Thursday, March 29, 2007


Knut is a little baby polar bear in Berlin. He was abandoned by his mother, but has been hand-reared by zookeepers. He was recently deemed big enough to be allowed outside where the public can see him. BBC report. Der Spiegel report.

When Knut grows up he will weigh nearly a tonne and be very fierce.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sacred Selections

This was a concert in Christchurch Cathedral. Someone had the great idea of transcribing for the organ a load of Happy Hardcore tracks and then having them performed in a Church. This seems to have originally been intended as part of series of organ versions of underground music popular in Northern Britain, with Black Metal and Northern Soul being also scheduled for the treatment. On this occasion, though, it was all Happy Hardcore almost all the time. The tracks were apparently selected by DJ Sy of Quosh Records and transcribed for the organ by John Riley of St. Paul's & St. George's in Edinburgh, with Paul Ayres of St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London performing.

This Matt Stokes bloke introduced the event from the cathedral's lectern, his careful Northern English voice no doubt deliberately modulated to call to mind the measured tones of a preacher. After discussing the ideas behind the programme and outlining what rave music was all about, he gave two readings, one from a newspaper in the 19th century on the organs of Edinburgh, another from an Internet review of a Happy Hardcore compilation written by one Ned Raggett esq.. I was kind of hoping there would then be a third reading by TEH AMAZE RANDY but this was not to be. Stokes also called attention to those who did not make it through the world of rave, bringing to my mind my old pal G-Boy.

The slight problem I had with the music was not being that familiar with Happy Hardcore as a genre, and certainly not with the tracks themselves as named. Some of them did actually sound like I had heard them before, but none of them had the air of total familiarity. Nevertheless, it was easy enough when listening to imagine them as monster rave tracks, with it being obvious enough from the organ-playing when they were breaking into full-on epicness. One funny thing was the way the tracks all reminded me of Philip Glass music. I wonder is this because anything played on an organ sounds like Glass, or could it be because of Glass's music has been influential on that of rave producers?

I will now list the tunes covered, mainly in the hope that someone can advise on how original versions of them might be acquired:

Bang 'Shooting Star'
Hopscotch 'Midnight Express'
Joining of the Clans 'Braveheart'
Sy & Demo 'Stay With Me'
Q-Tex 'Power of Love'
Force And Styles 'Heart of Gold'

& the special bonus non Happy Hardcore, track, trance classic 'Perfect Day' by Paul Van Dyk.

I will not play favourites with the tunes, though I think maybe 'Midnight Express' was the most endearingly mental, 'Braveheart' the most epic, and 'Stay With Me' the most hauntingly familiar (but perhaps it was just reminding me of 'Sleep The Clock Around' by Belle & Sebastian).

Surely what the world needs now is mash-up remixes of the organified versions with the original tunes.

So yeah, deadly stuff. The concert has inspired me to listen once more to my Illegal Pirate Radio III compilation and made me wish I had bought all of those BONKERS! compilations as they came out. I am nevertheless proud to be able to say that I once saw the legendary Happy Hardcore MC Dougal doing his stuff.

I acquired a CD of a previous performance of these selections (though without the Paul Van Dyk piece). It is enjoyable to listen to at home. Less exciting is a CD of the organist's own compositions. I failed to look closely enough at the record before buying, and instead of being voice and organ it is voice and piano - not really my slice of cake.

On a final general point - this concert took place on 14th February, when social conformists troop out to restaurants with their significant other. I think the organisers were expecting hardly anyone to show up, for when I inquired about booking tickets they said that this would not be necessary and asked if I could tell everyone I knew about the event. Yet, the concert was rammed full, with many people turned away. I have heard that this is because it was previewed in The Irish Times, with the result that many event and trend people came along to it. Some people I know were particularly annoyed at how this led to the real fans being crowded out of the event. That is perhaps a bit rockist - I am not a real Happy Hardcore fan, but I did go to the concert and thought it was G*R*A*T*E. However, my disaffected friend (who arrived too late to get in, hence his disaffection) may have had a point. Surprising numbers of people left the concert after the first couple of tunes. You would have to wonder what were they expecting and what was it about what they got that disappointed them. But that's event people for you.

More stuff on this: Sacred Selections - Happy Hardcore

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gallon Drunk

Does anyone know if popular band GALLON DRUNK can still cut it live? I notice they are playing on the evening I arrive in London next, and perhaps I might be interested in paying them a visit, even though they clash with allegedly good club Poptimism. However, last time I saw the Drunk, they had shed a lot of members and did seem a bit too much like a sad reminder of their former selves, and I don't want that.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Extreme Reaction

I am reading this book with the amazingly long winded title of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. By "reading" I mean that I have borrowed a copy from the Spy School library and have skimmed it slightly. I've not read enough to give you a summary of its thesis (if you want that, check out a Freaky Trigger post on the book that piqued my interest, together with recollections of someone telling me about the book some years ago). I mention it here just so I can recount an anecdote from it - the story of Phrynicus, who wrote the first tragedy performed in Athens (possibly the first non-comic play performed anywhere in the world). It was about the recent sack of Miletus by the Persians, and was so upsetting to the audience that Athens shut down for a week, and the Athenians ran Phrynicus out of town and burned all copies of his manuscript. Everyone's a critic.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Inland Empire"

I will no doubt talk about this film at greater length in due course. In the meantime, if you think you will ever want to see it, I recommend catching it in the cinema, as its sound design and auditory effects benefit from a big sound system.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Links update!

I've updated my links to other blogs. If you want to see them, you will have to come to the real inuit bikini scarlet carwash.

One day I will categorise the links and explain who the linked to people are.

If I have accidentally failed to link to you, let me know.


Got loads of coursework to do but would rather procrastinate by looking at things on the Internet? Then check out the Magic Bullet website's brainy articles on Dr Who. While there is much here on the flashy new Ecclestone-Tennant Dr Who, there is more than enough stuff about real Dr Who to keep anyone away from coursework for quite some time.

Consider Alan Stevens' article on Tomb of the Cybermen: The writer accuses this once beloved story of basically placing Orientalist clichés in a far future setting, not to deconstruct them but just because the original programme makers were lazy. I think, though, that maybe Mr Stevens is guilty of over-intellectualising the programme when he says "... the writers do not seem to be considering the story as a case of characters with problems and motivations, but as a series of set pieces providing dramatic thrills at appropriate moments". Dude, this is Dr Who we're talking about - give me exciting set pieces and dramatic thrills over a load of thesps exploring their motivations!

My recollection of Tomb of the Cybermen is that the book rocks when you read it as a child, but the reissued series is rather disappointing. But the main problem is not the Edwardian Orientalism, but the Cybermen themselves. They speak with heavily modulated voices that make them largely incomprehensible, thus explaining their failure to conquer the universe.

Thanks to Nicholas for pointing me at this website.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Hot Fuzz"

This is the new film by those Shaun of teh Dead people. In this one Simon Pegg is a tough, over-achieving cop from the city who is sent to a quiet town in the country because he is so good that he makes the other cops look bad. But all is not so quiet as it seems in the quiet rustic haven etc. etc. So the story unfolds, partly as a rural murder mystery thing but also as a kind of macho bullshit cop story. As with Shaun of the Dead, part of the fun comes from the pastiching of genre conventions and part from the film-makers generally chortlesome approach to stuff. In terms of the former, I especially liked the way the film has the same kind of barely sublimated homo-eroticism as many of those big-ass cop films. The aping of big action film in-your-face foley work was fun too.

There has been a lot of discourse around how the big shoot out at the end has to reproduce Jerry Bruckheimer style on a fraction of the budget. That it does so so convincingly makes you wonder what Mr Bruckheimer does with his huge budgets.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Honor is like the hawk...

I want to go to the cinema and see a film that will have the trailer for 300 on before it. Not just would that mean I get to look at a load of buff muscley Greek guys in the nip, but I might just get to see the still from the imaginary Watchmen film that has been thrown into it. Picture from that Ain't It Cool News website.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Stop being so fierce!

Tasmanian Devils are very fierce animals living in Tasmania. They are so fierce that they fight other Tasmanian Devils continuously. Unfortunately, when they bite each other they transmit a bacteria that causes grotesque tumours to grow in the face, preventing the victim from feeing and leading to starvation.

Scientists have tried a number of ways to combat the scourge of Devil facial tumour disease, thus far without much success. There is a real likelihood that Tasmanian Devils could soon become extinct, victims of their own ferocity.

Monday, March 05, 2007


An apparently non-existent man has become trade minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Garrison Games 2

I mentioned previously the kerfuffle over the English rugby team coming to play in Croke Park. Much of the controversy centred on whether it would be appropriate for God Save The Queen to be sung in a temple of Irish nationalism.

Thanks to my learned colleague Wood, I realise that this issue may not arise in the future. Some David Kitchens fellow has started a petition on the 10 Downing Street website to replace God Save The Queen with a far less offensive tune: Gold by Spandau Ballet.

Thus far over 5,000 of his fellow Britons have signed: Gold Anthem

Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Quit your jibba jabber, Time Fool!"

I am meant to be i) writing a research proposal ii) reading about the goals of different political actors in Morocco iii) writing a zine for Frank's APA (so that you will have intellectually stimulating material to read here in the future iv) attending to many other important tasks. Instead I am reading MR. T vs. THE CYBERMEN. It is the ultimate battle between the Robots of Silver and the Man of Gold.

Do you want to play the Book Game?

There is this game called The Book Game, in which people make up first lines for books and then try to guess the real first line from among all the made up ones. If you fancy playing it with mentalists from the Internet, go here: The Book Game. You will need a LiveJournal account to play, but such things can be arranged.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Garrison Games

I live under a stone, so I missed the chortlesome story about a man protesting against foreign games while wearing a t-shirt for a foreign team who play a foreign game. In a way, this was our get a brain morans. [picture from Daily Telegraph article 'Demonstrators fight losing battle']

In other news, Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis has unanimously voted to change the name of Merrion Road to Bobby Sands Avenue, this being the street where the British Embassy is located. "What is good enough for Tehran should be good enough for Dublin," John Crowley of Armagh is quoted as saying in The Irish Times.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Concert: Acid Mothers Temple

By now you know the score - Acid Mothers Temple are the crazy ass hairy Japanese guys who play space rock wig out music. I too know the score. They came, they played, they rocked. One of the tracks they played was recognised by me as 'Pink Lady Lemonade' - which is interesting, as I do not seem to have it on any of the recordings I have of this great band.

I picked up a couple of records at the show. Electric Heavyland was electric and heavy, while Starless and Bible Black Sabbath (a homage to the Sab) rocks like the proverbial motherfucker and demands to be turned up to call-the-cops volume levels.


The BBC reports that two pairs of little orphaned baby orangutangs and baby tigers have become inseparable friends: In pictures: Baby animal love story

Sadly, the cuteness cannot last, as when tiger cubs reach three months old they turn carnivore, and so could end up eating their friends.