Friday, November 30, 2007


After the praise lavished on Join Hands last week, felt compelled to lay my hands on The Scream. This really brought back pleasant memories. I even recall once being inspired to learn every guitar note of this album - and indeed, whatever happened to those brilliant original members?

Most times, nostalgia is best left for the memory as the reality can disappoint. Not here though - this is a perfect timeless album with inspired production, performances, compositions, and presentation. If only The Velvet Underground had been this good.

Also, returning to the original theme, it's clear the musically inferior Joy Division (to name but one band) snatched a great many ideas from The Scream.

And lastly, that rarest of things, a cover version that blows the original out of the fucking water, or out of the fairground in the case of Helter Skelter. The other best example of that which occurs to me was The Residents' Satisfaction.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Continuing the love affair with Pravda.

USA Officially Becomes Police State
Melodramatic headline it undeniably is, the truth is that the US does now seem to model itself on a South American fascist state like, say, Peronist Argentina, and we turn to Russia to learn about it.

Anorexic And Hairy Prostitutes
Great story - you've got to love its complete lack of prurience, there's even a cheery upbeat feelgood tone; contrast this to how western media would report related subject matter. Also, note the juxtaposition of the girl in the 'sea turtle' picture below it.

North Korea Resumes Public Executions

When did they in fact stop? As the UK kleptocracy blunders onwards down the path towards the North Korean model, surely it won't be long before public hangings will be introduced in the Queen's Speech.



Fear is such a widespread and versatile commodity; one that is commonly and effortlessly exploited as there is always a steady and willing stream of buyers and rebuyers. One reason for that is that any counter-argument allows the accusation that somehow the terrible thing in question is being defended. Even when that thing doesn't really exist in the way described, or if in fact at all.

A few years ago Daniel Radosh did a fine job deconstructing an example of this which focused on the world of 'internet sex-slave trafficking'. And lo and behold, the real exploiters have duly arrived, inevitably in the guise of Hollywood, and made a film entitled Trade about the original subject matter as if it did really happen. Even if you pick out a negative review, its essential criticism is that this undeniably exploitative movie isn't real enough. That the movie "does little justice to the young girls who are prey to these bands of international slime".

In other words false presuppositions (original article) loaded onto false presuppositions (the movie) loaded onto false presuppositions (the movie reviews) that become almost impossible to challenge without (in this case) taking a pro child internet sex-trade stance.

I would suggest that it's this fearmongering cycle that causes much real collateral damage. But when's someone going to challenge the fear itself - and its mongers? I don't see a queue forming.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Stuff like this happens and these muppets want to inflict ID cards on us, not mentioning the 53 pieces of information before you undertake any overseas travel. What's funny is the sheer incompetence of repression. While making momentously short-sighted and self-serving decisions that involve staggering amounts of public money, these cheap suited n00bs with their fourth rate law degrees wouldn't truthfully know how to plug a fucking USB mouse in the right way.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Surprisingly, amidst a reasonably extensive music collection here, there are only two punk/new wave albums remaining: The Banshees' Join Hands and Joy Division's Closer. The tremendous Join Hands has aged amazingly well, while most music from that era, albeit exciting at the time, has not. Closer is no exception: a production style that once sounded spacious and original, is now, to these ears, rather weedy and hollow.

That notwithstanding, it's still a moving collection of dark mournful songs, a vast improvement over their first album, and I recall it forming the personal soundtrack to several chapters of Juliette.

So, having never seen even a reasonable music biopic, I was prepared to really hate Anton Corbijn's Control. Even more so because I can't stand the whole stupidly overrated Anthony Wilson/Factory/Madchester/Hacienda scene. But no, totally and utterly wrong. Go see it for yourself.

Ironically, the music in it is neither here nor there, because what's special for me is the moving tale of a vulnerable human being; the kind of candid working-class portrait Mike Leigh has often unsuccessfully attempted. It may well be Deborah, Curtis' widow, who is co-writer here, that should get the credit.

Yet more ironically, lead actor Sam Riley is so extraordinary in his role that he effortlessly outdoes Curtis in almost every way: for mystery, for charisma, for looks, for singing ability, you name it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Funny to see the art direction of the poster for this new movie September Dawn, I just wish it was a good film (it isn't).

Saturday, November 17, 2007


After a comment in the original post a couple of emails came in asking how one is not an atheist while disbelieving the existence of any god. It's because atheism I see as essentially a construct that wouldn't have existed without the fundamentalist intolerance of post-gnostic Christianity; historically, people were, and to a certain extent still are, forced to make a choice to accept or reject.

However, I think there's a cuter way to articulate this.

A chimpanzee doesn't recognise any deity, nor is he or she an atheist. There is no god, and you can't prove that which doesn't exist; it's not a belief, it's a state. I'm with the chimp.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Who needs boring western media? You find some of the best stories at Pravda these days - just go and check this one out about some alien-looking creatures recently discovered and photographed. It might not now be what it once was, yet - since the fall of the USSR - Pravda was taken over by its erstwhile journalists and after much confrontation and drama with the authorities they now look after this online version. It's stylistically quite tabloid and yet there's still a really unusual, slightly edgy perspective on world affairs in its reporting that makes for a really nice change.

Some other recent stories I enjoyed there:

Top Russian Super-rich It-girls
Check out Kira, the fifteen year old fashion designer bankrolled by daddy to the tune of $100m.

Foolish British Spies
You don't get headlines like that in The Daily Telegraph...

Treated Like Garbage
... nor that on Fox News.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Am slightly shellshocked this evening having just sat through Redacted, an extremely painful, punishing yet deeply affecting film about Iraq by Brian De Palma. It's a multifaceted fictionalised account of a real life atrocity committed by US forces in Samarra.

You can't help but be impressed by the fucking bravery of the guy for making it, because make no mistake, he's guaranteed himself a hard time amongst all sorts of quarters back in the States. It's the kind of movie that, like War Hunt (1962), will be recognised as a classic in years to come.

Monday, November 12, 2007


#11: experience

Of course, reminding me of this word was our recent vinyl reissue of Birthdeath Experience. It's particularly useful for unconscious communication for, just by saying the word, a listener will begin to do the mental process suggested because of the inherent nature of discourse being filtered referentially through first person.

I'll never forget the experience of eating that red hot spicy Mexican food.

Make up your own examples. It's just like the following pseudo-question language pattern used experientially, 'have you ever seen a pig flying across a blue sky?'. I say pseudo-question because, rather than requesting a genuine answer, it forces the experience in question; you cannot avoid imagining that flying porker. It's an example of one of the loopholes in the way that language works that's commonly exploited.

There are many members of this particular magical lexical family including wonder, feel, conceive, consider, realise and others, yet experience is the best. It's such a far-reaching word that manages to refer not only to how you're directly affected by something but to all the peripheral and associated aspects too.

Birthdeath Feeling just wouldn't have resonated so well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


At the admitted risk of over-romanticising a point I've touched on before, after extended sessions in abandoned architecture - any abandoned building locations (particularly interiors) - I get a twinge of deep melancholy. For instance, if you were to imagine your home lying empty with you no longer there, you may also feel this.

Where does this melancholy come from? There's an atavistic echo; a longing to be outdoors, to be 'free', to be up in the trees or in the mountains, by the sea, looking out onto open horizons or up to the sky. Impro contains a memorable and powerful chapter on this very notion.

Although we rely on buildings for so much of our protection from predators or the climate - note this nation's widespread property-owning neurosis - you know, to me, four walls are not entirely to be trusted. Nor are their cohorts the locks, bolts, fences, and alarms. They are our (barely) gilded prisons and self-inflicted shields from the beauty outside.


Got caught up delving around the detailed demographic stats at imdb regarding Saw IV.

Although the movie's weighted average score is just 6.5, owing to an exaggeratedly high percentage of 10/10s, the median is as much as 8. Furthermore, and even more pointedly, whereas a pretty substantial number, 26%, of males give it 10, it's an extraordinary 31.4% of all females to max it and a phenomenal 46.4% aged below 18!

It's clear that males have more of a problem with it than females as in addition to that, at the low end of the spectrum at 1/10, where there is also unusual proliferation, it's a higher male ratio.

Of course I couldn't resist looking in the 45+ age group, and what you notice there is an exceptional polarisation of the votes, 1s and 10s in equally large measure, and more or less the same regardless of gender.

Who could have imagined all that about the market leader of so-called 'torture porn'?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


You don't need to believe in ghosties and ghoulies to feel shudders upon exploring once-inhabited, now abandoned locations as I know when last year experiencing the tangible eeriness at the disused children's village of Humbie nearby. The imagination alone does the work. It provides the soundtrack, the smells, it tells the stories. And none of it is good.

Even the thought of these furtive urban creepsters sneaking around with their digital cameras and backpacks adds to the resonance. Notwithstanding, it's a remarkable archive of photography (albeit within a rather unnecessarily cold website) and there are several which stand out.

Fuck knows what was going on here - I purposefully didn't google anything because one look at the long trestle table, or just those strange murals under the dank arches, and it will give you a more than scary enough sense of claustrophobia and foreboding.

The Olympic Village
Ah, the joys of sport - and how far removed is that heady sweaty youthful atmosphere in this collection. So void, so empty, so unhappy. You don't need Jared Diamond's Collapse to comprehend the full extent of the Ceaucescan folly that is London 2012.

The Meat Factory
A friend used to sit hunched over his PC playing Half-Life 2 for hours on end, running up and down corridors in and out of rooms just like these. I kind of expected to hear the soft crunching of his footsteps and the sharp explosions of his anti-gravity weapon.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


There's a real art to being a good swearer. It's a tightly nuanced balance between timing, the unexpected, intonation, and a special intent that betrays a subtext ranging from mischief, to hard sincerity, to anger, to seduction, or perhaps to irony. And above all, I feel it's important that there's a comforting sense of you being given permission not only to say fuck or cunt back, but also to engage in actions that might otherwise not be appropriate.

The risk is that it's all too easy tip over into sounding trite or come across as ugly, or worse, just plain inarticulate; and therefore it's a rare rhetorical quality to find in a person.

Now, I like it when a man can do that, and to me, when a woman can do that, it's particularly attractive.

I've been fortunate enough to have a few friends with this elite skill, though one such expert practitioner of the profane that some of us (in the UK?) might be familiar with is Daisy Donovan, the TV comedienne and actress, daughter of Terence has it, thereby portraying that promise of intelligence, of unfettered imagination, of freedom to be herself. What more could you want?

You can enjoy seeing her in action in the recent black comedy Death At A Funeral where she's well cast in a role that, as far as one can tell, is pretty faithful to her real life persona.