Friday, July 29, 2005
You can read a preview of the rooms of the exhibition here, but do go and see it if you can. It's on till just before my birthday. For those in the UK who have had little chance to see her work in the flesh (as it were), its a stunning opportunity to see her work close to.
Still, its a great passage, and a sentiment I'm sure many of us share regarding the "who's that guy?" experience. Besides, it would make great sense for that damn "press red for interactive" button.
I'm here to make an appeal for the population of the earth to wear name tags at all times. (Six tags if you're an actor: your character's name, your real name, a list of things you've been in before, your character's name in all those things, the other actor who - "Oh, come on, you know " - you look a bit like and the things that other actor has been in.) Please, do it. They cost only a few pence and you'll save me an awful lot of time.
One of the toughest tasks for any actor must surely be to deliver the line ‘Cream cakes- And scones- And jam' and make it sound interesting. Henshall manages to do it. And I don't think I've ever seen an actor swallow with more meaning. It's true that one swallow doesn't make a springboard for a great acting career. But Henshall deserves to be a huge star. Give this man a major film role, someone. And be quick about it.Yes, I know, the Daily Mail. I didn't buy it if that helps, but the sentiment was too good to ignore.
Mind, some of us have been saying he's worth being better known for years: check out Orphans, Anna Karenina, whatever you can lay your hands on. Get your ass to London to see Death of a Salesman with the magnificent Brian Dennehy.
This quotation comes to you thanks to the Douglas Henshall Yahoo Message Board and I trust will appear in the articles soon here: you can't not be grateful to those who find such gems.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Even Cloud didn't huff too much. A lovely, tender and appropriately restrained performance in a languid drama with luscious cinematography. Tortured by his creation, Doyle was desperate to be free even as he could not escape him.
Reviews from the press can be found as ever in the usual place (scroll for reviews): good that someone out there gathers this ephemera for preservation, because goodness knows websites come and go (and their content) too quickly.
Mind, I was gratified to discover that Nancy Banks-Smith continues to support my theory that almost everytime there's a Douglas Henshall work to be reviewed, she's eager to put up her hand in the meetings saying "me! me!"
Don't you just want to hear some of this stuff?!
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
I say, get your ass out if you're in the London area tomorrow to go and see them (just £5).
Thurs July 28th: The Water Rats, Kings Cross, London. A club AC30 night, with Christian Savill of Slowdive
They make great music, they're really lovely peeps, they're tres friendly, and if you do go see them tell Mark Rolfe from me he's a a real sweetie and I wish I was there to see them!
Their next gig is for the WORDS ON MUSIC US SHOWCASE, WITH COASTAL Thursday 18th August 2005, The Tangiers, Los Angeles, California.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
In bed, Sunday morning, still asleep.
Phone rings: years of having to run and answer the phone to the ageing pa has left me unable to leave a phone ringing without running to answer it. Unfortunately, when we had storms a few weeks ago, our extension cable blew that powers the phone upstairs. So down the stairs I fly, scarcely awake.
And in picking up the phone proceeded to knock myself in the eye with the handset as I blearedly tried to not drop it or let it ring too long before kicking to the answerphone.
Great: so now I'm tired, startled from sleep and a formerly protruding vein just beneath my eye has now been caught, is swelling and bleeding slightly.
Now is not a good time to open with this line:
"Is that Mrs. X?" (X being the badly chosen nomdeplum for Cloud's surname)ARGHHH!
Usually this indicates a cold calling error, but there is no suspiciously long pause before the voice kicks in so maybe it's more genuine.
Deep breath, still disorientated from hitting myself in the eye (was I subconsiously reliving Fight Club, which we had watched the other night?)
"No, but can I ask who it is calling?"Throw on clothes decent enough to go round next door, still dizzy from hit in the eye. Turns out door was open, care visitor/neighbour was already there, and apart from neighbour needing a bit of a hug, kiss, clean-up of blood and reassurance that she wouldn't be in trouble for falling over there was little for me to do (though she was grateful bless her for those things). Ambulance people came not long after and I staggered home.
"So this isn't Mrs Roberts?"
"Can I ask who it is calling?"
"We're the ambulance control centre. It's regarding Mrs Y - we have her next door neighbours as key holders"
"Well, I am her next door neighbour. What's happened?"
"But you're not Mrs X?"
"No, but I am the key holder who lives next door. What's happened?"
"So you live on the other side of Mr and Mrs X?"
"No, I live with Mr X: what's happened? What do you need me to do?"
"So who are you if you're not Mrs X?"
"If it is possible to grasp this, two people live together who are not Mr and Mrs X: now can you tell me what's happened?!"
"She's had a fall and we wanted you to check that she has been able to open the front door because the ambulance is on its way."
Maybe it would just be easier to take Tyler's approach to answering the phone and just 1471/answer-machine every incoming call.
Now on my noticeboard at work. I love JF's work. She's fab.
Listening to Chris Searle on Second String (Radio 4) talk about his jazz drumming - which nicely included almost every classic drummer joke told - I rather liked his description of his band as being like the Oscar Peterson group in "everything except girth, nationality and ability."
Anyway! Sunday brought a big laugh to the Cloud/Rullsenberg household when Maconie read out a complaining email from someone moaning about the over-abundance of folk music (something that we too had bemoaned from the previous week). But it was the phrasing that cracked us up:
"Too much hey nonny nonny fiddley diddley bollocks"Couldn't have put it better ourselves. That type of folk music (what I would term the prog end of the folk music spectrum) is just too tedious for words.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Offers of pints and hugs a-plenty, you'll be pleased to note.
Well, at least I have something interesting to blog about.
Some journeys to work can be more interesting than others. Maybe one day you'll think of an excellent name for your future first born child. Maybe you'll spot some unusual ear hair. Or maybe ARMED POLICE WILL STORM YOUR FUCKING CARRIAGE.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Last week I noted here that I had just received a package from a very generous ingrate. (I'll resist the urge to scream in envy at his trip to New York City). Amongst the goodies provided was a small book of writings by Heather Ball. Heather wrote a column in Socialist Standard, and based on what I have read of her work I would have to say that she was a really wonderful and warm writer. There is a light quality to her writing that belies the fiercesomely political stance she was writing from, whether she was writing about her family or more overt political issues. As the introduction by Michael Gill and Stan Parker notes, which they note "exemplifies the biting anger, the humour and the inspiring sense of aspiration that characterised her view of socialism."
"[in present day society] there is an erosion of everything socialism requires and capitalism despises - co-operation, self-respect, love even. I hesitate to use the word 'love' when talking about human relationships - the suspicious sidelong glances I get sometimes make me wonder if it is thought I am advocating multiple orgasms for everyone. Love to me represents the possibility of having such good feelings about ourselves that we can afford to have them about other people too. Yet in this miserable society where money and exploitation must come first, we are discouraged from showing too much concern for one another in case this detracts from our real purpose - to provide profit and power for a minority."For me, one of my favourite pieces was on "Cleaning Houses", and I have to confess it's partly because I'm pretty laid back about keeping a house clean and tidy. In some ways, Cloud and I are probably one of those couple who still live like they're in shared/student style accommodation even though our circumstances are not like that. I'm certainly one of the few women I know who cares so little for constant dusting and cleaning, even though we're both somewhat asthmatic and could benefit from a tad less dust about (I suspect that my fear of spiders should also make me want to clear cobwebs before they appear, but even that dread cannot seem to quite raise me!)
It always astonished me when growing up that keeping a house perfectly clean, spending time each day dusting, vacuuming, polishing, should not only be deemed worthwhile but somehow curiously only worthwhile for girls/women: it was a female responsibility! Thankfully, my mum never felt obliged to follow this - though many, MANY of my friends at school resented that their brothers were let off the hook of contributing to the household chores. These same friends nevertheless slipped easily into their allotted tasks and I would watch in bafflement as they would weekly vacuum their bedrooms of invisible debris, dust every shelf and surface, and polish each knick-knack. My room was too full of books and encyclopaedias being regularly read, of records being played, of toys being played with to gather much dust, whereas in their rooms and house what they had was sat in pristine stillness from week to week. No wonder their stuff gathered dust.
Perhaps my mum's reluctance to make a fetish of house-cleaning (as Heather Ball calls it) came from what she saw in her own family. My great nan's husband had emigrated to Canada (it was never entirely clear why). Abandoned by her husband, my great nan worked as a seamstress and then as a housekeeper to keep her three daughters. My nan, a single parent to my mum, similarly worked as a cleaner. Maybe being paid to work for others doing what they were expected to do at home for nothing, for the sake of 'appearances', made these women make their own mini-rebellions in refusing to fetishize cleaning in their own homes. Certainly I never grew up with any sense that cleaning and tidying to pristine excess was something to be adhered to - though I did grow up with a healthy sense that it was work.
As my mother grew more unwell, and the toll of caring for my dad drained her life away, the house did become more squalid than simply a non-daily-dusted property (though still short of a full-blown "How Clean is Your House?" farrago). But I was nevertheless always grateful to her for instilling in me that show home settings lacked humanity or human endeavour. Mum was too busy knitting, reading books with me, trying to grow vegetables in the garden to care too much if the thinnest film of dust had settle across a picture frame. The pristine house doesn't lend itself well to burrowing through several books at a time, comparing ideas; it doesn't like to invite people to slouch in a room in communal conversation about life, the universe and everything (accumulating empty beer cans, wine bottles, or coffee mugs as the conversation progresses). The pristine house is currently making something of a fetishised comeback - if it ever really went away - thanks to the current crop of house programmes on TV: something that fills me with dread. To get the most money possible for your house, it is important to anonymise it, reduce signs of living, and maximise its pristine potential. Why? Because heaven forefend that one might only make £180,000 on the house you purchased for £90,000 rather than the possible £200,000 you can get by making sure the woman of the house gets into a proper rhythm of house-cleaning. Urgh.
Reading Heather Ball brought such memories back to me and stimulated these thoughts, and for that sort of provocation, I heartily recommend her work to you.
Quote from Angel, season 5, episode 2.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
When first asked this I said I would go for Pulp (recapturing the spirit of the Highbury garage gig), current faves Misty's Big Adventure (because they'd be a hoot) and The Arcade Fire (because on current sell-out popularity I have about as much chance of seeing them as sneaking into a suitcase to NYC!)
On another day it may be Ballboy (who have always been good VFM live), Godspeed You Black Emperor and Ella Fitzgerald (now THAT's what I call an eclectic musical lineup).
If I can go back in time, a good point in Bobby Dylan's career, alongside Bruce Springsteen and Randy Newman would be good.
Oooh... how about a bit of Charlie Mingus, with some Nina Simone followed by... ooh, change of direction... Bjork?
On a different track again ... how about Vladimir Ashkenazy playing Rachmanov's 3rd Piano Concerto, the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra doing Mahler's 5th (I have memories of a broadcast version that was much better than the Berlin one Rattle conducted) and some Sigur Ros?
Gosh, too many things to consider! But thanks to Paul W for the prompt!
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Cloud quite likes the catchiness of the Kaiser Chiefs - hint, hint to Rullsenberg - but mostly for the parody appeal of their lyrics (you can sing just about anything to them he reckons). Coldplay... well, sorry, but I just cannot raise enough energy to really care about them. I've liked what I've heard of both The Magic Numbers and The Go! Team (apologies to Paul W. for not having yet invested in the MN album, despite your cheering approval). George saw Bloc Party last year and raved about them but in truth I wouldn't know a tune of theirs if it came up and bit me on the bum. He also said KT Tunstall was a fine songstress, but recent spotty knowledge of her hasn't inspired me to see her as much more than a harder version of Dido (sure to get slapped for that). M.I.A. is someone I feel I should like, and if I could get my ass into gear to listen properly I probably would easily slot her into our selection of hip-hip style performers. Seth Lakeman, Hard-Fi, Maximo Park, Polar Bear... sorry dudes but I'm not on familiar terms with you either.
And I know that John will be definitely be hoping for that outside bet to come through on Antony and the Johnsons (snigger).
Now why can't Mercury be a Commonwealth thang, then we know that these folk would win for this.
Monday, July 18, 2005
I think, as House of Love are, according to me, one of the classic late 80s/early 90s guitar bands whose quest for world musical domination was thwarted by the rise of grunge and/or dance/techno/druggie shit - oh, and the fact that guitarist Terry Bickers and singer Guy Chadwick hated each other and vowed never to play with each other ever again.Thankfully, they made up, and by all accounts this gig proves it was worth it. They were fiercesomely blinding when I saw them in 1990 (on the second round of their touring for the second album - Cloud saw them around the same time: I think they were the first band we'd both been to see, albeit before we met.)
As for The Dears, I have to say that 22: The Death of all the Romance really, really stands out from their most recent release No Cities Left. I've played that particular track repeatedly, recommending it to friends, and it still gets me going. Hope it's not too much of an insult but it reminded me of the wonderful track Twelve Reasons Why by the sadly now demised and largely despised band, My Life Story. I've probably a greater tolerance for the sort of faux-Smiths/Morrissey inspired stuff that The Dears produce than Cloud has, but either wayI think the band offer some fine tunes and lyrics. And you can't say fairer than that.
The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.
The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:
The first worm in alcohol - Dead.
The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead.
Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead.
Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.
So the Minister asked the congregation - What can you learn from this demonstration?
A little old woman in the back quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"
(Thanks to Rita for the smiles.)
Friday, July 15, 2005
Thursday, July 14, 2005
I'm also pleased to see that Hugh Laurie gets a nod for the wonderful House. I should really have blogged on this but I've been so captivated by this (and so often have had to rely on it being caught on video for me) that I just haven't had chance.
Well, I say it sparks off a damn fine debate! Using Gary Taylor's recent article in the Grauniad as a starting point, she puts forward the case for why Shakespeare IS the most important 16th century dramatist (in much the same way that she understands Nick Hornby's argument that the Beatles dominate the 1960s). She states that, whether we like it or not, Shakespeare dwarfs his contemporaries; that the body of work is just too strong overall to be dismissed even if we say that there were some better plays by other playwrights, that these might be better than some of Shakespeare's works.
This basically takes us into a debate about canons and their uses. Now as someone who often swings in comments on evaluating women as creators, challenging the whiteness of those most prized writers/artists etc. - reconsidering the domination of the DWEMs (Dead White European Males) of canons - a couple of things strike me.
(1) as I know from experience on both sides of the desk, knowing what the canons are, how they have come into being, how they have been evaluated and defended over the centuries is vital. You can't discuss why there might be problems with identifying Shakespeare as the greatest ever writer unless you understand the terms of reference for having identified him as such. (Let's recall he wasn't always or consistently so lauded). You can't discuss questions like "why have there been no great women artists?" [Linda Nochlin] unless you understand the criteria used to identify greatness and how problematic this has made it for women to be considered - except as tokens, exceptionalist (often couched as 'not like a woman').
That also means that you have to know who has been identified as part of the canon.
The chief difficulty comes in how you teach people what the canon is without effectively setting these figures/works as the benchmark by which everything else falls short. That is much less straightforward and 'answers' (such as they have been) have so far filled many, many books).
(2) quality and beauty are very much in the eye of the beholder. Now please don't think I'm saying that these things don't exist. And I'm all for - on a personal level - proclaiming something as being great. But the problem is how and why are we judging things as being great, as having quality or beauty. Our questions and expectations shape whether we can perceive the greatness in something. The circumstances of production, distribution, long-term dissemination and promotion, all play a role in people's perceptions of the quality or something. Sometimes being different, too different, from everything surrounding you, can make it difficult to be appreciated: the language needs reinventing to evaluate it because the old orders of language to describe how quality and beauty may be measured may simply be inadequate.
(I rather feel at this point a sadness that Uncut magazine dropped its "Sacred Cows" column which neatly dissected and provoked some of film and music's identified canon of greats).
Still, rather interestingly, in the end Anna has to admit that Taylor has a point:
Sometimes we concentrate on Shakespeare cos that's easier.And that's part of the problem. Does familiarity breed or reinforce 'greatness'?
Good, provocative post articulating the arguments about apologism. Thought provoking stuff that I wish could be half as eloquent about.
Update: Norm responds to some comments about his post here.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Just to avoid confusion with the luscious Alyson Hannigan over on my profile, this is me. Sadly without my trademark colour-clashing, stripey/bright coloured legs. We'll see what we can do now I've finally sussed how blogger can put blooming pics up.
So, with thanks to those who pass on this kind of information, hereby take note that he hated having to grow a moustache (hee: but he did carry it off well in Anna Karenina and as John Proctor in The Crucible).
So this will be on BBC2 9am Wednesday 27th July. So that'll be me setting the video then (and hopefully not in so much of a rush as last time).
Still, thanks to everyone who got in touch, how we let each other know we were okay, even if we're shaken to the core by these events.
And it's not trivial or demeaning to the current horrors of post-bombing London to go back to blogging, whatever our usual topics of humour and daily entertainment. It's living, and we do no one any favours by trying to pretend otherwise, or meet some artificial criteria of seriousness. For sure, realisations that we cannot, do not, live in a social bubble outside the scope of violence, are important - but so are the little things that connect us, that create friendships, contacts and our internet communities. And these are the things that no bomb should destroy, directly or indirectly.
So on that note, can I laugh very heartily at spotting Struggling Author's two recent additions to the bottom of her list headed "If you like this, you may like this..." (scroll)
Monday, July 11, 2005
I hope everyone is okay: there are still a few bloggers that haven't resurfaced. To those concerned about me and mine, as far as I can tell we're all okay. It's amazing how easy it is to accumulate contacts in London.
To those who wrote some wonderful and astute blogs over the last few days, thanks. Checking back over them today has been very helpful.
Normal service resuming as far as if possible tomorrow.
PS off work: gas man took an age and office decided best to work from home. Except compy is down at home so here I am at the local library...
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
I'm getting pretty sick of UNCUT palming us with multiple options of cover CDs for the same magazine content. Though more hilariously, as at July 6th, their own website doesn't even have the issue(s) on sale in the Nottingham Uni S.U. shop... What kind of sucky publicity is that?
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Took me a while to nip over but since Cloud is busy trying to get around to writing a blog entry for this new-ish site (whilst also keeping his own Cloud business floating on by), I thought I would gander by.
Hard to believe that a debate about Boris Johnson and fashion (yes, two phrases one would scarcely expect to appear in such proximity) could provoke such an outcry.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Oh yeah. And, I'm sorry, but how do blokes get off on that whole shaven thang? It's like a return to Victorian values.
I avoided it for the weekend. Cloud got his knickers in a twist raving about its inadequacies over lunch on Saturday so suffice to say here that the line-up sucked and the BBC coverage sucked(by all accounts): let's avoid being political by cutting to more music discussion between sets when the audience in the venue are watching info-films about poverty and Africa). Awareness raising my ass.