Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

UTRECHTER GEPUURKEN

Ali Jihad Racy & Simon Shaheen Taqasim: Improvisation in Arab Music
Adel Salameh Master of the Oud
Moneim Adwan Il Était Une Fois En Palestine

These are three records I bought in the delightful Xango World Music shop in Utrecht. Or, rather, the first two are. The third was erroneously included in the CD case of the Adel Salameh record (in place of the actual disc), though I was able to subsequently change it for the correct one, thanks to Xango's no hassle exchanges policy, though not before ripping it to my computer heh heh heh.

I have been interested in oud music for some time now, the oud being a stringed instrument popular in the Arab world. My beloved has bought a couple of oud CDs over the years, but they leaned towards being false oud (with Hamza el Din's playing being marred by his vocals (reminiscent of a sex-starved cat) and Anouar Brahem allowing some jazzers to dilute his oud attack). I bought the Adel Salameh record and the Taqasim album in the hope of getting some real deal stringy Arabic music, and I was not disappointed.

Salameh's record is all oud all the time, with no interference from vocals or other musicians. The Taqasim record is a collaboration between Shaheen, an oud player, and Racy, a player of the bouzouki (another stringed instrument, with a much higher sound, one in some ways similar to that of a mandolin, though you already know this); their record is a collection of taqasim (singular = taqsim), a type of improvised piece in this type of Arabic music. Salameh's records is obviously the more minimal of the two, as Shaheen and Racy do at least get to play off each other with their different sounding instruments. The sleevenotes to this record say, however, that the (Greek) bouzouki is not a standard instrument in the Arab world, and that this might actually be the first ever recording of oud-bouzouki taqasim. Blimey.

The overall effect of both of these records is very soothing, with the plucked strings of the oud and bouzouki being very easy on the ear. At this stage I cannot really say much more about these records, and will have to listen to them further to discern more details about the internal structures of each piece.

I cannot tell you that much about the Moneim Adwan record. It features a much larger line-up of musicians and thus has a more immediately textured line-up. Without sleevenotes I can tell you little about when it was recorded or what kind of musical genre it falls into. I need to listen to it more so I can form a fuller impression of it, so maybe I will be back to you on this next time.

It is interesting that both Adel Salameh and Simon Shaheen are both Palestinians (from Nablus and Haifa respectively). Maybe the Palestinians are particularly well-known for their oud playing. It could be that it was the Palestinian association that led to my originally getting the Moneim Adwan record instead of Adel Salameh's.

As an aside, what would really have rocked would have been if I had ended up with an accidental disc of that Palestinian boom rave music my beloved kept hearing when she was in Ramallah in 2005. That sounded deadly.

THE GIANT RAT OF WEST PAPUA

In a lost valley in West Papua, scientists have discovered A GIANT RAT.






They have also discovered a pygmy possum, who may be one of a previously unknown species. "I wuv you", the pygmy possum is reported as saying.

Pictures from the BBC. Would you like to know more?

Chris De Burgh reaches out to Iran

Popular Irish singer Chris De Burgh is reportedly going to play a concert in Iran. Mr De Burgh will apparently be the first western pop artist to perform there since the 1979 revolution. He will be collaborating with Iranian act Arian.

Some songs that Chris could perform:

'Crusader'

'Blonde Hair, Blue Jeans'

'If Beds Could Talk'

'Lebanese Night'

Chris seems to be rather popular with people in Iran and other Muslim countries. Check out the comments here: Chris de Burgh Lyrics.

As well as being a musician, Chris De Burgh is also possessed of healing hands that can reduce the suffering of those in pain.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Boulez Shame

My beloved has accused me of embracing Serialism, as evidenced by my new fondness for using rules to generate compilation CDs.

Computers Don't Lie

One great thing about iPods and iTunes is the way you can use them to objectively analyse what music you like (other music solutions might have similar functionality). As iTunes will list how many times you have listened to a track, your actual listening preferences are laid bare. You might like to say that you spend your time listening to Tibetan necro-jazz, but iTunes makes plain that you are really listening to the greatest hits of Hanson on endless repeat. The iTunes play counts will of course bias towards the kind of music you like to listen to when away from a proper music player, but this serves to point out how much listening is done on the move.

That was all by way of introduction. This Christmas I am using iTunes smart playlists to generate rules-based compilation CDs which I will then give to people who have similar discs to give back. I will burn up copies of the following three discs:

1. New Favourites
This will have the most played tracks I have added to iTunes in the last 12 months.

2. All-Time Favourites
This will have the tracks on iTunes that I have played the most since the dawn of time.

3. Forgotten Favourites
This sadface disc will have the most played tracks not listened to in the last year. What went wrong with these tunes?

Random factors will determine who gets which disc.

Do you want to play this game? If you do, make sure to enclose a tracklisting with your CD.

Previous iPod favourites:

Favourite Tunes (as of 21/12/2006)

iPod Top Ten (as of 4/5/2006)

iPod Top Ten

Friday, December 14, 2007

NOM NOM NOM!

Naughty dog Charlie, a bichon frise*, caused near disaster at the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan. Charlie sneaked into where the pies were being prepared and ate twenty of them and damaged another ten.

Another source of pies was located. In an ironic development, Charlie was then entered into the competition, but he was too full to compete successfully.

Picture from the BBC article: Dog jeopardises pie championships

*a completely made up breed of dog.

Two records from the "Éthiopiques" series

v/a Éthiopiques 1: L'Age D'Or De La Musique Éthiopienne Moderne"
Gétatchèw Mèkurya Éthiopiques 14: Negus of Ethiopian Sax

Two more discs of Ethiopian jazz from the 1960s and 1970s to add to the collection, bought by my beloved and/or me at the concert where The Ex played with Gétatchèw Mèkurya in Amsterdam. Éthiopiques 1 features a lot more vocal stuff than I am used to from the series, while the Mèkurya disc is more typical of what I expect from the series (I know all about Les Éthiopiques, having previously acquired Éthiopiques 4 and a vinyl record compiling various Ethiopian jazz tracks).

One thing I am struck by with a lot of these tracks is how reggae-ish some of them sound, at least to my untrained ears. I wonder, could the proto-reggae musicians and producers in Jamaica have all taken their Rastafarianism seriously enough to take an interest in Ethiopian jazz? That would be mad.

Anyway, these records are great. You can't beat the Ethiopian jazz.

Overheard in HMV

"What's Bruce Springsteen doing among all the people beginning with S?

"Maybe it's something to do with the Irish alphabet".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Heroes of the Internet #5: the Black-People-Love-Us couple

Sally and Johnny are an ordinary white couple, unexciting in every way, except one - Black people love them!!! Thanks to this, they get to lead a life of continuous excitement, in which they give each other high fives and say "you da man!" to their many Black friends.

You don't believe it? Check out the pictures, or the testimonials from their many Black friends.

Unlike many Heroes of the Internet, they are not known to have been present for Rick Santorum's concession speech.

Trapped in the Closet latest


I have seen TITC episodes 13 - 22 and can reveal the following:

1. Twan's former girlfriend, the woman he suspected of grassing him up to the cops, turns out to have had his child while he was in prison.

2. But said former girlfriend is now dyking.

3. Rufus the Pastor has decided to stay with his wife and renounce his gay lover.

4. But said gay lover is in hospital - and like all gay people who go to hospital, he is not there because he is getting his appendix out, but because he has The Package.

5. This means that everyone in TITC is in big trouble.

And Will Oldham plays a cop.

EDIT: It is in fact an inference of characters in TITC that Pastor Rufus' gay lover is in hospital because he has The Package; the Nosy Neighbour and her comedy chubster husband have deduced that this, rather than some routine tests, is what has him in the sickhouse. They have also taken it for granted that he must have given The Package to Rufus. Who knows, maybe TITC will prove to have misdirected them.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Big Bear


Icebear Knut is now a year old. He is a very big bear now.

Here he is today. And here he is when he first appeared in public.

Knut found time to blog about his birthday.

Picture from the BBC. Knut's surprisingly dark looks come from his fondness for rolling in mud.

I Know All About The Visual Arts

Last night I was out in the Irish Museum of Modern Art where this Anne Madden person was giving a talk about painting and art and stuff. It was only half way through her talk that I registered that she was not just a commentator on the arts, but an artist herself. And it was only afterwards that I registered that the husband named Louis she mentioned is in fact Louis Le Brocquy (also an artist). I have heard that they live quite near me, so maybe I will run into them in Devitt's sometime.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Good Dog, Old Cat

Ghillie the springer spaniel is to receive a PDSA bravery award later this month. Two years ago, when he was just nine months old, Ghillie saved his owner's life. The owner, Mary Wilson, had collapsed while they were out for a walk, but Ghillie barked to attract the attention of passers by, leading to Ms Wilson being rushed to hospital for life-saving treatment.

Pussywillow of Shropshire, meanwhile, is believed to be Britain's oldest cat. The 26 year old lived a semi-feral existence until four years ago, when a human family let her move in after she survived a fox attack. Pussywillow likes to curl up by the stove.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Diplomacy

I am adjudicating a game of Diplomacy. This is the boardgame based on the timeless wisdom of political realism (this might be a more informative link). Here is a map showing the situation, with the next turn being spring 1904:
Two of the countries are being played by siblings. Can you guess which two?

live music: Gétatchèw Mèkurya and the Ex get together in the Paradiso in Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam recently for a celebration of Frank's APA reaching 100 issues. Many of us who were there went to see Gétatchèw Mèkurya and The Ex playing together.

Just to refresh, Gétatchèw Mèkurya is an Ethiopian jazzer, while The Ex are a long-lived Dutch punk band. At this gig they were joined by Mèkurya and a couple of other brass players (Mèkurya is a saxophonist). I do not know exactly how The Ex got into Ethiopian jazz, but it seems to have become a real thing of theirs – if you go their concerts they are as likely to be selling copies of Les Éthiopiques as their own records. They recorded an album with Mèkurya recently, and are no strangers to collaboration generally, having previously recorded an album (and probably played some live dates) with a small orchestra. The Ex's music is far less straight-jacketed than their status as a "punk" band might suggest, and even on their own their music has a fluidity that makes an association with them and musicians from looser traditions highly appropriate.

So I loved this gig. The music has a bouncy and incredibly dancey quality that made sitting still or chin-stroking nigh impossible. For maybe the first time with The Ex I found myself really seeing the point of the singer, with his interventions strongly assisting the beat as it pounded along its way; I missed him when songs did not require him. This was all more fun than I could shake a stick at, and I am only sorry it did not go on for even longer.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Mangal Pandey: The Rising"

On the other hand, there are good films in the world, notably this one. Henry The Cow will not be too surprised to learn that it has an anti-colonial theme, being about Mangal Pandey, one of the first Indian soldiers to mutiny against the rule of the British East India Company in 1857. I will talk about it at more length later, but for now I can say that I have enjoyed my first Bollywood film.

Picture from the Wikipedia entry on the film.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Comics Round Up 29/11/2007

This week I have decided to write about the comics I have bought before I read them, so you can understand my expectations.

Dan Dare by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine

I like olde comics, so I am a sucker for this kind of Dan Dare reprint. This is written by Garth Ennis, someone I am pretty down on at the moment, but I reckoned I had to buy issue one, just so I could be disappointed by it. I wonder will Ennis insert some of his trademark homophobia and "ironic" sexism into the story?

Still, it could be that Ennis is at his best when engaging in pastiche of olde comics… a lot of the war stuff he has done over the last while has been quite impressive – I'm thinking here of some of the later war comics he did for DC (though not that moronic Adventures of the Rifle Brigade), or Battler Britton. The latter was like the kind of war comic I used to read when I was small, except that it was a lot better.

I nevertheless suspect that reading this issue will make me want to rush out and buy that Rian Hughes comic book with the Dan Dare story he drew to Grant Morrison's script.

Gotham Underground by Terri, Calafiore, and Purcell

Erm, why did I buy this again? It looks like a comic about second division loser supervillains and criminals in Gotham City. Maybe it will be like Gotham Central, only for the bad guys.

All Star Batman & Robin (the Boy Wonder) by Frank Miller and Jim Lee

Like the superior All Star Superman, the idea of this is to get giants of the form working on one of the flagship characters. I have bought the last couple of issues, maybe enjoying the art more than the story. This one has The Joker on the cover, so maybe this will get very exciting.

2000 AD Extreme Edition written by Tom Tully, drawn by a variety of artists, the most famous of whom is Steve Dillon

2000 AD Extreme is where they reprint the weirder and less remembered old 2000 AD strips. This one features the first run of episodes in "The Mean Arena", one of those future sport strips they used to run in the Galaxy's greatest comic. This particular sport was Street Football, a thuggishly violent game played over abandoned city streets. This was a very second division strip, though it did have nice art (by some J. Richardson character) at first, and the story initially packed a reasonable amount of thrill power. Sadly, it all went kind of rubbish as the story went on and on and on, with the slide into shite artists not helping either. My recollection is that the really tiresome thing about the story was the way the rules of the game became more and more outlandish, partially because they were letting the readers make up teams for the protagonist team to play. Still, this issue only has the first run of episodes, so I can stop here and enjoy the thrill power.

A Warning To All Readers

Yesterday evening I went to see the film "Shrooms". It was shite. Do not go and see this film, unless you like bad films.

A more incisive commentary may eventually follow, but I felt it necessary, as a public service, to warn people of the danger they could be in if they were to see this disappointing film.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A New Kind of Hero

The Orange Order is attempting to reach out to young people by creating a superhero character for their organisation. At present this chap does not have a name, but they are open to suggestions from the public.

This is all oddly reminiscent of the little known comic character Captain IRA. He made some appearences during the Troubles, usually with his sidekick Seamus, the Boy Provo.

BBC News report (and source of illustration)

Where I heard about this astonishing story

"Dracula" and Hammer Horror

I have really got out of the cinema habit. It is quite conceivable that the only thing I have seen there is Dracula (the first Hammer version, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee). It features a lot of bombastic music and women who turn all sexy once Dracula has started doing his thing with them. It is not the best of the Hammer films (or even the Hammer Dracula films), but it is a good example of the Hammer template. I would love if cinemas would show more of these, with Dracula - Prince of Darkness, The Devil Rides Out, Brides of Dracula, Frankenstein Created Woman, Kiss of the Vampire, and Quatermass and the Pit being ones I would particularly like to see again. Is Countess Dracula (the one with Ingrid Pitt playing real life posho maniac Erzebet Bathory) a Hammer film? I never saw that one, but I reckon I would like it. The other unseen Hammer film I would love to catch is The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, an attempt to marry the Hammer-style vampire film with Chinese chop socky hopping vampire cinema. I gather it is seen as a failure, but the premise surely marks it as a work of genius.

Just in case you are not an aficionado of Gothic horror, Hammer were a British film company who evolved into a style of film based around eroticised versions of horror classics (though in so doing they were picking up on features always there in source material like Stoker's novel or Carmilla, Sheridan Le Fanu's lesbian vampire story). Typical Hammer features include: women in low cut tops, location non-specific central European settings, girls boarding schools in which the pupils are all played by women in their mid twenties who spend a lot of their time helping each other into their nightclothes, superstitious locals, bumptious comedy characters, numerous "My God!" moments, driven heroes almost as fanatical as their fiendish adversaries, surprisingly lush sets, bombastic music that often spells out the name of the main character, and so on. Hammer also made some other great films like The Wicker Man or The Nanny (this relatively obscure film featuring Bette Davis in particular highly recommended), but these do not fit the classic model. Nor do such frankly embarrassing attempts to update the genre as Dracula AD 1972 (Dracula and some hippy Satanists in swinging London, OMG) or The Beast Must Die* (big game hunter v. werewolves to blaxploitation soundtrack). But the classic Hammer films have a certain charm, even the duff ones, and I would love to see them again.
The pictures are from the Wikipedia entries for Dracula and The Vampire Lovers (an adaptation of Carmilla). I've not seen the latter, but it looks like a classic Hammer film.

This was meant to feature in the latest issue of Frank's APA, but somehow failed to do so.

*not actually a Hammer film, though it feels like one, or an attempt to do one set in the then present day

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"No! Let Me Drown - etc."

Scientists have found the claw of a PREHISTORIC GIANT SEA SCORPION. This abomination (the scorpion, not the claw) was larger than a modern human being, reports the BBC.

If you don't know what the "No! Let Me Drown - etc." title refers to, click here: No! The Pincers!

More

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ian Moore "Luminaria"

Frank's friend Rory Carr provided me with this addition to my collection of Ian Moore records. As you know, Mr Moore is this guy from Texas (possibly Austin Texas) who makes music that rocks out, albeit in a somewhat folky troubadourish kind of way. Because I am unique, I was initially somewhat perturbed by this fellow's arrival on the music scene, but my concern dissipated when he failed to become the kind of guy who plays the local enormodome. Listening to this album I think the same thing as with his others – Mr Moore is certainly not awesomely brilliant, but he is not dreadful either, and listening to his music is not unpleasant. On balance, though, this is not really my thing, and more than a couple of songs at a time can be a bit wearing.

I think I would actually prefer if my namesake was some totally awful cock-rocker. He could issue Zodiac Mindwarp style t-shirts with his name on them, and I could wear them and watch the ladies roll in. Mmmmm.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Irish Music action

This blog looks like it is potentially an interesting source of information and views on the brainy end of the Irish music scene: Forum for Music in Ireland - Fóram don Cheol in Éirinn

"The Journal of Music in Ireland"

I bought a copy of the Journal of Music in Ireland recently. This seems like an interesting magazine, being a kind of Irish Wire, albeit one more oriented towards contemporary classical music than the popular British magazine. The record reviews (including one by a former member of Frank's APA) seem to focus exclusively on Irish acts, presumably because you can hear about the others elsewhere, but the live reviews and so on cover a broader palette.

My own musical tastes are moving in this kind of direction at the moment, so I found much of what was in the magazine fascinating. Particularly engaging was an interview with some fiddle player guy called Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. His thing is that he has discovered sampling technology and is making music that he feels is rooted in Irish traditional music but moving so far beyond it that he does not bring the CDs of this music to sell at his more straight down the line gigs, for fear of being lynched by an army of geansaí wearers. He compared the way traditional music is approached here to the more innovative practices in the Nordic countries, especially Sweden; I wondered what he would make of all those Fonal bands from Finland. His big gripe with the Irish trad scene is that it is pretending that there is still an oral folkish tradition when there is not, and that there has been no development in the genre since the 1970s, with everyone being content to re-hash Planxty. The article was endearingly provocative, and it definitely made me interested in hearing Ó Raghallaigh's more innovative music. I did wonder, however, if in pushing against traditional music's envelope he has broken with genre conventions so much as to no longer be making anything we can still consider part of the world of Irish traditional music.

There was also a fascinating but problematic article by composer Raymond Deane about the relationship between classical and popular music, triggered by some remark of John Adams' that classical music starts to die when it loses touch with the vernacular. The problem I had with the article is that Deane does not really engage with "popular" music and seems to use this term to cover everything that is not classical music. As a result, he fails to register that non-classical music has its own avant-garde and "difficult" traditions that could not be described as popular in any real sense. He also implicitly creates a false dichotomy between rock musicians (who are all rolling in cash) and impoverished classical musicians, something that the vast majority of rock musicians who never make any money whatsoever would regard with wry amusement. I was going to write a letter on this subject to the JMI, but I have not got round to it yet, because I am a slackass.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

PLANET TERROR

I saw Planet Terror, the Robert Rodriguez half of the Grindhouse thing he did with with Quentin Tarantino. I will write about it in due course, but it will probably be gone from the cinema by the time I do that, as it is only on in two cinemas here in Dublin right at the moment, one of them at a strange time.

For now, all I need say about Planet Terror is: See It Now. Your very life might depend on it.

Picture from Wikipedia.

Little Bear In Big Trouble

The Sun Bear is the world's smallest bear, but it is also the bear at greatest risk of extinction. The Sun Bear lives in south east asia, but habitat loss has seen Sun Bear numbers decline by 30% in the last 30 years.

The BBC and the Guardian both have reports on the problems faced by the Sun Bear and other bears:

Concern grows for smallest bear (Sun Bear picture from here)
More bear species threatened with extinction

The Guardian also has a gallery in which the survival prospects of various bear species are discussed: Bears under threat

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three Records by Planxty lead me to A NEW GAME

Planxty The Well Below The Valley
Planxty Cold Blow and the Rainy Night
Planxty [Untitled first album]

My beloved bought these to play on her new iPod. Rather than talk about the music and all that on them, I will instead introduce you to THE PLANXTY DRINKING GAME. The rules for this are simple:
  • If the song mentions a soldier, take a drink
  • If the song mentions a beggar, take a drink
  • If the song mentions a young lady being relieved of her maidenhead, take a drink
  • If the song mentions a young lady being relieved of her maidenhead by a soldier, empty your glass
  • If the song mentions a poor Irish emigrant pining for his home, take a drink
  • If the protagonist of the song beats the shite out of someone, take a drink
  • If Andy Irvine sings about how sad he is because some stage of his life has passed, take a drink
  • If the song is called "As I roved out" take a drink
    And so on. Actually, these records are great, featuring excellent playing and excellent choice of tunes, mostly trad arrrrrs but the occasional Andy Irvine composition. And they also do well-known Provie classic 'Only Our Rivers Run Free', which is not actually from time immemorial but was written only the other day by some whiny nornie. I should not actually mock the old 'Only Our Rivers Run Free'… not merely do I value my kneecaps, it is also a rather gentle and affecting tune, not like the come-all-ye-s one normally associates with Irish patriotism. One great thing about this tune is that it makes its way into a RuneQuest scenario; I think it is in one of the Sun County or Shadows on the Borderlands books, though I am open to correction. These records merge into each other, so I have difficulty recommending one over another. The Well Below The Valley maybe wins thanks to the title track, a song that is musically charming and easy on the ear, while lyrically it is about incest and infanticide.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Man Marries Dog

    The BBC reports that Mr P Selvakumar, of Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu province in India, has married a dog named Selvi (pictured). Mr Selvakumar is endeavouring to atone for the stoning to death of two other dogs some years previously, an act that has led to him being cursed. It is not known if Selvi is trying to atone for the past biting of any humans.

    more: Man 'marries' dog to beat curse

    A Happy Christmas To All Readers

    OMG, Black Box Recorder have reformed and teamed up with some guy from Art Brut to record a Christmas single called 'Christmas Number One'. This is the best news ever. The song sounds great if you listen to it in fits and starts over a 56K modem.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    The Great Problem of Our Times

    I am getting really fed up with blogging websites where you have to register before you can leave comments.

    Lolbirds

    I discovered this blog on Irish Blogs the other day: ragamuffins

    If you like nice pictures of garden birds then check it out.

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Old Haines


    I have finally made a compilation of great Luke Haines tunes. If you would like a copy, let me know. I will eventually send it to you, having first checked that you are not a narc working for the record industry, or Luke Haines himself.

    I do not have a complete collection of music by Luke Haines, missing at least one of his solo albums and two of The Auteurs'. I do not have Das Kapital either, this being a weird compilation of his stuff he released himself, only with all the songs re-recorded with lush orchestral backing and then released with a cover indistinguishable from Brian Eno's Before And After Science. But I have a fair bit nevertheless. I list the tracks on the compilation below, with some notes. They are chronologically ordered, apart from the two that envelope the collection.

    Baader Meinhof
    'Baader Meinhof'

    This is from the concept album about the Red Army Faction that Haines released as Baader Meinhof, probably after reading either Tom Vague's Televisionaries the issue of Vague on those crazy West German ultra leftist nutjob revolutionaries who terrorised their country in the 1970s. This track is an odd bit of very sparse mutant funk with middle-eastern elements and handclaps in which Haines introduces the subject. The lyrics are perhaps incomprehensible to anyone who does not share Haines' interest in the RAF. If you need a primer, check out http://www.baader-meinhof.com/ . I love this tune a lot, though I did find myself wondering subsequently to what extent its recording was influenced by Felt's 'Space Blues'

    The Auteurs
    'Show Girl'
    'Bailed Out'
    'Early Years'

    These three are from New Wave, the first Auteurs album. I've picked more up-tempo numbers. These show off Haines' guitar playing and his rasping vocals. The great story about this album is that when it failed to win the Mercury Prize, Haines assaulted Brett Anderson of winners Suede, claiming that he had stolen the prize money.

    The Auteurs
    'Light Aircraft On Fire'
    'Child Brides'
    'Unsolved Child Murder'

    These are from After Murder Park, the fourth Auteurs album. This was produced by famous record producer Steve Albini. I find that Albini's spare sound suits the Auteurs well. 'Child Brides' is a particular favourite of mine, though 'Unsolved Child Murder' packs its own punch and always remains topical.

    Baader Meinhof
    'There's Gonna Be An Accident'
    'Kill Ramirez'

    More Baader Meinhof action. I don't get all the references, though 'Kill Ramirez is plainly about Carlos The Jackal.

    Black Box Recorder
    'Girl Singing In The Wreckage'
    'England Made Me'
    'Kidnapping An Heiress'

    These three are from England Made Me, the first Black Box Recorder album. This band saw Haines collaborate on songwriting with louche individual John Moore, while Sarah Nixey (the then Mrs Moore) provided vocals to songs largely written for her. It took me ages to get the lyrics of 'Kidnapping an Heiress' – for a long time I just saw them as a succession of somewhat threatening one liners ("And we're searching for your daughter", "Nine hundred dead in Jonestown", "And she's lying in the basement" etc.), though closer listening reveals this to be lyrically linked to the Baader Meinhof stuff, in that it is about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a bizarre episode that eventually saw Hearst changing her name to Tania and helping her former kidnappers to rob banks. As for 'England Made Me', while the Black Box Recorder is excellent, the solo version I once saw Haines perform live took it to a whole other level, making you finally understand the deeds that made the Empire.

    Black Box Recorder
    'The Art Of Driving'
    'The English Motorway System'
    'The Facts Of Life'

    The second Black Box Recorder was called The Facts of Life, and saw Haines and Moore writing loads of songs about driving and sexual comings of age. A lot of the male vocals on here sound like they are by John Moore, so maybe he did more of the writing? Or maybe not. Anyway, these three songs are great, but there are loads of other top tunes on the album, if this is the kind of thing you like.

    Black Box Recorder
    'The New Diana'
    'Andrew Ridgeley'

    These are from Passionoia, the third Black Box Recorder album. I do not like this one so much, feeling that it is a bit swamped by the poppy production they use on a lot of the tracks. 'Andrew Ridgeley' is a total classic, though, a hymn to the other one from Wham!. I wonder what he thinks of it?

    Luke Haines
    'Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop'
    'Leeds United'
    'Bad Reputation'

    These are from Haines' recent solo album Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop, the second or third album released under his name. Some of the songs, like the first one here, are quite popped up, but this seems to work better than with Passionoia. If you are very young or unfamiliar with English culture then maybe the second or third songs contain elements that pass you by. 'Leeds United' talks of a time in the 1970s when Leeds United were a serious force in football and Peter Sutcliffe was murdering women in and about the Red Light districts of Yorkshire towns. 'Bad Reputation' is about Gary Glitter, the 1970s pop star latterly more famous for nonce-crime, a figure so notorious that Haines has to point out at concerts that the song does not imply any sympathy for Mr Glitter. This song for me is a career highlight for Haines, with the delivery of lyrics like 'I was born to be a monster' dripping with malevolence.

    Baader Meinhof
    'Baader Meinhof'

    This is also from the Baader Meinhof album. Haines liked this tune so much that he did it twice, with this being the elegiac version in which Andreas Baader et al bemoan their failure.

    EDIT: I subsequently acquired the second Auteurs album and updated this compilation to include some tracks from it, but I am not going to bother fully editing this post to reflect the new tracklisting.

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Prison Love: "A Night In The Box"

    Wow, I seem to have forgotten to mention this record, which is a shame as it is most excellent. Prison Love are a local cajun bluegrass old-timey band who play both actual old-timey songs and ones from other genres given the treatment (e.g. 'The Ace of Spades' or 'The Auld Triangle' (only one of which features on this record). They are to be saluted for continuously reminding us of how enjoyable this music is, and I urge all right thinking people to buy this record. Claddagh Records sell it (and they host the picture of the album cover as well).

    WORLD'S GREATEST FESTIVAL FOUND!


    Nepal is currently celebrating the festival of Tihar, the local version of Diwali. The second day of the feast is known as Kukar Tihar; on this day the Nepalese honour the country's dogs.

    It's all down to some religious thing in the Mahabharat, where dogs accompanied some Dharmaraj Yudhisthir guy to heaven. Or maybe it's because dogs guard the underworld. Either way, the dogs are not complaining. On this great day they are garlanded with flowers and given lots of treats to eat. Even street dogs - normally treated rather badly and lucky to scrape a living from scraps - are fêted on Kukar Tihar.

    The BBC has more on this festival: In pictures: Nepal dogs honoured

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Doctor Who and THE DAY OF THE DALEKS

    In an oh-the-nostalgia kind of way, I am re-reading this classic Terrence Dicks adaptation of a Pertwee-era Doctor Who story. This was always one of my favourites of the Target novelisations, and it still has it. The story is one of those ones about people from the future coming back in time to change their past. In this case, the future is one where a nuclear war left the world so weakened that the Daleks were able to come along and take over, herding the survivors into monster concentration camps and forcing them to engage in back-breaking toil for unspecified Dalek purposes.

    The two best things in this are the future resistance people and The Controller, the Daleks' quisling administrator of what was once Britain. The resistance people are plainly modelled on the kind of ker-azzy urban guerrilla and Palestinian militant types you have knocking around in the 1970s, with their favourable portrayal mirroring the almost film star qualities of people from then like Carlos The Jackal or Leila Khaled. At the same time, the book is not afraid to portray some of them as being just a bit too driven in their commitment to the freedom struggle. And in an interesting touch, they all have Middle Eastern sounding names.

    The Controller, meanwhile, is probably the book's most complex and sympathetic character. His job involves being permanently bossed around by the Daleks and threatened with extermination should he fuck up, but for this he gets status and various little luxuries that his enslaved fellow humans can only dream about. Much of the book is told from his point of view, so you get a lot of the rationalisations he uses for self-justification. The Daleks are invincible, after all, so he might as well make the best of it for himself. And as Controller, he can do little things here and there to make the lot of the humans slightly less terrible. Or so he thinks.

    Some years after reading this for the first time, I actually saw The Day of the Daleks on video. Like most Pertwee era Doctor Who, it was pretty rubbish. The lesson I have learned from this is simple – for Doctor Who from before Tom Baker, stick to the Target novelisations.

    (book cover from the Wikipedia page on Day of the Daleks)

    If you would like to read more about Day of the Daleks without bothering to read the book itself, the Kaldor City people have an article about it: Day of the Daleks, but Alan Stevens with Fiona Moore. The are looking more at the TV series than the book, and there is a worrying air of Continuity Nerdism about the article, but it does give a taster.

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Taking Sides: Mr Brain's Pork Faggots v. Pork Brains in Milk Gravy

    12 Products From Hell. And it's not all tasty food - the stick-on Joke Breasts are like something Otto Sump would come up with. My eyes.

    Link from Jim's Occasional Journal of Sorts

    film: "In the Shadow of the Moon"

    I saw that film this evening. It is about the so-called moon landings, and features many interviews with the so-called astronauts the authorities claim to have landed there. They did mention those who suggest that the entire Apollo programme was plainly faked by the US government to divert attention from the Vietnam war, but only in a dismissive and off-hand manner.

    If only they had looked at the real evidence. Do not follow that link if you are not open minded.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Ulster Says "Hello Sailor!"

    Andrew Sherman reports on the passing of Sammy Cuddy, Loyalist paramiliatary by day, ribald drag queen Samantha by night: Obituary for a terrorist

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Oldest Living Animal Killed

    The BBC reports that Icelandic fishermen have killed what is believed to have been the world's oldest living animal, a clam.

    I know all about bicycles

    I discovered yesterday that the thing I thought was my gear changer is actually a bell.

    The Sixth Doctor: "The Ultimate Foe"

    This is Colin Baker's last, and the last of the Trial of a Timelord. In this one the trial is over, and for no obvious reason the Doctor disappears in the Matrix, a weirdo computer generated landscape of existential threat. This one seemed a good bit more enjoyable than the rest of the Trial rubbish – it was baffling, absurdist, and reminiscent of the stranger episodes of The Prisoner (then very popular among my pals); the Prisoner similaries were heightened by it being revealed that the Timelord guy who was prosecuting the Doctor was actually the evil side of his personality from the future (or something).

    I will at some stage talk in general terms about the whole of the Colin Baker "Doctor Who" era. Stay tuned.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    The BBC reports on the 2007 Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition winner being announced. The winner is a spectacular picture of a bull elephant by one Ben Osborne, but my preference is for this picture taken by Patrick Corning of some Costa Rican squirrel monkeys.

    The Timeless wisdom of political realism


    "Guys, come on... do you not think this has gone on long enough?"

    Exciting News For All Readers!

    Blogger have finally introduced a new feature whereby people can choose when leaving comments to be notified of follow-up comments. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on people's commenting habits (I mean on other blogs people actually read, not this one).

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    When Journalists Attack

    I went to a talk last night by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. He has broken so many astonishing stories in the course of his career that his fellow journalists look like total slackasses in comparison.

    In his talk he said many interesting things that I should maybe talk about in my other blog. He also came across as a rather amiable fellow and nothing like the grumpster he is sometimes reported to be. Or at least he came across as amiable during the talk - when it came to the Question and Answer session another side of Mr Hersh emerged. The scene was set when he interrupted a stream of consciousness ramble by some Socialist Worker guy with a curt "Sorry, do you have a question?", and when the guy came back with something plainly a statement Hersh disdainfully said "Well, I disagree" and took the next question. Seymour Hersh is a hero to us all.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    What is Oink?

    In my day Oink was a comic for kids. Now I am old and writing what is in some sense meant to be a music blog, but over on Freaky Trigger Tom talks about something called Oink that has apparently busted in a manner significant for people who write music blogs. I have no idea what this Oink is. I am so out of the loop.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    "I've dropped my soup!"

    A post on Thinking Outside The Helicopter has got me thinking that the above phrase needs to have a rude double meaning, kind of like "I've dropped my chips!" does. I have not worked out what this other meaning is yet.

    Here, meanwhile, are some people who have "drunk their milk".

    EDIT: If Sealion bukake is the kind of thing your boss disapproves of then stay away from that second link while at work.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    When animals go fierce

    I have already mentioned Tasmanian Devils, animals so fierce that they are driving themselves to extinction. Their extreme ferocity is proving to be a greater threat to their continued existence than habitat loss, as their continuous fighting with each other is causing the spread of a virus that leads to them growing repulsive tumours in their mouths and dying of starvation. Scientists project that they will become extinct in the next couple of decades, unless they stop being so fierce. As a Tasmanian Devil move away from ferocity is not considered likely, the BBC reports that scientists are trying to move uninfected animals away from their infectious kin, in the hope that this allows the species to survive. I hope it does.

    In other fierce animal news, the BBC reports that India's notorious maqaque monkeys have claimed the life of SS Bajwa, Deputy Mayor of Delhi. He was set upon by some of the loutish animals, who forced him off a balcony to his death. This is only the latest and most extreme outrage perpetrated by this uncontrollable animals, believed by many to be embodiments of the God Hanuman. Inhabitants of Delhi are probably hoping that there is no repeat of the 2001 events, in which the city was terrorised by an entity that was half-man, half monkey, and all monster.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Looks Familiar?

    I know what you like

    I don't really know what you like, but I know what I like. I like Gallon Drunk. I've just seen them live, and they've still got it. Have you?

    Wikipedia knows all about Gallon Drunk.

    Exciting News For Cockfarmers!

    Attention Cockfarmers! Is it a source of great annoyance to you that you cannot make and receive Very Important Calls while travelling by air? Soon this annoyance could be a thing of the past, as the European Union moves towards the approval of a system that will allow for inflight mobile phone use.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    metalert

    Over on Freaky Trigger, yer man Tom Ewing has been doing a lot of musing about music blogs and all that. This reminds me of how this was originally meant to be a music blog, recycling stuff I had written elsewhere for the wider public of the blogoweb. Sadly, dogs and other animals intervened, making this a blog in which music only marginally appears. Maybe in retrospect I should have started yet another blog for the non-music stuff. Or whatever.

    I would post a link to what Tom was saying about music blogs, except that when you post a link to a Freaky Trigger post, you appear in the comments to said post with a link back, and basically you look like you are trying to pimp your blog. I would rather wait until I have something to pimp.

    Konono No.1 / Tarwater / Cas Pas Cap

    These were on the same bill as part of this strange free festival of stuff happening down in the docklands area of Dublin. This was during the summer, when I was meant to have been working on my thesis.

    Cas Pas Cap were on first, and were not that good at all. This was unfortunate, given the lineage of some of the band's members, but I didn't really like their record that much either (and in fact forgot to mention it until now). They combined annoying vocals with uninspiring chuggy music, although they did occasionally lock into an entertaining groove. But not entertaining enough.

    Tarwater are German fellows, who played electronic music and looked really kewl. Me bird liked them more than me, but even I was somewhat impressed by their cinematic sounds. Er, I can't actually remember anything about what they sound like, but I do remember thinking they were at least quite good.

    Konono No.1 – well, if are a member of Frank's APA and have been paying attention then you will understand that these people are the Congotronics sensations from Kinshasa who play thumb pianos through home made amps and loudspeakers, accompanied by multiple drumming and chanty vocals. I do not know how famous they are to people who are not yet part of our gang. On this occasion, the audience maybe took a while to get into this – but I did not, spending a lot of the time up the front, where the people near me hovered on the fringe of event people hell (doing a lot of photographing each other, and I think there were some of the Alps-Plane posse here too. But yeah, deadly stuff, I loved it… it was truly an honour to see these people, including Mr Konono himself, who was sporting the same shirt tonight that he does on the record.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    i can has light? & light wuz

    The Lolcat Bible.

    Link from Jim's Occasional Journal of Sorts

    Rather worryingly, I have found myself recently signing off work voicemail messages with "OK, thanks, bye".

    Small number of idiots spoil things for everyone

    The Dutch government are banning magic mushrooms, following some high-profile incidents where tourists over-indulged and made fools of themselves. Several people who need to get a brain have apparently jumped from upstairs windows and balconies, perhaps, somewhat stereotypically, thinking they could fly.

    There are no plans reported to ban alcohol, as drinkers never commit foolish or dangerous acts.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    ACHTUNG HUHNLANDWIRTER!

    One of the things I have been meaning to do since I started this blog is talk about Frank's APA, and how maybe it is something you might like to get involved with. I am not going to do this now either, but instead I will post a link that will perhaps make clear to the more sensible among you just way you should not be led astray by us: Apatatistische Gewalttäter

    The Things You Learn From Reading Blogs

    Ontario is the most populous province in Canada. They have just had some kind of election there. The local Conservatives are led by a Mr John Tory.

    The local Conservatives are officially the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Ban this evil fruit!

    The BBC reports that the cultivation of cheap strawberries for the UK (and, implicitly, Irish) market is driving Spain's lynxes to extinction (by lowering the water table in the wetlands in which these fury predators live). Will we wake up to the fruit menace before the Spanish lynx is extinct?

    Tom Murphy

    I read yesterday that the actor Tom Murphy has just died. You might know him as one of the eponymous characters in Adam & Paul. I knew Tom slightly in college, even treading the boards with him in a production of John Antrobus's Why Bournemouth? I never saw that much of his acting stuff since then (I still have not got round to seeing Adam & Paul), but he had seemed to have made something of a name for himself, winning Tony awards and stuff. I never begrudged him his success; this is not something I could say regarding the other people I knew back then who have gone on to greater things.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    v/a [Mercury Prize 2007 album of year competition compilation]

    I bought this because I realised that I am very out of touch with the young people's music. On a first couple of listens, the young people's music turns out to be rubbish.

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    "Mean Team"

    2000AD Xtreme features in its latest issue the complete Mean Team. This was one of those future sport stories they liked in 2000 AD. These future sports were always sub-Rollerball excuses for extreme violence, and this one was no exception. Or so it was initially - after a bit the titular Mean Team, who were all slaves or indentured servants of some sinister team boss, busted loose and escaped from the planet they lived on, making their way to the now abandoned planet Earth. At this point the story became incredibly strange, though not in a good way. My recollection is that Mean Team started promisingly enough, but then became one of the worst stories to ever appear in 2000 AD, rivalled only by the interminable Strontium Dog: Ragnarok or that forgettable suckass story about the taxi driver. Or anything featuring Durham Red. I'm almost tempted to buy the reprint, to see if Mean Team is as bad as I remember.

    v/a "From the Closet to the Charts: Queer Noises 1961-1978"

    This is a Jon Savage compiled record of music by homosexuals. It runs the gamut from tracks where the gayness involved is very oblique (or tongue in cheek) to in your face tracks like '53rd & 3rd', before finishing with some cheese-tastic disco nonsense as a way of celebrating the mainstreaming of gay culture, at least in music. A lot of these tracks are very novelty, and here as examples of a type of music rather than anything anyone would say is actually good music, but there are some great tunes here, notably Tornados b-side 'Do you come here often?' (Joe Meek releases an overtly gay record to a world that does not care).

    I suppose the track I most like on this is the one by Jobriath... he was some guy in the 1970s who was one of the first overtly gay pop stars (or would-be pop stars; his career tanked). His track suggests that he was some kind of genius who invented a new musical genre that combined pop with the baroque.

    The record has a nice sailor on the frontcover, so it might be useful to you for research purposes.

    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    Two albums by Talking Heads

    Two cheap ass Talking Heads purchases bring me ever closer to completion – or at least, completion of their good stuff. 77 is the debut, have not fully got to grips with it yet, but I do like the way some of the songs prefigure the African interest of peak era Talking Heads. 'Psycho Killer' is also excellent, one of the few Talking Heads songs that is not better on its Stop Making Sense. version. And as a civil servant, I appreciated the sentiments in 'Don't worry about the government'.

    Fear of Music is a somewhat redundant purpose, but I thought it would be nice to be able to listen to this on my iPod. This is the second of the band's three albums with Brian Eno, and one I think that maybe gets overlooked in comparison to Remain In Light. It is a most enjoyable record, if a rather sparse one. Last time I bought it (on vinyl), one of my then flatmates begged me to never play it when he was in the house. I still find this attitude strange – while I can imagine people not liking Fear of Music, I find it hard to comprehend that kind of visceral loathing. Such was life.

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    None more Black (Slight Return)

    Research reveals that MAYHEM's current line-up comprises NECROBUTCHER, BLASPHEMER, HELLHAMMER, ATTILA, and BRIAN.

    It is suspected that these may not be the band members' real names.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    None more Black

    Once upon a time there were three guys in a band. Their names were Dead, EURONYMOUS, and COUNT GRISCHNACHK. Their band were called MAYHEM. After a while, Dead got a bit bored with being in a band, so he blew his head off with a shotgun. Then EURONYMOUS ate some of his brain. COUNT GRISCHNACHK also got bored with being in the band, so he left and formed his own called BURZUM. He also changed his name to VARG VIKERNES. EURONYMOUS would have been all sad being in the band on his own, so VARG stabbed him to death and was thrown in jail, where he lives happily after. So who is playing in the Button Factory (formerly the Temple Bar Music Centre) on the 29th November?

    More on MAYHEM and BURZUM

    Children of the Stones

    The BBC reports that mysterious stone carvings have been appearing in a number of Yorkshire villages. Some nineteen of these sculptures have appeared in three locations separated by some 80 kilometres from each other. They all seem to feature a carving containing the word "paradox".

    Grainy CCTV footage shows an unidentified man dropping some of the stones off from a car in the village of Braithwell, at 4.00 am on the 23 August

    A publicity stunt is suspected.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Missy Elliott "Under Construction"

    This came after the one that had 'Get UR Freak On' on it, and is famous as the record that spawned a thousand "what does Fremme Neppe Venete mean?" threads on ILX. Like the other one, it is co-produced with that Timbaland fellow, but it is basically not that good. There are two things wrong with this record. Firstly, Missy does too much shiting on about stuff between songs, to which I say "Shut up and play more music!". Secondly, there are too many feats on this record, with Beyoncé's feat being particularly rubbish… it's like Ms Knowles is auditioning for the job of being the new Whitney Houston, something I have no objection to her doing so long as I don't have to listen to it. As against that, the record does have 'Work it' on it, which 1. is heavily ripped off by at least one CSS track and 2. finally allows me to understand all this Fremme Neppe Venete stuff. The record is nevertheless overall one for the transfer list.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Bear Trapped On Bridge!

    The BBC have a report on a bear who was trapped under a bridge in California.

    Dublin's big problem

    The really big problem with Dublin is that there are too many hills.

    CSS "Cansei de Ser Sexy"

    My middle name is Adonis, so I am entitled to throw stones from my glass house, so one thing that strikes me about this band is that, for people who go on about being sexy all the time, they really are a bunch of munters. Apart from the gay bloke, obviously. But of course, it may be that I have not seen the right photos, and in any case I don't buy records for the attractiveness of those who make them (as my numerous Pink Floyd albums will attest). These Brazilian sensations may not have the looks, but they really make the sounds – if the kind of sounds you like are utterly infectious synth pop confections. I think most people say that most of the songs are not as good as 'Let's make love and listen to Death From Above', and they're right, but the rest of the album is still very enjoyable when you listen to it all at once.

    I Can Has Bike

    Emboldened by my recent trip to Amsterdam, I have taken to sitting in my window in my kecks inviting passers by to pay me for sexual favours. Or maybe I have in fact transformed Carwash Mansions into a place where the finest relaxing herbs are always available for a price.

    I'm joking of course. What I have actually done is BUY A BIKE. My new bike is built like a tank, has only three gears (how many do you need?), and has a basket. I will soon be the talk of the town.

    My hope is that my cycling adventures are less dramatic than those experienced by the one who calls himself Chocolate Socialist.

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    God Exists, But We Do Not Recognise Him

    You may already have seen that A Soviet Poster A Day blog. If not, check it out. It is deadly. I would include a picture, but the blog's bourgeois class enemy owner does not seem to allow linking to his pictures.

    He also has a blog featuring posters from Cuba.

    Yet another Great Idea!

    If the slash fiction doesn't work out, I could always form a band called Crotch City Pandas. Surely a band with that name would rapidly sweep to global domination!

    M.I.A. "Kala"

    This is another record of the year candidate. OK, so it maybe trails off a bit, with the later tunes not living up to the promise of the first batch, but the overall level of quality attained leads to Kala likewise attaining astonishing heights of musical achievement. Just in case you never read what I write, M.I.A. is this Tamil-English woman who makes insurrectionary pop-hip hop collisions with added crunchy dance beats. On this one, on the great tracks, she goes for total dance mentalness, producing a slew of tunes you could play in sequence to keep a dance floor permanently in dance madness – provided they are forward thinkers, of course. I won't mention the odd covers or references she includes to certain other tracks as i) you have probably already heard about them or ii) it would be better for you not to have the surprises spoiled. More generally, this has a lot of Bollywood/Bhangra samples but has a considerably ravier sound than that on Arular, M.I.A.'s first.

    One thing I will say about Kala is that it totally rocks as something to listen to while walking around, especially if you want to arrive there quickly.

    Another Great Idea!


    I have had another great idea, one which will surely make my fortune: I will set up a LiveJournal blog in which I write slash fiction about the Momus Lolz people. Watch the cash roll in!

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Justice [black cross]

    This is the record by the latest crazy French techno pop funsters, the ones I keep mentioning for remixing Simian's dreadful 'Never Be Alone' into the totally awesome 'WE! ARE! YOUR FRIENDS!' so I reckoned I would take a punt on this. On a first listen, my beloved commented "I already know what Daft Punk sound like", but since then we have really grown to love this, and it gets heavy rotation on Vinyl Sunday. The music is all of the pompous French dance that will fill the floors of ATP discos everywhere. The album opens with the glorious bombast of 'Genesis' before mutating into the kind of music you cannot but dance to, if you are human. 'D.A.N.C.E' and 'Stress' are probably particular favourites, while I am still a bit ambivalent on the one with a feat. by novelty rap sensation Uffie. Overall, though, this is a truly awesome album and one that must surely be a most serious contender for record of the year. I must learn off the words to 'D.A.N.C.E' and make up a dance to go with them.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Winners and Losers

    Lizard King:
    Enda Kenny T.D.:

    Ryan Tubridy, New Man

    I heard that Ryan Tubridy fellow on the radio today. He told Lucinda Creighton T.D. that she would make a great Minister for Prada. Some suggested that patriarchal social structures might be a factor explaining the relative lack of women members of the Oireachtas, but Mr Tubridy scoved at this; we are apparently now living in a time of equal opportunities for all, so that kind of explanation is some kind of throwback to the 1950s.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Where do you think you are, Crotch City?


    China is to discontinue the practice of giving away Pandas to countries it wants to impress. Instead, other countries will be able to rent Pandas at competitive rates.

    More: 1,300 years of global diplomacy ends for China's giant pandas

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Dog Bath Car

    I have already mentioned Bilbo the Lifeguard and his campaign against unsafe swimming. Further research reveals that this wonder dog is not so fond of baths.
    However, he does like patrolling the beach at Sennen, making sure that people always swim between the flags
    More Bilbo action

    B.A. Robertson har mycket på sitt samvete.

    This blog looks great: Elektrofon

    Unfortunately, it is all in foreign, so I don't know what they are on about. I wish I could read foreign.

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Wedding of Rock

    I was at this wedding recently (by which I mean ages ago), and it was that of a golden couple I shall refer to as Emily and Niall. This was a somewhat louche and casual wedding of the modern type, with the focus on non-stop fun. They had a DJ who was playing total classics of 1980s miserabilism when we arrived. Over the night he became a lot more rock oriented (Emily and Niall are keen attendees of the ROCK JIHAD club). My dancefloor research yielded a number of tentative conclusions:

    1. A lot of rock music is not quite so good for the dancing as you might think, partly because it goes on a bit, partly because the beats are just a bit boring.

    2. The intro bit to 'Freebird' is so lame and drawn-out that basically CDs should figure the song as two tracks: 'Freebird (shite intro)' and 'Freebird (solo)'. In the meantime, people should just play 'Sweet Home Alabama' instead.

    3. You really can't beat Boney M classics as floor fillers. While charging to the dance floor to get down to 'Rasputin', I heard Paul Watts say something about my ironic approach to music. I did not have time to reply that my love of the M is entirely genuine and un-ironic, and that there will always be sincere affection in my heart for tracks like 'Rasputin', 'Daddy Cool', and 'Ma Baker'. One of the great things about Boney M tracks is that you can do the Lizard King when the talky bits come up.

    4. People still seem to really like Jane's Addiction's 'Been Caught Stealing'. I suppose it is a pretty good song, and it has a good beat, but in retrospect Jane's Addiction were plainly not much cop at all, taking this song's cred down with them.

    I should have more things to say about this event. Non-musically, I was astonished at all the people I knew here. Although I know that Emily and Niall know many people that I know, I didn't know which people they knew, and was very surprised by some of the people who were present. Like old pal Tony Wall, for instance (who revealed himself to have been a classmate of Emily's at one stage). Crazy world.

    Nom Nom Nom!


    You You the Panda is celebrating her birthday, and meeting with more success than this unfortunate. I wonder is her cake made out of bamboo.

    So Not Gonna Happen - the story continues

    I have previously mentioned the So-Not-Gonna-Happen Guy (pictured, with friends). It turns out that there is a sequel to that picture. Click here to see what exactly happened next.

    Saturday, September 01, 2007

    Road Runna Road Runna


    More detailed response to follow, but for the moment note my opinion that M.I.A.'s Kala is a most excellent candidate for album of the year.

    Strange Omission

    The Irish Times printed a rather heart-warming obituary today of Pat Higgins, founder of the Pat The Baker bread empire. Oddly, it fails to mention the time he sacked all the workers in one of his plants after they tried to unionise.

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    Neoliberalism

    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.