Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Colour by Numbers

Sweet Tooth #12, by Jeff Lemire

This is billed as a "great jumping-on point to Vertigo's Eisner-nominated buzz book". This means that if you have not been reading it up to now, they would like you to start reading it from this issue. In the world of comics, a "great jumping-on point" is an issue that can be read on its own without having to know everything that has come along previously, which usually makes it either a story that stands largely alone from what has hitherto happened or a story that to some extent recapitulates the basic set-up.

In this case we get the latter. For all that this issue does somewhat advance the plot and develop character, it is basically about letting us (or the hoped-for new reader who has jumped on) know what this is all about. We have a bit of a split narrative here, one that follows the strange hybrid child who is the book's eponymous protagonist, and then another in which the tortured Dr Singh records an audio diary that conveniently explains what has been happening – the sudden arrival of a deadly plague that rapidly started wiping out humanity, the collapse of society, then the first births of the animal human hybrids and finally the discovery of Sweet Tooth, who seems to be older than the plague and has no navel*.

The moral sense of this title is fascinating. The institution in which Sweet Tooth is incarcerated is a grim place, where the hybrids are experimented on to try and prolong the lives of the humans. Lemire throws out hints that at least some of the people there are however just doing what they can to survive, tortured by the betrayals of human decency they have committed. That at least is the sense we get of Singh himself and an unnamed orderly who gives the hybrid boy a bar of candy. The community among the hybrid children is also oddly touching, a camaraderie of the damned.

Maybe that is why I like this title so much. The apocalyptic setting is bleak, but there seems to be a thread of basic humanity lurking behind the darkness. I doubt that things will end that well for all the characters, but it still feels like there is something other than cruelty and despair going on here.

*one of the problems of great jumping-on points for new readers is that they can serve as spoilers for what was revealed gradually in previous episodes.

image source

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Golden Nuggets

The Bulletproof Coffin #2 & #3, by David Hine and Shaky Kane

I am struck by how self-referential this comic is, both to itself and to the world of comics more generally. The main character, Steve Neuman finds a stash of old Golden Nugget comics, but they date from after these classic titles were all cancelled. In each issue he reads one of the comics, and we see the crazy issue he does. But then in the third issue he reads an issue of Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age (which tells of a large-breasted woman in a skimpy outfit who lives back in the time of dinosaurs and primitive savages), which in turn has a reference to an issue of Ramona inside it. On finishing it, Steve meets the actual Ramona and they realise that the comic has hidden within it the secret to saving the world from some unspecified catastrophe.

Or maybe Steve has gone mad and imagined everything – is it not a problem for comics fans everywhere that they lose touch with reality? But, then, who were the weird old people dressed as wrinkly incontinent old arse versions of Golden Nugget characters who showed up at the end of #2? They told him that because he had found the costume of The Coffin Fly (another Golden Nuggets character), he had been Chosen – he was now The Coffin Fly, doomed to ride the Bulletproof Coffin across a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape.

Aside from the meta-textuality and evident fascination with comics and the forms' history, the title has this sense of creepy dislocation in the here-and-now. The protagonist seems completely alienated from his wife (who thinks, perhaps correctly, that he needs psychiatric help), his blank and uncommunicative yet monstrous sons, and the ugly hairless and sexless dog. Maybe the ugly dispassionate despair of every day life is what causes Steve to retreat into the brutal yet fascinating world of the comics, or maybe there is only one world and later episodes will throw everything together.

wrinkly image source

issue 2 cover

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Cops With Guns

Neonomicon #1, by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

This is a sequel to The Courtyard, an odd comic that came out a couple of years ago. This one begins with two FBI agents going to a secure psychiatric institution to interview Sax, once one of their colleagues. He was the main character in The Courtyard, and was locked up after mutilating and beheading a number of unfortunates. The agents are investigating some similar slayings and hope that Sax will assist them, but he answers their questions with incoherent gibberish. Those of us whose reading interests run to the more outré recognise some of the words the prisoner uses: "Cthulhu", "R'lyeh", "Hastur", "Y'Golonac". We are in the land of H.P. Lovecraft pastiche.

The agents get nowhere and leave the asylum. This much appeared previously in a slightly unsatisfying preview of this issue. The thing really ramps up in the second half, where the agents join some others who are backtracking over Sax's investigations, trying to see what drove him over the edge and what linked him to the other killings. It is in some ways all very cop, with lots of undercover agents running around chasing suspects and waving guns, but the episode ends with a chilling rush of horror. This episode feels a bit like an adaptation of a Call of Cthulhu gaming session, with the ending seeing the players flunk their sanity rolls bigtime.

The Courtyard was one of the most striking pieces of Lovecraft-inspired writing I had seen in ages. This is shaping up to be a worthy successor. I am increasingly fond of Jacen Burrows' art. Before I thought it a bit basic but nevertheless functional. On reflection, though, this kind of competent un-flashy work is a lot more effective than the kind of lurid psychedelia that Lovecraftiana can sometimes attract.

There are oddities here, though. The title is set in something a bit different to the world we live in, with domes of some sort appearing to be in place over cities for reasons that are not explained. I wait to see where that goes.

Alan Moore and H.P. Lovecraft are very different writers, but this melding of their concerns works surprisingly well. Lovecraft's vision of hidden powers greater than humanity can comprehend meshes well with Moore's own occult obsessions. And Moore manages to bring his own preoccupations to the table. One of the FBI agents is a sex addict, an intrusion of his recurring idea that human sexuality is unfathomable and uncontrollable. That it should be the female agent who is stricken with this comedic ailment chimes with some other of his recurring themes.

image source

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Comics Meta

You may have noticed that I have not written anything about comics for a while. I have been feeling a bit dissatisfied with my comics writing. One obvious problem was that no one was really reading what I had to say on the subject (apart from comics creators googling their names). It only seems to be my friends and acquaintances who read Inuit Panda, and they have all either outgrown comics or never liked them in the first place.

Not having any readers is not an insurmountable problem, as writing about comics is still useful for me as a way of organising my thoughts. A bigger issue is that I was finding it difficult to say anything that was that interesting. I was attempting to review every issue of every comic I bought. On the face of it, this would seem like an ideal blog thing to do, as it provides a ready made continuous resource of things to write about. In practice, though, most issues do not work as self-contained things, and they are largely created as sections in an ongoing story. When an issue is chapter three in a five part story it is difficult to say anything interesting that is not basically a rehash of what was said about chapter two.

So, what I will do henceforth is write only about individual issues of comics when they are particularly noteworthy – in a good or bad way. I might also do overviews a title when a story finishes or perhaps try to sketch an image of where one is going from the opening issue. Hopefully this will be a bit more interesting.

I am also hoping to contribute material to a comics culture website that noted comics person Martin Skidmore is going to be producing. For that I will need to seriously up my game, as he has some heavy hitters signed up and I do not want to stand out too much as some subliterate bozo. When that gets going I will post a link to it.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cuba: la historia continua

that's right, I am still going on about my holiday in Cuba

House of Ballet
We also went to the ballet in Havana. This was very exciting, as I have never been to proper ballet before. Ballet is huge in Cuba, partly because of the influence of crazy lady Alicia Alonso, a Cuban ballerina and subsequent head of the country's biggest ballet company. I gather that she is responsible for making ballet as big as it is there, but also has deployed a rather conservative dead hand to largely isolate the country from innovations in the form.

The ballet we saw was called Le Chevalier de Saint-George. It told the story of some mixed race wunderkind from one of those French sugar islands in the Caribbean. As well as raising a regiment to fight for the French Revolution, he also composed music, music used in this performance.

Ballet seems to be a funny old business. It is a narrative form, but done through dance*. It is not like they mime out what is going on, more that they start jumping around the stage to express emotions where, in an opera, say, they would launch into an impassioned aria. The story in this one was maybe a bit slight, but it did provide plenty of opportunities for astonishing athletic feats by the dancers. One great sequence was supposedly some kind of hoe-down at Versailles, and it allowed the company to serve up an almost endless sequence of ever more baroque pieces of ensemble dancing.

One funny thing about all this was the way the male dancers' costumes made them look like they were wearing jackets but were naked from the waist down – porky pig style. I was also rather surprised by the big thumps the dancers made when they landed after a jump. Most surprising, though, was how unfavourably the ballet treated the French Revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette – the whole things seemed like an uprising of yobbos, with the Queen's execution shocking Saint-George ot his core. This was not how I would have expected the state ballet company in a socialist country to depict such things. It also jarred with the historical details of Saint-George's life – as already noted, he was a keen supporter of the Revolution.

Parque Prehistorico

OK, that's enough about Cuba. My last word is this – if you go to Cuba, make sure you go to the dinky little town of Viñales, and there go and visit the Parque Prehistorico, behind the baseball ground. Both it and the guy who runs it are amazing. This is not the same as the prehistoric wall, which is out of town.

* In other news, the Pope has been revealed to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

image source

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Monday, August 16, 2010

"Flood" by Stephen Baxter

This was our most recent SF book club book. There is not really much to it conceptually. Its single idea is to imagine what would happen to the world if the level of the seas started to rise at an ever increasing and implacable rate. The book follows a number of characters as they scramble for higher ground and try to make sense of what is going on. One of the characters is an incredibly rich can-do entrepreneur type who serves as patron to the others, so they get to see more of things than they would if they were just moving between a succession of refugee camps.

Although you might think this is a global warming book, it is established fairly early on that the sea level rise is happening independently of any melting of the polar ice caps. It is also happening faster than even the most alarmist projections of global warming science. The somewhat outlandish explanation that is eventually outlined is that the floor of the ocean has shattered at a number of points, causing some huge sub-oceanic reservoirs of water to spurt forth. There is apparently some scientific evidence to support the existence of these vast bodies of water stored somewhere in or below the earth's crust. It struck me as a bit outlandish, however, that they would all burst out simultanaeously for no obvious reason, or that the rate of flow from them would keep increasing. But the book is more about the depiction of a drowning world than the science.

That depiction of the drowning world is very vivid. Baxter has a great eye for visual detail and telling vignettes, and much of this book will live on in my mind forever – the mobile city of the Seminole, the roofs of the National Gallery covered in pigeons as Trafalgar Square floods (the whole sequence in which the Thames Barrier is overwhelmed and London floods is a tour de force), the cannibalistic gulag into which the Tibetan plateau is transformed, and many more. The character stuff is maybe not so great, with some odd leaps in behavioural logic needing to be swallowed by the reader. But that is just flim-flam compared to the big picture story of the world we know disappearing beneath the waves. The depiction of that horror is done very well, and I must salute Stephen Baxter as a writer of great talent.

However, I cannot really recommend this book. There is something soul-destroying about a work that begins with London flooding and ends with people on rafts watching the sea rise over Mount Everest. Nothing the human characters do can stop or even slow the rising sea levels. Maybe the efforts of the aforementioned entrepreneur and some others will lead to the human race surviving, but it does seem like a pretty marginal existence for the various boat peoples.

There is nevertheless a sequel to Flood, a book with the evocative title of Ark. And it is the next book for SF book club! If you fancy reading it, you can probably pick up a copy from the Dublin Central Library in the ILAC (you may need to ask at the counter for it). It looks like it exists at least somewhat independently to Flood, so you would not have to have read that first. We will be discussing it there on the 14th September.

I should mention that Flood is not the first inundation-themed novel to pass through SF book club. Some time back we read The Drowned World, by J.G. Ballard. That is a very different kind of work. Ballard's characters have a languid detachment that is very different from the desperate energy of Baxter's people. In some ways it seems like Baxter's book is the more realistic while Ballard's has a certain visionary quality to it. Then again, maybe if the world was falling apart around you, your response might just be to kick back with a large gin and tonic.

image source

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yet More Cuban Action

Because I wrote the following for Frank's APA, the Amateur Press Association for people who like music, I have rather focussed on musical aspects of my Cuban holiday. Discussion of other matters may take place at some future date.

One thing that is striking about Cuba – or tourist Cuba – is how musical it is. You do not really have to go out looking for music. It is pretty much everywhere, and it is a poor sort of café or bar that does not have a band bashing out something approximating to the Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack album. Even when we got a steam train out to visit a former sugar plantation we found ourselves joined by guitar-playing busker (who helpfully finished each song with "¡Ay, applauso!").

We had heard from previous travellers to Cuba that 'Guantanamera' is one song that tourists hear morning, noon, and night; one friend mentioned a band who stopped whatever they were playing and switched to it when they saw him entering where they were playing. However, the passage of time seems to have put this song into something of a decline. We did hear it, sure, but far less frequently than certain other tunes. The single most-played tune in Cuba is easily 'Chan Chan' (known to millions as that-track-from-the-Buena-Vista-Social-Club). Almost every band we saw played that at least once. In second place was probably 'The Girl From Ipanema' – not obviously a Cuban classic, but one that the kind of bands we saw could play well. And in third place, bizarrely, were instrumental renditions of 'My Way'.

It is easy to scoff at Cuban music's clichés, but the bands we heard playing in bars and cafés were almost always of the very highest standard. Given that their economic model is getting their listeners to buy CDs of their music or to just donate them a convertible peso or two, these guys must, in Cuban terms, be rolling in cash (this is after all a country where brain surgeons earn the equivalent of €35 a month and supplement their incomes by waiting tables). The money to be made in music maybe has the effect of ensuring a reasonably high standard, as there must always be loads of people looking to get some of that tourist dollar – if you are not good enough, someone else will be. I gather it is also tightly regulated by the authorities; in this area at least, socialism ensures high standards.

The best music I came across in Cuba broke a bit from the Buena Vista stereotype. This was the house band in El Palenque de los Congos Reales. This venue is in the olde towne of Trinidad, and it focuses is on the country's extensive musical links with the Congo. Here we were treated to an enjoyable song and dance show. I particularly like the bits where the dancers seemed to be impersonating Santeria deities or folkloric characters of some kind. Although the music was very different, we were put rather in mind of the brilliant Ethiopian musical show at the Hotel Ghion in Addis Ababa.
Hotel Nacional

My second favourite musical experience would probably be when we were having a mojito in the Hotel Nacional (Havana's archetypal big pre-revolutionary hotel, the one that was set up by Meyer Lansky and which seems to have photos of the entire cast of Family Business up on the walls) when a band came and asked us did we want them to play us some tunes. It seemed churlish to refuse, so they treated us to 'The Girl From Ipanema' and another track before selling us a CD and moving on. Their music was from broadly the same world as the typical Buena Vista Knock-off outfit, but they had an air of culture and refinement that went well with the location in which they were playing.

image source

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Cuban Action!

Did you know that I went to Cuba earlier this year? Oh wait, yes, you probably did. Now I am going to talk about Cuban stuff some more. The following is based on material that has previously appeared in Frank's APA, so you may have seen it before. It also overlaps a bit with my list of great things seen in that country, so you must be getting the déjà vu big time.

I kept a bit of a diary while in the Caribbean's island of socialism, but I will not trouble you with a list of towns and museums visited. Instead let me begin by saying that Cuba is well worth a visit. There are lots of interesting things to see and do there. It is in many ways strange and unusual, but for the tourist things pretty much work. It is also pretty cheap – not central American cheap, but well below what denizens of rip-off Ireland are used to paying for things.

If you are thinking of going to Cuba, I would say to go in the near future. There are a number of things on the horizon that could make it a far less interesting place to visit. One of these is the possibility of a rapprochement with the United States that would see the country flooded with frat boys on spring break, a most uncongenial prospect. Sometimes I wonder if my fear of frat boys is a bit overstated, but given the choice I would very much rather go to a country that definitely will not have them.

There is also the possibility that the socialist system in Cuba could collapse. This is a development that many have predicted as imminent ever since the break-up of the USSR, yet socialist Cuba has soldiered on. At the moment, though, the country is in the grip of an increasing economic crisis, the worst since the early 1990s, and there are apparently greater rumblings of dissent than there have been for some time. A transition to democracy and the market economy might be the best way forward for Cubans, but I suspect they would be problematic for tourists. For one thing, the country would lose its unique edge, becoming a far less interesting place to visit. But I suspect also that the country would become a more violent and sketchy place as a capitalist transition ushered in extreme inequalities in wealth. This would, obviously, make it harder for tourists to carelessly amble around what is currently one of the least violent societies in the world.

stick around for more

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Star Records

I think it unlikely that I will hear anything this year better than the Omar Souleyman, Group Doueh and Deutsche Elektronische Musik compilations. Coming very close behind is the still unreviewed album Me Oh My, Cate Le Bon's musically interesting collection of doomy neo-folk tunes. I would almost go so far as to promise to reimburse the purchase price of anyone who picks any of these up and is not completely satisfied, but I know what some people are like.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

v/a "The Most Collection – Original Artists"

Another birthday present, this is a collection of tunes produced by Mickie Most. A lot of the tracks are scratched to fuck, but there are a couple of great things here, notably Jeff Beck's 'Hi Ho Silver Lining' and CCS' 'Whole Lotta Love', the latter remembered by older music as the Top of the Pops music. It is a total stomper.

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

"Under the Dome" by Stephen King

I read this for SF book club. It is the first book by King I have read. He is an author I always had down as being primarily for teenagers and have long had the idea that there is something a bit deficient about anyone over the age of 20 who is still reading him. Was I wrong? Read on and see.

The first thing to bear in mind about this book is that it is a total porker – 877 pages worth of Stephen King action. Long books by established authors are always a bit off-putting. The fear must always be that the author has become too powerful to edit, with no one able to stop the fruits of their creativity bloating up in a most unwholesome manner. With Under the Dome I was very much afraid that this would be not so much a book as a sprawling monstrosity bearing only the most passing resemblance to a work of literature. The first question with the book really has to be whether its length is a strength or a weakness.

But first let me outline the novel's premise. What happens is that for no obvious reason the small town of Chester's Mill in Maine finds itself sealed off from the outside world by an invisible dome. It rapidly gets a bit Batavia's Graveyard, particularly once Big Jim Rennie (the local Boss Hogg character) sets up a reign of terror after drafting various thuggish friends of his psychopath son onto the local police force. An Iraq war special forces veteran, conveniently in town when the dome descends, finds himself in a race against time to discover the source of the dome and prevent Big Jim from doing all kinds of bad stuff. The book cuts between loads of characters as events unfold from their point of view.

So, back to the length. It does not start so well. As one of my book club pals points out, the first hundred or so pages just seem to be people crashing into the dome. It is hard not to think that King could have got over that in just a couple of pages. After that, though, it picks up the pace. You sometimes hear books described as page-turners. This is one of those – once it got going, the narrative momentum carried me along and I stormed through the book. The length does seem to work, as it allows the story of the town to be unrolled in great detail and from many points of view. I felt ultimately that the book was long because it ought to be, not because no one can edit Stephen King.

I found myself admiring the authors' technique with this, wondering what writing qualities make a book engaging and hard to put down. For all that, this is not really that good a book. A lot of the characters are a bit thin (though not all of them, by any means), the central premise is never really explained that convincingly, and it does feel a bit like he just has nearly everyone die in a huge explosion because he cannot think of any other way to end things. As it rolls along you maybe do not notice these shortcomings, but they are very obvious once you start reflecting on things.

I would not recommend this book, for all that I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. It has however made me interested in maybe reading something else by King. His ability to draw the reader into a compelling story is impressive and would go well with a book where he had thought through things a bit better. There were also a couple of places in the book where he seemed to really up his game, making me feel like I really was in the presence of something other than a skilled hack-writer*. If this were a first novel I would say, "It's not that great, but aspects of it show real promise". I suppose that might mean that his earlier books are better. What say you?

One final pedantic criticism - this book is barely SF! What is it doing in SF book club?

And the next SF book club is on in the Central Library in the ILAC this coming Tuesday at 6.30 pm. The book is Flood by Stephen Baxter. I have not started reading it yet, so you could get a head start on me.

*if you have read the book yourself, I am thinking firstly of the bit where two of the women cops go snooping around the radio station – there is an almost tangible air of non-specific menace throughout that whole section. Secondly there is the "Feeling It" section about women's netball.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Tristram Shandy deadline change


I can reveal that it is taking me longer to get started on Tristram Shandy than I had expected. I propose, therefore, to put back the deadline for this to the weekend of the 28th and 29th of August.

Is anyone else reading this with me?

Friday, August 06, 2010

James Last "Non Stop Dancing 1973"

The one with 'Silver Machine'. Also 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now', 'Theme From Shaft', and 'Rock and Roll Part 2'. All in medleys, but they still work.

One striking thing about this record is the overdubbed crowd noise on all the tracks, there to give you the impression that it has been recorded live at a party somewhere, as opposed to a faceless recording studio. This seems to be a bit of a thing with German records – see also my recording of drinking songs by the Bavarian Beersingers (an anonymous German covers band). But the band of our time most associated with overdubbed crowd noise is surely those other Teutonic sensations Scooter. Could it be that James Last is their musical forebear?

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image source (follow the link - here be awesomeness)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

John Hill "John Hill's Six Moons of Jupiter"

Ages ago while buying a different Finder's Keepers record the guy in the shop played me this, and I though "Wow, awesome". Actually buying it and listening to it at home suggests it is not quite so great. In set up it is funny music over which Susan Christie (or someone like that) intones weirdo sixties poetry. That should be great, but the record seems a bit slight.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

v/a "Streets of Lhasa"

This is a more usual kind of Sublime Frequencies record. The compiler went to Tibet's capital and recorded a load of random street musicians. There is also one track that seems to be just ambient noise – maybe the sound of fire crackling, maybe people playing some kind of gambling game or something. Anyway, the real star here is the terrifying three-year-old child who sings on a couple of tracks here. His belting voice is unstoppable, even if he sometimes has to be prompted with the words for the songs.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Trip Through London – Part 2

On saturday evening, we made our way into the West End to see Enron, wunderkind Lucy Prebble's play about the collapse of that once-great company. This is an amazing piece of theatre that manages to both be really informative while being astonishingly playful and theatrical. So like when one of the Enron bigwigs sets off a load of shell companies to hide the corporation's debt, they are thereafter portrayed as men in suits with dinosaur heads who must be cosseted and placated. The characters in the play also keep breaking into song. Winner. If you live in London, seriously, go and see this, but do not be like the people sitting behind us who kept eating sweets and explaining the plot to each other.

Enron did move to Broadway, but it tanked there. I keep wondering why. One feature of the play is a lot of ironic "Go America!" stuff, which may not play so well with the Shermans. I have also heard it suggested that New York theatre-goers are less adventurous than those of London. I have furthermore heard it suggested that our American friends do not see making loads of money as being fundamentally vulgar. But of course it could just have been a duff production that played in New York. What do you think?

On the Sunday we went walking around looking at Nicholas Hawksmoor churches with our old pal Mr H---, and visited two pubs.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Trip Through London – Part 1

Hello readers. It is your pal Ian again. I recently went to London for the weekend. Now I will tell you about some things I saw there.

On a Saturday afternoon we made our way to the Royal Festival Hall in the South Bank Centre to see Richard Thompson do his One Thousand Years of Popular Music show as part of the Meltdown Festival. This had been our consolation prize for not making it to the sold-out concert he was doing with Loudon Wainwright that evening. In retrospect, though, I think we must have won, as it is hard to think of anything that could have topped this. The format of the concert allows Thompson (and his two lady companions) to play a fascinating range of tunes from the European musical past, then with a couple of interesting interpretations of numbers from more recent decades.

There were two highlights for me. Firstly, what Thompson introduced as a "bad mother" tune, a Scottish ditty called 'Bonnie St. Johnston', about a woman giving birth in the woods and then killing her children. In structure, it was like grim Irish traditional tune 'The well below the valley', but it differs in offering no explanation whatsoever for why the woman is killing her progeny; the listeners draw their own conclusions. The other highlight was Thompson's folk-rock version of Britney Spears' Max Martin composed classic 'Ooops, I did it again'. It bops along amazingly, reminding me of how I could really do with a Britney best-of compilation in my life but cannot really face buying a record with Britney in her underwear on the cover.

Thompson asserts that 'Ooops' is musically similar to Italian renaissance dance music. To ram the point home, his version breaks in the middle and is then performed in just such a style. It was all very forsooth.

Later that afternoon we nipped out to Spitalfields where, in the market venue, there was a variety of funny musical stuff going on. We would have stayed for a free concert of music by that Greek musician (Zemackis? Zenakis? I am not great with names), but the pie shop was closed and we had to go elsewhere in search of sustenance.

EDIT: My glamourous assisant asserts that the Greek composer was none other than Iannis Xenakis.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Monster Marmots

Global warming is not great for people who live in low lying areas (like the 160 million people who live in Bangladesh). For many wild animals and plants climate change also causes problems, pushing many towards extinction.

The world’s rising temperature does however seem to be good news for marmots. The little fellows are apparently experiencing something of a baby boom, with their numbers multiplying greatly. Not merely that, but marmots are becoming ever chubbier and healthier, because the warmer summers greatly suit their lifestyle.

It is as yet unclear whether this new population of monster marmots is good or bad news for marmot predators – does the growth in marmot numbers mean more tasty snacks for wolves and bears, or are the marmots becoming too fierce to eat? Only time will tell.