Saturday, June 30, 2007

Da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum....

Maybe it's a sign of stress or impending madness (it's been one of those weeks), maybe Rusty Davies has me in the grip of some kind of mind control voodoo, or maybe it's all true and the Master really is in the process of enslaving us all, but over the past week I've kept finding myself tapping out that rhythm. When I was a small lad, Doctor Who was my passion and obsession. It broke my heart to see its decline during the 80s, and I was overjoyed when it came back and made such a success of itself. It's not perfect (the Doctor needs to stop saying sorry and STOP SHOUTING, for a start), but it's still the best thing on telly by miles. Bar a mid-season wobble (that disappointing Dalek story) this has been the best series yet of the reconstituted Who, and I can only hope, as I wait to find out just how he'll get out of this one, and anticipate a return to the unwatchable any-of-big-brother's-x-factor-grease-idol-will-do type rubbish that will undoubtedly swamp the schedules from hereon, that all those rumours that the BBC might actually be stupid enough to cancel it when RTD & co move on (after series 4, allegedly) are the utter nonsense that they must surely be.

da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum...

Friday, June 22, 2007

A word from our sponsor

While I'm in plugging mode, if you're in London on Tuesday why not pop along to Kensington Symphony Orchestra's last concert before the summer? There's some Dvorak, the London premiere of a piece by the excellent John Woolrich, and Sibelius's 5th Symphony, which if you grew up in the 80s you'll recognise as the main riff from "Since Yesterday" by Strawberry Switchblade.

Tickets are 12 quid (£9 concessions), and it promises to be an excellent evening.
It all starts at 7.30pm, Tuesday June 26th, at St. John's, Smith Square.

Meaty beaty big and bouncy

I've had an email from Mark out of Meat for a Dark Day, a band from Sheffield of whom regular readers will be aware, telling me about their forthcoming single, which is out on July 2nd.

Now any band that puts stuff out on 7" vinyl in this day and age will always find a place in my heart, and luckily the music's good too, so I can be nice and truthful at the same time. "Vanity Unfair" is a thumping slab of prime garage boogie with a nice line in caustic observation. If it were a person it'd be that louche-looking individual at the other end of the bar eyeing up your girlfriend. The B side, "3 Mallards", couldn't be more different, a folk tinged wisp of a song that lingers in the head. It's a fine single, and you should put your order in for a copy immediately.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Between Roky and a hard place

Roky Erickson is playing in the Royal Festival Hall right now. It's the first time he's played in this country, and frankly it's a miracle that it's happening. I should be there. I should be coming home later to write one of those drunken, gushing, rambling posts about how great he was, how wonderful it was to see him functional and rocking. But I'm not. I'm stuck here with a disgusting cold, barely able to speak and feeling wretched. It sucks, like a big fat sucky thing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Relative Dimension

There's a certain breed of gay man who sends women of a certain age all of a quiver in a last-ditch hormonal frenzy, and the exemple de nos jours is part time TARDIS occupant, chum of Emperor Palpatine and all-round hunk o' cheese John Barrowman.

I'll be looking forward to seeing him turn up in Doctor Who tomorrow night, seeing how many seconds he lasts without chatting someone up, and hoping for a shock revelation or two. But in the meantime, I feel duty bound to ask, what is going on on this album cover? Is Andrew Lloyd Webber just out of shot, applying his aspects to Captain Jack's Torchwood?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Britain's got attention whores

"The budgie man's on the telly!"

(If you've never wandered along the Thames in the vicinity of Tate Modern, you may not be aware that the budgie man is a bloke who stands about with a row of budgies on a pole and a tape player, singing a terrible song about how he's the "bu-budgie man".)

"really? What's he on?"
"I can't tell you, I'm too ashamed of the rubbish I'm watching."

A couple of days after this exchange, I finally wheedle the information out of her: The budgie man appeared (albeit briefly) on Britain's Got Talent. My curiosity piqued, I turn on and am sucked into an hour and a half of what Dante's Inferno might be like if Dante had been BBC1's light entertainment commissioning editor in 1975.

I'm confronted by a gaggle of small children jumping about dressed as purple witches, which puts me in mind of New Order's True Faith video re-imagined by a crack-head.

The judges are Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. They each have a button that they press when they've had enough of whatever act is in front of them, which lights up an enormous red cross. If all three light their crosses, the act must stop and leave the stage in ignominy and shame. Cowell is playing his usual Nasty shtick, while Holden (a brunette these days, presumably in penance for doing the dirty on Les Dennis) almost visibly melts every time a small child appears. Her role is clearly to be good cop to Cowell's bad. Morgan doesn't appear to be able to decide if he's there to be an honest broker between these extremes or to try and out-bastard Cowell. When he attempts to do the latter, the result is hilarious in its ill-judgement. After a small child has run through "Wouldn't it be luverly" (very well, it must be said), he pronounces "No." there is an uncomfortable silence, it's clear the other two think she's a shoe-in. "No... doubt you're going through," he says. This sort of thing might work if Morgan was a polished performer who knew about comic timing, but he clearly isn't. He's clearly just that idiot who used to edit the Mirror before all that unfortunate business with the share tips.

There's a lot of that false expectation stuff in this show, actually - when the time comes to decide who'll go through to the next round, Cowell habitually uses it ("I'm sorry to tell you... you'll have to do it all over again. You're through!"). They used to use this gag on Neighbours all the time when telling kids their exam results and the like. Still, at least Cowell can pace it properly.

Of course, what we watch this sort of thing for isn't anyone with any actual talent, nor the ocean of mediocrity, but the jaw-droppingly awful, and Britain's Got Talent supplies that in spades. It's interesting that the audience is by now primed to boo Simon Cowell whatever he says, despite the fact that most of the time he's extremely fair in his criticisms. The man on the trampoline did get boring after he'd done the same pratfall about 5 times in the first 30 seconds. The middle aged woman dressed as Madonna was rubbish. Sticking spoons to your face isn't enough to make an act.

What continues to amaze, not only in this but all these talent shows, is the incredible ability of people to delude themselves that they can sing/tell jokes/dance/entertain in any way whatsoever. Surely if one of these people was your friend it'd be kinder to tell them quietly that they're rubbish, than to let them demonstrate it on national television? Or just shoot them. It'd be quick.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What are we here for?

When I started this, I had no real idea where it was going or what it was really intended to achieve, and as time goes by I feel increasingly that I don't really want to reach a definitive answer to those questions. But it occurred to me the other day, as I looked through a few old entries here and they sparked new ideas that might break the deadlock that's stalled a cherished project for a long time, that at least partly what this is is a place for ideas with no home. It's not exactly pieces - they're frequently too brief and unpolished for that - but I can't think of it as exactly sketches either, as that implies (to me, anyway) that they're intended as preparations for some greater plan (and I've written plenty of sketches at least as substantial as anything I've posted here that haven't appeared here as they're specifically intended as work towards a specific goal) . As it is, they sit here, awaiting their moment when light shines on them and their purpose becomes clear.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sound Vs. Noise (5)

Something I find myself returning to in various guises is the horrible all-pervading noise that surrounds us. I would like to draw your attention to this article, which discusses an increasingly common manifestation of this.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Daemon Days

It's time for another one of these spurious internet personality tests. This one's a tie-in with the imminent film adaptations of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials books. Mine's a gibbon, apparently. A funky one, I hope. What do you think?