Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Limbo officially cancelled

Not the dance, merely the Catholic idea.

I'm IN!!!! Broadband at home!

Okay, so I'm knackered and worn from installing Norton to protect my damn PC... but even so!

I'm IN!!! yeah...

Okay, feeling faint now - need food. May have to come back after tea....

And I'm back...

Blogger gone blank

Not even sure if this will come up?
BTW have just joined the forum for - woah mama, this is seriously distracting fun!

The movie that changed your life

Great post on Time Bandits, but even better some cracking remarks and films mentioned in the comments box.

For me, its Casablanca - greater love I suppose... or perhaps (and this is well cheesy) Dead Poets Society - to seize the day.

St Andrew's Day

Oooh, and they have a new front page pic over at this site AND proof that even when your star is in the ascendency it is possible to still send a nice picture (see news page) and letter.

David Tennant: well done!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

On supporting Nottingham Forest

Now aren't you all glad that I have no offspring to indoctrinate?!

Brilliant - especially the audio clip at the end.

As a Forest fan, born and bred under the age of glory, now all too saddened by the recent traumas, I totally understand the desire to keep supporting the team - even if it does mean fibbing a little bit. Never mind, you could always make out like Superman: you know, the glasses make him look like a totally different person who seems to be in two places at the same time!

A Cloud and his books

Yes dear.

Sigh. I know I'm as bad. And I buy magazines as well...

Now which Doctor Who related one shall I sneak home this week...?

Uses for the Kaiser Chiefs

Now now, don't be rude: Cloud and I are rather fond of the poppy tunes of the Kaiser Chiefs.

No, what I am chuckling at is this gem from Marie. Now should we say the choice was apt or beyond ironic?

The "Through the Keyhole" winner

After the 'play-off' Rob swept to glory.


That Norm game in full

Mentioned last week, I am peeking above the parapet of work to inform you of my attempt at Norm's game:

I picked up: Ways of Reading - An Anthology for Writers (3rd ed). Ed. by David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Published by Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, Boston (1993)

I turned to page 200 and found myself in an extract from Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish ("The Body of the Condemned"). The sentence reads:
"We should analyse what might be called, in homage to Kantorowitz, 'the least body of the condemned man.' "
This led me to look up Kantorowitz.

Ernst Kantorowitz: German-born Jewish historian of theology and iconographer, Ernst was born on May 3rd, 1895.

Okay, now here's where I hit a problem: I got a link at Wiki for May 3rd for Cornelius Van Til, but it then turns out he was actually born May 4th. Shame, because he taught at Princeton University, which as any fuel knows is where Ben Baer teaches.

However, to get a link to someone born on May 3rd 1895, I have to be more inventive. Let's go for some family history/oral history records. Ooh, this will do: Herman Mark. He got an honorary degree in 1979 from the University of Nottingham, which is of course where I work and did my PhD.

Job done. That was quite satisfying in a bizarre kinda way...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Stuff you can use

From the people who brought you this (which NEVER fails to make me giggle infectiously) comes these gems...

Perfect for anyone marking assignments (or helping offspring to write).

The Magic of Vodka

My friend Rita, source of the strange and the wonderful, forwarded this with the remark that she had "just been drinking it" prior to receiving this missive.

I'll drink to that rather than many of these uses...
1. To remove a bandage painlessly, saturate the bandage with vodka. The solvent dissolves the adhesive.
2. To clean the caulking around bathtubs and showers, fill a trigger-spray bottle with vodka, spray the caulking, let set five minutes and wash clean. The alcohol in the vodka kills mold and mildew.
3. To clean your eyeglasses, simply wipe the lenses with a soft, clean cloth dampened with vodka. The alcohol in the vodka cleans the glass and kills germs.
4. Prolong the life of razors by filling a cup with vodka and letting your safety razor blade soak in the alcohol after shaving. The vodka disinfects the blade and prevents rusting.
5. Spray vodka on vomit stains, scrub with a brush, then blot dry.
6. Using a cotton ball, apply vodka to your face as an astringent to cleanse the skin and tighten pores.
7. Add a jigger of vodka to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo. The alcohol cleanses the scalp, removes toxins from hair, and stimulates the growth of healthy hair.
8. Fill a sixteen-ounce trigger-spray bottle and spray bees or wasps to kill them.
9. Pour one-half cup vodka and one-half cup water in a Ziplock freezer bag, and freeze for a slushy, refreezable ice pack for aches, pain, or black eyes.
10. Fill a clean, used mayonnaise jar with freshly packed lavender flowers, fill the jar with vodka, seal the lid tightly and set in the sun for three days. Strain liquid through a coffee filter, then apply the tincture to aches and pains.
11. Make your own mouthwash by mixing nine tablespoons powered cinnamon with one cup vodka. Seal in an airtight container for two weeks. Strain through a coffee filter. Mix with warm water and rinse your mouth. Don't swallow.
12. Using a q-tip, apply vodka to a cold sore to help it dry out.
13. If a blister opens, pour vodka over the raw skin as a local anesthetic that also disinfects the exposed dermis.
14. To treat dandruff, mix one cup vodka with two teaspoons crushed rosemary let sit for two days, strain through a coffee filter and massage into your scalp and let dry.
15. To treat an earache put a few drops of vodka in your ear. Let set for a few minutes. Then drain. The vodka will kill the bacteria that is causing pain in your ear.
16. To relieve a fever, use a washcloth to rub vodka on your chest and back as a liniment.
17. To cure foot odor, wash your feet with vodka.
18. Vodka will disinfect and alleviate a jellyfish sting.
19. Pour vodka over an area affected with poison ivy to remove the urushiol oil from your skin.
20. Swish a shot of vodka over an aching tooth. Allow your gums to absorb some of the alcohol to numb the pain.
Howzat that folks? Don't you still just want to have it with some fruit-juice or ice?

Two/three inch sized flakes of snow


Children in Need - BOO HOO!

The bloody video clip was removed on Friday! I've JUST managed to finagle a colleague to get my computer to work with video clips (like me it's cranky: I pleaded that I needed to watch a short wma file from a student's presentation) and now I find that it's gone!

Anyone video it or download it?

I can't wait till Christmas!

Did I say that the keyhole votes went in?

I was apparantly easy to spot: though there is some confusion about an appearance by Kylie in my pics??? It's the box set from LA Confidential with Kim Basinger on the front...

Given I just shot in the dark, I'm surprised I made the play off for the results!

On the NME

Better not let my friend George get started on the topic of NME magazine: he'll put Paul Fuzz's diatribe to shame.

Mind, Cloud can usually give it a run for the money - all together now, "it was better when it had articles about deconstruction and Derrida and politics and..."

There, there dear: I was just happy to see Jarvis Cocker on the front cover... ah, halcyon days...

NOTE: Shame on me: should have made note of the hat-tip. This of course comes from the lovely Anna, doyen of awarding prizes to the Sheffield Theatre scene...

NTL Hell

No Broadband. NTL think they came to install it on 19th Nov: my account there says they did. My house says not as no modem etc has appeared and no engineer. They should have come THIS Saturday (26th).

I think they may have my house confused with one of the same house number and road name in the similar-named next estate (we often get their prescriptions delivered here: NB on that note I am confused that a little old lady had broadband installed...; not as little old ladies cannot have broadband, just that... oh never mind)

Anyway: I'm cranky and cross and threatened to go very Dark Willow on them. As George encouraged me by text:
"U do ur angry yelling thing u bad girl in black u!"
I was in the event quite restrained. If it ain't all up and running soon though, that Willowy effect may kick in...

Just to annoy Duffman: The Evening Standard Theatre Awards

It's the Awards season again.

I note that Claire Higgins and Brian Dennehy both have nominations for Death of Salesman. Sadly, the lovely Douglas Henshall has not been nominated (boo!).

However, before Duffman gets his knickers in a knot (as he so often does), he may want to know that Eve Best was nominated for her performance in Hedda Gabler.

That should keep him quiet.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A little late arrival: Paul the Spud sets Question of the Day at Shakespeare's Sister - "which song do you wish you had written?"

Lots of great answers, and of course much discussion of the marvellous "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen.

My choice for what I wish I had written? today I would go for the brilliant Nick Cave and "God is in the House". I'm with my pal George that the line about "Well-meaning little therapists, Goose-stepping twelve-stepping Tetotalitarianists" - great alliteration!

Awesome song too.

Nottingham guide

Ever wondered what my home town is like?

Well Mike over at Troubled Diva has saved me all the trouble of having to write it: go read this little insight (with great links) and giggle as I did at his descriptions.

Norm's game

I want to try this out!

Dylan polling *

Mojo versus Normblog polling: the Norm positions are in parenthesis
01 (01) - Like A Rolling Stone
02 (09) - Desolation Row
03 (03) - Visions Of Johanna
04 (08) - Mr Tambourine Man
05 (02) - Tangled Up In Blue
06 (22) - Positively 4th Street
07 (07) - Idiot Wind
08 (17) - Blind Willie McTell
09 (04) - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
10 (12) - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
11 (05) - Subterranean Homesick Blues
12 (28) - Shelter From The Storm
13 (22) - Just Like Tom Thumb Blues
14 (41) - Forever Young
15 (13) - Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
16 (13) - Lay Lady Lay
17 (00) - Every Grain Of Sand
18 (09) - All Along The Watchtower
19 (21) - Simple Twist Of Fate
20 (17) - Love Minus Zero/No Limit

Same number 1, same number 3, same number 7. An overlap of 7 in the top 10, and of 14 in the top 20.
Looks like there is at least some consensus on Bobby Z.

NOTE: yes, I know, it took me till Mon 28 Nov to spot the typo. I suck.


Secular Burroughs stylee.

Thanks to John at Counago&Spaves.

How not to organise a wedding

Nutters and spambots of the world descend on a wedding...?

Marie does yet more to prove she has a sharp sense of humour: though she does give the link in the end.

Nauseating by the way...

Barty Crouch Jnr.

Oh dear, I think I lost the plot somewhat last night when watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I found the whole tongue-flicking thang of Barty Crouch Jnr. just a little too appealing....

I am beyond redemption...

Predictive texting

Sorry, but especially as this is something I have never mastered, this made me smile.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


There's been a lot of talk in response to both the poll on attitudes to rape, and now the advice of the judge that led to the collapse of a rape case. Mary McFarlane's letter in the Guardian today follows up on an article about unplanned and unprotected sex, and makes the point that matters or "aspects of behaviour - a woman's drinking, her outfit, her manner, how many partners she has had, whether she knows the man in question...should be irrelevant".She goes on to say:
If there is any hope of a reduction in rape, we need to make a firm distinction between sex to which both partners have consented, no matter how ill-advised that consent may seem to us, and sex where one partner has not consented. This distinction is common to all types of rape, and it is imperative that is sharply and clearly maintained.
What's my take on this? Well, clearly attitudes of blame are pretty Neanderthal in tone (and unsurprisingly women are just as, if not more, critical than men on these matters). But what really irks me is the action of the Swansea judge in effectively taking over the role of the jury in deciding the response for them (this ain't Judge John Deed). He focuses on the decision of the girl to drink as a priori excusing evidence that consent cannot be confirmed.

Whether or not the girl could accurately recall giving consent should not allow the judge to take the decision-making process out of the hands of juries. That's why we have jury trial. We may not like what they decide, but it is up to them to evaluate the evidence. The jury could have decided that it was just not clear enough whether consent was given, but could have considered whether it was reasonable to assume that it had been on the part of the alleged rapist. The judge's comments go beyond advice on HOW to evaluate the evidence and come to a decision and effectively makes that decision on their behalf.

Responsibility is clearly a complex issue, and one full of ambiguities in personal relationships. Yes, I would accept we have to take some responsibility for how we behave, the decisions that we take and the actions that result. HOWEVER, and that's a really big capital letters HOWEVER, responsibility cuts two ways. Given that no one could pretend to be ignorant of how alcohol - for example - affects the decision-making process, the ability to give INFORMED consent, surely there is just as much duty of care and responsibility on the other person to assess whether someone can reasonably give consent? It's like checking "beyond reasonable doubt". And power relationships can also affect how reasonable it is to assume that the consent is both reasonably given and that the person is in a position to understand the implications of their consent. It's also (I think this came from Shuggy) that you have to be aware that you have a responsibility to behave appropriately REGARDLESS of the behaviour and actions of the other person: eg you are a teacher, they are a pupil. I've no wish to infantilise over 18s, but there are issues of power and vulnerability where alcohol may be the masking excuse for taking advantage.

Can of worms for the day now open: aren't you glad I came back after my day of enforced absence from the blog world...?!

Insanity Rules

Or Rull's insanity...

Work is utterly... yep, more students incoming...

It's like being under fire at the mo!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pete Ashton's Gone Deaf with Gigging

Not really, though given his assiduous attending of local gigs, it would easy to understand why!

Go read the reviews and marvel.

(thanks to Mike at Troubled Diva whose visit to my blog tipped me to visit there and spot this).

A review of an exhibition past

Belatedly I spot that the review I wrote for ASIB (American Studies in Britain) is now up. Just scroll to read my review of the Impressionism Abroad exhibition that was on at the Royal Academy summer 2005.


Laughed at this gem within a post over at HolyHoses:
There's nothing in the BBC article that I didn't learn years ago, looking up the subject in what used to be called a Public Library, which is what we had before the internet. Our public library has been turned into a joke shop slash stationers slash second hand bookshop slash internet cafe slash place for old people to wait for the post office to open. There may be a small corner still dedicated to actual books.

What cheers; what chokes

What cheers
Last night on a crowded bus, having waited for an age in the cold, only to be met by a cranky driver... small girl gets on with her mum and proceeds to sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". She kept checking with mum about what animals she could do ("And on that farm he had some... what did he have mum?...") and what noise they made ("Sheep" "Do they go baa?" "Yes"). As the girl merrily sang away it was hard for anyone to remain in a bad mood, though the girl did spot that she got a response ("are all the people smiling at me?")


What chokes
Over-dowsed perfume. Really, as Cloud says "have that shat themselves?" Uneccesary and awful for asthmatics...

Fancy playing "Through the (Bloggers) Keyhole"?

Try at Clare's to spot the bloggers houses...

If you scroll down the posts you can look at each house individually and decide on your match between blogger and house. There are 13 of us in total (yes, we're in there).

Clare gives the low down on the participants:
"There are 13 participants, and they are as follows:
Mike from Troubled Diva. He has TWO houses, and a Princess Diana Memorial Garden.
Gordon from Gordon McLean. He lives in Scotland, and is good at computers and stuff.
Pen from A Typical Pen. She's into flowers.
Ruth from Meanwhile Here In France. She's a musician who lives in the French countryside, with her painter husband.
Zinnia from Real E Fun, who directs funerals at a mystery location.
Rob from Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, who also lives in Scotland, and is a musician in his spare time.
Vitriolica from Unkempt Women, who lives, and indeed draws/paints, in Portugal with two small children and a professor.
Yclepta from Yclepta, who is a discerning feminist.
Zoe from My Boyfriend is a Twat. She lives in Belgium. With newts. And a twat.
Clair from Life in Reverse, who takes lots of great photos and does things backward.
Clare from Boob Pencil, who has a thing about breasts.
Lisa from Rullsenberg Rules, who gobbles up all aspects of culture and lives with a cloud.
Joe from Joe in and around Las Vegas, who lives in Las Vegas. Oh no, was that a secret? Sorry."

Have fun!

More on accents and stuff

Excellent link sent from Cloud/Wilson as acquired from the comments at Harry. I especially like the translate ability....


I boobed [ha] yesterday on updating to include links to both of Clare Sudbury's blogs on my blog sidebar. That should now be okay here and here.

Buffyology has also moved to a new URL: the link is on the Buffy sidebar and here.

Go check them out...

Monday, November 21, 2005

HP4 forthcoming

I'm off on Thursday but since I have read the book, I'm not really bothered by spoilering. So I was happy to read EineKleineRob's review of the new film.

He very sweetly noted what several friends spotted: namely, that by including both DT and JC, I'm extra interested in seeing the film. My friend Helen Lisette texted to say DT was suitably bonkers and evil. And Jarvis does some good music. Even JustJane said she was thinking of me watching it. Oh goodie....

89 albums: revisited

In some respects the more we thought about this Tim de Lisle "89 essential albums", the more ridiculous the task became. After my initial response here it all got muh more complicated. In some instances, we loved specific songs on certain albums, but didn't necessarily feel they best represented the artiste. And even having compilations to represent certain artistes felt equally crazy. I ended up returning to the copy of Q that I purchased last summer (2004) with its 1001 essential songs and thinking that - as bonkers as that was - it still seemed more legitimate than what we were trying to do with the album selection.

Tim de Lisle ducked a key issue by selecting to include compilations by specific artistes without specifying which particular compilation he had in mind (let's face it some are just dire; others take you away from thinking about the album as a conceptualised entity - I know this is becoming less important in the i-Pod age of mixing and matching, selecting and ommitting, but compilations are problematic.) However, to ignore compilations is equally difficult. Let's say that some artistes are essential (or some periods/labels) and that you should aim to get something by each of those listed.

Some things we immediately agreed on. Bryan Ferry is not required, though feel free to get some Roxy Music if you feel you need it. George Michael? Oh please... you may as well have included the ubiquitous Robbie Bloody Williams if that's how you're going to respond. Where things got harder was when it came to disentangling our personal - in some cases VERY personal - selections from those we felt everyone should have. Amongst those recognised as things we loved in our record collection, but which may not translate to fighting for a place in a general list were acts such as Ballboy, Camera Obscura, DJ Shadow, several female vocalists and groups (Ladytron, Melys, Lauras' Cantrell and Veirs, PJ Harvey), Low, Misty's Big Adventure, Gram Parsons, Rachels, and Underworld. We probably made a rod for our backs in even trying to include the ommitted categories from de Lisle's list (classical came off especially badly as we couldn't quite decide on specific recordings and there were so many composers we really wanted to include: perhaps that really does have to be a separate list?) The more we strayed away from the waters of identifiably pop/rock music, the more difficult it became to choose representatives: there is no where near enough piano jazz on this list (Monk, Bill Evans trio etc), and swing doesn't get a place either. Where are all the great blues artistes that everyone should have? Clearly 89 choices just isn't going to do the trick for all the ones we felt should be there, even trying to push aside the quirks of our own music collection.

ABC - Lexicon of Love--Awh, you know you want it!

Arcade Fire - Funeral --For me the best album of the year and further proof that Canada is where its at --- apart from Scotland of course ;)

The Avalanches - Since I Left You--Fun, twisty, bonkers. Sampling taken to new heights.

Bach/Yo-Yo Ma - Cello Concertos--I'm with Donna Moss. Impossible to listen to without feeling overwhelmed by their beauty.

John Barry - Themeology--Film music writ large. Grand songs; grand scores.

Beach Boys - Pet Sounds--Because, well, actually, it really IS up there as one of the best ever albums.

Beatles - Revolver--The move from pop to more than that.

Beatles - 1962-1966 (The Red Apple collection)--The best intro to the FabFour even though the transfer of tracks was lousy. Get the tracks as they appear in this collection from better sources.

Billy Bragg - Back to Basics--Best collection of his early work, though I would also recommend Worker's Playtime as the most emotionally complete of his albums.("The Only One" includes the wonderful line "here I am, a victim of geography" - the most perfect way of describing separated lovers).

Blondie - Best of --I'd go for Parallel Lines but would be deprived of too many of their great tracks. This is still a much played album and for its pop purity deserves its place on the list.

David Bowie - Best--I know he needs to be on here. I just need to choose.

Jeff Buckley - Live at Sine--Yes, I know Grace is THE album. But in Buckley's short life, "live performing" was what made him. Funny, silly, touching and graceful/Grace-full.

Buena Vista Social Club--You want a party? Play this. We do.

Johnny Cash - American IV: When the Man Comes Around--Even less perfect tracks become wondrous alongside the most awesome ones here.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call--Bitter and lush. Perfectly miserable. The best kind of darkness.

Ray Charles - Best--Too good to exclude this great voice.

Chemikal Underground compilation - Out of Our Heads on Skelp--Label collections can be gorgeous. This has a truly inspired selection, and has pretty much my favourite ever Delgados tracks on it.

Clash - London Calling--Close call with Sandinista, but this wins out. Just.

Constellation Collection/GodSpeedYouBlackEmperor - Song of the Silent Land/Yanqui UXO--You need at least one good example of modern post-rock. The new classical all wrapped up. Go for the collection or the focus.

Sam Cooke - Best--A great voice, and great soul material.

The Costello Show - King of America--Yes, I adore "I Want You" from Blood and Chocolate, and many other tracks besides, but this is the album I feel best pulls together his wit and bile.

CSNY - Deja Vu--Not really a band as such, but a beautiful and strange collection of songs from 4 great talents. "Letting my freak flag fly..."

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue--Tough call to not go for the compilation The Essential Miles Davis which across two albums DOES bring together a great representative selection from one of the most difficult to sum up jazz artistes of the 20th century.

De la Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising--Funny and sharp.

Nick Drake - Way to Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake--A beautiful selection and hard to beat, even though any of his albums could have been here.

Ian Dury and the Blockheads - New Boots and Panties--Knocks the spots off any Sex Pistols album

Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited--For "Desolation Row", undoubtedly one of my favourite Dylan tracks, and for the being so darn important.

Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde--Acerbic analysis and tender sentiment. The live version of "I Want You" from Live at Budakhan may be more lyrically paced, but this album overall is brilliant from start to finish.

Elgar/Du Pre - Cello Concerto--Obvious, I know, but this piece still makes my heart sing.

The Fall - (you choose an album)--Love him or hate him, Mark E Smith has to have a place: they're always different, but always the same.

Ella Fitzgerald - The Cole Porter Songbook--One of the best writers; one of the best interpreters. Class all ways round.

Gang of Four - Entertainment!/Post-Punk Collection--Because you have to. Supplement this with any good Post-Punk collection (Rough Trade have some neat selections).

Marvin Gaye - What's Goin' On?--Without which there would be no Massive Attack...

Emmylou Harris - Best--Red Dirt Girl was the big recent comeback but she has been brilliant throughout her career.

Billy Holiday - Lady in Satin--Sweet and striking.

Michael Jackson - Best of--Off the Wall and Thriller, whatever you may think of this damaged person, are incredible albums and over the years there have been too many great disco/dance tracks to ignore him.

Jam - Snap!--Even if Paul Weller is living Eric Clapton's career in reverse, when he was good he was very very good. Could I roll in with this the Style Council collection? Ah go on...

Joy Division/New Order - Best of--You can choose which you prefer, but at least one of these has to have a place

Led Zepplin - Physical Graffitti--The Rock Album to beat all Rock Albums?

Tom Lehrer - An Evening Wasted with...--Does satirical music count? Witty and intelligent. I say it does.

Kirsty Macoll - Best--Kite has some of her best tracks on it, but a Best Of also brings extra goodies.

Madness - The Definitive Singles/Two-Tone collection--This gets re-issued about once every 10-18 months, but every home should have a little Madness in it. However much I loved The Specials, for me Madness were at the heart of Two-Tone. Perhaps to be complemented or substituted by a Two-Tone collection?

Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs--Even though this 3 album extravaganza of offers copious amounts of melancholia and joy for your bucks, the collection of Stephin Merritt's by the Sixths Hyacinths and Thistles has too much perfection to be ignored. Basically though, SM needs to be in your list.

Bob Marley - Legend--The best Marley collection

Massive Attack _ Blue Lines--This may be indebted to Marvin gaye, but this is still a beautiful album. Shara Nelson on vocals at her best...

Mingus - Mingus Ah Um--You have to have some Mingus in there.

Enio Morricone - Best of--I would happily go for the score from Once Upon a Time in the West but a representative collection may be needed.

Randy Newman - Best--More acerbic brilliance.

Augusto Pablo and King Tubby ---The album that Cloud cannot recall the name of, thinks is probably now unavailable, and which we do not own. Nice one dude, well justified. Still makes the list.

Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance--You have to own some Pere Ubu. May as well have this. Avant-everything.

Lee Scratch Perry - Arkology--The definitive 3 CD collection of Dub works from the maestro of production.

Pixies - Dolittle--Indisputably their best (don't care what you say...)

Pogues - Best--You could just go for Rum, Sodomy and the Lash or for If I Should Fall From Grace With God but a collection may be best.

Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen--Yes, you could go for a "Best of" which would also give you tracks such as "Cruel" ""Wild Horses", "We Let the Stars Go" "Talking Scarlet" "Nightingales"... oh shucks, even I'm talking myself out of this selection. No, no, stick with it. This is perhaps the most complete of their albums, and the most bittersweet.

Elvis Presley - No. 1s--'Cos it's true: you have to have Aaron.

Prince - Sign O'The Times--The album by the little guy with the big ego. Perfect social commentary. Great tracks.

Pulp - Different Class--Would their single collection represent them better? Not when this contains the viciously brilliant "I-Spy." All together now: "In the midnight hour, I will come to you..." Shudder.

Radiohead - The Bends--I do think that Radiohead are one of the best bands from the 1990s. As much as I can admire OK Computer and their more recent work, maybe I like 'songs' too much? This has them breaking out beyond "Creep" (still a brilliant song) but retaining a link to approachable songs that started getting lost on later work. "Fake Plastic Trees" rips me up every time, but the album does work as whole.

Ramones - Anthology--A two disc collection that pulls singles and other tracks from across the various Ramones incarnations.

Lou Reed - Transformer--Insiduously dark, made palatable by melody.

REM - IRS "Best of"/Warners "Best of"--In their own ways, both are worth having. You can chose which, but I'm too torn to decide. I also have an alternative 'Best of the Rest' which I can't really include because its more of a Number 89 album [you'll see what I mean].

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - 19 greatest hits--Well, not really, but Richman should be in all music collections. Perfect quirkiness.

Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks--Surely the best ever Stones compilation.

The Roots - Things Fall Apart.--Had to have something from the 'Illadelphia gang. This has the wonderful Erica Badu track AND the heart-wrenching "Return to Innocence Lost" by Ursula Rucker.

Simon and Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme--Many to choose from, and any good collection may suffice, but this is a rather special album. Harmonies to die for.

Nina Simone - Gold--The best collection of her work. Silky and tough.

Frank Sinatra - Songs for Swinging Lovers--THE collection for lovers everywhere.

Sleater Kinney - All Hands On the Bad One--Female pop should be on any good list.

The Smiths - The Queen is Dead--The height of their powers...

Phil Spector--He's mad and bad, but he produced some of the most perfect pop songs and performances ever put on disk.

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run--His best album?

Bruce Springsteen - The River--For me it's a tough call as I have intimate memories of first hearing The River. Would be tough to choose.

Squeeze - The Big Squeeze--I grew up a huge fan of Squeeze and their story telling is just gut-wrenching. I can bearly think of "Up the Junction" and "Labelled with Love" without bursting into tears.

Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense--Best live band performance on film? Possibly. Alive with genius.

They Might Be Giants - A User's Guide--Not so much a 'greatest hits' as a sampler of their quirkiness.

David Thomas and the Two Pale Boys - Surf's Up!--Because one chunk of David Thomas is not enough. Worth admission for the title track and "Man in the Dark" (which Thomas himself says includes the verse he is most proud of writing in all his works...)

Various - I'm Your Fan: Songs of Leonard Cohen--You're gonna hate me for not going for the man himself, but this is such a good collection of covers. Get it if only for Cale's simnple piano cover of "Hallelujah". Is it possible to do a bad version of that track? Second thoughts, do not tell me...

Various - Festival in the Desert--A brilliant collection of recordings from some of the most inspiring artists from across the world (and Robert Plant... sorry, only joking: he too is brilliant here)

Various - Sounds of the New West--Probably a cheat as you can only get this via... well, it came free with UNCUT magazine and remains THE collection of Am sure you coudl get access to it somehow....

Velvet Underground and Nico--Pretty difficult to justify excluding this classic - even though the recording is less than perfect/'in-tune'...

Rufus Wainwright - Want (One and Two - now available as a double pack)--Possibly cheating to go for the coming 2 disc collection of these last two albums, but these are fantastic value. You may loath him of course, and I won't hesitate to acknowledge he is an acquired taste, but these are sublime.

Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones--First? Best? Bleakly wonderful

Wedding Present - Bizzaro--You can all make your cases for other albums by this band, but for me this remains their best. Spiralling guitars, rasped lyrics, bitter thoughts. Brilliant. So what if "Every Song Sounds The Same"? (Their 'in-joke', not mine...)

Barry White - Best Of--Oh you know you need it...

Hank Williams - 40 Greatest--The dude of country music.

Wire - The A List--Selected by fans, this is the best collection of Wire tracks you could hope to hear.

Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life--Uplifting.

Neil Young - After the Gold Rush--You could get the latest "Best of" but it duplicates this album of concise brilliance.

Various - The home compilation--There has to be room for at least one home made compilation. For me its some tough calling dependent on whether we are on about tapes or CDs. The original "Now That's What I Call Dead Baggy" compilations that a former colleague's husband used to make me remain one of the best sets of themed collections I have access to. However, in my time I have developed a reputation (hi Chrissie!) for well-honed collections of my own. My friend George manages to select and present songlists that I know we would never have otherwise have heard of and from which many new passions have been inspired. On these grounds I think we must admit to the hall of 89 at least ONE great home selected compilation. You go choose.

Already looking at some of the lists appearing on the web I am ashamed of the things missing here: I guess it will always be a partial view and we can always yelp "how could I miss that?!" but that's the nature of lists I guess...

Amy Archer: "I'll stake my Pulitzer prize...!"

Watched this at the weekend and revelled in the glory of this lovely film. Great soundtrack and of course it features the gorgeous Jennifer Jason Leigh in some fabulous outfits and spouting some great one-liners.

Dave Gorman the mysteries of the English accent

Howled like a wolf with laughter at reading Dave Gorman's column in the Guardian on Saturday (travel section). Am sure that we are all guilty of blurring accents and dialects but this made me roar. On asking the umpteenth person who had mis-identified him as being Australian, why that was, Gorman got the following reply (and gave the most brilliant response):

"Well, I think I'm pretty good with accents," he said, and no one bothered to point out the obvious. "I know cockney and I know scouse, y'know, like the Beatles," he continued, "and you're neither of those so I ruled out England and thought ... I dunno ... maybe Australia?"

I stared back at him trying to work out how best to deal with the flaws in his not-exactly-Sherlock-Holmes-like logic. I mean it's not that he thought I actually sounded Australian ... it was just that when my bland, flat vowels weren't recognised as one of the two cartoon-English accents he knew, he just stuck a pin in his mental map of the English-speaking world. Should I explain that we have more than two whole accents in England? Should I ask him if he'd ever heard an Australian accent before? Eventually the silence was overwhelming and I had to say something ... one word fell from my mouth: "Strewth!"


West Wing

Whilst my pal H is taking up season 6, I am still in season 5.

It's still darn good, though I have been given to understand season 6 is more back on form than the immediate rise of John Wells in season 5 suggested.

Motto for life

Be excellent to each other and party on.

Guess what I watched the end of yesterday...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A certain actor's site gets a new front page to celebrate a birthday

As mentioned here, go here to see the new front page for today's birthday boy.

David Tennant on Children in Need

Sniff. I admit it. I was in a strop with the video; Cloud couldn't bear CIN, and Ghostbusters was on (even though I am of course TERRIFIED by the Stay-Puft marshmallow man).

That meant no DT for me.

Still, with Marie's post (brilliantly hilarious) and her little ditty, I feel like I watched it AND I have the link...(shame that at the mo being stuck at the local library and NO BROADBAND at home till next week I CANNOT WATCH IT!!! GRRRRRRR....)

Apologies. My cold, Guardian fame and the sense of still recalling the cat barfing has made me rather CAPS shouty....

Manic Clare, blogmeets, and the forthcoming "Through the Keyhole"

Great post (as ever) from a somewhat manic Clare.

Gawddammit, we love her!

Comedy and the possible return of Green Wing?

That there HolyHosesRob commented on the unfunniness of much current comedy. Well, if we're talking Little Britain, you know where I stand on that. If, however, you are talking about the wonderful GreenWing, that's another matter entirely.

I don't know if it will hit the heights of the first series, but it seems that there may be hope for a second series if the other commentator on Rob's post has good info...

6Music and 4AD

25 years of 4AD. Reminds me that one of our most played albums is the 4AD sampler put out by an early edition of Uncut magazine.
1. Pixies - Debaser
2. Lush - Hypocrite
3. Mojave 3 - Go Lady Go
4. Tanya Donnelly - Lantern
5. His Name Is Alive - Wishing Ring
6. Throwing Muses - Mania
7. This Mortal Coil - You & Your Sister
8. Thievery Corporation - Shaolin Satellite
9. GusGus - Barry - Gi Gi Galaxy Remix
10. Cuba - Urban Light 12am
11. Colourbox - Unofficial World Cup Theme
12. The Breeders - Saints
13. The Birthday Party - Big Jesus Trash Can
14. Lisa Germano - Tomorrowing
15. Red House Painters - New Jersey
16. Kristen Hersch - Your Ghost
17. Dead Can Dance - American Dreaming
18. The Hope Blister - Sweet Unknown
19. Cocteau Twins - Pearly Dewdrops Drop - 7" Version
It's a cracking collection of tunes, and short of having included the majestic "Song to the Siren" fromthe albulm It'll End in Tears by This Mortal Coil (yes I know it's a tim Buckley song), I doubt it could have been better (though you may of course disagree).

Self-referentiality: the Guardian mention

I link to the Guardian...

The Guardian links to me: sadly though it seems not online (its page 36 if you find a real life page-turning copy - or if you have the digital subscription to the Grundie).

Trust me, after beginning the day with the further adventures of Sneezy and Sneezier (aka Cloud and me), plus the cat arriving to sit on the bed and only proceeding to immediately barf all over me, the day HAD to get better!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Redefined by film

A "Reader's Recommendation" issue raised on the Guardian blog.

Loved these though from O:
Much as I despise the band and their whole jazz-funk-whatever oeuvre, the use of Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat" in 'Napoleon Dynamite' is utterly, utterly inspired.

The opening credit sequence of last year's 'Dawn Of The Dead' remake deserve some kind of mention too, I feel, for the brilliant use of "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash. Apocalyptic in the extreme.
Yes, yes.

John is right about Jimmny

Even a glance says this blog will be added to the roll, as John states that it should. Horror films, good music, an eclectic taste for life, good swearing (always goes well) and well selected pictures.

NOTE 19.11.05
Of course it always helps to get the name right - Jimmny (not Jimmy)

89 albums becomes a homework task

Looks like I've set myself some work, let alone the rest of you out there.

A happy ending

Thank goodness...

Skud's pics

I don't know how he does it, but Skuds has some of the most goreous and fascinating photographs of the most unusual sights/sites on his blog. Here's another example.

A special happy birthday

To this person for tomorrow.

UPDATED NOTE 4.10pm 18.11.05: Doh. I set this post up some time ago for the date concerned. Forgetting it was a Saturday. I then spotted that I would only have computer access today so updated the mesage to read "happy birthday for tomorrow"...
I have now done this.

This has to qualify as one of the most inept "happy birthday" greetings that the person concerned is never going to read anyway that has ever been written..

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The pain of singing (or: why I will never do karaoke)

I am feeling for Marie, but this line still cracked me up:
My traiterous friend even thought that one of the performers was Shakin Stevens (if he was, he's looks a lot like Joe Mangel these days, and sounds oddly like Bob Dylan.)
Poor Marie. Still, as she says, at least David wasn't there.

Moral of story: however good you think you sound, half it and then never do it in public (and certainly not the Groucho as your first public performance).

The good, the curious and the "WTF?": 89 albums?

At home last night I read the "89 albums" article by Tim de Lisle in the Guardian. Apart from him including the Arcade Fire album Funeral and Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, there was still a lot of predictability to the list. And some very curious choices too - not least in opting for 2 soundtracks and those being The Sound of Music and Saturday Night Fever (where was Pulp Fiction anyone?)

Anyone spot any obvious missing works and artists? I'd certainly add a double pack of Rufus Wainwright's Want One and Want Two. Ignoring the fact that classical, jazz and country music were seemingly beyond the remit of the article, there are other significant ommissions: there was no Jeff Buckley, no Nick Drake, and NO PULP (sorry, but you should have at least one of their works in). No Pixies?! The Sex Pistols are included, but there's no Ian Dury?

I know more serious matters should exercise my feeble mind, but the more I thought about the list, the more it irritated me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why is enforcing the 70 mph limit such a non-starter idea?!

Am I missing the point?

The way it was being talked about it was as if we were suggesting that people have to drive at the speed of milk floats.

HolyHosesRob (as opposed to EineKleineRob - I now to distinguish them) sent in this letter to the Guardian:

Before the whiners of the road lobby come out of the woodwork to complain about a more rigourous enforcement of the 70 mph speed limit, let me say that this is a really good idea that will have numerous other benefits.

I've timed my own 80-mile journey to work both sticking to and exceeding the speed limit. The maximum difference in journey time was about four minutes. This is because speeding vehicles always meet slower vehicles ahead of them, which causes congestion, over-braking, tail-gating, the concertina effect, and accidents. I'm all for faster journey times and fewer hold-ups. We will all benefit if everybody slows down.
Rob McMinn


On the drinking (lack of) culture

Service and other issues: we just ain't continental enough yet.

(Hat tip: Rob at HolyHoses)

Laptops: Wilson he say yes

And I agree.

Is your favourite movie character mentioned?

Check out the comments on the Shakespeare's Sister "QotD" on favourite movie characters. There are some great examples identified, although it's hard to know whether the commentators are praising the writing (who wrote the character), the director (who encourage the performance) or the actor (who embodied the character).

For me, it is very hard to disentangle the three issues, but the over-emphasis on the actor in the responses seems to suggest that we elide the actor and the role all too easily. No wonder people then get cranky about fans confusing them with their roles...

"I'm not against attacking batting"

Says Geoff 'stonewalling' Boycott re England having been "too attacking" in the opening Pakistan Test match...

Yeah, right.

So that old story about the incoming batsman being told "run the f*cker out" for blocking the team winning the match by stonewalling can't be true at all...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Regretted unkindnesses

That treasure trove of goodies, Shakespeare's Sister, yesterday raised as its question of the day "regretted unkindness".

The stories are frequently touching and many are familiar, from both the perspective of experiencing it and dishing out the unkindness.

From my experience it seems that 'inclusive education' has come back round full circle - though for different reasons now than then: back then children were placed in mainstream education because the disabilities were often not spotted or supported; now they are an are actively included (yeah... right... nothing to do with costs of providing specialist support).

Anyway the post got me thinking about my own school days in junior school (aged 10-12) with a girl the year above me. Deborah eventually transferred from our school to a 'Special School', but during the two years I was in her class, she made my life hell. I don't really know if being 'backward' as it was then called was an excuse for her destructive personality or was caused by it. All I knew was that she could pick on me endlessly, following me round, cornering me, pulling my hair, stealing my scarf and gloves, trashing my bag, sometimes just screaming at me, and then as quick as anything her learning disability personality would come back out and she would cry and claim it was me that did this to her. And I couldn't bear to be completely honest with everyone because I knew that she couldn't really help being as she was and she needed extra support and teaching (and she wasn't getting it in our class). But I would come home each weekend longing for the weekend to drag as much as possible - remember folks, I was a geeky hard-working pupil who actually liked learning - simply because the weekend gave me two whole days of not having to cope with her. I would, literally bang my head on the wall of my bedroom to give myself a headache to get out of going to school some days.

My regret? I should have made more of an effort because when she left I joined all those choruses of vengeful glee that smelly Deborah with her inability to learn the 2x table had gone to the other school. There is nothing so wicked as the relationships of children, and nothing like looking back to highlight growing up.

Clare tries to get to work

I really shouldn't laugh...

Reminds me of a postcard I use as a bookmark...

Caving is NOT safe

Sorry. I don't care how expert someone is, caving is dangerous. I'm sure proportionate to the people participating it is relatively safe, but going underground in water-filled spaces is not my idea of a safe activity.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Waterstones' current Xmas magazine

I wish I could post the pictures, but I'm gonna assume enough of you can find a branch of H20- boulders in your area. If you can, take a look at the current brochure / magazine on Waterstone's recommendations for Xmas. At the back, they have a list of stores and in a sidebar there are three pics of new stores.

Pictures One and Two are quite what you would expect: peopled with staff and customers at the tills.

Picture Three...

Well, let's say it's slightly different...

I say, people of Essex, use your bookshop!

Peggy review

Mary V. Dearborn's book - mentioned here LONG ago - gets a Guardian review.

Pooter Geek on education

Teaching matters.

(and it's more than a "customer services" issue).

Hard to know which of these posts makes me laugh the most

Read them in order:

This one on a singer and his book purchases

This one on being downstairs from the man of her dreams

This one on the 78 reasons she could have given

That's my Monday chuckles sorted then.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Heart on sleeve: memories, gratitude and life itself

Golly, that all sounds a bit pretentious! Hopefully not pish though. I've thought quite a bit about this post, but being somewhat a heart on sleeve kinda gal, it seemed as artificial to delete it as post it.

Yesterday I read Marie's post about her dad's friend dying and how it made her reassess how lucky she felt about her life.

It's a year since my dad died - was last Sunday - and although I had worked through my grief about his death even before he had died (it had been a long and slow time coming through dementia and an utter lack of carer support for him/me) the anniversary set me thinking about what he lived through and what I have to be grateful for.

My dad left his family behind when he was conscripted into the army in WWII. His parents died during the war - relatively natural causes - and he lost touch with his sister. Having wanted to become a linguist, he ended up having to be a bus driver in the UK because no one would employ a German refugee for his language skills. Following several heart attacks he was unable to work and became utterly reliant on my mother for support. His sight failed - glaucoma. His blood circulation became poor. Then he was diagnosed as having Parkinsons. (Hilariously - deep irony there - the first person to really raise this possibility was my boss in accountancy whom I HATED with a passion for her patronising attitude and ability to belittle people. On the day I left the firm - to continue my degree studies full time - she kindly volunteered to take my leaving gifts to my house whilst I continued on for the night out. [Perhaps her kindest ever gesture]. My mother, aware that this woman had contributed to me having collapsed from stress - and I'm not exaggerating - and whose reputation she was well informed of, nevertheless reluctantly invited her in for tea. Seeing my dad struggling to to sit and drinking his tea awkwardly, my boss casually commented "oh it's so difficult taking care of someone with Parkinsons isn't it?" Through gritted teeth mum apparantly tried to move the conversation on before my dad's poor hearing picked up the remark. It was around 18 months later when her off-the-cuff comments were proven correct).

Anyway, Mum took care of dad more and more: losing her own life inch by inch in the process. And then she became unwell. Mindful of how dad relied on her, she didn't get full medical advice despite my protests and encouragement. Less than two weeks after she finally consented to go into hospital for exploratory tests, she died: on my dad's birthday, which was also their wedding anniversary. Timing eh. [NB my only other close relative, my mum's mum, died on my mum's birthday. There's a habit you don't want to carry on] By this time dad needed a wheelchair and assistance to get anywhere over a distance - and anyone who knows Nottingham's QMC hospital knows that EVERYWHERE in there is a long distance. Although at first he seemed to cope better than expected with mum's death, eventually he was in and out of the Nottingham Hospitals on a regular basis. He couldn't read properly cos of his sight, he couldn't hear properly, his attention was erratic and his mood swings appalling. Worst of all, no one seemed to give a damn. He played coherence well enough to convince visiting assessors he could cope because damn it he knew he wanted to be seen to cope. This meant that I fought not only all the health care professionals but also dad as well because I couldn't get him to see how difficult the situation was and how much care he actually needed. That this was played against the backdrop of my PhD, insecure employment for Cloud and ultimately severe money worries - let alone the disasters and traumas of some of my closest friends including their family deaths, depression, and relationship tangles of mega-proportions - and you can see how it would take its toll.

He died alone, on the sofa, half dressed, the house in chaos that he had never let me or anyone else tidy up [we had to attack when he was in hospital and even then it was bedlam to do anything constructive]. I don't think in the end he was very happy: but he had God and his faith and I hope, I truly hope, that that gave him the comfort he needed to see goodness in his life.

For me, I know that now I can be grateful for my health - generally, nothing major anyway. For Cloud and my friends who are my adopted family. For my job that I love and students who I adore (mostly). For good tv and films and music that I can hear and watch and go out to enjoy. For books that I love to read for knowledge, pleasure and just the sheer delight of learning more stuff. For images that illuminate the world, highlight the human condition and captivate me. For performances that draw me into another world or view, embodying ideas and ideals. For blogging which has made me so many good contacts. For a house that though rickety is beautiful and has potential [even if that is "potentially costly"] and pictures that hang in it that make me smile and know beautiful things. At least I have known my family for longer than my dad did, and brought others into being family with me. I hope that things continue to be this good, though I know nothing lasts forever.

Like Clare's Three Beautiful Things project, I know I have enough to be grateful for. I just wish that things for my parents had been a little less hard.

Hilarious and slightly disturbing

Kevin and his flap.

Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister via the IMDB news page.

On the sublime pleasures of life

Nice remark from John that (maybe) marks the end of the Fowles debate.

Wilson amuses

Wilson (aka Cloud aka that man o'mine) write hilariously as ever on his blog. He just doesn't do so often enough, but I know he's even busier than me.

Anyway, this post on Bleak House had me in fits. Even though we'd had the conversation earlier this week at home.

And he's smart enough to not reply to spam.

That spy master

No, not the ones in Spooks (although, BLIMEY mama, that was a bit twisty last night?! Mind, whatever part Lindsey Duncan plays, can I get to be that blody gorgeous as I grow older?).

For this post I'm actually actually referring to the marvellous McManus, whose wit never fails to make me wince and smile.

He's even added me to his blog roll - not sure why its took me so long to spot that - so in case he sets Frank on me I better do likewise.

Opportunities to revel in David Tennant

Seems ABC in Australia will be showing the magnificently bonkers "Blackpool" (worth watching for the first episode alone but jam full of brilliance).

Thanks to this site for passing on all good things Tennant-ish.

And don't forget he's in Much Ado About Nothing this weekend on Radio 3 in a repeat of their drama production.

Choosing from the Melanies

For those not up with checking those DSPs4War, this identifies two Melanies to think about [my horror at watching a certain Melanie rave over the years continues unabated].

Belatedly Faustian

Spotted this on a trawl of blogs. Seems Bloggers4Labour has been having a social life: naughty, naughty. Still, he did spend it watching some curious actions and sounds.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On John Fowles

Norm notes his passing, as we would expect that good literate friend of ours to do, but I found the debate over at Counago&Spaves spawned by Fowles death to be hilarious. Not only does Fowles come under the hammer, but James Joyce as well. And as much as I can intellectually admire Joyce's writing or at least accept the right of others to praise it, I can honestly say his work is truly "Vienna." *

I liked "The French Lieutentant's Woman" for its knowingness; and for slightly different reasons I liked "A Maggot" (I came across that book when discussing the philosophical debates about time-travel movies such as "Twelve Monkeys" and the Terminator films: in that light "A Maggot" is actually rather enchanting). Is Fowles a bit pretentious? Possibly. Was Joyce? Absobloodylutely.

Doesn't mean I agree with John's intimations about cat lovers though....

* It means nothing to me...

Norms poets

Poll results in.

But it is funny...

Jane: we thank you as ever.

What I have not been doing; what I was doing; what I am

What I have not been doing
- not at work
- but not skiving
- not sleeping very well
- not blogging or checking my email (no computer internet access)
- not watching daytime TV
- not playing with my new computer (yes, finally)

what I was doing
- sneezing
- coughing
- feeling knackered. This was probably not helped by having got up at 5.30am on Saturday to send Cloud to work and me finish a Needs Assessment report for work [which, btw, I dragged my ass into work Monday to hand over only to discover today the person I handed it to hasn't even looked at it yet...]

what I am
- back at work
- very tired
- behind on my blogging and emails (apologies everyone)

MOTTO: bear with me folks.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Lorna Post: belated

What can I say? I was hopping up and down for the CD for months and then it takes me an age to find the time to listen to it properly.

Anyway: Lorna's second full length official release "Static Patterns and Souvenirs" "[Words on Music, Minnesota,USAWMO17] is a beautifully structured gentle collection of songs. It has flutes, some great guitar playing, and - best of all - harmonies to die for. There's a wistful quality to their style, to their writing, and the music perfectly accompanies that.

Ironically, even the band themselves acknowledge that the live shows "whilst paying tribute to the fragility and tenderness of the recordings, tend to be a far more dynamic and maverick affair." Too true.

Anyway, in terms of this album I think the finest tribute I can pay is that Neil Young would love the overall musical shape and feel of the album, Low and Lambchop would love its melodic qualities, and Brian Wilson would adore the meshing of lyrical flow and the way the music envelopes the listener.


Yesterday's Shakespeare's Sister blog question: BAD movies

Oh there are some howling corkers on the comments for this.

Not sure its the worst, but the time I spent watching "Cats and Dogs" is time I'm not getting back, and that really makes me cross...

Loved this comment left on the Sis blog by litbrit:
Forrest Gump.
The only reason I saw it was that my dentist had just acquired these strap-on-video glasses that let you watch a movie while he did your root canal. The thing was fresh out of the box, and the only movie he'd bother to buy, at that point, was Forrest Gump. All I could think was, Sure, what the'll take my mind off the fact that you're drilling into my jawbone and scraping out nerve tissue.
So I watched this film on my back, head lower than feet, with my mouth prised open and these clunky movie-screen goggles strapped to my face. And I swear, the root canal was the lesser torture.


Thank you Paul for alerting me!

Office work, eh...? Doncha luv it? That dude just makes me laugh so much!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Over 10,000 visitors

Okay, so it ain't Norm standards, but its a landmark for me. I just checked the site meter and I was exactly 10,100...

Thanks folks: shucks, what on earth are you all doing here?!

Clare had a great Book festival, but "the pressures of life"...

Awh, Clare really is feeling the strain of living with building work and trying to manage her busy life. Reading her recent comments I was kinda reminded of the Lloyd Cole song, "Patience" (sorry Hakmao), and thinking about what she said brought back how easy it is to not realise the destructive power of stress.

Even though the book festival was apparently great, Clare is clearly feeling the strain of "the pressures of life" and don't ever underestimate how hard that can be. It can shape how even the most confident people can lose perspective on what they do and how good they are. It truly is about 'mental healthiness': knowing yourself and when to ask for help, love and support is great but it can also help to make those around you aware that you may not always know when things are bleak/getting bleak.

Clare's a great gal and I hope we all rally round to remind her how wonderful she is.

Banning stuff that matters

Although the post arises from the very serious matter of Turkmenistan's cultural bans on opera, ballet and recorded music (amongst other things), Skuds brings a wry smile with his little list of proposed cultural bans:
  • TV impressionists who start a sketch with (for example) "Hi, I'm Mark Lawson". If the impression is so bad you need to tell us who it is, then don't do it! And if half the audience don't know who the person is anyway, telling them the name won't help much.
  • Chat show interviewers who ask questions longer than the answers could possibly be, and then interrupt the answer anyway just to make sure.
  • The clip-art of a duck hitting a computer with a big hammer. It wasn't that funny in the first place and its just boring now, even if its used ironically.
  • Biographies of celebrities, released within a week of their death. Have a time limit of at least 6 months before publication.
  • The use by any one person of more than one TV comedy catchphrase per day.
  • Publishing football league tables after the first Saturday of the season, before all the teams have even played a game - even if that is the only chance I ever get of seeing West Ham at the top.
Nice list Skuds: can I add...
  • Withdrawal of programmes without notice from the schedules - at least have the courtesy to tell us.
  • Bumping programmes around the schedules and then claiming they "never got an audience" - even hardy fans get bored of this crappy attitude towards viewers and find something else to watch
  • Nicky Campbell - sorry, the man just irritates the hell out of me
  • Radio5 phone-ins, especially that dreaded 9am slot. I thought nothing could compete with the rampany stupidity and fascistic attitudes expressed on late night radio phone-ins but this just suggests they're now getting up earlier
  • In agreement with JustJane, any use of the phrase "political correctness gone mad" should incur severe penalty

Sure there must be others we could add...

Blunkett gone

Can't say I am surprised about Blunkett resigning, though I did find Nick Robinson's remarks on the radio yesterday rather interesting. He was saying how Blunkett had sought support from his sons to use their inheritance to fund his case for paternity rights against Spectatorgal. Taking up opportunities to pay something back to their inheritance was probably a key reason for Blunkett's (ill-judged) actions.

Of course, matters of inheritance, share-holding and the like are pretty difficult to judge appropriate on the left, but even so I found Robinson's analysis shed a different light on Blunkett's actions.

Leather Trews


Thanks Cloud for making me laugh with this: though I will ask, have you spotted that the newly hung picture in my study shows a man wearing leather trousers and looking very nice in them too...?

Bless Arctic Monkeys

Awh, as the best number one single in some time, I really warmed to "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" by Arctic Monkeys. And their appearance on Jools Holland was a delight.

But the best laugh came on Saturday when rambling Mark Lamarr commented on how young they were: boy, the acne the lead singer and drummer carried... They really, really did look about 12 years old! Bless 'em.

C4 take "The Closer" out

Hmmm. I always hate it when programmes just "disappear", but I especially hate it when its done without warning and replaced by Jimmy Carr.

Apparantly the rating for "The Closer" were so bad that it did not just get bumped to another slot in the schedule, it got pulled completely. It may reappear on More4 (great: pixelated Freeview means we can't GET More4). So how come when I phoned and mentioned the name of the programme the operator at C4 groaned? Clearly I wasn't the only one bothered enough to call about its disappearance, and given that mostly only a very small percentage of viewers will be bothered enough to call up to a TV station about shifting schedules, just how bad were those ratings. Less good than a repeated Jimmy Carr programme, a collection of clips about "scary moments" that was A DAY LATE FOR HALLOWEEN!?

Sorry, had a 'caps on' moment there. Jimmy Carr has that effect on me. You know, sexist and racist jokes are just that, no matter how much he claims to be doing it 'with irony'...

I'm still pissed about The Closer disappearing though: I was really warming to the quirky toughness of Kyra Sedgewick's Brenda.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Crazy man

Cloud is wonderfully crazy:

must get in early tomorrow. stuff to do early when nothing is stirring not even a mouse. and not even a moose. and definitely not even a moose with a mousse who sings like a mouse. have you got that?

Oh yes. Course I have...

Good job I do get what he means, eh?!

"Ever heard of acting?"

Marie raises a good point about the proliferation of "real sex" in non-porno movies in recent months/years, suggesting "what ever happened to acting?" As a feminist - yes, I do use the word happily - I share her concern for how this development affects actors and what they are 'required' to do in their work.

On the edge of indefinites

Last night heard this classic quote from John Pinard as Radio 5 Live awaited news on David Blunkett:
"We're on the verge of a brink of a statement being nearly imminent."
Now that's what I call uncertainty!

[Note: just spell-checked this post and was confused by the options "pioneered" and "blankets" - then realised that's what comes up for Pinard and Blunkett...