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Sunday, 27 February 2011

something understood: the disguise


Kudos to Sarah Cuddon this morning for the little early Radio 4 slot usually referenced as religion and ethics, which ran "Something Understood: The Disguise", which is about identity.

It kicked off with the splintery world of Fernando Passoa - an author whose Book of Disquiet I often find within arms' reach. Then Orwell down and out in London and Paris, Bob Dylan, Max Power - the short-lived Homer Simpson alter ego as well as the name on every hairdryer. And onward.

The fascination for me was the creative discoveries from within the assumed identity. Not schizophrenic, more as another way to think about something. David Bowie 'taken over' by Ziggy Stardust. Patrick McGuinness channeling the back-story for an imaginary dissident Romanian poet as Liviu Campanu.

It explored the areas around writing where the characters and aliases start as imagined but rather than being there to hide things are much more there to inform.

This is where it rang bells with my own writing, my attempts at novels and also sometimes with lyrics. It's still interesting to me how the characters can come alive and create their own behaviours. Unlike Passoa's approach, I do park them when I'm not in that writing mode. Passoa was discovered to have 72 alter egos which he'd written about and stashed into a trunk as well as four different and clearly delineated published pseudonyms.

McGuinness explained that sometimes people judging will take more from the idea of the alias than from the thoughts created - with his Campanu character, there became more written about the fiction of it than the ideas within it - which some how missed the point of what he was trying to say through a different voice.

Sarah Cuddon also explored some where the other identity took over - Snake eating Alice Cooper and the agent generated stage persona of Norma Jean Baker. "They crawled out of the woodwork and whispered into your brain, they set you on a treadmill and they made you change your name" - so the Taupin lyrics go.

Then onwards towards award winning Romain Gary writing secretly as Emile Ajar -a madman- but strangely giving Gary the freedom to say what he wanted.

Add in some other music including Gillian Welsh accompanied on a fiddle singing "no-one knows my name" and a sprinkling of Beethoven and there's a thought provoking thirty minutes.

And all before seven a.m.

Here's the iPlayer link

Saturday, 26 February 2011

i've got an ap for that

i have an ap for that
I decided to abandon the February Album Writing Month this year; I'm getting a backlog of half finished toons and novels which could take years to clear. Then a phone call today goaded me to one last entry.

What rhymes with 'anthropomorphic'?
I've got an ap for that
I've got an ap for that

How to hear Lykke Li's new one?
I've got an ap for that
I've got an ap for that

Where's a bar that gives away chestnuts?
I've got an ap for that
I've got an ap for that

Let's make it all kind of fuzzy
Using an ap for that
And a cracked cone speaker

Forget about fingers, fumbs can push it
You don't need books if there's a three-gee signal
If you can't find it, wave that smartphone
Cos there's an ap for that
Yeah there's an ap for that

Breakdown
Bbb-bbb-bbb
Ppp-ppp-ppp
Please press reset.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Siegfried's patients

black swan
I wonder what 'The Black Swan' would look like as a black-and-white movie? The light and shade in it was pretty heavily contrasted with a storyline that would fit well as a Grand Guignol piece. Certainly there were some clever scenes, like the 32 fouett├ęs en tournant where the dancer grew a swan's wings. But overall I thought it came across somewhat tongue (and file!) in cheek.

Old French horror theatre would use pseudo realistic blood, gore and sharp implements to entertain and that seemed to be part of this film's premise. I liked the creeping around the darkened and deserted theatre and the clever soundtrack with its off-centre effects.

It matched the off-centre prima-ballerina too, and possibly her similarly distracted rival, if she really existed. And that seemed to be the main plot-line. Like in Swan Lake itself, we'll have two people who significantly overlap and then see what happens.

So there were parallel identities, eating disorders and a descent into a form of madness. And that was just me watching it.

As a piece of melodrama, with some manifestly annoying characters, it pirouetted towards ever building excesses. And then fell awkwardly into an ultimately predictable ending.

Although I realise I'm probably out of line in considering this art-house Oscar candidate as a piece of two dimensional whimsy, stuffing ballet cliches and a borrowed storyline into an exploitation slasher flick.

The pizza afterwards was excellent.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

free gifts with every blog post

I was wondering whether I was imagining that the advert breaks on some of the satellite channels seemed to be getting longer.

Not quite at the level of American channels where there can be an ad break in the title sequence at each end of a show, but certainly that there were now sometimes around a dozen adverts in the breaks throughout a programme.

I'd probably missed that the satellite channels can already run 12 minutes of adverts per hour whereas traditional broadcasters have had to make do with around half of this. It turns out that its all to be changed as an experiment and that additionally there can be product placement in certain shows.

It could also explain a strange little sequence I saw in the new Hawaii Five - Oh series, where at the end of the first episode one of the cops gave his buddy a hotel voucher. I thought it was slightly wooden moment, until a few moments later the credits rolled including a 'sponsored by' sequence featuring a well known hotel chain.

I'm not sure about all of this.
screenshot_06

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

low anthem - smart flesh - No. 0057

The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh - No. 0057
Another band I enjoy just issued a new record. It's The Low Anthem and the album is called Smart Flesh.

I'll come clean -if you look at the cover picture carefully you'll see the number of the copy is 57. As I open the packaging I can't help but sniff the ink and pressed card smell. No, I don't do that with plastic boxed CDs, but Alec and Dan the letterpress printers deserve a little recognition for their artistry.

And will the album meet my expectations? It's both their recognisable style but with some new twists and a huge array of instruments. This band thrives in an intimate setting and I was a little worried that the pasta factory used for half the tracks would be a large and echoing. No such worry. The acoustics linger and the band has adapted its sound for the space. The other tracks are in a smaller room and the different sound stage shows through. Theres even a slightly longer gap after one of the tracks symbolic of a 'Side 2' moment.

This album has its share of borderless highways, tightropes, fast black angels, humming steel, desert hotels and sad sad eyes. I know I'm going to listen to this one plenty of times.

And savour the inky new smell of a low serial number.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

keeping a clean one

The Promise
My passport number 1 ran out some time ago and I didn't renew it. I'm using passport 2 exclusively now. It's the one I refer to as my 'clean' passport, whereas the other one had a lot of messy visas and stamps in it.

The reason I had two passports together was for when I used to travel around more in the middle east. The double passport meant made it easier to avoid certain complications.

The complexities I remember have been re-inforced over the last few days, both with the heightening tensions in some of the countries and also with a couple of stories I've been following.

One is a short story by Robert Macfarlane which starts with his entry to Tel Aviv and the level of questioning involved. I've had that scrutiny, where I've been convinced that the people asking me relentless questions were not believing anything I said.

And then the television series about Palestine and Israel called "The Promise", which wraps together a post World War II plot-line and a modern day take. An English gap year student projects some of the issues when she arrives in a land where there is so much just under the surface. I'll admit I'm quite gripped with mix of real events with a dramatised and edited overlay. I can spot that there's almost too much happening to some of the characters, but it still evokes some of my own feelings about this intractable situation.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Taking the Mickey down in L.A.

mickey banksy
I see that Banksy has been tinkering around with some artwork in Los Angeles.

The movie featuring the graffiti artist well-known for works in certain parts of London is on one of the Oscar lists in LA, so it's not so surprising. Actually, I referenced a Banksy show in The Triangle, without naming names.

There's a couple of items in LA that look like pukka Banksy, especially one of a dog and another of a kid with a crayola gun, but a couple of the others (Charlie Brown and Mickey Mouse) still leave me with some doubts.

Needless to say, the above item only lasted a few hours before the poster gods removed it.

Anyway, I'm sure its all somewhat tongue-in-cheek publicity.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sign o' the Times?

digital cross processing
Idly reading a paper today whilst waiting for something, I found my eyes stray to it's top right to check the time. Of course, it was paper so only the calendar part was working.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

brits


The Brits yesterday and some interesting turn-ups with artists that wouldn't usually be considered main-stream seemed to be winning.

Laura Marling is a case in point, right since her first rather home-assembled album, complete with all of the quirky little toys and games in the box.
Laura Marling, St James, PiccadillyForward to 2008 and us standing outside St James Church in Piccadilly before seeing both her and Mumford and Sons on the same bill. And now they've both won Vivienne Westwood designed Brits. And against international mega stars.

Delightful.

And to also see Adele - who we originally saw playing self-accompanied acoustic guitar blues in a different chapel - winning the whole audience with a piano accompanied solo song.

It's great to see some quality musicians and realise that Brits can still own the agenda. And I don't need much of an excuse to repost "My Manic and I".

Sunday, 13 February 2011

bridges


We were sitting together in the pub with the Speckled Hen.

Upstairs.

It was a London pub but the sofas has printed signs “reserved for Elizabeth and her party”, so we’d taken a table by the stairs. The wall behind me had one of those full-size Abbey Road Beatles pictures on it. I still check to see whether Paul is holding a cigarette (he was).

We’d decided it was about time, as ‘Chelle says, “ to (G)walk (D9) across that(C) burning (D) bridge” and meet up with one another after a considerable time.

The good thing was, it was easy to pick up like (almost) no gap.

Always good.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

shirts

fortnums
The car park by the supermarket was busy. Most people seemed to be carrying flowers and a high proportion of prominent red packaging for chocolates and heart shaped gifts.

The guy from the onsite franchised laundry was standing outside his shop and smoking a cigarette. He was already chatting when I came along to drop off some items. They were both looking at a mini car divided down the middle with one half mud-crusted and the other half glossy white. I said Hi and he walked back with me and around the corner to the shop entrance.

That's when I saw the disarray. Boxes, clothing rails, toolkits, signage.

“What’s happened?” I asked.

“We’re moving,” he replied.

“Again?”

“90 degrees...The shop is the wrong way around. Its being turned.”

“Huh?”

“They set the unit down the wrong way around. The door is supposed to face directly towards the car park. Its always been wrong. They’re fixing it on Tuesday.”

A pause.

“It means your shirts will be late... but they’ll be ready on Friday.”

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

FAWM : He brought a riot to the bar

sol beer advertising
Did I mention its February Album Writing Month again?

I did it last year and we cranked out a few more Christina Nott tracks. There's enough for an album now, so watch this space.

I didn't plan to do FAWM again this year at all, but couldn't help but have a few more lyrics fall out of my head. I seem to be on track 6 by now, which is in its raw form below.

Don't panic, I won't post them all here this time.

He brought a riot to the bar

No questions in Malloy's, it ain't cool
Black walls, neon beer, shoot pool
Patch eyed bar man slowly chews tobacco
Keeps the glass for those he really knows.

Hippy dude, shadow in the corner
Watch the girl, tight in skinny jeans
And the slicked hair priest with all the tattoos
Flash a smile at leather biker sittin' mean.

At nine there's always a razor stillness
Before the real night-time kicks off
Beer slop, floor mop up with sawdust
Chinese eyes look out for the cop

Lazy eyed vixen in the see through skirt
Moves in on the soldier eating mix
Soon they're dancing a wolf kinda tango
While the band scrubs a Mexican lick.

Red tie stranger swills another tequila
Slides a drink to the girl in Cuban heels
The snare does double hit
Slo-mo, glass, it really kicks.

He brought a riot to the bar
He bought a riot to the bar
He brought a riot to the bar

For the folk that ask no questions,
And the bar that's always night,
A sudden move is all it takes
To choose the side for a fight.

He brought a riot to the bar
He bought a riot to the bar
He bought a riot in the bar


Someone want to have a go at playing it?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

triangular characterisation


Click my home-made cartoon to play more news from The Triangle. I've even added a Cinnabon reference from the hazards of Chelsea post.

ink vs e

sunday papers
I've somehow industrialised the Sunday paper reading process.

There's usually some sections left over from Saturday, plus the numerous Sunday sections. A few I can normally abandon without opening, and others get filed into "read now", or "maybe sometime during the week".

Some might say that all we need is electronics for news now, but I still enjoy some 'ink time' during the weekend.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

rashbre pummelvision


Yeah............................................................................Go large ^^^

Friday, 4 February 2011

the hazards of chelsea

bun2
This is quite bad really.

I've acquired a random addiction for Chelsea buns. They are normally a spirally current bun with extra lemon peel and cinnamon, about twice the thickness of a Danish pastry but only about half the diameter *. They should really look kind of square-ish rather than round and have some of that blocky looking sugar on the top.

They are really quite old school and wouldn't normally be on my radar.

But as part of my regular shopping I happened to spot them a few days ago and popped some into the basket as a piece of nostalgia. They had the right look - no cherries or icing on top, a hint of cinnamon.

The epicentre of Chelsea Bundom would actually be Pimlico, where the original bakers operated back in the 1700s. There's a road called Bunhouse Place which is about halfway between la Poule au Pot and the Fox and Hounds, and which is where it all started - but no longer a source.

My recent purchase disappeared (not just by me) in a few hours.

I tried them again on Friday. They're also gone.

I'd better avoid that part of my shopping route for a few days.

*They should not be confused with Cinnabon, which is a relatively gigantic American snack coated in a sort of cinnamon paste and weighing in at 880 calories per edible unit.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Abigail Washburn - City of Refuge


Part of this week I've been glued to PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets. Some might say 'locked away'. My background music of choice has been Abigail Washburn.

Abigail has just released a new album and is touring around the UK at the moment, including small venues like Monday evening at the Slaughtered Lamb. I've followed her through various bands like Uncle Earl and then The Sparrow Quartet as well as her solo music. Her main instrument is the banjo as well as fine vocals and the mix of bands has created quite a fusion of styles.

The City of Refuge album is like a kind of road trip. Parts of the lyrics talk of a border man taking the papers and telling that you are now free. There's burdens left in the towns departed. Where there's rails they don't run in circles, they only shoot straight lines. There's running down the frontage road off of Highway Three and kickin' off the old home soil.

And the optimism of bright morning stars rising.

The music is a kind of progression of bluegrass, in this case with blends of Chinese influences in the way the notes sway.

And in case you think its all too serious, here's an older and somewhat unconventional video of a previous band, complete with early hints of Chinese undertones. As well as a clog-off.

And I've dropped the EPK here too. It's quite interesting how Abigail fell into the music.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

the sandwiches are wicked and they know you at the mac store

ye olde powerbooke
We've been trying to bail out the water from a Macbook.

It's difficult to know how quickly it would evaporate or drain away, but I guess it could take several days.

The strange thing is, when you search on the internet, there's plenty of videos of people pouring water into their MacBooks which remain steadfastly working.

I'm not planning to dismantle this one.

My previous experience with the pictured and once legendary 12 inch Powerbook informs me that they are quite a snug fit into the case and can be very difficult to reassemble.

Instead, I sense a visit to the Mac Store in the near future.