl, exposed the farcical nature of proceedings by denouncing the court and saying that the judges would themselves be on trial in a couple of years. This was not dramatic license on the part of the filmmakers, as everything I have read about the case suggests that Scholl and her brother delivered impressive speeches from the dock that must have been deeply embarrassing to the hard-assed Nazis hearing them. Of course, this did not save them from being beheaded (the day after the trial), but that was probably inevitable from the moment they were arrested, so they were right to go out with a bang.

With this and “Downfall” it is like there are suddenly some top films about the Third Reich coming out of Germany. It is great that the Germans are reclaiming their history and are able to make films which deal with this period in a nuanced and complex manner.

Friday, February 03, 2006

will I ever learn?

You might think that a sensible person such as myself would not buy books quicker than I can read them. Think again. The latest addition to my book mountain is "The Company" by Arabella Edge. This is a novel about the 17th century wreck of the Dutch retourship Batavia on one of the Abrolhos islands, and the horrific events that then followed. I have previously read Mike Dash's wonderful "Batavia's Graveyard", a non-fiction account of the same events.

Ms Edge seems to have written this book in the first person from the point of view of one Jeronimus Corneliszoon. This is an interesting choice, given that the man was a religious maniac and psychopath who set up a baroque reign of terror over his fellow survivors. I am curious as to whether she attempts to make him in any way sympathetic.

The old Jeronimus is everywhere these days. The beloved pointed out that he appears as an enigmatic, probably sinister, character in "Desolation Jones", an ongoing comic by Warren Ellis and J.H. Williams III. If you have any fondness for the comics, I recommend picking up some issues of this odd detectivey title, the McGuffin for which is a missing reel of Hitler's own amateur porn.

(Ha ha, Hitler and porn in one post - Google, I command you to bring me the pervertalists!)

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I saw some TV round the parents over Christmas. TOTP2 on Christmas Eve was interesting, showing some fascinating bits and bobs from the programme’s history. One spectacularly awful act were Bros. I hated Bros back in the day. Sometimes with these kind of acts, the hatred of the past becomes an almost nostalgic fondness in the present whenever their existence is recalled. However, seeing Bros perform ‘When Will I Be Famous’ is enough to make clear that they truly were one of the most awful groups the world has ever seen. Aside from the haplessness of their singer’s voice, there is the whole creepiness of their appearance, an odd look which combines the rent boy with the Nazi stormtrooper. Then there is their complete inability to dance, and the hopeless nature of the music they perform. Their success can only be explained by the strength of reality bending hallucinogens routinely being fed to teenagers back in the late 1980s.

I understand that some people are still claiming that Bros are makers of great music, but I hope that forced exposure to their "music" will cure them of this terrible affliction.

Beyond that, seeing Pan’s People dancing in the TOTP studios to T-Rex’s ‘Jeepster’ was funny. Pan’s People are a true oddity of the past, and I feel privileged to vaguely remember them. They used to dance in studio to the tunes that did not have a video or performers willing to come in and mime to their song. On the evidence of this piece they managed to be a bit weak in the dancing department yet surprisingly risqué in the suggestive nature of their moves. I wonder has anyone ever released a video of Pan’s People dance routines?

Sadly I missed Christmas Day TOTP due to it being Christmas and having to eat with the parents, but I did see “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” on Stephen’s Day. This is still probably my all time favourite film, given the way it manages to mix genres, be spectacularly funny, and still contain a political message about how Los Angeles managed to go so wrong. Plus it has Jessica Rabbit playing pat-a-cake.