Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"The Lincolnshire Poacher"

I have been discovering the magic of the Numbers Stations. You can listen to some of them here: "numbers stations"

Swedish Rhapsody is particularly creepy.

As you know, Numbers Stations are mysterious radio stations which broadcast... numbers. It is assumed that they are sending coded messages to spies. An endless succession of distorted voices saying numbers or letters and nothing else is very creepy. Nothing really compares to it except the wierder bits of Chris Morris' Blue Jam or the celebrated Unexplained flexidisc of voices from beyond the grave, as recorded by Konstantin Raudive et al.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Film: Pan's Labyrinth

I take it you have seen this. I like the fantasy stuff more than the Spanish Civil War stuff, as the latter seemed a bit formulaic and too goodies and baddies. Still, I was interested by the idea that the fantasy story featured moral ambiguity while the people in the "real" story had the kind of Zoroastrianism that one typically associates with fairy tales.

Those Spanish nationalist soldiers – they were rubbish! I was struck by how they could not fight their way out of a paper bag. It was hard to see how, with tards like these, Franco had managed to win a bloody civil war.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A clarification

I would like to make it entirely clear that my post last monday headed Orbital Mind Control Lasers was meant as a joke, and that the linked-to article is also intended either as humour or else is a hoax. I do not in any way believe that the government is beaming thoughts into people's brains or using secret technology to read minds and control behaviours. Furthermore, I am making this statement entirely of my own free will and have not been subjected to any coercion. Nor is this post being written by a replicant.

Have you ever been to Drogheda?

I was at some events in the RTE Living Music malarky last weekend, of which more later. Now I am mad for the weirdo music, and was excited to be handed a flyer for some concerts of Terry Riley music up in Drogheda, as part of some arts festival. Terry Riley is one of those modernist composers about whom people go on, especially my homies in Frank's APA. He has this piece called "In C" which is meant to be very good, and up in Drogheda it will be performed by the Crash Ensemble, so I reckon I will go to visit. It's on over the May bank holiday weekend, so staying over is possible. On the day after I can check out the sights of Drogheda... eh, don't they have a shrivelled head there or something?

I am curious about this Drogheda Arts Festival... I wonder to what extent they will be importing both performers and audience.

Gang of Four play the TriPod

TriPod is the new venue in what was once the Red Box, Dublin's most awful place to experience music. The new TriPod seems a pleasant enough spot, and I may grace it with my presence again in the future.

The support act were some hopeless local act called DeLorentos or something like that. They were like a post punk tribute act who emphasised the suckass proto U2 elements of that scene. Or maybe they were a Franz Ferdinand tribute act who secretly want to be the new Cactus World News. Next!

Gang of Four are, as you know, the oldarse band who released a couple of albums that influenced a great many bands, including such kewl bands of now as The Rapture and Franz Ferdinand. They are now touring to milk the credit-where-it's-due circuit. They are a bit less angular live, with the guitarist guy (Andy Gill) and the singer really going for it. Apparently they were like this back in the day as well, which is why they allegedly went down better with US audiences than the usual post punk dry shites.

Seeing Gang Of Four live really reminded me of how great a band they were/are – they have this punk appeal thing going on, but they are so goddamn funky that it is hard to see how massive mainstream success eluded them (not playing Top Of The Pops for trivial reasons might be factor here). Andy Gill achieves much of the attention in discussions of the band, but I ended up thinking that the rhythm section, and particularly the bass player, were the band's musical powerhouse. Gill's brittle guitar lines were almost like fluff over the rhythmers funk stylings. So yeah, deadly stuff.

Now I wonder should I go to the forthcomingA Certain Ratio concert. Mmm.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Orbital Mind Control Lasers

Research suggest that tin-foil hats may not be the defence against orbital mind control lasers that people had thought: On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study. Coincidence? I think not.

With thanks to my friends from The Al-Amarja Institute for Advanced Studies.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Max Brooks "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War"

This does what it says on the tin. Max Brooks travels the world talking to people about what they did during the recent war against the undead menace. It is very evocative of that terrible time. You get the usual stuff – first hand accounts of the Cape Town outbreak, the battle of Yonkers, accounts of the Russian army's self decimation, etc. But there are more personal pieces here too, like the account of one of those who fled to Canada's far north and, in a unique coup, an interview with Paul Redeker, the South African who probably did more to save humanity than anyone else, but at the cost of his own sanity. So yes, an excellent book, and one that demands to be read, although since I started it I have been dreaming about the zombie war at least every second night.

Some of you may have previously read Max Brooks' guide to surviving attacks by the living dead. It saved my life, so I owe Mr Brooks a personal debt of gratitude.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Men's Adventure Magazines compiled by Max Allan Collins, George Hagenauer, and Steven Heller

This is coffee table book of covers from US men's adventure magazines of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. These magazines all had titles like True Man, Rugged Man, True Male, Rugged True Male, and so on, and are collectively known as 'sweats' because of the sweaty blue collar heroes their covers often feature. The covers are deranged, typically featuring a sweaty man and a bikini clad woman being menaced by rabid weasels, or maybe some attractive women popping out of their tops, as Nazi sadists get ready to brand them or flog them or bury them alive. Said attractive women often have a "here we go again" facial expression, and no wonder - Nazis torturing attractive women seems to be a staple of these titles. Sometimes, though, the magazines deal with rugged American men unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of Nazi women.

These magazines also played heavily on male inadequacy, boasting many articles with titles like "America's Virility Crisis", "Why American Women Want Foreign Lovers", and "Your Wife Hates You". It seems like the post-war generation was faced with a worrying new cohort of uppity women, and maybe the magazines' world of male fantasy was an environment where an ordinary joe could kick back and get away from all the yap he was getting in everyday life.

If you want to check out some of the cover paintings (and maybe even buy some originals), there is a fabulous online gallery of work by sweats supremo Norm Eastman. They lose something without the text, so maybe check out this gallery of covers, including text: Norman Saunders Men's Magazine Covers. Be warned, though, your boss might have to don a Nazi uniform and flog you if you view those images at work.

So yes, Taschen at its best, and a lovely Christmas present from my beloved.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Living Music

The RTE Living Music festival is on this weekend, with John Adams being the star composer. Word. I have not got round to booking anything yet, and it's probably all full, but I think I would like to check out the Crash Ensemble performance, as well as the film of TEH DEATH OF TEH KLINGHOFFER and the performance that has Ligetti's Etudes on the programme.

Look at all the fun I had last year: one, two.

Let us inaugurate a new leader!

Turkmenistan has a new President! Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won 89% of the vote in the recent elections. Congratulations!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lent ears, lean and hungry looks

If you like going to the theatre, the production of Julius Caesar that is about to open in the Abbey is probably worth a look. It is directed by Jason Byrne of Loose Canon, and is likely to feature the stripped down minimalism of his previous Elizabethan & Jacobean productions (albeit a minimalism that involves a cast in the dozens). I can't wait.

Interesting, I reckon the play will actually be performed on the Ides of March... I wonder will our esteemed Taoiseach be attending?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Amazing news for all readers

Blogger made me an offer I couldn't refuse... they wouldn't let me log in unless I upgraded to their poxy all new Blogger. Cockfarmers. If you are a Bloglines or LiceJournal user then maybe all my posts are showing up as new - hardly a bad thing, as they will crowd out all the other nonsense you look at. Anyway, I have taken the opportunity to update my links... if you are not looking at this through Blogger, you can see them here: Inuit Bikini Scarlet Carwash

If I have not linked to your blog, and you think I should, then drop me a line explaining why.

Expressway Rising

It's all Moore, all the time here in Carwash Mansions. John Moore's blog is on constant rotation; you can find the best version of it here: John Moore - Blog. Even better is the John Moore forum, a triumph of apposite expression. Go here and bookmark: John Moore Talk

John Moore is not yet famous enough to have a Wikipedia entry of his own, but he is well-known in certain circles for playing drums with the Jesus & Mary Chain, importing absinthe, associating with Luke Haines, being one of the songwriters in Black Box Recorder, and the like. He is currently pursuing various projects, notably a search for the third Mrs Moore.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Pop! Justice: 100% Solid Pop Music

This is a compilation put together by the people who run the Popjustice website. You sometimes hear about how great today's pop music is from the Freaky Trigger people, but I do not tend to hear actual pop music that much, as I have no TV and shun the music radio. So picking up this record was an interesting way of getting some idea of whether today's pop music is actually any good or not.

Today's pop music turns out to be complete genius. This record is on heavy rotation here in Carwash Mansions, and is furthermore ramping up the play charts on the iPod. Particularly awesome tracks include Justice v. Simian's 'We Are Your Friends', Rhianna's 'S.O.S.', Client's 'Lights Go Out', and so on. Rachel Stevens' track suggests that that LA ex song of hers might not have been a flash in the pan. Britney, the Sugababes, and Nelly Furtado all perform credibly too. But this is an album best enjoyed in the totality. Acquire it now and prove that you are not a rockist!

Justice v. Simian's 'We Are Your Friends' is in particular revealed as The Greatest Piece of Music Ever Recorded, all the most striking when you consider what a bunch of lame-ass indie no-hopers Simian are/were. These Justice fellows are remixer geniuses, with a perfect ear for what can be taken from a tune and turned into pop perfection if all the other flim flam is got rid of. How can you not love a tune with no lyrics but "BECAUSE WE! ARE! YOUR FRIENDS! YOU'LL NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN! COME ON!"? If this was the kind of thing they played in nightclubs I would be putting on my dancing shoes more often (or at all).

One slight downside – many of the acts are not actually proper pop tart outfits but actual people who write their own songs and stuff, including several Ladytron-style neo electropop bands (and the Tron themselves). So in a way I feel like I have got less pop bang for my buck. But the compilation still ROCKS.