Friday, August 31, 2007


There is a lot of talk at the moment about how Aer Lingus are no longer running flights from Shannon to Heathrow. The good folk of Limerick in particular seem a bit excited about it. God bless them, wait till they hear about how Iarnród Eireann's forthcoming cancellation of rail links to the city, which is likely to combine with the scheduled bus moratorium and army roadblocks to make leaving the city somewhat difficult.

I am a bit more upset to discover that Aer Lingus are no longer flying from Dublin to Bristol, and no one else seems to go there bar stinky Ryannair. It looked like this would make travelling to Christmas ATP somewhat difficult, but then my clever beloved pointed out that Aer Lingus do at least still fly to Birmingham, and it seems to take less time to get from Birmingham International to Taunton than it did from Heathrow to Rye. I am not entirely convinced by this, but then English geography was never my strong point.

Birmingham International is a great retro future airport. It has this amazing faux maglev monorail thing to bring you 50 feet from the airport to the train station. Deadly.

Links update!

I've added in some new links to other blogs. And I've sorted them alphabetically, so it is much harder to see which ones are new.

I tried to change the layout of Inuit Bikini Scarlet Carwash, but it was too difficult.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Sixth Doctor

I bet you are wondering when I am going to finish running through the Sixth Doctor's stories.

Have you ever seen the Alps from a plane?

I went to see that George Clinton and P-Funk All-Stars recently (using recently in a somewhat flexible and cavalier manner). As you know, Clinton is the guy behind Parliament and Funkadelic, making him at least partially responsible for adding a wigged out mentalness to funk music. This was my second time seeing him. As with the last time, there was a degree of confusion as to which of the gentlemen on stage was Mr Clinton (with the guy in the nappy or the somewhat dishevelled street drinker look-a-like who came in later being two strong candidates), but eventually when the funny haired man himself joined us ambiguity was laid to rest.

The concert had good and bad features. All told, the band went on a bit – they kept me up well past my bedtime, meaning that I was not on top of my game at the important meeting I had the next day. Part of this going on a bit stemmed from not all the songs played being brilliant. This, though, called to mind the comment by someone (Eoghan? Dermot? Jazzy Geoff?) many years previously, when other p-funker Bootsy Collins came to town – basically, the live show needs its longeurs to replicate the strange and unsatisfying pieces that separate the good tracks on the records. Maybe so. The other bad thing about the concert was the number of chatty event people who showed up. I found myself stuck near two talkers while the sublime 'Maggot Brain' was being played, meaning that the platonic ideal guitar solo was disrupted for me by people talking about how great 'Maggot Brain' had been last time they had seen Clinton. Thanks guys.

But the good stuff was great. All the event people in the world can't spoil 'Maggot Brain'. And the All-stars generally, when they hit the groove, were awesome. Part of the fun with them of course was how many of them there were onstage and how oddly attired so many of them were; the stage resembled Rick Santorum's concession speech in this regard, and I did catch a glimpse of the Crying Eagle and Lizard King joining the band briefly. So you could not beat it as visual spectacle. They played several songs I recognised, Parliament-Funkadelic classics all, but the tune that has wormed itself indelibly into my mind is one apparently from the All-Stars' most recent album, sung by the better of the two lady singers present (accompanied by Clinton). It had a great rolling beat of an almost glam rock fashion, and research suggests it might be called 'The Sexy Side of You' (though I remember it as 'You're Making Me Wonder', so maybe they should release it as a single called 'The Sexy Side of You (You're Making Me Wonder)'). DISCLAIMER: While I am saying that I enjoyed this song in the live context, I am not saying that I like it more than other P-Funk classics, nor that I fancy acquiring the record on which it appears.

I should also mention Clinton's preternaturally attractive granddaughter, who came on for one song and rapped serviceably in a Betty Boo styleeee.

So yeah, deadly stuff. Mike my funk the P-funk.

everything everything everything

I have been thinking in terms of going to the forthcoming concert by UNDERWORLD which is taking place, I believe, in the Tripod on the 4th October. Maybe I will find the wherewithal to really get into the music. Oh the nostalgia.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Police Dog Saves Woman

Jake is three year old Alsatian who works with the Northumbria Police. He recently saved a woman's life by finding her in bushes, in which she had collapsed, just an hour after she was reported missing.

"The fact the woman was found so quickly undoubtedly saved her life," remarked PC Alistair Cairnie-Coates, who works with Jake. "Jake knew he'd done well because he sensed the sheer feeling of relief that we all had when this woman was eventually located."

Jake lived in animal rescue centre before joining the police force. He had originally been found as a seven week old puppy, tied to a lamppost after having been abused by fireworks.

More: Police dog saves collapsed woman

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Old Story

Back in 2002, an unnamed labrador-alsatian cross fell into the River Tees in Middlesbrough. The dog got into difficulties, and seemed likely to be about to drown. Passers-by were horrified, and seemed unable to help.

But then a seal appeared, and helped the dog to the shore. The seal, and two of its friends, then watched the dog on the shore until the fire brigade arrived to look after him. "It was just like the dog had a guardian angel", reported eye witness Chris Hinds.

More on this story, including a stock image of a seal: Seal saves drowning dog

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Black Cross

I've been listening to the JUSTICE album a lot lately, especially on vinyl sunday. It is totally awesome. I will review it properly in due course, but for now I say acquire it as soon as possible so that you can be cooler than your loser friends.

As you know, JUSTICE are the people who remixed Simian's rubbish 'Never Be Alone' into the totally brilliant 'WE! ARE! YOUR FRIENDS!'

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Best Film Title Ever

Django Nudo und die lüsternen Mädchen von Porno Hill

It is a sequel (of sorts) to Django. I'm not sure where it fits into Django continuity with the 100 other sequels.

Apparently Takashi Miike is remaking Django with an 11th century Japanese setting, Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars style.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Dog Protects Swimmers

Bilbo the Dog is a Newfoundland who works on Cornish beach of Sennen, helping swimmers who get into difficulty and making sure people stay away from dangerous currents. Tourist Lein Snippe was threatening to go swimming in a deceptively dangerous stretch of water when Bilbo came to the rescue, swimming in front of her and doing his best to keep her out of the water. "Basically he was telling me 'don't do it'," the BBC reports Ms Snippe as saying.

Newfoundlands like Bilbo apparently have a natural talent for rescue work. Bilbo works as part of a team with a number of humans.

Bilbo advises visitors to Sennen to always swim between the flags.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Earl Brutus 'Gypsy Camp Battle'

This is on the b-side to a single called 'Universal Plan'. One of the band looks like yer man from evil death film Old Boy. I think one of some of them used to be in World of Twist. This music is insistently beaty, but also perhaps intrinsically b-side material, so I cannot use it to recommend Earl Brutus to you.

AND THIS IS THE LAST IN MY B-SIDES SERIES. Just as well, b-sides are rubbish.

What is this bird?

Does anyone know what this fellow is? He (or she) was hanging out with the swans on the canal two winters ago. At the time I thought he was a goose of some sort, but now I am wondering if he might be some exotic species of swan.

When the swans went away for the summer, he hung around for a bit on his own, and then he flew away too. I was hoping he would come back the following winter, but he has not been seen since.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sebadoh 'Hank Williams'

This is a b-side to 'Not Too Amused', and it is a Jason Lowenstein composition. It sounds wrong at both 33 & 1/3 and 45 rpm. You never get that kind of thing with Lou Barlow songs, illustrating why everyone in Sebadoh except Lou RoXoR. This track is crazy, man – crazy.

Hey wait, now it has turned into a rough version of the a-side… not so sure about this.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Mountain Goats 'New Chevrolet In Flames'

This is a b-side to 'See America Right', and it features yer man from ILX delivering another lyrics heavy track, with the musical accompaniment having an almost bar band quality in its retro basicness. I'm not sure that I really get The Mountain Goats… can someone explain them to me?

Theatre: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

I saw this performed onstage in the Gate Theatre. I became interested in Sweeney Todd some twenty years ago, so it was great to finally see it. As you may be aware, this is the Stephen Sondheim musical theatre piece about a barber who cuts people's throats and then has the bodies turned into pies. The play has a Gothic cast to it, with Todd being primarily motivated by revenge, and the main villain being a corrupt judge driven by base sexual lusts. It all reminds me of The Crow, particularly the stage version of it that I saw once years back. It was also somewhat reminiscent of the award-winning production of Titus Andronicus they had in the Project a while back; this is not so surprising, as they were both directed by Selina Cartmell.

The songs are great too, and it's nice that they keep doing the best one over and over again. The stage set was a thing of wonder… Todd appearing out of the floor got me every time.

The dark humour in this is pretty chortlesome. I particularly liked the way Todd manages to despatch a succession of ridiculously maned victims for crimes against hair. Maybe the guy from Betamax Format should pay him a visit? It is not all roffles, though, and the play does end with the kind of totally emo ohmigod nooooooo ending you more usually get in opera (or Crisis on Infinite Earths).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pride and Integrity. Manly.

President Vladimir Putin is on holidays in Siberia. Joining him are Prince Albert II of Monaco (above, centre) and Sergei Shoigu, Minister for Emergency Situations (above, far right).

Dmitry Astakhov took these pictures. For more of them, see Vladimir Putin Goes Fishing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Heroes of the Internet #4: The Get-A-Brain-Morans Guy

Some might call him a facist, but this proud American has had it up to here with morans and is not afraid to let his feelings show.

He was also a late appearer at Rick Santorum's concession speech. He let it be known what he thought of Pennsylvania's electorate, on the day democracy died.

I'm doing my part!

The ILXOR.COM domain is down (reputedly for registration lapsing reasons), but there are other paths to the same end: and Work remains unnecessary.

I may have to edit all my Rick Santorum references to make them point to the correct location.


I went to a concert by well-known Japanese band Ghost, but I will start by talking about the first support band, who were called Seadog. Or maybe Sea Dog. They were a bunch of young lads in sailor suits who played music that was like an odd mix of pretentious out-rock and Thin Lizzy. The latter element came from their twin lead guitar onslaught and distinctly Lizzy-esque guitar lines. I thought they were great crack and would love to see them again.

The next support band were Betamax Format. Or maybe they were called Betamax, as their singer suggested they have renamed themselves. They had funny haircuts, particularly the main guy, whose elegant coiffure looked like you could take it on and off like a hat. Someone told me they are kind of trendy, but I thought they were a bit meh.

As indeed I thought Ghost. OK, so I have heard what Scott has to say about these alleged sensations, but I had to go and find out for myself. They are somewhat uninspiring, for all that you have to admire their stage presence and musicianship etc. (I also heard from one of the ladies present that they are all good looking fellows, particularly the astonishingly tall Mr Ghost, but I would not know anything about that, being 100% heterosexual). I don't know, maybe my palette has been over exposed to wig-out guitary weirdo music that new examples of the genre do not excite any more, or maybe Ghost are just a bit tame (as weirdo music goes).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Sixth Doctor: "Terror of the Vervoids"

One of my friends once asserted that much of the Vervoids' terror came from their having vaginas on their heads. Many were more perturbed by Bonnie Langford arriving to play the Doctor's new companion.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Xingu the dog has two noses. He lives in the village of Ojaki in Bolivia, where his best friend is a wild pig named Gregory. Other single-nosed dogs sometimes snarl at him because he is different, but he sees them off. "He's very intelligent and with a wonderful sense of smell" reports Colonel John Blashford-Snell.

Xingu's mother Bella also has two noses.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Discordia 'Discordians Get Creative'

This track appears on the flip of 'Discordia's Brazilian Ambassador'. Does anyone know anything about this lot? I think I bought their record solely on the basis of the band name and its cover. It sounds like downbeat electronica track with some live instruments thrown in, but maybe I am completely misreading it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Wedding Present 'UFO'

When the Wedding Present were doing a 7" single every month for a year, they decided it would be a cracking jape to include cover versions as the b-side. With 'The Queen of Outer Space' they gave us this - the theme tune from the Gerry Anderson live action TV series. It is very short.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bad Loser

From an ILX thread on New Wave by The Auteurs. Which reminds me, I am meant to be working on a Best of Luke Haines compilation.

Manic Street Preachers 'Motown Junk'

This may originally have been their first single, but I have it as a b-side to 'Slash 'n' Burn'. I asked previously what people ever saw in the Manics. This is it – an incendiary piece of insistently irresistible glam metal that manages to be simultanaeously throwaway and epic. This is easily the best song the Manics ever recorded, and I don't think it is on any of their albums, not even the best ofs.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Minimalist fun in Drogheda

Back in 1649, Oliver Cromwell's army stormed the city of Drogheda. The defenders were a mix of English Royalists and Irish Confederates. They had declined to surrender when Cromwell arrived, so Cromwell's army massacred them. Some of the defenders barricaded themselves into St. Peter's Church; Cromwell's troops set fire to the building, burning to death those inside. Cromwell wrote back to London that one of those inside cried out: "God damn me, God confound me; I burn, I burn".

I found myself in the same church, now restored, at the beginning of May. As part of some crazy arts festival taking place in Drogheda, well-known minimalist composer Terry Riley was in town, with the musical aspect of the festival being focussed on his work. Please bear in mind that I am a total slackass who did not take any notes, and that this was all some time ago, so my report on the event now is going to be a bit sketchy.

The performance stated with Riley playing away on a piano while doing funny vocal noises. This all reinforced the sense of Riley as the crazy hippy of the classical music world. Then he played some piano while his son Gyan (or Norbert, as some unkindly dubbed him) played on guitar. This section was not popular with everyone, though I recall enjoying it.

After an interval, Riley was joined by the Crash Ensemble (now seemingly without the one of them I met at a wedding). First they performed a piece with the grandiose name of 'Loops For Ancient-Giant-Nude-Hairy-Warriors Racing Down The Slopes Of Battle'. I gather this was somewhat inspired by the landscape in that part of the world, the nearby megalithic sites with their spiral patterns, and stuff like the Gaelic legend of the Táin Bó Cúailnge (much of which is set in those parts).

This was relatively short, and followed by the main event – a performance of 'In C'. This is one where a certain knowledge of how the piece works musically helps in its appreciation. Basically, Riley wrote the music as a series of modules. The musicians (who can be playing any instrument) all start off together playing and repeating the first module. When any of them wants to, they can move on to the next module. And then on to the next. The piece ends when all the musicians have reached the last module and played it together for a bit. So the overall piece will be a bit different every time it is played, even though it is a composed piece where the musicians are playing the notes they are told to play. It is like improvisation and robot musician music, together at last.

Of course, fascinating concepts can make for less than exciting music (isn't this what people say about Schoenberg?). In this case, though, the music delivered the goods, with 'In C' turning out to be a shimmering, hypnotic, sorcerous mass of music. I found myself being transported to another dimension of consciousness by it. I recommend it strongly if you ever get a chance to see it performed. The one downside was that it maybe went on a bit, perhaps because some of the Crash Ensemble were not keeping up and staying too long on the early modules. In an of itself this would not be a bad thing, in that the piece was very enjoyable to listen to, but it did mean that we did not get out to the delightful pub across from the church before closing time.

The great lesson I learned from this concert is that music festivals are way more crack if they are focussed on composers you can get to show up to your festival. I reckon that the Living Music people should tell any composers that if they want to be the star of their festival then they had better be prepared to show up. Basically, it is way more fun to applaud a work if the composer is there to smile back at you.

The more general lesson I learned is that Drogheda, and county Louth generally seems bizarrely to be a hotbed of interest in contemporary music generally. They are bringing over some funny Estonian lot in September to play more crazy music (while I will be in Amsterdam, sadface). The good folk of the Louth Contemporary Music Society are also piggy-backing on the next Living Music festival to get Arvo Pärt up to press the flesh there next year. I almost wish I lived in Drogheda (its signal lack of restaurants would rather put me off the place, though).

Book: "Shadows Over Baker Street"

This is a collection of short stories in which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson find themselves battling Lovecraftian horrores, with many "My God! The Necronomicon!" moments. The stories are a bit patchy and suffer badly from the Stupid-Watson approach used by bad Conan Doyle adapters. One particularly rubbish piece is a story called 'A Study In Emerald' by Neil Gaiman; it managed to bag a Hugo award, suggesting that they will throw a prize to any old crap if it's written by someone famous.

There are some good stories in here, though, and the general sense of the volume is fundamentally enjoyable. John Pelan's 'The Mystery of the Worm' is impressive for its use of the sheer scary awesomeness of the Lovecraftian world, the sense that there are some forces best not tampered with; it also features Fu Manchu as an unnamed off screen minor character. Barbara Hambly's 'The Adventure of the Antiquarian's Niece' also manages to combine the genres well, and may yet find itself adapted into a Cthulhu Gaslight scenario.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood 'One February Friday (diseased musos meet little charmers)'

This b-side to 'Two Tribes' allows The Lads from FGTH to expound their philosophy of life, answering questions from that cockfarmer Paul Morley over a semi-musical backing. Like Momus, these people were wasted as musicians, and it is small wonder they went on to far greater fame as men of letters and cultural commentators.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Sword of the Lord of Fury

I got on a bit of a roll with stuff to do with India after reading Mike Dash's book, so with a book token birthday present I acquired a copy of William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal. Dalrymple is an author I have been interested in for a while, hearing good things about his books From the Holy Mountain (an account of travels in modern Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon, tracing the religious history of these places) and The White Mughals (about early officials of the East India Company who took local wives, adopted local customs, sometimes converted to Islam, and generally went native; it is referenced approvingly in Thug). The Last Mughal is about Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor. Originally the East India Company acknowledged the Mughal Emperor as its real or notional overlord, but by the 1850s, the septuagenarian Zafar was a 'chessboard king', ruling in Delhi over a court of literary and artistic luminaries but with no real power whatsoever. The Company had furthermore given notice that they were going to block the succession of his heirs and terminate the reign of his dynasty.

If The Last Mughal was a badly written melodramatic play, there would be a couple of scenes setting forth what I have outlined previously, and then suddenly someone would run onstage shouting "My Lords! The Indian Mutiny has begun!". This is essentially what happened, with Indian troops of the Company in Meerut revolting against their officers and then charging to Delhi to massacre every Christian they could find, but sparing British converts to Islam (some of him became enthusiastic supporters of the rebellion). The mutineers the Emperor to lead them and, deciding that he had nothing to lose, Zafar gave the rebels his blessing, so becoming the titular head of the greatest anti-colonial struggle the world has ever seen.

That's about as far as I have got in the book thus far, but given that Zafar is indeed the last Mughal then it is safe to predict that the uprising is eventually crushed and everything goes a bit sadface. The book thus far is great crack, both the picture of Delhi before the mutiny and then as the sword of the Lord of fury is unleashed being fascinating. Dalrymple has apparently used Indian sources on the Mutiny that no one else has bothered to use before, making this the first account of the struggle to seriously engage with the Indian side.

It is also a book with some great vignettes. My current favourite is the description of some English officers impatiently waiting for their dinner, only to hear one General Nicholson introduce himself with a cough before saying "I am sorry, gentlemen, to have kept you waiting for your dinner, but I have been hanging your cooks". Likewise, the antipathy of one John Lawrence for junior Company officials of a "cakey" character is also rather chortlesome.

If you have been to India then maybe you have seen some of the places described in the book. I understand that the Red Fort (Zafar's palace) still just about stands in Delhi.

LATER – the book gets very sadface when the rebellion collapses and the British storm Delhi and kill everybody. Anti-colonial struggles are much more entertaining to read about when it is colonisers being kebabbed. Oh well, such is life. Zafar ends up seeing almost his entire family exterminated, but was taken alive himself by the British and sent into exile in Burma. While there he reputedly wrote a mopey poem about how bad his life had turned out: My heart is not happy