Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What was it that REM sang? Bad Day?

Bad Week more like.

Let's just say that as Friday is the new Saturday (what with NCIS and Law and Order: Criminal Intent on Five), I'm looking forward to my Fridays more than ever. We drink wine on Friday to celebrate it being Friday.

God, my head is hurting. People, I will be properly rejoining the blogging universe as soon as my brain feels able. Currently though, its only capable of enjoying the new bathroom and shower (water tank to move next week by the way, so flooring too could be in place soon...) and counting the days till Primeval starts.

I'm getting there slowly.


I've been following the Holy Hoses crew in their various guises for quite some time now, so whilst it was a bit disturbing to find that their archives have had a pruning, it's all been in a good cause.

Mr Simon of the HolyHoses: you deserve the pleasure of your catharsis.


Dragon, how could you?!

Well, I can definitely direct you in saying that Ladytron are a VERY cool band, making some excellent electronica sounds with some delicious vocals.

The girls are pretty hot too.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I appear to have finally moved to new Blogger!

It was a bit of a nail-biting experience as the battle between my dodgy NThell connection and Rullsenberg being a large blog took place before my eyes.

But now it appears I am here and fully taggable.

Well, that's... nice ... I guess...

At least I can stop feeling annoyed at Blogger saying I'm too big for my own blog.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Relaunch of "Post of the Week'

Find the promo from Troubled Diva relaunching Post of the Week HERE.

It also makes sense to go to the new spangly Post of the week website! You know it makes sense...

On Bitchness; or, whatever happened to Ms Wurtzel?

I know that the whine effect of Elizabeth Wurtzel's self-analysis is now regarded as a low point in 1990s culture, but I nevertheless bristled at the article in the Guardian on Kate Figes' new book, The Big Fat Bitch Book.

Figes may be a more sympathetic writer to the literati but I rather liked Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shyness, privacy and blogging mindsets

It's often been asked of bloggers "why do you blog?"; similarly "why do you/don't you use a pseudonym?"

There can be all sorts of reasons people write online in blogs, fully represented in the range of writing styles and topics on which people write. Likewise, and this is sometimes related to what they write about, people will choose to use their own name; a closely related version of their name; a pseudonym but with so much biographical information on their blog that they are openly identified; or a full blown hidden identity. As we know, the latter can often implode quite substantially with all manner of on and off-blog fall-out.

In some respects, that last category has been widely discussed and debated both across the blogosphere and in other communication formats: broken relationships and lost jobs are just two of the many serious implications for a hidden identity being revealed.

But what of the other categories of (non-)anonymity? Why do we blog and what are the implications for us? How far behind the screen do we hide - even when we may put so much of ourselves on display in our blog writing?

It's almost as if there is (what others may perceive as) a contradiction: although we may not. We tell readers things about our innermost thoughts and our experiences - both bad and good, painful and joyful. Why would we do that? Where would we draw the line? I was looking back at my pen portrait this week in the wake of finally putting up the blogmeet post (sorry, I don't think the stripes ever did follow though there should be several pics scattered around this site with me wearing them). I take nothing of it back - it's all true. But it got me thinking about how far I would expect people 'out there' to break through the blog wall into my social world. I'm probably lucky, though I doubt unique, in that I have struck up some very fine off-blog connections with people. Some are still cyber-based, mostly through geography, but others have extended into actual meetings.

And in this instance I'm not counting blogmeets as the same thing as social meetings.

For there can be something curiously ambiguous about the blogmeet. It's almost as if it is a halfway house between real social interaction off-blog and the kind of communication that can be held at a seemingly intimate level either on-blog or even in emails. Of course, it can be absolutely delightful to meet people collectively and share experiences, anecdotes and ideas. It can be lovely to get perhaps a little more of the person in your mind's eye than even a very well photographically illustrated blog may suggest. And in some instances it takes the cyber-connection to another level, spurring further off-blog communications and even meetings.

But it may not.

It may be perfectly appropriate for the contact to go no further than the collective social gathering of various people interesting in blogging.

And similarly, inevitably, not everyone will want to do that. Just as some people never socialise with work colleagues - 'work is work and apart from work we have nothing in common and actually please do not confuse me with a friend' - so some will prefer to keep social interaction at a more individual or personal level. I can so understand that.

Regularly at conferences and large gatherings, I have found myself sat alone, grumpy, and increasingly self-critical about my circumstances just because the social group I wanted to be with wasn't around (you know, the accident of circumstance because they were doing something different in the previous time slot, or they have shifted off into a different social grouping into which you just cannot force yourself to push into). I get resentful. I begin to curl into myself, increasingly shy and frustrated with myself. Hating the possibility of making an effort to join in, even as I long to do so. I'm fine on my own when I have chosen to be, but make me be alone and I disintegrate. I will shrink away from conversation even as I long for it, because it may not be with who I want to be with. It will be with other people, alternatives, and I don't know them. It becomes a vicious cycle. It can even happen when I'm in a situation where I don't know anyone: if someone invites me into a conversation I can usually join in okay. But I can't join unprompted. And the longer I go without contact, the less likely it is I will speak to anyone; I become the mouse in the corner, nibbling at a biscuit, hating myself more and more, staying on only because it feels less obvious than going. Bleugh. Emotional black hole time.

Coming back to blogmeets then, there is this tension between what people may perceive as openness in writing and what we may actually be able to do in person-to-person interactions. Just as my wearing of stripes masks periods of crippling shyness, so the expectations of a hyper-extrovert personality can sometimes be too much. Am I really that person? Good lord, are they really looking at me? It can be why the sitemeter is both a blessing and a curse. And it can also be why blogmeets don't suit every blogger. And even when we do go, we may all bring very different expectations as to what we want next.

Happy socialising: on blog, in mail, and off-site. But above all, be happy with yourself.

Hope to see you in Nottingham or elsewhere.

Thursday already?!

I'm having a really bad time at the moment. I'm not getting proper lunchbreaks (although I am eating better during them) and I'm so flaked when I get home that all I want to do is curl up and watch the episodes in the Alan Plater Beiderbecke DVD boxset.


Anyway, a formal welcome to Dragon from over at Tabula Rasa, a site I feel I should have already visited as they've clearly been around several of my longterm favourite sites. Doh for me.

WELCOME! And reading the post on Buffy/Angel.... awh, I really need to get myself some more Angel seasons...

Monday, January 22, 2007

First call: Nottingham Blogmeet Saturday 10 March 2007

Okay, I've tried to email a few people about this and hopefully at least the lovely Troubled Diva will cross-post with me. I know a few people may have found the email got swallowed into their junk box rather than mailbox (not sure why), so please don't feel you were excluded if you didn't get an email from me before this call.

Anyway, following last year's Manchester blogmeet, I did promise to consider instigating a similarly social meeting in Nottingham. Well, belatedly it could be on. We're quite central (it is the Midlands) and links from London are also quite good.

As yet this is quite a provisional call for those interested in coming over. So:

DATE: Saturday 10 March 2007

TIME: probably first meets from 2 or 3pm onwards, but we will hopefully get a venue that will allow flexible attendance all day till late. Yes, that means the Broadway may be our venue of choice.

WHO: Nottingham(shire) bloggers will be especially welcome. But don't be put off coming if you're from further afield. Our purpose is largely sociable and supportive so please feel free to join in.

PURPOSE: totally social! It may be your first blogmeet or one of many you have attended; either way you will be very welcome to come and meet some of those bloggers you have read, as well as some you probably haven't. It may even inspire new bloggers. I am sure that whoever you're sat next to - and I suspect movement and chatting will be the order of the day anyway - you'll find something to share, whether it's an interest in Angel or Buffy or Firefly or Serenity, a passion for obscure music, a love of landscape, or a commitment to political ideas. You may even wish to wax lyrical about Doctor Who (or even the current Doctor Who... sigh). You may be setting your video that night should Primeval be on... You may be a football fan: long-suffering or otherwise. You may love books and bookshops like this one. One thing I guess we will share is an interest in writing ...

comment here or email me and/or Troubled Diva (addresses are accessible if you look). We can then build a pooled list of possible attendees and Mike has agreed to collate a page where links can be viewed of those blogs who may be coming. But if you DON'T want to be listed there you can opt to be kept on the invisible list that Mike and I will construct.

Further details will be posted as things are organised. I'm afraid the bagsie-a-futon has gone to EineKleineRob as he has indicated he will be trooping down from Edinburgh, but I am sure sofa and duvet space on floors at my place can be found for other waifs and strays wanting to stay in Nottingham for the night. And if we have enough of a critical mass and the weather sets fair we could always meet up for a walk on the Sunday somewhere pleasant (yes, Nottingham DOES have pleasant parts...)

The Happy Man

Cloud is a happy man. Einsturzende Neubauten are playing Rock City Nottingham and he has promptly run out to buy two tickets! Hurrah!!!

So thanks Mike, but we're sorted! And surely they'll be in short supply...?!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Emma on Oxbridge

Oxbridge is always a pretty emotive subject. Regular readers will know I'm someone who went through a very different route into and through Higher Education than just doing A levels and straight university applications. But I have met plenty of academics and students (at postgraduate level) from Oxbridge and have been there many times for conferences and reading group meetings; I also know people at a deeper level of friendship who studied there (G successfully did his undergrad there; C initially started her postgraduate research there before realising it was completely the wrong place for her). I respect both those experiences and recognise the nuances of discomfort, performance and participation that each of them entailed.

But despite this, I have to acknowledge I am an outsider looking in on the whole matter of Oxbridge: wanting to go (never did, not even at school/college, and certainly not later when I was actually investigating entering HE as a full time student), applying to go (the process of application and consideration generally mortifies me), or being there (frankly I would need to be a different person to want to be there and thrive in its atmosphere). Consequently, it was very interesting to be over at All About My Movies and read Emma's take on the whole process of teenagers discovering the success - or otherwise - of their Oxbridge applications.

It's a really fascinating post, not only for what it tells you about the process of Oxbridge university applications, but also about the demands on getting it right that are inherent to these processes. Emma writes:
A couple of my friends are now taking a GAP year and re-applying for Oxbridge next year. A couple of them will be applying to do the same subjects this year, and others will be applying to take ones, as they’ve so eloquently put it, “give me a better chance of getting into Oxbridge.” When stuff like that is said, it truly does make you wonder which they hold more dear – the subject they want to study, or the pride of attending Oxbridge. But surely those are the sort of actions that simply add to the already huge reputation of those two universities, and is it the reputation, or the university, that people are going there for?
Of course, this issue of reputation doesn't stop with the actual attendance at university, but also affects what happens next, as in certain fields that Oxbridge education still opens doors. (Mind, there was something schadenfreude-esque about reading in the Graduate Jobs section of the Guardian at the weekend the tale of the 'poor thing' Oxbridge graduate who had discovered that in his chosen field of creative arts, the qualification was a noose rather than a key. Shame. Still, if he wanted to go into merchant banking I suspect he wouldn't have much difficulty making the move: it's almost a case of horses-for-courses. Not every field needs an Oxbridge graduate or even wants one. There is more to the HE sector than just Oxbridge.)

One final point: it was telling that as part of the follow up discussion, Emma expressed her desire to do Journalism but that it was "completely out of the question" as she said "my parents would kill me!" Metaphors aside, part of me riled at the restrictions on her doing what she might be most interested in as well as good at (she's clearly got the makings of a fine journalistic writer). But another part of me recognised two key things. One: the costs of university and who pays. Grants and fee deferrals and payment on graduation through payroll aside, the ongoing costs of university are still going to be largely footed by parents/family so clearly they want a good return on their investment. Consequently, there is probably increasingly little room for students to actually study what they want. Fair enough? Well, to a point perhaps: it is undeniably a driving factor. Two: the long-term usefulness of degree subjects. Rightly or wrongly, some subjects are perceived as less 'useful' or recognised than others. Media Studies is the one most often trotted out in this context, but plenty of other areas of study get slammed in the same bucket for a variety of reasons (some good, some bad). Where does journalism come in the list? Depends on the institution, the nature of the qualification, and even what the student may expect it can do for them. Reasonably, there may well be better routes into journalism post-degree studying such as refining writerly skills through judicious selection of modules. To come back to the derided area of Media Studies, it's long been possible to effectively study this at Oxbridge: it's just the modules would come under the wide berthing aegis of the great gods, PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) and Social and Political Sciences. My, don't those sound more impressive than saying "I did Media Studies", even though in terms of content and focus you may well have studied the same theories, ideas and activities as someone at Poppleton University? Emma may well find that Maths and Economics opens more doors to her than journalism, even into the world of journalism (although at places like Oxbridge, there are probably fewer economics modules available that are writing-focused rather than maths-focused). Nevertheless, despite these recognitions, a little part of me is still saddened that the university process has become so end-orientated (cost, job to be gained, status of degree/job) when really it's the learning process itself which should be at the heart of degree studies... and a good proportion of space to grow emotionally and intellectually. It's hard to do either of those in an atmosphere of end-orientation.

Passing of a TV dog

Thanks to the Stage's TV page, I found out about the death of Rick Stein's dog Chalky who always enlived things when watching Stein's programmes.

I know people talk about keeping pets as a great way to teach children about mortality since few pets life-spans extend beyond those expected for humans, but there is always something quite sad in the death of a pet almost precisely because of that. There's something fairly emotionally horrid about either finding a pet dead or having to have it put down.

Although for some reason I keep thinking of it as an inversion of Puff the Magic Dragon: "dragons live for ever, but not little boys" running through my mind in this case as "people live for longer and not so little dogs"...

I think I'm a bit delirious with this combined cough/cold thing...

Matt, are you QUITE sure you don't want the combination?

He's a very nice man

Following the collated Xmas messages and gift, the website got a message back from the guy himself to say thank you. You can read about it in the news items for today (17 January 2007) and there is a link to the handwritten note as a .jpg.

Awh, doesn't he just come across as lovely?

Will nobody rid me of the turbulent cough/cold?

No takers?


Monday, January 15, 2007

The George Volumes: The Graduation collection

Wow, I can't believe it is now over 2 years ago since this was compiled. Still, anything that begins with that Joy Division track is always going to press my buttons. In retrospect, I might have re-thought the final selections of the collection since I think it is quite difficult to follow the stunning impact of Simon and Garfunkel's chilling rendition of Silent Night combined with the 7 o'clock news of the day. Still, the remaining tracks were too good to miss out on and given this was compiled with some friendly goodwill from Lisette, it does largely hold together. And you have to love the Pop Goes the Weasal of Mr Perry.

Volume 4: The Graduation Collection

Atmosphere: Joy Division
We Are The Clash: Sparks
(Get A) Grip (On Yourself): Lambchop [a cover of The Stranglers...]
The Modern Dance: Pere Ubu
Modern Dance: Campfire Walkers [cover of the above in rollicking hoe-down style]
Die Interimsliebenden: Einstürzende Neubauten
Toyte Goyes In Shineln: Black Ox Orkestar
Dreaming (,,,Again): Polmo Polpo
Pink Dust: Magoo
Still Evil: Radar Bros.
Personal Jesus: Johnny Cash [Yes, originally by Depeche Mode...]
Feed Kill Chain: Jay Farrar
The Guns Of Brixton: Nouvelle Vague
The Sky Lay Still: Elisabeth Anka Vajagic
7 O'Clock News / Silent Night: Simon & Garfunkel
Inside Susan [Inside Susan: A Story in 3 Parts- part 2]: Pulp
The Book Is on the Table: Pere Ubu
Jungle Jim: Lee "Scratch" Perry

Actually, it's just nice to rethink through these track listings. Must replay these collations...

George - The Birthday Collection: further adventures in non-MP3 collations

Following my previous promise, here is the listing for Volume 3 of the George collections.

The First Big Weekend: Arab Strap
Free Until They Cut Me Down: Iron & Wine
Two Way Monologue: Sondre Lerche
All I Want To Know: The Magnetic Fields
Hackensack: Fountains Of Wayne
Wake Up: Love Spit Love
Avenue: Saint Etienne
Saturn: Suckle
Górecki [edit]: Lamb
The Day I See You Again: Dubstar
Salvation Song: The Lilac Time
Jeannie's Diary: Eels
My Lighthouse: Pulp
About Today: The National
The King Of Bring: Malcolm Middleton
Awkward Duet: Sons And Daughters
Couldn't Bear To Be Special: Prefab Sprout

L&N12 George incoming

Over the festive period we were treated to a couple of new entries from the George collection (incoming). Here's a proper review of the first of these.

  • Sugar (Jagz Kooner Mix): Ladytron

  • But of course we had to have some Ladytron! One of the best things I have always enjoyed about the G is his love of female voca;l electronica. Ladytron are supreme exponents of this, and this remix version hits all the right spots in retaining the best of the original track with a brilliant remix twist.

  • Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above: Cansei de Ser Sexy

  • CSS have had Jarvis on stage with them. Guess what? That makes then cool in my books but this track is especially frothy and fun and just makes ya want to dance. Great!

  • Lithium: The Polyphonic Spree

  • The art of the cover version should usually be to add something to the original, something different, unexpected, even confusing. Visualise the Polyphonics singing THIS particular track and you hit the nail for a fantastic cover song!

  • Pull-Shapes: The Pipettes

  • 60s-ish girl pop. Divine (rather like their outfits!) and always gets me singing along. Still treasure "I Like a Boy in Uniform" though...

  • First Big Weekend (Four Tet): Arab Strap

  • A long-time favourite track, much loved from when it was first played by Peel. Given new breath by Four Tet who have turned their hand to several bands for remixing that you would not normally expect.

  • Bugged: Kids in Tracksuits

  • What I also love about these kind of collations is the unexpectedness of them, but also how they gell together. Moving from the Four Tet remix to these buzzing hip-hop beats somehow works brilliantly.

  • First Ladies Anthem: Glenallen School for Girls

  • And then you get the completely unexpected! Perfectly indefinable! It HAD to come via MySpace...!

  • Music is my Hot Hot Sex: CSS

  • Another gem from the CSS collective, and of course a true statement!

  • Mountain Energy: The Fall

  • Some would say it isn't a proper collection without The Fall. Music comes and goes but the ever (un)changing/changing of The Fall is forever. Consistently interesting.

  • Citadel: Ladytron

  • Further excellence from these mistresses of the keyboard. Pounding synths to get your limbs moving.

  • Umo: Ooioo

  • It's always good to find out that you've been introduced to a band you would have followed up on from a review or comment elsewhere. It's a nice reminder that the music sharing is in sync. And it is exactly what we would pick up and trial. All-female Japanese experimental beats. Well of course we love it!

  • Hoist That Rag: Tom Waits

  • From the cracking 'Real Gone collection, Waits at his usual greatness.

  • We Make It Rock: Kids in Tracksuits

  • Thumping hip-hop beats and scratches. Cracking.

  • Scarburst: Species 8472

  • One of the best sound connections on the collection as Kids in Tracksuits effortlessly seagues into this before becoming a thrilling revisioning of the sounds of Propaganda: expansive and dramatic. It sounds like a lost soundtrack score/vocal track. A knockout.

  • I'm Your Boyfriend Now: Tall Pony

  • Disturbing! In a good way! Like a previously passed on gem, the incredible House Husbands track "Do you?" ('My name is Brad...'), not to be read as a statement on how to actually treat women. The soundtrack is somehow made even more terrifying by that monotone dictation. Shiver. Sickly hysterical and not for the faint-hearted.

  • Dog Door: Tom Waits

  • Singing like he's borrowed one of Thomas Truax's vocal distortion gizmos, it's a grand and grinding track.

  • The Operator: ZZZZZ

  • More synth brilliance, familiar forms yet new in tone. "Please do"...

  • Tender Talons: Ladytron

  • Atmospheric doesn't touch this. It has the same kind of swooping sounds that I so love on "Start-Up Chime" (one of my absolute favs of this band). And is that a flute in there?

  • Uprock Theme: Kids in Tracksuits

  • Scratching and reverbing and screeching. Love it!

  • Art Bitch: CSS

  • Yes, they really do sing what you think they are singing (see G's review here!)

  • Children's Story: Tom Waits

  • 'Cos you need to top the bewildering excess of CSS somehow, so more Waits is the obvious answer. Fabulous ending!

    Phew, that's L&N12 done. It's been on heavy rotation since acquisition - much like L&N13 and all the previous material shared. Anyway, look forward to further summaries and reviews.

    George Collections - in and out

    Some time ago, I did a couple of posts collating the tracklistings for our George collections: George Volume 1 - loud and George Volume 2 - soft. Very nice they are too.

    Given that we've effectively become a mutual 'obscure-music-and-fave-tracks' appreciation society, I thought it may be nice to present these playlists, in much the same way I have been getting a lot of pleasure from reviewing the weekly musical prompts from Darren over at the ever fabulous Inveresk Street Ingrate blog.

    Although I do like to hear an album as it is on the album/CD, I do love the collating of tracks. Before George got onto the collating scene in this house, there were of course the 'pass the tape on' collections for Chrissie (a sample of which is the Gender Split Songsters collection). As with G though, what has been nice about the spreading the love of music has been how it has enabled us both to introduce/remind each other of good stuff. I certainly know in her case that she's got into some artistes she would never have thought of listening to without my prompts!)

    Anyway, that meander is by way of noting I'm going to catch up on the listings for the George collections, both incoming and outgoing. Ee, but there is some grand stuff there...


    Ah jeez, why does stuff always catch me unawares!? Matt_c has very kindly listed me amongst his favourite blogs in his Normblog profile. Shucks, I'm all overcome.

    On Utopias

    Seems I have missed the great debate: what is the purpose of 'Utopia' as a concept or a real place. For latecomers to the debate, Matt_c over at Fisking Central has a good overview with links to some recent comments on utopia. And although Norm takes a different view, his own take provides a useful framework for thinking through how to deal with the concept.

    Still, let me take nothing away from Matt_c's piece, which is a very enjoyable read, not least for his recognising his (temporary?) channeling of Richard Dawkins-esque ranting!

    It must be love

    Ah and ah.

    Bless 'em.

    Hug a blogger

    I've been trying to catch up with blogs (failing, as usually, but commend me for trying) and have noted that the January blues have gripped quite a few people.

    If you know they are down, why not hug a blogger? All you need to do is...



    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    She's Back, She's Back!!! Marie is back!!!

    Ah, bliss, all is well with the world.

    Marie is back.

    And I missed this piece by Marie over at Norm's last week (bloglines blind spot obviously since I do have Norm on my bloglines).

    Mind, with that STUNNING picture of her on the site I would almost feel jealous of her were it not for the inevitable fact of her boiler breaking down... again...

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    My seven sins


    Greed:Very Low
    Gluttony:Very Low
    Sloth:Very High
    Envy:Very Low

    The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on

    Thanks to Paul at Mars Hill for alerting me to this.


    Feeling cranky at the new year? Wanting to vent some steam? You could do worse than drop in on Clare's post on creating swearwords which has some nicely inventive material, as well a good amount of implicit/explicit discussion in the comments.


    George's film and music reviews of the year

    Brilliant stuff from the G-meister, providing an in-depth set of reviews of his fave raves in the music world from 2006 and his top three films from the year as well.

    Without wishing to take anything away from his film comments, the music reviews are particularly good; some very in-depth indeed with lyric citations and commentary of the first order. It's the little asides that I love in his reviews such as this gem amidst his remarks on Regina Spektor's "Begin to Hope":
    no need has Regina for living in the back of beyond with her harp and a gothic veil
    Hmmm, that wouldn't refer to the opinion-splitting Joanna Newsom would it (who also gets an honourable if qualified mention in the records of the year list)?

    I was also pleased to note this mention within G's review of the awesome Superqueens album 'Royal Shit':
    My only regret here is that the album version of Rat Poison buries the siren effect far down in the mix whereas the BBC session take had it as a prominent feature, but really that's just splitting hairs when the quality level is this high.
    since this had been my first thought on hearing the album version. It's also why I keep playing the original BBC1 session version.

    All in all the music reviews are excellent: how could they fail to be with mentions of such cracking artistes as Nina Nastasia, Jarvis, and Tom Waits amongst others?!

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Best moment in a radio poll ever

    Kept meaning to blog about this since Sunday afternoon. Listening to Andrew Collins doing his last Sunday afternoon programme on BBC6Music before moving to his new Saturday pm slot, we were quite enjoying his collating of votes for the best 'Best of' album. It was pretty inevitable that Queen were going to win (and they did: mind, he did do me the favour of playing "Don't Stop Me Now" which at least I have no qualms about enjoying because of its associations with the gloriously hysterical "Sean of the Dead". Come on, beat the zombie in time to the music!)

    Still, Neil and I thought it would be nice to at least offer something a little different and (not jokingly) Neil looked at me and said "Strategies Against Architecture by Einsturzende Neubauten". I passed him the mobile and we duly texted in our suggestion, not expecting it to win though with the slender hope that it would be off-beam enough to warrant consideration for a mention.

    If you read this post before the end of Friday (probably) 12 January 2007, you may be able to listen again to Collins' show for Saunday 7 January 2007 in which case can I recommend you skip to 2hr:40min where, at around 2hr:42min you can hear Collin's sharp intake of breath after he has read out our offering to which he adds "I don't know why that's not winning, I really don't..."

    But as if that wasn't good enough, if you skip forward another 5 mins (to approx 2hr:48min) you can hear his rundown of the top three 'Best of' albums by announcing "and in third place Strategies Against Architecture by Einstur... no, no, not really..."

    Two mentions for one of our favourite bands: fantastic!

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    NCIS return

    And the delight was ongoing. At last, at last, and thanks to some judicious relocating of the video recorder, we got to entertain friends AND record/later watch the return of NCIS. Neatly, amongst Saturday's repeats of season 1 was the episode we had missed where Ari first appeared so that dovetailed nicely with Season 3's start in the aftermath's of Kate's shooting.

    Only thing is we now have to wait till Friday to watch the second part of the season opener: argh, la-la-la no spoilers please!!!

    Green Wing finale

    Well, I always liked Green Wing so it was apt really that I liked it to the end. I liked it sorting out the Mac and Caroline story (ah, sigh) and sorting out (in a different way) Statham and Joanna. I liked the admin girls going wild (though how did Martin get out to the wedding?) and I liked Boyce being struck dumb and missing Statham's tormenting.

    I know it's not been to everyone's taste, but I have to say it was a fitting end to a surreal comedy. Thanks folks.

    Cough, cough

    And still this bloody cough lingers. As Willow would say, "bored now..."

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    In praise of Latin and Greek

    I think Cloud is the best placed person in our house to post on this matter, but I will post here a link to EineKleineRob's fabulous piece on Latin and Greek as a prompt to remind Cloud to write about the matter.


    J.J. is okay. At least now she will get to play CDs in her car...

    Torchwood: season one

    Don't get me wrong. It wasn't perfect - far from it. I've probably been one of its more sympathetic reviewers: not quite as enthusiastic as say Paul Burgin or Phil Edwards, but certainly not as negative as say Stu_N and I lack the incisive wit of MediumRob to nail some of its worst flaws with panache.

    But overall it's been a solid B grade programme for me on a scale where E is Celebrity Big Brother and A is The Wire. Okay, so there have been far too many D moments, but it HASA had B+ and A- moments (particularly in the first episode, Small Worlds, They Keep Killing Suzie, Out of Time, and Captain Jack Harkness). Agreed, whilst Cyberwoman and Countrycide were superficially exciting, they were both pretty bad (I like horror stuff but Countrycide just sat uncomfortably with the series to that point, whereas the pseudo-gruesomeness of Cyberwoman just made me wince). And most of the other episodes were 'so-so' to 'okay', but - and this is the clincher for me - still better than a lot of what I might have to watch on terrestial TV (remember folks, this is a Freeview blocked and SkyOne free-zone: not by choice but by current circumstances).

    What I liked:

  • for all his woodenness, it was nice to have Captain Jack back (though that may be mostly for the references made to The Doctor). And for the breath-taking final moments of the season where his (dead) eyes finally lit with some hope and joy.

  • Suzie was great. Indira Varma is still wonderful if sadly highlighting the acting limitations of pretty much everyone else in the series.

  • Ianto's character developed nicely from gopher to a more integral figure. Still can't think seriously about stopwatches without shuddering though...

  • What I didn't like:

  • Owen, Owen, Owen - quite possibly the quickest progression from acting potential (Bleak House) to get-him-away-from-my-TV-screen (Torchwood). Redeemed only by the characterisation in Out of Time, and even that was predictable, the figure of Owen was quite possibly the worst thing about the programme. I so wanted him to be die from Ianto's shot.

  • actors not being given anything decent to do a lot of the time. Eve Myles and Naoko Mori clearly have potential but are largely screwed over by the rubbish dialogue they are given and the pants direction. When done well, each can show some talent, but the programme is not settled enough yet to allow that.

  • So what next? Series Two is supposedly underway, and one can only hope that Jack gets back some of his verve with an injection of the Doctor. If we could only hope that Chris Chibnall were to be sent into some kind of void, Torchwood may develop into a much better series. Here's hoping for improvement.

    Friday, January 05, 2007

    Quickie: The Friday Night Project


    Neil reading Radio Times sat next to me on the sofa last night after I had set video to record Green Wing special and NCIS new series (hurrah!)

    Neil (casual): "The Friday Night Project" restarts tomorrow
    Rullsenberg: WHAT!!!!!!!!! This week?!
    N (looking amused and bemused): yeah...
    R: SHIT! How did I not notice it was this week!!!??
    N (hardly disguising mockery): David Tennant is on it...
    R: Of course I know... what I can't work out is how come that fell off my radar!
    N: you hate that programme...
    R (muttering to self): I'm gonna have to reset the video; I need a new tape. Must set reminder to take out Green Wing tape in the morning and reset it with that after NCIS...
    R (responding to Neil): yes I know I hate it, but... oh stop looking at me like that...
    N: I'm just amazed that all I needed to say was ' "The Friday Night Project" restarts tomorrow...'
    R: Shut up...

    Video set by the way...

    I feel that the George would approve

    "At midnight Finnish time it was snowing, we were outside on the edge of a forest - drinking champagne and leaping around to 'Losing My Religion'"
    Wow, with that little quote from JJ, I feel that George will be approving of her blog even more. Invocation of REM = passport to permanent approval rating in his eyes! I suspect only the drinking of a good whisky would have increased the approval rating!

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Home viewing

    As you do, I'm off to look at houses with a friend today, 'cos that's what friends make themselves available for, especially when plumbers are at work in their own houses putting in bathrooms (yes folks, the fabled bathroom may ACTUALLY be happening!)

    See ya'll tomorrow just in time to comment on my thought about the ending of S1 of Torchwood and my hopes and fears for the 'finale' of Green Wing. I think that This Life +10 (hopefully taped last night) may well have to wait till the weekend to be viewed and reviewed.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Slight return

    Rosby made a brief comeback to update remind/update us on her exams (A* and A! well done!) and to review her 2006.

    Bless, I have missed her regular bulletins on teenage life.


    Loved the original article by Joanna Moorhead on women changing their names when they marry which the Guardian published just after Xmas (even if it is a well-trodden path for the paper). Loved even more the letters generated. Always fun to read this kind of thing.

    Still, I was even more intrigued to find another article by Joanna Moorhead when I was looking online for the links today: a piece by her on the obscure name and persona of Leonora Carrington, surrealist artist.

    For those who know me, and my long-term interest in Surrealism, they will certainly know that Leonora's name is well-known to me. She remains one of the most fascinating of Surrealist artists, and certainly one of the most magical in the way her painting and writing capture the excess of reality embodied by Surrealism.

    Lovely to see that she is still going strong. There are some nice images of her work here and I especially love Portrait of the Late Mrs Partridge from 1947.

    Primeval ITV official site

    Thank you!

    The trailer clip is lovely.

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    The Troubled Diva year in review




    Now, you gotta admit those are some very good lists...

    New Music and Old Music - finds and joys

    As I sit here with the sounds echoing up the stairs of the excellent Paul Lewis Beethoven piano sonatos, I contemplate the year's acquisitions and new finds.

    In no particular order then:

    Carla Bruni: thanks be to Bob, without whom I would probably not considered or acquired this gem. A lovely voice and beautiful melodies. What more can you ask for?

    Max Richter: a Selectadisc acquisition, of course. Musing through their Post-Rock section, I took a gamble on this potentially appealing collection which is interspersed with the mighty Bobby Wyatt on readings. Blue Notebooks - which is on my 'to-buy' list - features the luscious Tilda Swinton in a similar role. Delightful.

    CSS: if ever there was going to be an artiste from this year I would have laid money on coming to me via lovely George, Cansei de Ser Sexy were top bet. So it proved that the band cropped up on the latest George collections - well, given that Jarvis likes CSS how could I fail to be charmed?

    Beirut: courtesy of Rough Trade so this was in the Crockatt and Powell visiting bag. It came to us along with Neutral Milk Hotel's 1998 gem In the Aeroplane over the Sea. Both beautiful in their own ways. Beirut's "Gulag Orkestar" fits in well with several other East European inspired joys in our collection including Black Ox Orkestar (one of our favs through 2004 and 2005).

    An Pierle: an eMusic find, thanks to a stunning piano accompanied version of "Are 'Friends' Electric?" on a Gary Numan tribute album (strange but true, it actually contains a number of cracking versions/tracks). Anyway, am rather fond of the An Pierle and White Velvet so they're on the 'get-more-of-these' list for the new year.

    Sophie Solomon: one of our finds from Summer Sundae and her album has been an oft-played delight, not least for the lovely collaborations with KT Tunstall and the mighty Richard Hawley. Purchased direct from the lovely girl's hands as she came off-stage to a heroine's welcome by adoring and new fans alike.

    Captain: as recommended by Patrische, even though I missed them at Summer Sundae. As described here so I can't say fairer than that! Another Selectadisc grabbed joy.

    Tunng: fabulously folkie and a quiet stunner at Summer Sundae, their disturbing lyrics and soundscapes sit on breathtaking melodies. We grabbed a front row spot for their quiet subversion and loved every second of it.

    Regina Spektor: her style has been pilfered by legions of female vocalists since it came to prominence early in 2006 (well, at least to us she did - via BBC6Music). I would complain but since it's such a beautiful approach it feels churlish to do so. She remains the best at it though and the video for "Us" with its delightful stop-motion photography (and those shoes she wears - sigh...) still sends shivers through me.

    Amplifico: Scotpop charmers, another inevitable introduction from the George late in 2005 and regularly enjoyed throughout 2006. A record contract for these should get an album out - preferably soon! Donna Maciocia should be a star!

    Okay, that's a flavour of the past year. There has been plenty of other stuff crossing our CD players and computers but that gives a reasonably representative sample of our new(ish) finds.


    Seems I am following the household trend in posting that previous video post of Salamandrina (note: my first embedded YouTube clip!).

    You can check out more EN here and here courtesy of his Cloudiness!

    By the way, I love the programme's side tag for the Blume video: "special goth"... I love it almost as much as Blixa Bargeld's incredible cheekbones.


    Of course you should really check out the album version on double CD version of Tabula Rasa. It's also available on the Strategies Against Architecture III collection (available for streaming here), but this will do in the meantime.

    Here are the awesome Einsturzende Neubauten doing a live version of a very special track, Salamandrina.

    That'll teach me: the problems of being a prolific blogger...

    Seems that despite Blogger initially offering me the option to shift to the new (beta) Blogger, I'm too big to do so. With over a thousand posts -- actually WELL over a thousand posts -- I'm going to have to wait. So much for my idea of 'New Year' / 'New Blogger'!

    So folks, you're stuck with non-tag Lisa for the moment it appears. This does not suggest 2007 is going to be smoother than 2006... Tum-ti-tum!