Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just doing my job... **UPDATED**

...and not in the the least bit enjoying it you understand. I post this picture under duress.

Yes, our little Cockney-Scot Doctor has his press launch tonight in Cardiff, so the countdown starts in earnest. The ever-wonderful david-tennant.com also informs me that the episode of Ready, Steady, Cook involving Dave and Pa will air on the 12th April at 4:30pm on BBC2 and there's a nice new shiny interview with the man himself conducted especially for the site.

Well, folks, my work here is done. It's a chore, I tell you.

I couldn't quite bring myself to make a whole new post, but just to inform you lovely people that the air date for episode 1 of the new series wil indeed be Saturday 15th April 2006, 7:00pm, BBC1. david-tennant.com once again fills in all the details.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"I wouldn't have eaten brains just to impress my grandmother"

Just one of the many gems to be found in the Normblog Profile of our favourite Struggling Author. Go, read, restrain snorts of laughter.

Quality T.V.

Lisa and I have many things in common, not least a love of high quality T.V. Now, Hustle just about sneeks into that category - bizarrely because it has become even sillier this series, and thus forging for itself a completely different course to its rather more staid older sibling, Spooks. As such I feel it my duty to flag up Adrian Lester's masterly Charlie Chaplin impression in Friday's episode which even rivals Johnny Depp's from Benny and Joon - and that's saying something. I think my absent host would have been very impressed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

And now, the travels here...

I check my bag
I check my passport
My friends, I see it clear


Take care of each other folks, and I'll do my best to look in when/if I can. Anna will do a great job in the meantime of keeping MOST of you entertained. Gather ye in my absence every cutting and picture, every gigglesome piece of information you can, ready for my return on Easter Saturday.

Instructions have already been laid for Green Wing to be recorded (I'm giving up House, CSI and L&O:CI for the vacation... seems I'm actually giving up Channel 5 for the vacation actually)

See ya folks!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Anarchy for Timperley

Frank Sidebottom's favourite dessert?

Hello...? *tap tap*... am I on?

So this is weird. Like rifling through someone's drawers while they're away...

For those of you who don't know me, I am the aforementioned Anna, a relatively new blogger who's currently feeling like she's just been invited to sit in the Staff Room and is excited but also nervous about knocking over the spider plant in the corner. As the lovely Lisa has explained, I've been invited to babysit for a time while she's away living the high life in NZ (!) so, armed with Kipper The Dog DVDs - the thinking person's children's TV show - here I am.

That's perhaps enough extended metaphors for one post, so I'll jump back to my own blog until Lisa actually leaves. Until then, say your teary goodbyes, and I'll be back with Dr. Who info and my feet on the furniture very soon... ;)

Sitting with the toddler blog

Okay, so Rullsenberg Rules is hardly a baby blog anymore, but like any toddler, you wouldn't want to leave it on its own for too long.

So very kindly Anna of the extra-specially lovely "Theatre is life..." has agreed to sit with the toddler blog whilst I am away in NZ. Now, I shouldn't need to say 'go gentle' with her as she's been blogging about the same length of time as me. And as she has her own blog she won't be bothering you as much as I do. But she is suitably qualified to rave about Doctor Who (very important) and am convinced will be a great host whilst I'm fretting on the otherside of the world about conferences, dissertations and impending builders on my return...

I'll be dropping in till Thursday night, but the countdown has well and truly started...

3 more days in the office!


breathe Lisa, breathe...

Am excited, honest I am... I mean, have you seen the place?

(Lord of the Rings fans, I'm not sure how much you count...)

The boy band who started a war?

Scary, but possible.

Kinda puts in the shade all that was inflicted by Blue, A1, Five, Gemini...

Monday, March 20, 2006


TOO MUCH TO DO!!!!! Five days to go!!!!!

Sorry for shouting folks, but the caps indicate my state of mind. I have at least put in for OHPS of the images I need for the BAAS conference. Would be nice if the paper was written to go with them, but you can't have everything...

Yeah, I know, I got distracted by the Clare meme. I'm a naughty girl... not doing what I should be doing... bad, wicked Lisa...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Marie's experience of moving

Ah, bless our struggling author. Her description of the order in which she unpacks certainly struck a chord here.

Apart from unpacking the kettle first (everything else in the kitchen can wait: first night is ALWAYS a chippie or curry house), it's definitely music, books and movies before much else with us.

But like they say on tv, above and beyond anything else she says to make me smile, its definitely the final word on location, location, location...

The Dying of Delight meme

I'm always pretty chuffed to get bought into a meme, especially when they are created by such lovely people as Clare.

Since her first novel, The Dying of Delight, has such a wonderfully evocative title, it's hardly surprising she wanted to make use of it again - and what a great use she has put it to!

Here's my meme response, with instructions for others to follow below:

The Dying of Delight meme

1. Briefly describe an aspect of your life for which 'The Dying Of Delight'* would be an apt title.

Whenever I think of the word/concept of delight, my thoughts always turn to Neil Gaiman. If there is one thing that always haunts me from the incredible work that is "The Sandman" series, it is how he encapsulates The Endless, the concepts and moments of life that are eternal. And of those, many people's favourite is Delirium: a crazy haired, multi-coloured girl who conjurs fishes and butterflies from the madness and intensity of her thoughts (check out the illustrations on The Wake website mentioned above). Delirium, who used to be Delight. What an amazing concept, to spot the hairsbreadth bewteen delirium and delight.

So to think of a moment when an amount of my Delight began to die a little also makes me think how close delight is to delirium: that breath away from insanity that pure delight can be. There have been many perverse moments when delight has been edged out by delirium on a glance, or a remark. The panic of wondering if you can escape a situation and what, if anything, you will learn from it.

Still, as Clare rightly points out, any kind of delight only truly dies when we die: nevertheless, it can fade, become confused, bewildered. And those moments have often littered my life.

It's perhaps a different kind of delight that died in this account. In my early 20s, I had a bit of a mini-breakdown and was signed off from work with "nervous exhaustion". My closest friend at the time refused to send a card to me on the grounds that I just needed to pull myself together. The wound of her willful ignorance of my despair cut deep. I had come home one day from work and getting off the bus, walking round the green in front of our council house, and down the entry.... well, it had took an age... My mum stood in the doorway just horrifed at the sight of her girl walking slower than a 90 year old with a frame. Once in, I couldn't even lift a knife and fork to eat properly. It took me weeks to feel I could go out without holding on to someone. But for me the delight was not what had died in me when the illness of depression took over; the real dying of delight came when my friend refused to acknowledge there was even anything wrong with me. I knew then that long-term the friendship was doomed. I wasn't wrong.

2. Pick another book whose title has some resonance in your life, and write a little about it.

True Confessions and New Cliches

It's the "True Confessions" bit that I always identify with, not least because I often associate that title work with a friend from University with whom I shared many, many true confessions ["I know her sober / (but I know her better pissed)"]. I don't know if it is because I am an only child, but I do find that beyond a certain point I open up quite easily. In fact, if anything the problems come when something halts me in making 'true confessions', since it is in hesitation that I lose my nerve and close up, sometimes for good as if unable to justify having let go of the moment of openness. The idea of sharing is something very powerful in me: I don't feel that I do it lightly, though others may perceive I do. But perhaps I am also drawn to finding resonance in this title because of the two concepts it brings together: these are TRUE confessions, and as one desperate to please I have also sometimes made false confessions.

Still, a powerful memory for me comes from when Cloud and I were first going out together and I was overwhelmingly impressed by the breadth of his knowledge and reading (I still am: this story aside, he is just an amazing fount of knowledge and ideas). We sat in breathy conversation about some intellectual philosophical book for hours in his room at his parents. But I was bull-shitting him and hadn't actually read the book - I may even have not heard of it prior to him mentioning it (I don't even now recall what it was: repression or what!) And then the moment came: he confessed he hadn't actually read it. And I did the same.

In our desire to impress, we'd both played at knowledge but there had come a point where we couldn't sustain it. I think I loved him even more after that, for making a true confession that showed us both up as frauds.

3. What Women Want Men to Know

Never, ever, underestimate the power of our imaginations. Conversation, words written and spoken, can be the greatest turn-on imaginable: never forget that.

Except when we just want - no, need - to be absolutely shagged into ecstacy. Then you can just shut up.

4. A little known book

Maiden Speech by Eleanor Brown
I often return to this book of poetry, and though it was a close call between this and Robert Grundin's gripping murder mystery "Book", I plumped for Brown's debut collection of poetry because it seems even more obscure and yet deserving of note.

I've mentioned Brown previously, but I'm going with her again because, hey, this particular meme said to aim for little known books in the hope of getting them some more sales or attention. This gem certainly deserved wider recognition.

It opens with the ever hilarious "Bitcheral", which has lines like "There isn't a law that a face should have features, / it's just that they generally do" - surely one of the most neatly cutting remarks anyone could make on a new partner of someone they knew (and perhaps loved); and the final verse always makes me smirk a miaow:
It's not that I think she is vapid and silly; / it's not that her voice makes me wince; / but - chilli con carne without any chilli / is only a plateful of mince
Brilliant stuff...

What makes the book so glorious is the way it can move from insightful wit on contemporary manners ("Imitations of Immortality": "O, she may well disintegrate, / as human bodies must; / yet she will not surrender / to those voracious guests / (inviolable forever) / her perfect plastic breasts") to heartfelt character pieces where Brown conjurs the spirit of women from history and mythology ("Penelope": "I know you've been with other women. / That thing you did with my hair...")

Yet it is the centre-piece of the book, her magnificent "Fifty Sonnets", to which I endlessly return. Tracking a relationship - flawed, but treasured - from its intense beginnings to its no-less-intense recollection long after, the work has to be read complete to make sense of its impact. I've struggled to identify one particular section that sums up the poem, and could have alighted on pretty much each sonnet depending on my mood. I'm especially fond of the following passage:
When I recall you - as I often do -
between two paragraphs, against my will
(I try to keep you in parentheses,
but you will interrupt my reading as
you did my careful life, appearing through
the ruptured print to laugh at it)...
But overall XLII is perhaps the one that I sense most would be stung by, for so aptly describing that figure of love that people never quite get over:
Not if you crawled from there to here, you hear?
Not if you begged me, on your bleeding knees.
Not if you lay exhausted at my door,
and pleaded with me for a second chance.
Not if you wept (am I making this clear?)
or found a thousand different words for 'Please',
ten thousand for 'I'm sorry'; I'd ignore
you so sublimely; every new advance
would meet with such complete indifference.
Not if you promised me fidelity.
Not if you meant it. What impertinence,
then, is this voice that murmurs, 'What if he
didn't? That isn't his line of attack.
What if he simply grinned, and said, 'I'm back'?
Now tell me there isn't at least one person in your lifetime who doesn't inspire similar conflicted emotions?

5. Response:

This really is a thought provoking meme!

6. Five people to tag:

Anna, Reidski, Just Jane, Conscious&Verbal, Cloud.

So, to recap (quoted from Clare):
1. Briefly describe an aspect of your life for which 'The Dying Of Delight'* would be an apt title.
2. Pick another book whose title has some resonance in your life, and write a little about it.
3. Write one more short personal piece - one which matches the book title chosen (in part 2) by the person who tagged you.
4. Take your favourite little-known book and plug it to your readers. Authors need incomes, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell books.
5. Sit back and marvel at the magnificence of this meme. It was brought to you by an out-of-breath author, reduced (on account of her publisher* having expired) to trundling copies of her book across the internet on a rusty old trolley with one wheel missing, sweating and shouting "Buy me book, Gov?" Now visit www.TheDyingOfDelight.co.uk and see if you'd like a copy for yourself.
6. Tag five people with this meme.
*Diva Books, ceased trading Feb '06. RIP.
Go forth meme-ers!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Egg me on, why don't you?

Okay: snapshot from my life.

Supermarket shopping, we need eggs. I pick up a box and in checking they're not broken already, I manage to touch an egg that has a shell so thin it must have been nicked from the (free-range) hen's arse before it had time to thicken.

Cue Lisa with egg all over her hands and Cloud in hysterics.

I go off to the toilets to clean myself up.

... and leave Cloud in charge of my main bag...

with my mobile in it...

What do I get on my return, hands newly cleaned of egg yolk?
"someone called David phoned..."

"ha ha... very funny..."

"no really... said he liked your blog..."
Tell me people: do other people's long term partners tease them in this way?

Or is it just us?

Thought so...

People send me the strangest things

Now why would my friend Helen Lisette want to send me a picture of a man with swept back hair, supposedly being a 1960 Richard Hoggart at the Chatterley Trial...?

Ah... this would be why...

Mind, I have to say that for me SFX magazine works pretty well this month... Niiiiccceee....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Roldy on art

Marie, how could I have not picked up on this guy before?!

Thanks to the wonderful Marie - may her flat move go in peace - I've dropped by on the most magnificent essay about art I have read in a long time.

It's brilliant: Roldy, you're getting on the blogroll.

I can't say more than that because it is just near enough all the sorts of points I wish I had made but more succinctly.

1000 posts: The Story so far

The lovely Anna gave us a summary of posts when she hit the 100 mark: having hit the 1000 (my god, such waffling!) I feel the urge to do something similar. But obviously I am far more gabby so mine is very long!

So here is a review of the posts so far on a month by month basis, picking out regular topics and those posts that either drew the most comments or were just plain entertaining to me.

Now this doesn't quite add up to the 1000 but it gives you an approximate idea ...

September 2004: 17 posts
Typical posts:

October 2004: 19 posts

November 2004: 5 posts
NB my dad died at the start of the month and blogging was therefore very light

December 2004: 6 posts

January 2005: 49 posts
Hmmm... do you think I may have started with a new resolution on blogging for 2005?

February 2005: 57 posts

March 2005: 40 posts

April 2005: 54 posts

May 2005: 58 posts

June 2005: 67 posts

July 2005: 52 posts

August 2005: 42 posts

September 2005: 82 posts

October 2005: 81 posts

November 2005: 93 posts

December 2005: 90 posts

January 2006: 81 posts

February 2006: 70 posts

March 2006 (so far): 39 posts

Predictions as at Friday 17 March: observers may spot that the remaining months get much more silly, with increasing numbers of short posts and lots of them linking to Marie... Wonder why???

Two posts away from 1000 posts, and its another Desert Island Disc entrant...

Awh shucks, you always feel bad about leaving out the stragglers... Kevin's a busy boy bless him, but with such a corking list I couldn't leave him off the blog.

They're favourite tracks; they're meaningful tracks: but most of all they're great tracks... I mean, Stone Roses, Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy"?? AND The Proclaimers? (I have a much worn out tape of the Proclaimers second album and "Sunshine on Leith" is a firm favourite... by the way do you think that would win me any favours with this fan of the brothers Reid? And why oh why did I fess up to Cloud why I giggled during our recent conversation about me loving story-songs...? I mean it wasn't as if he didn't know that I have a secret passion for Avril Lavigne's first album and the song "Sk8er Boi"... but did I have to giggle over who else had fessed up liking her? I fear the phrase "architect of her own doom" doesn't get close to describing me...)

Sorry, went off on one there. For those still with us, I'm adding a 33 note for Kevin to the collection point for DIDs.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HolyHosesRob takes us through a parallel universe

We passed through into a parallel universe.

Remember when we woke up so optimistic on that May morning? Were we just deluded? Are we still hopeful? Can we carry on being hopeful?

God, I hope so or else it all becomes too depressing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Based on predictions and information it seems that my plea was not in vain...?

Oh, say it is so! Please say it is so!

If only because it would give me an inflated sense of believing that higher powers are taking note of my pleading.

That's due a big hat-tip, curtsey and thank you to Rob Buckley.

NOTE: The launch date was also mentioned - why didn't I look? - in the News section of Outpost Gallifrey a couple of days ago.

"It looks like a porcupine"

Watching part one of a Toby* CSI last night, a great line came up from Nick Stoke's character: sporting a ridiculous bit of facial fluff over his top lip, when the pointers for bulletholes were poking from a car he declared "It looks like a porcupine"...

... to which I instinctively added "it looks like a caterpiller"...

At least the scriptwriters were savvy enough to recognise the ludicrousness of it by adding in a line that had Warwick Brown address Nick as "hey, moustache-boy"!

* Toby = to be continued...

The final Desert Island Disc selection: Number 32

Yes, yes, I am sure that there are many of you out there shouting "NOOOO!!!! I haven't got mine in yet!" But you know what, it WAS supposed to have a time limit and even allowing for people picking up the list late, I think we've given enough time and space to this, and there's a full list to be found here.

So without further ado, here is number 32.

It's from my friend Paul who is blog-less but whom I thought would appreciate the idea as we often exchange emails on music.
It's 1990. I'm 14. My record collection is small, and consists mainly of American rock (Guns 'n' Roses, Bon Jovi, even Poison, for goodness sake) and dodgy chart music (I had an especial penchant for Belinda Carlisle). And then I hear 'Birdhouse in Your Soul' and life will never be the same again. It's the song that gets me seriously interested in music. Ok, so the songs that awaken you to a new world of records are supposed to be by people like Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, or Run DMC, but I can claim nothing so cool. For me, this was the song, a nerd's anthem, that led me first to other 'indie' bands of the time - Pixies, The Wonder Stuff - then to The Smiths and The Jam, and then to punk and then to the 60s and soul music and so on and so on. Now, on the rare occasions I hear 'Birdhouse' on the radio, a moment of mild embarrassment quickly gives way to a surge of joy and gratitude. "Not to put to finer point on it, you are the bee in my bonnet..."

I was only 11 when The Smiths split up and it wasn't until I was 14 or 15 (following the 'Birdhouse in Your Soul' epiphany) that I really started to listen to their music and developed for them that obsessional love that typifies Smiths fans. Many of my friends thought The Smiths were 'depressing' but they, of course, missed the point. To the angst-ridden teenager, Smiths records were the opposite: comforting and even uplifting. This, of all Morrissey & Marr songs, expresses most completely what it is to be 16, and to feel miserable and misunderstood. The opening chords still make my heart skip a beat.

I managed to miss out on the whole Madchester scene at its peak (put off, I think, by the floppy-haired Mancunian wannabes Bez-walking around Wolverhampton town centre during the summer of 1990). However, a couple of years later a friend made for me a copy of The Stone Roses' eponymous debut album. That summer, I went on holiday with my parents to Edinburgh. I put the tape into my walkman as the train pulled out of Wolverhampton train station and towards Scotland. 'I Wanna Be Adored,' the opening track on the album, kicked in as the train picked up speed - the drums, the bass, the guitar, the landscape flashing by...a true adrenalin rush. Even today, I often I put 'The Stone Roses' on at the start of a long journey by car, train, or coach, and it never fails to conjure up vivid images of that summer, or to give me tingles.

During the summer at the end of my first year at university in York, most Saturday nights my friends and I would go to a small club called The Bonding Warehouse. That exhiliaring feeling of being young and a little drunk on a long, warm night, like the world belongs just to you and your friends. It was a great summer for music: 'Wonderwall,' 'Common People' and 'Girl From Mars,' the last of which more than any whenever I hear it still sends me back to those glorious nights, still gives me that feeling.

Holly Cole is a Canadian jazz singer. I went out with a Canadian for a while. It wasn't a particularly happy relationship. One good thing did come out of it, though - she introduced me to Holly Cole's music. She's an interesting artist; she once recorded an entire album of Tom Waits covers (Holly Cole, not my ex-girlfriend). I'm not sure whether this is an original or a cover, but it's a beautiful song about the hope that falling in love with someone will wipe out all the bad experiences of a lifetime. "Make it go away, or make it better, isn't that what love's supposed to do?" goes the chorus.

I wanted one protest song in my list, simply because my political beliefs have been shaped as much by songs, bands and singers as by novels, pamphlets and politicians. Maybe more by records than by anything else. It came down to a choice between this, Billy Bragg's version of 'Jerusalem,' Phil Ochs' 'I Ain't A Marchin' Anymore,' Nina Simone's 'Ain't Got No' and Elvis Costello's 'Shipbuilding.' All are proof that songs can be powerful, and good songs really powerful. As I thought more about it, this seemed the one that packed the greatest emotional punch.

Brian is a band consisting of just one person, who is called Ken Sweeney, but who always wanted to be in a band called Brian. He has released (so far as I know) just two albums in the last 14 years, both full of beautiful, tender, catchy pop songs about girlfriends, families, friends, and rubbish jobs. This is from the first album, 'Understand.' There's something so vivid about the characters and stories in Brian's songs, especially on 'Understand,' that makes listening to the record strangely like watching a film. A bittersweet film about a summer of falling in love and getting your heart broken, all shot on super-8. Up until a few years ago, I couldn't have picked out one song from 'Understand' to be my choice for a list like this. Then I met my current girlfriend (see below). After we had been going out with each for a few months, she hesitantly admitted that she had a slight problem with the way I kiss. 'You Don't Want A Boyfriend' contains the line, "You don't want a boyfriend with sloppy kisses..." and so now makes me think of here when I hear it. And, as I like thinking about her, that is a good thing.

My parents have been happily married for almost forty years now. During the early years of their relationship, before they were married, and while both were first undergraduate and then postgraduate students, they spent several years living in different parts of the country, often going months without seeing each other. Fans of Ella Fitzgerald and of Cole Porter, this song became, for obvious reasons, significant for them both. My partner, Liz, is American and had to move back to the States last year, since when we, like my parents before us, have been conducting a long-distance relationship, often going months without seeing each other. Fans of Ella Fitzgerald and of Cole Porter, this song has become, for obvious reasons, significant for us both. Funny how history can repeat itself.
Awh, now ain't that a lovely note to end this meme on?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

31st Desert Island Disc selection

Courtesy of Todd Melnick, you hereby are presented with the 31st desert island disc selection. The collection point is here for those interested.
1. Sonic Youth, "Superstar"

Long ago and oh so far away I fell in love with Sonic Youth. Nobody else in my high school had ever heard of them. A teenaged version of me drove up to New York for the Goo album release party at the Roseland Ballroom. My ears rang for the next three days. It's so sad that their cover of the entire White Album was never executed, but at least we have their Superstar. The original came out the year I was born and my childhood was littered with Carpenters tracks. At the point of this one song, at least, my preadolescent tastes and what came after achieve an implausible synthesis. I still shiver when the bass comes in just as the song's fading out.

2. Nick Cave, "The Mercy Seat"

"When I hear Mingus / When I hear Mingus . . . God / When I hear Mingus"


"Mingus / Play / God / For Me"

[r. cephas jones, "God, Mingus and Myself"]

For me, it's like that. I experience this effect most strongly with the original version, but the acoustic version works as well, and so does Johnny Cash's, and even Stromkern's.

3. Einstürzende Neubauten, "Ende Neu"

The most recent of my three most memorable gigs came just a few weeks ago, here in San Diego. Blixa performed Rede/Speech at the Casbah. We chatted with him for a minute afterwards, and like the total fans we are, asked for his autograph. This EN song gives me so much energy.

4. Ibrahim Tatlises, "Cane Cane"

My friend Sebastian brought "Söylim mi?" back from Turkey. He liked this song so much he memorized all the words (without understanding them). I liked it almost as much. That was the year I really started to discover the world. We would go drive around Geneva blasting it out if the speakers of Sebastian's old red Citroën (the kind they call the ugly Duck in Holland (de lelijke eend), but in Flanders the goat (de geit).

One Michigan January night in the middle of a blizzard in 1995 I met Ibrahim Parlak for the first time. It turned out that the guy who wrote the original Cane Cane had been a friend of his. He had an instrumental version on CD and put it on. They arrested Ibrahim two years ago and the struggle to keep him from being deported is still ongoing [ http://www.freeibrahim.com/].

(p.s. the song's name is pronounced something like "zhahnay zhahnay.")

5. Serge Gainsbourg, "Bonnie And Clyde (En Duo Avec Brigitte Bardot)"

So many Gainsbourg songs are candidates but this is the one I play the most. I first met this song indirectly, as mediated by MC Solaar's "Le nouveau western."

6. Arvo Part, "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten"

"Le 'Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten' offre un climat général reflétant paix et tristesse ineffable."

7. Lou Reed, "Perfect Day"

Some friends and I approximated this day in Regent's Park. We fed no animals, but we laid out our blankets just beside the zoo. We had our pot of Sangria. Taking liberties with the song, we rolled up some sushi and brought it too. I think I remember running to catch a movie, too, as night was falling, but maybe I am mixing things up.

8. Sonic Youth, "Trilogy"

The energy is just so wild. That last chord comes with such a satisfying crunch, so much built up and so much so perfectly resolved. They aren't my favorite band any more but I need to see this slab of three-in-oneness live, just once, before I die.

But if I don't, at least I was there for the Atomic Jam at the Jazz Cafe in Camden Town on the 14th of April, 1996, when Lee and Thurston played with Ascension. For me, that was the gig of gigs. And to make it even more perfect, I was at the Sonic Youth show three nights later at the Forum where Ascension opened and the drunk teenagers started throwing glasses at the band and the drummer jumped out from behind his kit and dove into the crowd and started beating on one of the offenders, who then jumped up on stage and charged the drummer before being intercepted by the security people.

Those days, those days.
Just for including EN in this list, I am sure Cloud will love it and be impressed.

So that's 31 folks... anyone know of any other lists out there that could do with being included in the listing?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Comment problems and picture difficulties

Seems as if there may be some problems with comments today: you could try right-clicking to open a new window (Cloud says that may work). If you are a mac user that may just be a garbage remark, but apologies - I'm a sad old PC user.

On other business, via Harry's Place, Cloud tipped me off about a fascinating bit of photographic history: the "picture difficulties" of this post's title.

The post is really worth looking at closely as it interrogates a 1952 photograph of Times Square, NYC.

How history is edited indeed...

Tales of swans

A great post over at Conscious and Verbal (he's been a bit off blogging lately so nice to see him back) on a number of matters - including, as you can tell by the title, accountancy - but mostly on the evil nature of swans.

It's a very touching post - though not exactly a happy ending - but a great insight into how we deal with the wildlife around us.

"Fancy watching some science fiction?"

I just can't get away with it can I?

With little on TV we fancied watching, I offer up the chance to watch some science fiction (okay, not Cloud's favourite genre admittedly).

First response?

"Who's in it?"


Reluctantly passes over the DVD case for The Quatermass Experiment.

Cue an evening where Cloud gets most of his entertainment from watching me squirm at his watching me watching the TV with what he describes as "great intensity"...


Very good though: a very effective update. I recall the John Mills version, and subsequently reading up on all the previous ones (being a bit of a sci-fi geek girl). This 2005 version - originally broadcast as a LIVE production on BBC4 - stands up very well I would say.

Mind, we did get a bit distracted trying to recall exactly where we knew Adrian Bower from. Ah, of course: he was Brian of 'Kurt and Brian' fame in Teachers! Doh!

Aptitude and ability

Just a small point, but I was listening to a politician this morning talking about the forthcoing education bill and they said that selecting on the basis of aptitude is not the same as selecting on ability.
I'm not saying that can't be true, but can someone provide me with a concrete example of how you would identify someone has an aptitude that doesn't also demonstrate an ability? I know that aptitude is the "potential" to acquire a skill, but what exactly would they be looking for?

Whilst on a 2 x 2 grid you could say that someone has no ability and no aptitude, and likewise they could have ability and an aptitude, what would you look for to show the other (two, equal) bits of the grid?

Additionally, it does seem rather weird that schools currently can select on that aptitude for what are deemed practical subjects - PE, music, technology etc - but not for what might be termed traditional academic subjects. I'm really not in favour of selection for either, but that does seem a strange distinction to make if we have supposedly moved beyond anything remotely like a two cultures attitude...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Its the comments that make it...

Bless Rob Buckley for pandering to us here as well as here: but the comments in that latter post exchange seem to have some layers of meaning I can't quite put my finger on...

... which in itself is probably bad phrasing.

Review: The Proposition

The Proposition is scripted by Nick Cave, which should give you some indication of what it will be like.

Whilst you may not think it from the previous post, HL and I love a good violent movie with a good plot (that last point is crucial: we saw the trailer for the Eli Roth film Hostel and I can't even begin to think why I would want to be in the same cinema as that film). Mind, we did pretty much double the female presence at the screening: hilariously there were two women sat behind us who could probably be us in 15-20 years time. A most unlikley pair to find in this screening, but they seemed to enjoy it as much as we did!

Anyway, the film.

After a slow-paced credit sequence using old photographs and a lilting music track, the first sequence proper of the film sets its stall out: ricocheting bullets against flesh, metal, and wood. It's a startling beginning, if hardly unexpected given the movie genre. From there you follow on with torture and betrayal - as you would also expect from Cave. And there are the usual smatterings of biblical reference points - count the flog strokes for starters - plus a suitably desperate if closure-providing ending.

That all makes it seem a little ho-hum perhaps?

Not true at all.

The cinematography is breath-taking, making the most of the Australian landscape. The sound is appropriately subtle and exaggerated in turns: you can almost taste the presence of the flies. The violence is brutal, but never misplaced or unnecessary to the plot or the emotional journey of the characters. And most of all, you never feel disconnected from those characters: something that is all too easily done in films featuring violence (a kind of "why should I care?" distancing). That is achieved via some fine acting from people such as Guy Pearce, Ray Winston, and John [sorry: I mean DANNY] Huston.

It also has humour: okay, so that's some very bleak Australiam humour maybe, but humour nonetheless. Some of it is hidden in passing remarks, but if you catch it you will laugh.

Overall then a very worthwhile film to see. Probably not for the faint-hearted - it is an 18 certificate after all - but if we coped, then I guess most of you will.

A mini report back on the "wild women weekend"

It has come to something when, in order to have a face-to-face conversation with one of your best friends, you have to book into a hotel for a weekend away. Hilariously then, I have just spent the weekend at a hotel in Nottingham (yes, I do live in this self same city).

Thanks to some spectacularly ridiculous working schedules for both of us, and bouts of ill-health on my part, whilst it has been relatively easy for Helen Lisette and me to chat by phone, text and email, face-to face girly giggling has been scarcely possible lately. In blunt terms, since our birthdays last October we have met up just four/five times. Which would be reasonable if she didn't live just five minutes drive from me. Hence the weekend away.

Taking into account that we had minimal travelling costs, the idea of a hotel in our home city was inspired and actually relatively cheap. Over two days/nights there was much food (including essentials like chocolate and crisps), much chatting, and sufficient alcohol to encourage a lack of restraint in the conversation. Gossip central didn't get close to it. We met up with Cloud for lunch on Saturday, after a trip to buy an MP3 player (nothing too fancy or large scale) to tide us over the trip to New Zealand [It's charging right now: so, no, I haven't fully got to grips with it yet] and purchasing the Askenazy recordings of the Rachmaninov piano concertos on CD. It was just plain fun. Okay, so no clubbing, but we didn't care.

We did fit in two movies: Friday night was "The Proposition" (of which more in a separate post) and Saturday afternoon - to the scorn and mockery of Cloud - was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Yes, I can't think why either. Not sure whether it's tragic or hysterical to find a children's film capable of stirring laughter, tears and completely misplaced sexual excitement.* Lost, I tell you, I am irredeemably lost. Still it was a fun way to pass a Saturday afternoon. Especially as we came out just in time to get into Hotel Chocolat to buy some goodies for the evening. (Yes, I did buy Cloud some to bring home to him: least I could do really...).

So there you have it: probably not very wild by some standards, but great fun nonetheless.

*Picture located courtesy of a regularly visited site...

That forthcoming "long absence" explained: twelve days before going

Hee, Rosby spots the remark.

Yes folks, there will be a "long absence" coming up. As from the end of Thursday 23 March 2006 I will more than likely be away from the blog until Sunday 16 April 2006.

So actually not THAT long (but it will feel long to me).

Why the absence?

Well, I could say (as Cloud just suggested) that a 1960s blue police telephone box is coming to take me away for three weeks... Would that it was...

The truth is more prosaic: we're off to New Zealand to see Cloud's family.*

Okay, so that IS pretty exciting, but probably not as exciting as the 1960s blue police telephone box that Rosby is now picturing. Yes dear, you and Marie are hereby entrusted - from twelve days time (not a moment before!) - with looking after David for me till my safe return. I expect him to remain undamaged, unsullied (well... within reason), and preferably not having started Season Two in my absence. I'm already cross that Season Two of "Green Wing" starts a week after my departure. People: I need you all with video or DVD recorders at the ready. I will be requiring desiring (no, that's worse)... let's say "pleading" with people to not leave me on the other side of the world without hope of returning to find a stash to catch-up on of these televisual goodies.

Thanks for that...

* Actually, in terms of going to New Zealand, my lovely partner Neil's blogname of Cloud is apt since the Maori name for New Zealand - Aotearoa - is usually translated as "Land of the long white cloud"...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wild Women Weekend

Off for a weekend of frivolity with Helen Lisette. Sorry folks, but a blog pause will therefore occur.

Think of it as training before the longer absence...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Desert Island Follow-up:

Paulie brings out a good suggestion in response to one of the expected problems people raised about doing the current Desert Island Discs meme that I sent around [NB 29 people so far: can we get over 30...?!]. Quoting his friend Anthony, who suggests that on a desert island it would be AC/DC over Captain Beefheart, Paulie fesses:
I don’t think I could like a record that I wouldn’t be prepared to put on in front of my hippest and most intolerant friends. As a kiddie, I used to find a really hip LP and take it into town two or three times (in the old yellow Nottingham Selectadisc bags, natch) so that anyone I ran into would be able to see the LP that I ‘just bought’.

White Light White Heat and The Human League’s Reproduction are two LPs that I recall doing this with.
Despite this tendency, Paulie still completed the DID meme and probably gave as fair a reflection of his taste as any of us have done. But what he goes on to suggest is this:
Perhaps [this] would be a better task for Rullsenberg to be demanding of us?

Eight LPs that the reflected glory of owning them eclipsed the pleasure of actually listening to them.
So come on guyrs, fess up those albums that you actually don't like that much, but which you have flaunted to acquire kudos from your mates.

You know you have...

Rules for Dogs and Cats

Hee: I know this sort of thing comes round regular, but I did find this amusing.
Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years--canine or feline attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's behind. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:
All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets
1 They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.
Now what I want to know is, why do animals insist on chasing/racing you when you leave the room?

Christine's lovely list of Desert Island Discs

I think we're now approaching 30 for the DID roll-call.

And here's another: from my non-blogging friend Christine, who can rest assured that her list is just as worthy of inclusion as any others and whose list is so beautifully representative of her... well, there's a reason she's a great adoptive 'sis' to me.
1) Witchcraft - Frank Sinatra.

I have two reasons for loving this fabulous standard. The first is that my Dad, who was in his young days, a pub singer (he and his lovely pianist Peggy would travel all over the country and do their musical stuff…it was his much loved leisure time activity) would sing to me to get me off to sleep when I was a child…and this was one I used to adore. Wonderful orchestration on this Frank version and the lyrics: Wow! Oh…that other reason is that a certain very special woman - a stripey kinda gal, who may be known to some of you, makes me giggle very gleefully with her very singular habit of being able to …well let's just say...suss me out at every turn! Hmm…witchy! I always think of her when I put it on the CD player.

2) 3rd movement. Moderato... - Prokofiev Violin concerto No.1

This is so haunting yet uplifting. Just beautiful. I discovered it in 1978 when my son, Joe, was about three months old and I was drifting off to sleep after his late night feed and its gorgeousness came wafting from the radio which I always left on low volume, although not ALL night, as in those far off days, stations shut down at around midnight I think, anyway .....It quietly and completely, blew me away. I've loved it ever since and listen to it at least once a week while working about the house.

3) Tell me why - The Beatles

From "A Hard Day's Night" Fell in love with this aged thirteen when I saw John Lennon's smile as he belted out "Well I gave you everything I had, but you left me sitting on my own..." Adored him forever after!

4) In France they kiss on Main Street - Joni Mitchell from Hissing of Summer Lawns

Mmmm....this is a tremendous song, first track on the album: comes in like a stiletto in a velvet glove, with that gorgeous guitar simply stabbing you in the sternum as it plunges in at the beginning (and reappears throughout the song) Then the opening line: "Downtown my darling dime store thief....." Phew ...so many memories of ...well so many things. It's superb.

5) You're a big Girl Now - Dylan ...from Blood on the Tracks

Beautiful little, but enormous love song. Reminds me of a friend who is a big Bob fan right from way back and has seen him live, countless times now. "Our conversation was short and sweet..." sigh.

6) Down to Zero - Joan Armatrading

Another opening track...this young girl from Jamaica with her debut album, and this powerful song to kick off. I think of a rainy day in Skegness, wind blowing but not caring, sitting eating a picnic on a damp sea front bench...on a working day...back to the car and this blasting from the (then) cassette player. Great and good.

7) Righteously - Lucinda Williams (from World Without Tears)

I heard this for the first time one warm summer evening whilst cooking dinner on a portable hot plate in the midst of demolished bricks and plaster, whilst my lovely old house was being renovated. I just danced round the ruins of my kitchen and felt so lifted by her voice and the lyrics that I'll never forget it.

8) See Emily Play - Pink Floyd

I was temping at a job in London in 1970 when a young guy taken on to do filing started talking to me about Floyd...and had I heard them...well er no...so he played SEP to me in the basement of the building on a "Dansette" portable record player...titter... and I fell under the spell of PF forever. “WHAT was that I just heard?” was the question which came immediately to mind!
Worthwhile? I can't see anything wrong with this list! It's meant to be quirky and personal and without regard to showing off (well, not too much anyway!). Scanning the lists we have acquired or prompted so far, its clear that - to say the least - our tastes are eclectic and our reasoning very personal.

And isn't that kinda the point?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

John Morgan Wilson's piece on Brokeback Mountain

My good friend Rita, who works on this esteemed publication, sends regular goodies to me: jokes, extracts from the media regarding social issues, and especially a lot of great coverage around gay and lesbian issues.

She sent this link on to me today and I thought it worth presenting here.

John Morgan Wilson, a journalist and novelist, here presents a timely reminder that for all the excitement over Brokeback Mountain, there remains a dominent current of homophobia.
I’m talking about one of the stars, Heath Ledger, telling a publication that he and costar Jake Gyllenhaal had to “work hard to keep from laughing” when they prepared to kiss each other in a scripted scene. It’s not something I can imagine him ever telling a reporter about a romantic scene he’d shared with a female actor. (At least he’s honest about his discomfort with kissing a man; I’ll give him that.)

I’m talking about the likable Gyllenhaal going on the Jay Leno show to promote the movie and saying pointedly that the initial idea of playing a “gay cowboy” was unthinkable, and that years earlier he’d been repulsed when someone had suggested he read the Annie Proulx short story on which the eventual movie was based. (I wonder if reading stories involving violence or emotional abuse also turn him off so fervently.)

I’m talking about the affable Leno falling all over himself to make sure his TV audience knew that he considered Brokeback a “wonderful” film. This despite his endless homophobic jokes over the years during his monologues, particularly his asides with bandleader Kevin Eubanks, when they make it clear that they find the idea of physical intimacy between two men really icky. (Though he doesn’t seem to realize it, the unmarried Eubanks’s reflexive revulsion to any reference to gay sexuality stopped being funny and started looking suspicious years ago.)

I’m talking about the repeated references in the endless media coverage of Brokeback Mountain to the heterosexuality of director Ang Lee and his male stars, reflecting their apparent need to distance themselves from homosexuality. (Or maybe it’s just the publicists and reporters who feel that’s so important.)

I’m talking about their constant pleas during interviews, direct or implied, for moviegoers to get beyond their preconceptions and experience the film as a great love story regardless of its same-sex nature. (Put another way: We realize that you find gay love alien and gay sex disgusting, but, hey, this is a movie, so don’t let your understandable repugnance keep you from seeing a great flick.)
It's hard not to notice the implications of these things when they are so clearly laid out.

Over 20 people have passed on their Desert Island selections

Even those without blogs are getting in on the act! This came through from the lovely Helen Lisette, with whom I am escaping this weekend for indulgent amounts of chocolate and conversation.
1. "Well Did You Evah?" Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby: from High Society.
My late (much lamented) Dad considered himself a 'crooner' and between us we could recite the lyrics of this song backwards, forwards, upside down and sideways. Whenever I hear it I am immediately reminded of him and the happy times we shared.

2. "Born to Run" Bruce Springsteen.
No particular memories attached to this one; other than it is fabulous and never fails to get my pulse racing. A few years ago I was lucky enough to see Bruce in concert and this was the encore. Such is the memory that I can even remember the time he sang it: 10.03pm.

3. Radio 3's recording of "Hamlet" with Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, and a host of others.
In my opinion 'Ken' has one of the sexiest voices I have ever heard (and seen live, numerous times). If I am not allowed the whole recording then I would like the section from Ophelia's burial to the end of the play. This section contains some of the most beautiful lines in the English Language and, when delivered by Mr Branagh, are sublime and send a shiver down my spine.

4. Bach: Prelude to Suite No1 in G Major, performed by Yo-Yo Ma.
Two and a half years ago, I was lucky to get a ticket to an advance preview of 'Master and Commander', followed by a Q&A Session with Messrs Crowe and Bettany. My God! I think this was one of the happiest nights of my life. This piece always reminds me of 'The Galapagos Islands' section of the film (and that night) and Joshua Lyman from 'West Wing': such is my working day sometimes that I could be Donna Moss!

5. "O Soave Fanciulla" (love duet) from La Boheme.
I think this is one of the shortest love duets in operatic history but carries a mighty punch. It never fails to make me cry and I can particularly recommend the DVD of Baz Luhrmann's production at the Sydney Opera House.

6. "J'Attends: Gortoz A Ran" Denez Prigent and Lisa Gerrard, from the soundtrack of "Black Hawk Down".
I adore Lisa Gerrard's music and fell in love with this piece when I saw the film. Four years ago, whilst on holiday in Australia, I embarked on a 9-hour train journey to Northern New South Wales(OK:Coffs Harbour). Due to track repairs, the last part of the journey was on a bus. Listening to this piece, I sat looking up at the Australian night sky, trying to work out where the Crux Australis was. There were no street lights and so nothing spoiled the view of the heavens.

7. "Manhattan" sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
I couldn't let this list go by without a reference to NYC, the corny lyrics and the sheer magic of Ms Fitzgerald's voice - sheer heaven.

8. "Don't Look Back in Anger" Oasis.
I am unable to explain the inclusion of this one, other than to profess a love for the sound of the song.

Well, that's it. There's another 8 rattling around in my brain, but this will do for the time being.
Darvit Nel, I’m well proud of you for having a go at this! And “Don’t Look back In Anger”: could that have anything to do with the final scenes of “Our Friends in the North”?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Give the Sound-Guy an Oscar!

This from the Guardian today was rather touching:
For the 18th time, sound mixer Kevin O'Connell was nominated for an academy award, this year for his work on Memoirs of a Geisha. But, for the 18th time, he went home with nothing.
Awh come on, that just seems gratuitous. I mean, I know we have all the stories to hand about the greats who never won, or who were nominated multiple times and never won, and the ones who won seemingly becasue they had been overlooked in the past... but really, this is stupid.

Myself, I've always been more interested in the visuals of cinema: art direction, cinematography etc. But let's face it, without the sound guys we're back in the days of silent cinema. Kevin O'Connell shuld have his day. Any chance it could be asap?


Despite our love for Mr Claaarke, we taped Dalziel and Pascoe last night (and will do tonight when CSI is on). Instead we opted for the delights of Rebus, which this time did not earn the confusion of the grand dame of TV reviewing, Nancy Banks-Smith, as it had done last time:
Rebus is strongly cast wherever you slice it, but the finest slice is Ken Stott: quizzical, quiet and wearing a look of almost humorous despair.
I am so fond of Mr Stott: there's something so delightfully rumpled about him. He's so much better suited to this role than John Hannah was.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dozy night listening to Five Live reporting from the Oscars

Not exactly coverage, but did at least doze through hearing most of the wins. Glad to see that some of my predictions or hopes won through.

PSH was a shoe-in for Capote and I'm really looking forward to catching that.

Was glad to see George Clooney got something for all his nominations this year across the ceremonies: would have been shame to see him go home empty handed: again, Syriana is on my to see list.

Reese Witherspoon wanted to "matter" I hear: in which case she needs to do more films like Walk the Line and follow up on her stunning turn in Election as effectively as possible.

It seems that the swing really was behind Rachel Weisz for supporting actress, which rather suggests a misjudgement on the part of the team choosing categories for the BAFTAs: it makes a lot of difference which category you go for with some roles.

It also appears that mine wasn't the only heart to go for Wallace and Gromit: 4 Oscars for Nick Park it is then.

Despite my hopes elsewhere, it seems that the lush work in Memoirs of a Geisha was sufficient to scoop the visual awards: art direction, cinematography, and costume design all went its way.

After all the plaudits, the least that could happen was that Ang Lee would get another Oscar for his work on Brokeback Mountain. Did the film peak too soon? Is sexuality still too taboo a subject? Is race 'easier' to deal with?

I was pretty thrilled that Crash did so well, though I thought this was a revealing remark from Neil Smith on the BBC site:
But perhaps the key factor in Crash's success is that, as hard-hitting as its look at racial tensions in modern Los Angeles may be, it ultimately contains a heartwarming, even simplistic message.

Brokeback Mountain, Munich and Capote are profoundly feel-bad movies that leave the audience ruing man's bigotries, weaknesses and evil deeds.

The same can also be said of Good Night, and Good Luck, with its clarion call for independent media and unashamedly left-wing sympathies.

Though its characters often behave despicably to one another, Crash ultimately ends on an uplifting note.

Much has been written on how this year's Oscar contenders have embraced serious political and social themes that reflect a new maturity in Hollywood.

The clever thing about Crash is that it achieves this while still peddling the same wholesome truisms that have sustained Hollywood since time immemorial.
Maybe not so much the surprise winner after all...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Goddam it, the Arcade Fire's album Funeral is just amazing!

Not like it's been that long since I listened to The Arcade Fire's Funeral, but darvit, that album is amazing. From that opening track "Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)" rising to a pumping crescendo, to the searing "In the Backseat"... it's all good!

Just how much did Channel Five pay for Prison Break?

Clearly most of their budget: what else would explain SIX - yes, count 'em, SIX - trailer ads within two hours of programming.

Even using the majesterial version by Johnny Cash of Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat" couldn't make me want to spend time watching Prison Break, so bombarding me with adverts was really only going to wind me up.

Stuart Collins and Andrew Maconie: Cloud's Ant or Dec

Cloud is now so incapable of separating Andrew Collins from Stuart Maconie on a Sunday afternoon on 6Music that he has now proclaimed them as his Ant or Dec (scroll).

I say, BWAH!

Rob Buckley is a responsive blogger

It's nice when the pleas of bloggers to their compadres get great answers: after writing a Doctor Who post without his usual inclusion of a gratuitous David Tennant picture, Marie shouted up for resumption of usual service.

And bless me if the lovely MediumRob* didn't come up with the goods in a spectacular fashion.


*Rob, there are just so many Robs out there! Please select your own unique Rob identifier if this doesn't suit (we have EineKleineRob and HolyHosesRob so far - the latter has even adopted it as his blog moniker: still, I haven't even tried to distinguish between all the Pauls that alight at this blog...)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Public Information Films: the new generation

These (spoofs?!) over at the BBC site are just a joy to watch: full of inventive wit and visuals, they brightened up our Saturday morning and now we know what to watch out for!

How to make the bible come to life

You thought those illustrations we had earlier this year were good? Try these...

(Hat tip: John at Counago&Spaves).

The Desert Island Discs Collection Point

UPDATE 15 March 2006: 33 PEOPLE are now registered on this site with their Desert Island Disc selections.

You can find all the friends of Rullsenberg who have passed on their lists here (if you're missing and want to be on the list, just let me know - I'm not excluding you deliberately!):

Andrew, Anna, Bill (posted in comments at Counago&Spaves), Christine, Clare, Cloud, Dog at HolyHoses, EineKleineRob, Paul Fuzz, George, Gordon, Helen Lisette, HolyHosesRob, Rullsenberg, Jim at timesnewroman (Sunday 5 March 2006), John at Counago & Spaves, JustJane, Kara, Kevin, MediumRobIsNotEnough, Marie, Martin, Matt, Norm, Paul Burgin, Paulie, Paul W, Reidski, SimonHolyHoses, Skuds, Stef, Todd Melnick, Zinnia Cyclamen.

UPDATE: I wopn't be posting any more to this collection point, or flagging up on my blog, but given that 32 sent in their selections or were flagged to me, I think we can declare this a success.

That Desert Island Disc selection (before I change my mind)

HolyHosesRob gave up his (having already imagined his own listing some time back); and Paul Fuzz has added his to his site... I'll keep you posted on this and probably do a round up post in the future...

Anyway, given that I'm in danger of losing my nerve with this - even though I'm gutted at several not on the final list (of which more throughout this list) - here is the Rullsenberg Eight
  1. Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue

    Not exactly a song, but this track has been part of my psyche for as long as I can remember: yeah, I was tempted to go with a Sinatra track (Cloud played a tape of Songs for Swinging Lovers the first time I visited him in Wolverhampton after we'd met at OU Summer School), and Ella's Cole Porter Songbook blew me away from first hearing it - but Gershwin was on another level. Remember that I love New York? For me, this track IS New York: the New York of the early 20th century, certainly the 1920s-1940s, and is utterly spine-tingling. Cloud suggested it should have been book-ended with the equally New York evocative Weather Report track, "Birdland" (the track that calls to mind 70s taxis urgently papping their horns rather than soaring skyscrapers and hustle-bustle upper Manhattan, looking over Central Park... but there just wasn't room for both. Gershwin it is.

  2. (Don't Fear) The Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

    You have to remember that I grew up a child of Mud (Tiger Feet!) and with a devotion to Abba. I was resolutely not cool. My parents were older than most other kids' parents: we were a Jim Reeves household. So when I heard this track... what can I say? I went and spent my pocket-money on this and for the first time ever I felt daring and more adult. And, ultimately, it's a story song, and I'm a sucker for those. Rightly, of course, it has been pointed out that it is a deeply seductively evil song encouraging suicide. As Garry Mulholland writes in This Is Uncool: The 500 Greatest Singles since Punk and Disco "Its the only time that a band characterised as heavy metal have moved me to tears repeatedly, yet I'm forced to conclude that this record is possibly very evil. No one should be able to - should want to - make suicide so tempting, so pretty." Clearly, I was a far more disturbed child than my coseted and happy upbringing suggested... But this song means so much to me, I could not leave it out.

  3. Labelled With Love - Squeeze

    I can't believe I was even thinking of tussling whether to include this song, since the instant Cloud put it on the stereo and I started to sing quietly along with the lyrics, I found myself in floods of tears. Guess what? It's a story song. Melacholic as hell, but with an eye for observation of people that typifies Squeeze at their best (the final section of "Up the Junction" does for me as well). It creates visions of the story told with love and about love. Sob.

  4. The River - Bruce Springsteen

    Oh my: imagine having a great crush on someone unattainable, only for you to find yourself receiving an offer from them to drive you to a training course centre which, by the chances of fate, he also has to visit at the same time as you. Imagine the anxiety of waiting at your parents' house for him to collect you to make this drive: a drive that will be several hours across the country. Imagine that he drives you off the main route, down a "familiar country road" and all the while is playing you the double album of The River on the car's tape machine... knowing that though nothing may happen, these moments will be treasured. "Crush on you", "You can Look...", "Little girl I wanna marry you"... and most memorably the title track, with its bleak narrative (another story song) and the most moving line ever: "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true / Or is it something worse". I loved that album from that point onwards, but that song especially wormed its way into my heart. Bitterly sweet.

  5. Never Stop - Echo and the Bunnymen

    From a tape off the radio, to the later collection of singles (also on tape) I played this song so loud, so many times that I swear I busted the speakers of my stereo. It was a song to spit out the lyrics to, one that made my spine tingle and my energy hit the roof. And loved all the more because it once came up in the most unlikely setting. Every city has them, but the Black Orchid was the cattle shed dance-hall to end all cattle-shed handbag dance venues in the 80s in Nottingham. My only reason for going was to luxuriate in the presence of one of my work colleagues, a hulkingly handsome Geordie who loved REM and other stuff well off the beaten track of the dancing music beloved by the office girls. In despair at the evening and our lack of enjoyment, we fell into conversation, ultimately agreeing that the ony thing to do was to ask the DJ to play this track: it was as likely to happen as getting Reidski to enjoy a lifetime of listening to the Stereophonics, but we felt uplifted by the mere act of rebelling by asking - "nnnnnnever STOP!"

  6. Ask - The Smiths

    Once upon a time a girl with badly permed hair stood by a jukebox, selecting Happy Mondays, Squeeze and this track. Only to find that this handsome dark-haired guy in black jeans and blue denim jacket had his selection come up first, despite me putting my money in earlier: he picked just one track "The Boy With the Thorn in his Side". And a match was made, still going strong more than 15 years later.

  7. Kennedy - The Wedding Present

    In the late 1980s and 1990s I practically lived for gigs at Rock City Nottingham, watching the long hair of people in front of me spray sweat as they threw their heads about dancing. And after every gig, there would be a "disco": the classic indie disco of the period as we moved into baggy music. But this was regularly the final track of the night - 1am thrashing about for all I was worth. Brilliant fun and still makes me want to dance like Cloud.

  8. Common People* - Pulp

    You know why...
    *Scroll down past the picture for the lyrics - like you don't already know them...

So that's the list and to say I'm disappointed in myself would be an understatement until I consider what Cloud reminds me: it's just 8 songs: it's a snapshot that could alter tomorrow (though the meaning wouldn't change, new meanings are added to our lives every day).

There is so much more: The Beatles are missing ("To Know Her Is to Love Her"), no Dylan ("Desolation Row"), nothing more recent than 1995!! (Ladytron - Startup Chime; anything from George's list), nothing from the world of jazz or hip-hop (Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy"!): I'm just kicking myself for my inadequacies even as I force myself to press publish...

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Breast wishes"

Poor Marie...

Jane's MP3 player and the critical view

You see, she is at least ahead of me for HAVING an MP3 player... I'm still in the dark ages. One step of technology at a time.

You know you really should check out the Mitch Benn song "Everything sounds like Coldplay now..."

Library Classification matters

Yes it does matter, and yes it is a matter for discussion: there is an excellent post here at Reasons to be Impossible that provides some great links debating this issue.

As one who loves libraries and bibliographies (I have been known to photocopy a good bibliography just to give me an indication of other stuff in the field), this is a topic that is both fascinating and disturbing: how do we develop systems to catalogue that are not inherently racist etc?

Worth pondering.

Life on Mars - final episode / Father's Day - Doctor Who and other parallel time loop issues

Although Rob Buckley was unimpressed with it, I rather liked the final episode of Life on Mars. It was left both hanging (still the 1970s) and closed (the 'memories' or flashes resolved in some fashion). But what I especially liked was how it drew upon, referenced or echoed a number of other favourite film/television works.

Of you've yet to watch the final episode of LoM or the Eccleston series of Doctor Who, stop reading this post now (on the latter: where the hell have you been?! depending on geography of course though you may be waiting...)

For some reason in my mind the final episode of LoM particularly echoed Father's Day from the recent series of Doctor Who, where Rose and the Doctor travel back to the day her father died. When she finds herself distraught at seeing his death and wants to offer him some confort at his death, Rose and the Doctor travel back a second time - now watching themselves watching the events from their first travelhop. Rose now rushes to save her father, but doing so - especially in the presence of themselves - 'rips' time. A wound is created that can only be healed once the effect (her father's death) takes place.

There was a question about 'wounding' time in last month's issue of the Doctor Who magazine: given that episode, when is it possible to change events in time without the actions calling The Reapers through the wound? The Doctor claims in the Slitheen episodes that Harriet Jones - MP for Flydale North - would be Prime Minister for 3 terms; but in undermining her in The Christmas Invasion, the Doctor appears to change events. Despite this, no Reapers appear, suggesting that only when there is a double presence is time truly wounded.

... Which brings me back to LoM: right through the series we are haunted by Sam's flashing blurred thoughts/memories/future visions of something both familiar and yet unknown. It turns out that these were actually 'memories' of his father, Vic, killing adult Sam Tyler's 1973 police colleague, Annie: but the memories are fractured in a way that suggests they were 'seen' through the eyes of his younger self, and thus were incomprehensible until his adult (comatose?) self was there to see for himself...

In placing himself (back) at the scene, Sam ultimately has the power to stop the violence and save Annie; to arrest his father and thus prevent him from leaving the family as he had done when Sam was a child. To complete the last two acts would potentially resolve Sam's own 'wound' - his dislocation in time: since that is suggested by this episode as the event that needs resolving to return Sam to 2006. But it would also condemn the family in 1973 to the shame and disruption that a different kind of loss of his father would bring about: no longer able to be seen and remembered as a well-meaning father-figure, but a violent criminal prepared to sacrifice any life to his survival (albeit supposedly in protection of his family). Moreover, how could he know if the saving of his father would not affect his own future?

Thus Sam saves Annie, saves his father by letting him go into hiding, and saves his family by leaving his father's image untarnished: the price is Sam remains stuck in 1973.

This looping overlap, this criss-crossing between past and present, also echoes Twelve Monkeys / La Jetee, which of course has its own paradoxical time-looping: Cole dreams his memories, not yet realising that they feature him as an adult and if he hadn't done certain things, would he have ever even been there...? Is the future really set? Determined by our actions even as those actions are intended to undo the damage done by ourselves?

Man, this is a waffling post. But its been on and off the draft board since Tuesday. So here it is in all its insane ramblings.

You could always wait for the Desert Island Discs...

Now that's what I call a DJ set!

Via George of a DJ set his friend Chris played...
  • Devo - (I can't get no) Satisfaction

  • Hyper Kinako - Tokyo Invention Registration Office

  • Shockheaded Peters - I, Bloodbrother Be

  • Gang Of Four - I Found That Essence Rare

  • Dead Kennedys - California Uber-Alles

  • Television - Marquee Moon

  • Pere Ubu - Non-Alignment Pact

  • The Fall - Totally Wired

  • Chicks On Speed - We Don't Play Guitar

  • Corey Hart - Sunglasses At Night

  • Minutemen - Political Song For Micheal Jackson To Sing

  • The Rapture - House Of Jealous Lovers
Kinda knocks most DJ sets into oblivion really...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

From George: You have two days to choose your desert island discs

Hi folks - I'll be emailing a number of you to think about this but this is something worth considering. A variation on the usual "choose songs" post, partly due to the time limit and partly the restricted number of songs/tunes.

Otherwise, everyone's invited to take this up!

So, this morning in my inbox I received this...

"Ouch. A friend of mine asked me to do a desert island disks, with just an 8 song capacity and MAX 2 days to think about it. [...] The rules are 2 days thinking, songs to mean stuff to you (not to make you look critically sound) and reasons to be frankly stated.
What have I begun??

George made the offer for me to pick it up as a blog post and it certainly seems like a good idea, so I've took him at his offer and here are his selections as a starter.

But to the point, songs for their actual meaning to me. Well, here goes (in no order):

1.Belle & Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap (from the album of the same name)
This was a favourite of a friend of mine merely because he was into the TV show Teachers. Although we were good friends we had had no musical overlap before. I'm really into what he would regard as pretentious stuff! Anyway, he actually requested this tune from me. We both love it for the lines 'We both know you're soft 'cos we've both seen you dancing/We both know you're hard 'cos we've both seen you drinking/From noon until noon again'. It just resonates well with remembered good times and not being typical types. We also danced like loons to it one weekend when he and others first visited me in Aberdeen at approximately 2am... Marvellous.

2. ballboy (with Laura Cantrell) - I Lost You But I Found Country Music (to listen on download here)
A fantastic song made better by the inclusion of Laura; the result of a John
Peel Christmas special featuring both bands. Everyone I have passed this to has loved it. This includes many non-music fans who haven't cared to even consider anything in my catalogue. This song affirms that the effort required to seek out the more obscure side of the muscial spectrum can be worth it in every detail. That is wonderful to me on two main counts; that quality can transcend expectation and media presentation, and that that very notion was the essence of John Peel, whose (coming full circle) Christmas special is the very reason the song exists with the song being one of the last things I got from him.

3. Melys - Eyeliner (on the album Life's Too Short)
It's just an indie song from a charming but usually average indie band, but oh-my it is such a good one. It just thunders out with keyboards blazing! A John Peel favourite band on their best form and it was the pick-me-up song of my write-up period. I remember bouncing up and down to it at the end of a long day in the kitchen of my friends' house (Lisa & Neil, I was their lodger) waiting for them to come home knowing that as music fans I could wax lyrical to them about it! The power of music!

4. Nina Simone - Just In Time (from Before Sunset film soundtrack)
Although I was well aware of NS, getting into her was on my to-do list until Before Sunset and the final scene. Well, that was me hooked. Lisa & Neil were up for a weekend and we saw it on a whim - we now each have the DVD and lots of NS to match! It reminds me of the film, my friends, romance and optimism. Brilliant.

5. McLusky - To Hell With Good Intentions (single)
In the last summer of the research period of my PhD I threw what was generally regarded as a damn fine house-party (I resisted using 'legendary'). A good time was had by all but beyond 3am just my close friends who were staying over were left. My two best music friends had become familiar with this song through compilations I had sent them. It's a very simple song by a band unheard (deservedly) by many, but it's quick, short, energetic and to the point. Chris set the tape up in the kitchen and insisted we all danced topless (relax, all blokes), and we did so with enthusiasm turned up to 11. A perfect closing to very successful event. The song just means happiness with good people.

6. REM - Country Feedback (from Out of Time album)
REM is the soundtrack to my adolescence and this was a very difficult choice. They were my first access to music that meant something to me and I owe them a lot (apparently including forgiveness for their mid-tempo recent output!). I have fond memories of finding solace in the beauty of this tune in my school years. The line 'It's crazy what you could have had' officially has 3451 connotations at last count...

7. Saloon - Have You Seen The Light? (single: now available on the rarities collection Lo Fi Sounds, Hi Fi Heart)
It just damn well gets me moving. A perfect example of how much enjoyment music can give you especially if you don't care about conventional artistic standing! These guys & girls were barely sixth-formers but they produced beautiful minimalistic electronica refrains accompanied by the voice of an angel (and not in a Charlotte Church way). The song takes most of its duration to build to the vocals which match perfectly, do their brief bit before they get out of town. I love it because it was the first introduction of this band that means a lot to me by, you've guessed it, John Peel. Also, because it says to me that if all you ever achieve as a band (they split after 2 albums) is to touch one person with something you created then it was all worth it. It says that success does not mean a Brit or a No.1.

8. Low - That's How You Sing Amazing Grace (from the album Trust)
It's just beautiful and it helped a friend of mine get over the death of a friend of his.

Well, that was exhausting and I'm leaving it there for now! This information is subject to extreme changes as I remember every other song that means the world to me! As for taking only one, I'll mail you back next year! Can I take two if I ditch my bible??

Now that is one impressive list, and I'm not sure if I will be able to get over just how many of these tracks would overlap with ones I would have chosen - will that stop me?? - but still, an excellent selection... (and the bible remark just cracks me up completely!)

So what's on your desert island? I'm aiming to post mine Saturday so look out folks!

If I haven't contacted you direct, don't be offended: just go with it!