Tuesday, March 31, 2009

London and other things

Had an excellent weekend in London -

Food: two meals at Pizza Paradiso on Store Street (we're so recognised now we get offered drinks on the house!), two breakfasts at Bar Brunos on Wardour Street, breakfast at the S&M cafe near Spitalfields market, a curry at the small branch of The Shampan on Brick Lane, tea in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-fields, Med Kitchen at Cambridge Circus

Arts and museums: the NPG, the National Gallery (for the Picasso), Tate Modern (for the Rodchenko and Popova exhibition and tea/cake), the V&A for the Stephen Jones Hats exhibition and a visit through the Photography room and the Theatre and Performance rooms,

Fashion: Spitalfields market and the very lovely Nina of Enienay (I have a new dress!) and Patch (Neil has a new shirt!), a dip into Rokit on Brick Lane (and a spiffy second-hand long red suede coat), tights and socks from Tabio on Neal Street and a new summer frock and a fancy hat from IMSO also on Neal Street

Music: music purchases from MDC Southbank and Rough Trade Truman Brewery, classical lunchtime concert of Stravinsky and Poulenc by Simon Hewitt Jones on violin at St Martins-in-the-fields church

Books: Judd Street, Eastside on Brick Lane, Southbank book stalls and more

Miscellaneous: new headfone covers from Tottenham Court Road (since I started Friday by losing one of the foam covers from Neil's headfones), lots of walking through the City and Fleet Street, and drinks in the Chandos with a friend.

Oh yeah - and I nipped back to the hotel Saturday evening for a delirium inducing hour of Primeval (currently with gorgeous hair).

PS got caught in a fracas between two homeless guys arguing their patch on Saturday night. But no major harm done. Just a bit shook up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Genre meme - belated and shaming

Via lovely EineKleineRob whom I have been shamefully neglecting on my blog visits. In defence he's on a long list of 'I feel guilty' blogs I keep meaning to read each day. So he is in extensive company.

Anyway: this is a list of genre fiction that has been doing the rounds and I thought I would respond to it (as you all know I like a list)

* - read it
Bold - would re-read.
Italics - started / read once
Plain - didn't bother / haven't yet got a round tuit

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien - seriously, I've never even bothered. LOVED seeing the films in a single day on a big screen though.
2. *The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien - I was 10.
3. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien - thought about it. Changed my mind.
4. *Foundation series, Isaac Asimov
5. *Robot series, Isaac Asimov - hey, I can read classic SF
6. Dune, Frank Herbert - life is short
7. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein - I know, I really should have
8. *The Earthsea series, Ursula le Guin - vividly remembered from childhood, I now have a copy in a single volume that I keep meaning to re-read
9. *Neuromancer, William Gibson - didn't really get on with it
10. *Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury - will re-read
11. *The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham - oh yes! Why no Midwich Cuckoos?
12. A Book of the New Sun series, Gene Wolfe
13. Discworld series, Terry Pratchett - (whistles casually, hoping no-one will notice)
14. *Sandman series, Neil Gaiman - am due my annual/bi-annual rereading. LOVE 'EM.
15. *The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams - brilliant, but the radio was what bought it to life
16. *Dragonriders of Pern series, Anne McCaffrey - should go back to this as I'm pretty certain I enjoyed what I read.
17. *Interview with the Vampire series, Anne Rice - tried, just couldn't be arsed.
18. The Shining, Stephen King - nope, but freaked by flims and TV, I have generally avoided most SK writing.
19. *The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin - A while back. Must re-read.
20. The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny - for shame...
21. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke - loathed the film with passion. Wouldn't feel able to read the book with interest.
22. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
23. Ringworld, Larry Niven.
24. Elric of Melnibone series, Michael Moorcock
25. The Dying Earth series, Jack Vance
26. Lyonesse series, Jack Vance
27. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson.
28. A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin
29. The Worm Ourobouros, E.R. Eddison
30. Conan series, Robert E. Howard
31. Lankhmar series, Fritz Leiber
32. *Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick. - preferred the film, but could see the point of the (very different) novel that inspired it.
33. *The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
34. *The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells
35. *The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
- I had a period of borrowing classic SF from the library way back and read several times over.
36. Eon, Greg Bear
37. Book of the First Law series, Joe Abercrombie - on my 'to read' list
38. *Miss Marple stories, Agatha Christie - lost track of how many I read...
39. *Hercule Poirot stories, Agatha Christie - ditto...
40. *Lord Peter Wimsey stories, Dorothy L. Sayers - much preferred to AC
41. *The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett - brilliant
42. *The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan - delightful
43. *Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Often re-read these (just missing one volume from the same edition of the books by Penguin)
44. Cthulhu Mythos, H.P. Lovecraft. - sorry...
45. Inspector Wexford stories, Ruth Rendell - tv only I'm afraid
46. *Adam Dalgliesh stories, P.D. James - read several
47. *Philip Marlowe stories, Raymond Chandler - classics of the genre
48. The Godfather, Mario Puzo - friend Helen swears by the book, but I really only know the film version
49. The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth - adore the film, never bothered with the book
50. The Fourth Protocol, Frederick Forsyth
51. Smiley series, John le Carre
52. Gentleman Bastard series, Scott Lynch
53. The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson
54. *Watchmen series, Alan Moore - read the initial release
55. *Maus, Art Spiegelman - one of the best ever graphic novels
56. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Miller
57. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi - its on the shelf of 'stuff to read'
58. *Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.
59. Chrestomanci series, Diana Wynne-Jones
60. Ryhope Wood series, Robert Holdstock
61. Wilt series, Tom Sharpe.
62. Riftwar Cycle, Raymond E. Feist
63. Temeraire series, Naomi Novik .
64. *Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis. - charming writing (though it loses something in the perspective of atheistic adulthood)
65. *His Dark Materials series, Phillip Pullman - wonderful and intelligent writing, and also *SOB!* mucho tears
66. Dragonlance series, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
67. Twilight saga, Stephanie Meyer - wouldn't spit on them to put out a fire.
68. The Night's Dawn trilogy, Peter F. Hamilton
69. *Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer. - Neil has read some of these to me, which has been lovely, but I have read all for myself. Very good fun and Holly rocks!
70. Honor Harrington series, David Weber
71. Hannibal Lecter series, Thomas Harris
72. The Dark Tower series, Stephen King
73. It, Stephen King
74. The Rats series, James Herbert
75. Dirk Gently series, Douglas Adams
76. Jeeves and Wooster stories, P.G. Wodehouse - please do not hate me
77. *The da Vinci Code, Dan Brown - hokum with knobs on. Dreadful prose. Still a page-turner though!
78. The Culture Series, Iain M. Banks
79. The Duncton series, William Horwood
80. The Illuminatus! trilogy, Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
81. The Aberystwyth series, Malcom Pryce. - on the long list of things to read
82. Morse stories, Colin Dexter
83. Navajo Tribal Police stories, Tony Hillerman
84. *The Ipcress File, Len Deighton - many years ago
85. Enigma, Robert Harris
86. Fatherland, Robert Harris
87. The Constant Gardener, John le Carre
88. *The House of Cards trilogy, Michael Dobbs - read in the wake of the TV series, but highly enjoyable froth
89. *The Dark is Rising saga, Susan Cooper - hell yes! Grew up on these
90. Psychotechnic League and Polesotechnic League series, Poul Anderson
91. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
92. Star Wars: Thrawn trilogy, Timothy Zahn
93. Ender's Game series, Orson Scott Card
94. *Gormenghast series, Meryvn Peake - read the whole lot, but got very bored on the finale
95. Miles Vorkosigan saga, Lois McMaster Bujold
96. *The Once and Future King, T.H. White -definitely a favourite for Arthurian fans
97. Fighting Fantasy books, Ian Livingston & Steve Jackson .
98. The Stainless Steel Rat series, Harry Harrison .
99. The Lensman series, E.E. 'Doc' Smith
100. *The Cadfael stories, Ellis Peters - read several a good number of years ago (inspired by Jacobi)

It strikes me there are a lot of recommended series here, perhaps saying a lot about the nature of genre fiction: revisiting narratives with a twist, creating large worlds with many different aspects generating volumes within the series, even repetition dare I say... Moreover, in many instances these series are made up of a substantial number of volumes or are even ongoing series with no particular 'end in sight'. Keeping up with this list would be hard going for anyone, even before the realisation that 'genre' as a defining term for fiction is incredibly broad. Horror, SF, crime, fantasy... definitions are fraught and several genres seem a little absent here.

Mostly, I'm a bit disappointed that Jasper Fforde doesn't get a look in, and that there are no Laurence Block novels, or Chris Brookmyres. Gaiman is only represented by the Sandman novels, and that overall it's lighter on graphic novels than I might expect a modern list to be. For example, The Preacher series of graphic novels would work very well the straddle the gap in representing Westerns on the list.

Nevertheless, it remains an interesting list with lots to provoke my reading tastes and remind me of things I have been intending to read for some time (I've hovered on picking up the Temeraire series, and the Abercrombie books on several occasions). More to add to the reading pile!

Faintly depressed by confirmed suspicions of **Spoilers**


PS please do not comment on this post - there are so many spoilers flying for so many things that I don't want to know more than I know. Nor do I want empathetic comments that accidently reveal anything.

I just needed to express how I felt.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Normblog's Posterity Poll

1. Poet
2. Playwright
3. Novelist
4. Composer
5. Jazz musician
6. Rock or pop star/group
7. Country music ditto
8. Movie director
9. Painter
10. Photographer
11. Sculptor
12. Architect

Now, you can have some transferable votes within this poll. SO - if you wish to nominate more than one poet (for example), you can, BUT you have to sacrifice your vote in another category. And you must vote in 9 categories as a minimum.

Norm's choices are:
1. Poet: W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot
2. Playwright: Shakespeare
3. Novelist: Jane Austen
4. Composer: Beethoven
5. Jazz musician: Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk
6. Rock or pop star/group: Bob Dylan
7. Country music ditto: Emmylou Harris
8. Movie director: Hitchcock, Peckinpah
9. Painter: Rembrandt
10. Photographer: transfer to 1
11. Sculptor: transfer to 5
12. Architect: transfer to 8

Now here, with instinctive thought, is my list. I better submit it or I will definitely change my mind at least once!

1. Poet - PB Shelley
2. Playwright - Shakespeare (obvious, but necessary)
3. Novelist - Charlotte Bronte
4. Composer - Arvo Part
5. Jazz musician - Gilad Atzmon (even though beyond his music he can be a tad of an asshole)
6. Rock or pop star/group - Einsturzende Neubauten, Nick Cave
7. Country music - Nina Nastasia
8. Movie director - Terry Gilliam (not because he's the best but because I think he would intriguingly show what film can do)
9. Painter - Frida Kahlo
10. Photographer - Cindy Sherman
11. Sculptor - transfer to 6
12. Architect - Pugin

Being remiss -- a Normblog poll and another Normblog profile

Shucks -- if ever there was good evidence of my 'not keeping up' status at present, then these are two prime examples:

1) a new Normblog poll!!! How did I miss the Posterity Poll call? (Being overwhelmed by bloglines alerts would do it)

I will comment further on this in a separate post!

2) Lovely Persephone of Hades adds her name to the long list of alumni and associates of this blog (there have been others too!) who have been selected to grace the Normblog Profile list. Well done Persephone!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Primeval pictures

Oh heavens - my heart just went a-fluttering... Dougie Henshall in Primeval S3... yum!

(Apologies for the totally gratuitous drooling!)

Hat tip as ever to the usual place for all things Henshall (outside my personal computer)

Is it worth it? The Guardian's music list (continued)

Short answer: no.

Dear heaven: what with the duplications and the mad omissions, the 'so-obvious- it-seems-insane-that-anyone-on-Western-hemisphere-planet-earth-will-have-failed-to-have-heard it-already' range of tracks, and the utterly BONKERS categorisation of the songs overall....

Really: could do better. And the Party Songs list? Most Pointless Waste of Paper In The Series.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Go For It also gave me the word 'Snugglelicious'

Another reason why I am sad about the demise of Radio 4's children's radio. Offered the chance to devise a new word (or provide a new definition), one small girl on 'Go For It!' came up with 'snugglelicious' meaning something along the lines of:

the feeling you get when you wake up in the morning, snug under your duvet, and then you realise it's Saturday
Of course, this only works if you do not work or need to get up early on Saturdays, but I totally adored this definition and regularly use the term in conversation!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'Go for it!" - going, going, gone...: the end of children's radio on Radio 4


After years of squeezing children's radio programmes from the analogue stations, Radio 4 is finally abandoning 'Go for it!' the excellent children's programme currently airing on Sunday evenings. The story was snuck into the final segment of headlines at 6pm and I can't even find much trace of the announcement on the BBC site.

Admittedly, the BBC have a fair point in that GFI isn't really reaching its target audience of 4-14 year olds. The show pulls 450,000 per programme on Sunday evenings squashed between obituaries, listener feedback and selections of the week's best radio: it's a peculiar location in the schedule. So is it very surprising that the average is apparently in their mid-50s? (though isn't this very close to Radio 4's general audience profile?). And I guess though I'm not THAT old, all the listeners who I know who are fond of Barney and his weekly GFI-ers are over 40.

But the programme allows a rare space in the network - and on analogue radio - for children's voices to be heard at all: for their point of views and their insights to be articulated. On the day when the Guardian publishes a piece by Tanya Byron that we're becoming a nation terrified by young people, do we really want to be getting into the habit of isolating their voices from the networks?* When questioning writers, musicians, artists and programme makers, they ask not just the obvious questions, but also often very savvy ones -- and I don't think I have ever heard a contributor appear less than engaged with these young interrogators.

Besides, I defy anyone who heard the marvellous edition talking to children about death, to not have been touched or found it incredibly useful to help talk with children experiencing the death of loved ones. Michael Rosen must be gutted to hear of the demise of this always enjoyable programme.

Is it enough to just head CBeebies radio to Radio 7 between 5 and 8 am on weekdays? Given this targets specifically those aged 0-6? Where will the 7-14s be heading and what is the BBC doing to create the next generation of audiences for its output?


*Hat tip to Cloud for his timely contribution

I so want to be 6 years old and be having a birthday

Primeval birthday cards...


Why none for adults?!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Birthday Calculator

Cloud forwarded me this time distracting website. Now, who else's birthday do I want to look at...?

10 October 1966
Your date of conception was on or about 17 January 1966 which was a Monday.

You were born on a Monday
under the astrological sign Libra.
Your Life path number is 6.

Your fortune cookie reads:
A thrilling time is in your immediate future.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 3, 6 & 9.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 2, 4, 8, 11 & 22.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 5 & 7.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2439408.5.
The golden number for 1966 is 10.
The epact number for 1966 is 8.
The year 1966 was not a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/21/1966 and ending 2/8/1967.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Horse.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Raven; your plant is Ivy.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Choiach, the fourth month of the season of Poret (Emergence - Fertile soil).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 26 Tishri 5727.
Or if you were born after sundown then the date is 27 Tishri 5727.

The Mayan Calendar long count date of your birthday is which is
12 baktun 17 katun 13 tun 2 uinal 4 kin

The Hijra (Islamic Calendar) date of your birth is Monday, 24 Jumadiyu'th-Thani 1386 (1386-6-24).

The date of Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 10 April 1966.
The date of Orthodox Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 10 April 1966.
The date of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) on your birth year was Wednesday 23 February 1966.
The date of Whitsun (Pentecost Sunday) in the year of your birth was Sunday 29 May 1966.
The date of Whisuntide in the year of your birth was Sunday 5 June 1966.
The date of Rosh Hashanah in the year of your birth was Thursday, 15 September 1966.
The date of Passover in the year of your birth was Tuesday, 5 April 1966.
The date of Mardi Gras on your birth year was Tuesday 22 February 1966.

As of 3/16/2009 10:40:54 AM EST
You are 42 years old.
You are 509 months old.
You are 2,214 weeks old.
You are 15,498 days old.
You are 371,962 hours old.
You are 22,317,760 minutes old.
You are 1,339,065,654 seconds old.

Celebrities who share your birthday:
Mya (1979) Jodi Lyn O'Keefe (1978) Bob Burnquist (1976)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (1974) Brett Favre (1969) Mike Malinin (1967)
Tanya Tucker (1958) David Lee Roth (1955) Charles Dance (1946)
Ben Vereen (1946) Harold Pinter (1930) Richard Jaeckel (1926)
Thelonious Monk (1917) Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1924) Helen Hayes (1900)
Giuseppe Verdi (1813)

Top songs of 1966
I'm a Believer by Monkees The Ballad of the Green Berets by S/Sgt. Barry Sadler
Winchester Cathedral by New Vaudeville Band Soul and Inspiration by Righteous Brothers
Monday, Monday by The Mama's & the Papa's We Can Work It Out by Beatles
Summer In the City by Lovin' Spoonful Cherish by Association
You Can't Hurry Love by Supremes Wild Thing by Troggs

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 6.06575342465753 years old. (You're still chasing cats!)

Your lucky day is Friday.
Your lucky number is 6.
Your ruling planet(s) is Venus.
Your lucky dates are 6th, 15th, 24th.
Your opposition sign is Aries.
Your opposition number(s) is 9.

Today is not one of your lucky days!

There are 208 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 43 candles.

Those 43 candles produce 43 BTUs,
or 10,836 calories of heat (that's only 10.8360 food Calories!) .
You can boil 4.91 US ounces of water with that many candles.

In 1966 there were approximately 3.7 million births in the US.
In 1966 the US population was approximately 179,323,175 people, 50.6 persons per square mile.
In 1966 in the US there were approximately 1,800,000 marriages (9.3%) and 479,000 divorces (2.5%)
In 1966 in the US there were approximately 1,712,000 deaths (9.5 per 1000)
In the US a new person is born approximately every 8 seconds.
In the US one person dies approximately every 12 seconds.

In 1966 the population of Australia was approximately 11,704,843.
In 1966 there were approximately 223,731 births in Australia.
In 1966 in Australia there were approximately 96,061 marriages and 9,859 divorces.
In 1966 in Australia there were approximately 103,929 deaths.

Your birth flower is MARIGOLD

Your birthstone is Tourmaline

The Mystical properties of Tourmaline

Pink Tourmaline promotes female balance and protection. Green Toumaline promotes male balance.
Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)

Opal, Jasper

Your birth tree is

Rowan, the Sensitivity
Full of charm, cheerful, gifted, without egoism, likes to draw attention, loves life, motion, unrest and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive.

There are 284 days till Christmas 2009!
There are 297 days till Orthodox Christmas!

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was waning crescent.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I am SOOOO going to watching the first episode of Primeval s3

...if this video is anything to go by, then Primeval S3 will be a very nice addition to my Saturdays.

Big grin!

If I had to settle on one track the Guardian had missed out so far: About Today by The National

The National are no where near as widely appreciated as they should be, but but for me their most devastating track about love is the bleakly haunting 'About Today':

Today, you were far away
And I, didn't ask you why
What could I say?
I was far away
You just walked away
And I just watched you
What could I say?

How close am I to losing you?

Tonight, you just close your eyes
And I just watch you
slip away

How close am I to losing you?

Hey, are you awake?
Yeah, I'm right here
Well can I ask you
About today
How close am I to losing you?
How close am I to losing?

Cross-posted to Music is Our Hot, Hot Sex

Thoughts on the problems with (music) lists: a response to the Guardian/Observer song list

I'm a sucker for a good list, something most readers here will have noted from previous rants on the topic.

So how to respond to the already deeply flawed two parts of seven the Guardian/Observer has so far granted readers in its '1000 songs everyone should hear'?

1) at whom is a list such as this aimed? I doubt many young readers (under 25, say) will care for the intentions and purported breadth of such a list -- and those of the younger age that will are probably likely to have heard a significant proportion of the list. Older readers are potentially likely to complain about the absence of many songs written pre-1940 (hell, I would complain, and I don't feel as if I am in the Guardian's 'older reader category' just yet..) Judging from the comments so far, at least one of these points seems proven.

2) there's way too many examples that, frankly, unless you have lived in a cave for the last 30 years, you will have already heard endlessly (see 1 above). I know that 'God Only Knows' by The Beach Boys is a classic love song - placing it in this list is stating the bleeding obvious to those already aware and will sail calmly past everyone else. Is anyone really going to respond by saying 'I never thought of that track being a great love song before' or 'my word, I must catch up on this popular beat combo: they sound rather charming...' ???

3) despite claims for breadth from the full range of popular music (extending to jazz, blues, folk etc), there's a poor range of tracks outside the pop chart canon. And let's not think about much diversity beyond the English language...

4) if you're talking about songs, shouldn't there be more room for those which have been contributed by the great songwriters and which have garnered multiple versions - many of which may be great in their own unique ways? There are smatterings of the tin pan alley contributers to the Great American Songbook, but even within the narrower pop archive there were some ropey choices of versions listed.

5) if you're going to include very recent songs/performances, you're gonna need a much higher standard of proof for their inclusion in my opinion.

6) why not more off-beat choices? (see 2, above) - I don't mean the journalists having their little in-house 'so-bad-it's-good' fad (Phil Collins), but actual 'alerting readers to excellent tracks that may not be on the readers' radar'.

7) organising these lists in themes allows for far too much dispute about categorisation - I know it probably keeps readers hanging on before wading in with their comments about what was missing ('have they just plonked it in a different category than I would?') but really, we'd all be better placed to tell the list compilers where they've gone wrong if they just created a single alphabetical list by track title. Not only would this also allow for multiple versions of the same track by different artists (which if you are showcasing songs makes sense - see 4 above) but you'd more easily be able to tell where they've missed a classic.

8) if you must have sidebar articles, at least make them have something purposeful to say: Simon Napier-Bell, I'm looking at your miserably annoying piece.

I'd come up with 10 thoughts if I had the energy, but instead here are a few initial thoughts on songs missing in action either in terms of the versions I prefer or just plain missing artistes [admittedly I am basing this on only two days coverage but I'd have expected tracks from them already].

  • Gorecki - Lamb (just plain beautiful)
  • I lost you but I found Country Music - Ballboy (with or without the divine Laura Cantrell - of whom, hello, where is she?!)
  • The Only One - Billy Bragg (though I love the Bragg-meister's whole repetoire, those who only know him for his political/social material are missing a treat with his songs of about love and relationships)
  • I get along without you very well (I'm especially fond of Chet Baker's version)
  • The Luckiest - Ben Folds (pass me the hankies: it's a blubfest) 
  • Don't get me wrong - The Pretenders (played this morning on John Richardson's show with enthusiastic glee - and instinctive tearful eyes from me: it's a glorious track about being/falling in love and always makes be cry with delight)
  • Just in time - Nina Simone owns this track
  • Leave You Behind - Sleater-Kinney (a personal favourite this)
  • TheOne - Lambchop (and there could be plenty more where that came from in the 'chop collection)
  • Then I Met You - The Proclaimers (points to Guardian for getting in with 'Let's Get Married' via which song, *ahem* ... but even so, the uplifting 'Then I Met You' or the glorious 'Sunshine on Leith' surely deserved a place)
  • Don't Let The Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart - Everything But the Girl (I can't hear this track of betrayal without crying)
  • Keeping the Weekend Free - Liquorice (yes, I know I'm virtually the only person who cares about this song, let alone this version, but still.  It's gorgeous).
  • Forest Fire - LLoyd Cole and the Commotions ('it's just a simple metaphor, for a burning love' - too damn right, but it still roars loudly to me)
  • Only You - Portishead (gutting, as is much of the Portishead's output)
  • Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack (I'd happily welcome in Safe From Harm as well)
  • Miss Otis Regrets - Ella Fitzgerald (though I also love the version that Kirsty MacColl did with bagpipe band one Xmas on Jools Holland)
  • Love is a Wonderful Colour - The Icicle Works (if you need to include eighties pop at least make it this kind of sublime contribution)
  • The Day I See You Again - Dubstar (not least for the sublime line 'and if the man you've grown to be/'s more Morrison than Morrisey' which can be read as Jim or Van to your own choosing and still make you wince in recognition)
  • Bewitched - so many versions to choose from (and there is of course the inspired revisitation of this by The Wedding Present)
  • The Way You Look Tonight - the original version from the film Swing Time is pretty darn fine
  • Nina Nastasia and Regina Specktor - seriously, guys, are you lot NUTS to have missed out having any songs by these two?  Perhaps two of the finest songwriters around at present - shame on you...
  • Magnetic Fields - seriously, nothing from Stephin Merritt, in any of his guises? If I have to rave about 'As You Turn to Go' as sung by Momus one more time, I may explode...
  • Prefab Sprout - an entire oeuvre which could fill these two sections [Love and Heartbreak]. Enchanted, We Let the Stars Go, Cruel, Couldn't Bear to be Special, Talking Scarlet - and the masterpiece that is the Steve McQueen album
  • Jacques Brel - just the most obvious non-English-speaking omission so far
  • The Divine Comedy - surely something from the exquisite 'A Short Album About Love'?! 
  • Rufus Wainwright - no room for Vibrate, or The Art Teacher? I could list more...
  • The Wedding Present - masters of the bitter break-up and the angry relationship
  • The Decemberists - so many of their delightful story songs to choose from, but The Engine Driver would surely have to gain some place?
And - even if we stick with very obvious artistes - so far, wot, no Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, Bruce Springsteen? Huh?

I have to stop now before I give this too much time and thought!

(Cross posted to Music is Our Hot, Hot Sex)

Sorry: apologies and thoughts and updates on online communication, music and white suits

I am sorry for:

* not blogging much recently

* not commenting much either (I owe several on-line pals visits)

* sorry for being rubbish at emails (I've a stockpile requiring responses)

* sorry for not even bothering with most Facebook communications (and scarcely ever MySpace)

However, I am NOT sorry for the following:

* thinking Twitter really only works if you have 'free' texts each month; besides which, I text enough without doing more of them - surely regular tweeters will develop evolutionary damage to humanity at this rate?

* changing my mind about white suits not being the total 'no go' statement they have previously appeared (though there's an interesting piece on the white suit at Slate)

* feeling a mix of pride and sadness and fury at the sight of Troubled Diva's piece on the rise and demise of Selectadisc in Friday's Guardian: It was ridiculously thrilling to read about Nottingham's finest music retailer, especially when written about by one of our foremost music reviewers in the area; it was terribly sad to think of the place closing soon, and not even going in for another last purchase (we've bought something from the shop virtually every month we've lived here and it's been a rare visit to town that has not included a diversion through those black doors); and I couldn't help but feel a tinge of provincial fury that national coverage of music providers outside London is so shoddy that it takes Selectadisc's closure to get some national attention. *sigh*

* squealing with glee when George texted from Stockholm to say he'd heard Jarvis Cocker was coming to Rock City (I'm often late with keeping up with concert announcements so ridiculously often rely on the G-man for his timely interventions and recommendations!). Tickets duly booked, and even though I offered to go on my own, Cloud said he'd come too and even paid for his own ticket. Though I am required to not arrive at the venue at 2pm on the afternoon of the gig. Spoilsport.

That's enough for a quick return: I'll try and find a means of getting back into more regular blogging and visits, but suffice to say that by the time I'm getting home most nights at present I am pooped by computer screens... sorry about that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The International: brilliant use of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC!

Went to see The International at the weekend: totally enjoyed this thriller conspiracy film, but was especially excited by the sequence in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Suffice to say I sank further and further down my seat in terrified retreat from events on the screen.

I don't think any bullets caught me...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Hamlet on DVD?

The item in the Telegraph earlier this week gave life to hopes that last year's triumphant RSC production of Hamlet with Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie, and some bloke called David Tennant, would be released on DVD. the hope is that it would be filmed summer 2009.

If it happens - and I'll believe it when the RSC itself confirms it - I can well imagine sales will be significant.

But what is annoying me right now is that everywhere the Telegraph's story is being picked up, they keep saying things like 'Tennant's performances in the role were short-lived'.


His appearances in the London run of the show were curtailed by his back injury, but the man had managed to put in a constant run of 24 July to 15 November 2008 (not forgetting he also took on Love's Labour' Lost for the latter 6 weeks).

In what way exactly could his FOUR MONTHS of appearances in Hamlet be deemed to be 'short-lived'?

Oh, I forgot: the majority of the performances weren't in London, so they don't count!!

I know that the Laurence Olivier Awards are a key marker for performances on the stage, and that Tennant's limited appearances in London scuppered any (well-deserved) nomination for that prestigious award, but even so... *sigh*...

Red Riding in the hood

Opinions on Red Riding anyone?

It was certainly unsettling, as The Telegraph admits, whilst The Times found Andrew' Garfield's lead as Eddie Dunford hard to like, even as they praised Grisoni (adapting the novels) and Jarrold (directing), and The New Statesman felt that the bleak tone was more exaggerated than it needed to be.

I have some sympathy for all three points of view: it was undeniably bleak and unsettling. But it was superbly acted and directed with an attention to detail bordering on the psychopathic. Yes, it was hard to find a figure to identify with - everyone was flawed; no-one behaved well - but despite that I felt engaged in a way that is relatively rare in contemporary television.

I'll be watching the remaining two parts and then finally trying to catch up on the novels.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Primeval S3 to air from end of March 2009?

itvmedia have said that the 3rd season of Primeval will air in the UK from the end of March 2009... Hurrah!!

Thanks to the Douglas Henshall fan website as usual for passing on information.

Can people see my grin from where they are? 'cos I'm beaming at the thought!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Music recommendation: Cherbourg

Madness to be recommending a band who I managed to NOT see performing live last night* but there you go.

So, Cherbourg. Dear lordy, I like this band. Their 4 track EP is a thing of great beauty with harmonies and strings and crescendo rises. That pretty much guarantees a good recommendation from me so I urge you to try and at least listen to / buy their EP tracks and if you have more energy than me, go see them live. I'm pretty certain they would be great.

*I was in no fit state to muster up energy to wait for the headline act