Friday, December 31, 2010

An Idiosyncratic History of the Music Video, Part 3

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

One for panto season this, but there's also the fact that the video to Adam & the Ants' Prince Charming (1981) is, from about 1.40 in, one of the finest music videos ever made.

The video serves to illustrate something that I think is missing from chart music at the moment. At some point in the late 1980s or early 1990s, pop music lost its ability to be as gloriously, brilliantly strange as this. It's probably to do with the increasing development of manufactured acts. Acts have always been manufactured to some extent, of course, but up until the 1980s it was a question of management finding a subcultural scene which developed from below and developing acts from it. The New Romantics are an excellent case in point. In the era of The X Factor the programme is its own scene, allowing things to be controlled almost completely from above.

Friday, December 10, 2010

If You Know Your History


University College London, December 2010.


On this lower level faint and far off I could just barely see some of the old wooden derricks of the oilfield from which the Sternwoods had made their money. Most of the field was a public park now, cleaned up and donated to the city by General Sternwood. But a little of it was still producing in groups of wells pumping five or six barrels a day. The Sternwoods, having moved up the hill, could no longer smell the stale sump water or the oil, but they could still look out their front windows and see what had made them rich. If they wanted to. I didn't suppose they would want to.
- Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)

Monday, November 29, 2010



Delamere Street, Chester, November 2010.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Don't understand you
Don't know what you mean
We don't want you
We want your machines

- The Weirdos, "We Got The Neutron Bomb" (1978)

These people have hit on an interesting idea: producing adverts for items of modern technology if they had existed in the 1970s. The results are fantastic:


This comes hot on the heels of the news that Malcolm Craig, designer of the Cold City and Hot War RPGs is currently developing a new cyberpunk RPG set in an alternate 1970s.

The upshot of this is that I'm currently putting together a 1970s cyberpunk-y soundtrack on Spotify, using only songs released from 1970-1979. Suggestions are always welcome, and if any other Spotify users want the playlist, just let me know.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paranormal Activity?

A year after seeing the film in the cinema scared the bejeezus out of me, I discover an alternate ending to Paranormal Activity. I'm not sure whether I prefer this ending or not, although it does add some interesting ambiguity to the conclusion.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All In It Together

"The majestic quality of the law which prohibits the wealthy as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread."

- Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault (1844-1924)

Friday, October 15, 2010


Yesterday I started my lecturing at A University In The North-West Of England - a temporary post teaching one module until early January, but good experience, and hopefully good from a CV/references point of view. The first lecture went pretty well, and the class seems keen enough.

I've also been able to apply for three years of post-doctoral funding from the British Academy, with A University In The South-East Of England as the host institution. The British Academy is very up front about there being a 5% success rate, so this may be one of those "Take a crate, hop over to Bremen...Don't come back" applications, but there you go.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Optimistic About The Future

Optimistic About The Future

Oxford Street, Liverpool, Autumn 2009.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Awards Night

I'm working for the month in the reprographics department at a school in Stockport. Tonight is the school's awards night. Whilst we were working on the programmes for the event, the following conversation occurred:

A: There's a kid from last year's Year 11 who got no qualifications, but he's on this list.

B: He's not getting an award, is he?

A: Not unless there's an award for nicking laptops, no.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

In Sun And Shadow

It was 1947. Botafogo against Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro. Botafogo striker Heleno de Fritas scored a chest goal.

Heleno had his back to the net. The ball flew down from above. He trapped it with his chest and whipped around without letting it fall. His body arched, the ball still resting on his chest, he surveyed the scene. Between him and the goal stood a multitude. There were more people in Flamengo's area than in all Brazil. If the ball hit the ground he was lost. So Heleno started walking and calmly crossed the enemy lines with his body curved back and the ball on his chest. No one could knock it off him without committing a foul, and he was in the goal area. When Heleno reached the goalmouth, he straightened up. The ball slid to his feet and he scored.

Heleno de Freitas was clearly a gypsy. He had Rudolph Valentino's face and the temper of a mad dog. On the playing field, he sparkled.

One night at the casino, he lost all his money. Another night, who knows where, he lost his desire to live. And on his last night, delirious in a hospice, he died.
- Eduardo Galeano, Football in Sun and Shadow (1997)

Monday, August 16, 2010

20 Minutes Into The Past

The list-articles over at Cracked are a great way to pass the time, but it's not often that one really provides you with something to think about. In my case, though, 8 Online Fads You Didn't Know Were Invented Decades Ago proved fascinating. It's the depiction of the exploitable technologies of the past, a world of phone phreaking, lace cards, and the possibilities of online communication via telex machine. It's a world you could write a hell of a thriller about.

In many ways, what you'd be doing is projecting the tropes of cyberpunk fiction back into the past - the 1950s to the 1970s in this case. Being the era of the Cold War, it's also a period with a lot of possibilities for the thriller-writer, as Ellroy's American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand demonstrate. Something more British-based hasn't been done recently, although Derek Raymond's The Crust On Its Uppers provides lots of strong late 1950s/early 1960s flavour, including the possibility of writing the whole thing in semi-inpenitrable archaic slang.

So that's another item on the list of things that I'll write if I ever have the time.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Crockett's Theme/Match Of The Day Theme Mash-Up

So, police in Columbia have found a replica World Cup made of cocaine. Despite everyone's thoughts instantly jumping towards a high-profile member of the Argentine management team, it was apparently being delivered to Spain.

The real question, though, is this: how many of the Colombian police have been able to resist the temptation to have themselves photographed holding their seizure aloft in the time-honoured manner?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Let's Put The Future Behind Us

I might never be able to say that I've seen England win an international trophy, but I will be able to say that I've seen their worst World Cup result, so that's something. I was far less upset by losing 4-1 to Germany than by Fulham's narrow loss in the Europa League Final, or by the various England penalty exits. This is largely because, unlike those occasions, we were definitely outplayed. Given that I follow Fulham and Stockport County, losing to teams better than you is something I'm pretty familiar with.

I suppose the interesting thing about the *cough* "Golden Generation" is that, being pretty much the same age as them, their decline sort of mirrors my own. The biggest opportunity they missed, I always felt, was the Quarter-Final in the 2002 World Cup, in which they outplayed Brazil for 45 minutes before falling prey to Beckham thinking the ball had gone out and David Seaman - who had been down for several minutes with a back injury just before - being chipped by Ronaldinho. Since then it's pretty much been downhill all the way, and the time is finally here to scrap most of them, and see what the Agbonlahor/Wilshere/Welbeck generation are like in the 2012 qualifiers. And with Heskey finally gone, maybe Zamora will actually get a call-up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Always Crashing In The Same Car

It's my third driving lesson tomorrow, and so far I haven't actually damaged anyone or anything. In fact, my instructor reckons I have a pretty good sense of space and distance, which came as a surprise to me, as I never seem to be able to correctly estimate any distances. I'm also working my way through the theory test pack, learning all sorts of things, like what colour the flashing light is on the car of an emergency-call doctor, and when it's acceptable to wind the window down and shout to someone that they're a fuckwit. On a related note, when was the last time you saw anyone in a car using hand signals for turning?

I'm still not sure how long it's likely to take before I can actually drive, but hopefully sooner rather than later, as it'd be nice to get around the country a bit.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"Scrape Football Pie Off Your Shirt!"

So, the month of the World Cup has arrived, and to celebrate, here's one of the best World Cup goals I've ever seen live, from the first World Cup I ever watched - France 1998. It's Dennis Bergkamp's 89th-minute goal for the Netherlands against Argentina in the Quarter-Finals, with the added bonus here of Dutch commentary.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Running Man (Less Exciting Than The Film Of The Same Name)

I'm pretty sure that I didn't blog about my first experience of running last year, when I did the Manchester 10K. This is probably due to me being busy writing the corrections to my PhD thesis on a cocktail of depression, rage and hate, which is enough to distract anyone. Today I ran it again, so here are my impressions.

Having run the course in 01:07:ish last year, I really wanted to run it in under an hour this time. Last year's time had also proved that I could run in the next group up, the "Green Wave", rather than the Pink Wave which starts out the latest and is the biggest, including many fun-runners. In a remarkable bit of serendipity, the fact that I randomly wandered onto Great Portland Street from the direction of the bus station meant that I ended up about 7-8 rows from the front of the wave, while people who had actually followed the instructions to wait in side streets until summoned were behind me. This was potentially useful in that it can be tiring and time-consuming to be constantly weaving in and out of other runners.

As last year, I tried my best to ignore the official warm-up, although I did do some of the stretching exercises. At one point I'm pretty sure the promise was made that we were going to be started by Haile Gebrselassie, who had just won the elite race with a time of 00:28:02. For whatever reason that happened, although we were started by Bez, which is also good.

At the start I managed not to go shooting off too fast, although this does mean that hordes of people overtake you. I also managed to find time to wave to my mum and dad near the start, although this was hampered by the guy in front of me, who had come dressed in a tuxedo and was handing out roses at random to female members of the crowd. It's nice that he'd found a shtick and everything, but it's a bit tough on the person behind you to keep suddenly stopping at random.

I found the way out to Old Trafford easier in general that last year, and when we were by the football stadium at about the 4.5 km mark, I heard one of the other runners saying that we'd been running about 25 minutes, so I was making good time. I grabbed a bottle of water at about 6 km, which I hadn't needed to do last time. Although I've always wanted to do it, I resisted the temptation to empty the bottle over my head. I also avoided the run-through shower a kilometre or so further on.

The way back felt harder than last time, probably because I was running at a much higher pace. At about 7.5 km one of the other runners said we'd been out about 45 minutes, so I needed to do the last 2.5 km in about 15 minutes, which seemed like a lot. I was getting pretty tired by the last part, and wasn't sure how long I'd taken. It was going to be pretty dispiriting in the last 100 metres if the clock showed that I'd been out over an hour. As it turned out, it was in the 58th minute that I crossed the line, with the electronic chip-system giving my time as 00:58:40, which I was very pleased with: even if I'd taken minutes off my previous time.

If anyone feels like making a charitable contribution to support my effort in the run, why not donate to the People's Participation in Education (WATU) project?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Obligatory Election Post

It's high time I contributed my deeply misinformed opinions to the post-election discussion, so here we go. At this point I'm making the assumption that the next government will be a Conservative-Lib Dem pact, but that could be superseded.

From a strategic point of view, I think this actually went surprisingly well for the Labour Party. Having been in power for 13 years, with a major recession on and a deeply unpopular Prime Minister, they were still comfortably the second party in the popular vote and are only about 60 seats off winning power back in the next General Election. Bearing in mind also that this election may be sooner rather than later, that it will not be fought with Brown as leader, and that the party will be the opposition to a government that has made severe spending cuts, things look alright in the medium term.

Conversely, this might be something of a pyrrhic victory for the Conservatives. Given everything that Labour had against them, Cameron failed to actually convince the country that he was better, and managed to squander a 27-point lead in the polls in the process. While he will now be Prime Minister, this is going to be at the cost of a pact with another party - ideologically deeply unpleasant to the Conservatives - and will almost certainly be at the cost of some sort of commitment to the kind of electoral reform the party definitely doesn't want. For Cameron himself, having failed to deliver a fully functional Conservative government is going to hurt him within the party, in which there is already a substantial wing which can't abide him. If/when things get tough for his government, this is a weapon which will be used against him.

Which brings us to the Liberal Democrats, perhaps the most disappointed of the parties, given the failure of Clegg's performances in the TV debates to transform into both the popular vote and seats. The one saving grace they have is that they are now crucial to any larger party which seeks to have a stable government, allowing them to push for the sort of Proportional Representation which will make them a proper player in British politics. The problem is trying to get this to work with Cameron and the Conservatives, who are deeply against it. It'll be interesting to see what Clegg can get: a referendum on PR seems likely, but will he be able to make it binding if it's favourable? Of course, he can pull the plug on Cameron's government if they stall on it, which is a nice card to have.

From a personal point of view, although a Labour-Lib Dem pact would have been preferable, Cameron as PM may be worth it if it also delivers PR. The most impressive result to me was the Green victory in Brighton Pavilion, a remarkable achievement for a small party in the current system, and hopefully a sign that there may be more Green seats in certain types of constituency. And Griffin was told to fuck off, which is probably the one result that unites all the supporters of other parties in joy.

Anyway, we're in for an interesting period, politically.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When Midnight Comes Around

A͛̄̀̈́nͣ̂ͧ̊dͩ̾ ̅̍̆͊̓ͭ̃whͨ̊͋̍̽̌̍a̿̊t͊̂̿̎̃̊ ̏coͨ̿ͬs̓ͦ̂̋̏ͧt́ͦ͐́́̓̔u͒̇ͪ͛ͭmē ͪ̎s̿hͯ͛ͭ̚a̎lͮͨľͬ ͯ̎͆ͮͩͩt̂̇̀̄ͯͧ̎hͩ̽̄ëͩ̃̈́͑ ̔͒̍ͦ̅̈p͊o̍͑̓͒͋o̒͛ͥͤr̐̽́ͣ̌ ͌́ͯͦ̋̈͛g͒̒͂͗ͧ̍͂iͣ̽̈̚ř̊̅̑̀l̽̚ ͫͫ̔w̓̂̓̔e̔̂a͋r͑̾̋̊̚ ̇
̿͂To̓ͦ̎ͬ̓ ̐a̓ͣl̋̽͋̇ͫ͋̈́l̅͋̌ͪ ̂̎ͫ͑ͭ̿̑t͗̆ö́ͥ̊̇̿ͬ̈́m͆ͪo̍͊ͣ͑ͬ̈́̅rͪrͭ̉ͯͭoͭͨ̂́̚ẁ̈͊͂̎'͋ͨ͌̌̓s̀͂̄̇̆ͩͣ ͦ̂ͮpͭ̂ͣͭ͑ǎ͐ͩ̅r̆̊ͮͤ̓t̓ͦi̐e̅͂́ͪ̋̎s ͒̇̌ͫ̇ͧ̚
ͬͧAͥ͒ͦ͒̇̾ hȧ̔ͭn̅̅̿͊ͥd-̏me-ͯ̽͗̚dͥ̽̚ow̄̆͆̅ͫ̌n̓ͥ̀ͯ̚ ͆ͫ̔̎d̍͛r̐ͩ̇̒̅̈́͛eͦͨ̅ͫ͂̂s͌̑̀̍ͧ͑s̊͊ ̒ͣ́͌͊ͪf́̇ͭ͊̿͑rͨ́ö̇̃ͪm͂͋̋ͭ̊ ͛̅̒ͮ̀wͩȟ͆̂ͮ͗͑ͣò̚ ͭ͛̄ͬ͒ͥkͨͫ̀͐͂ͯnͮͪ̃ow̿̅̐̑̋̚ṡ̎ͫͮ ͂ͩ̊͌ͥw̐ͨͪ̌ͮͮhͮ̓ͯ̃͒ͧe̎ͮ͒ͧͨreͪ ͊̽ͦ̓
̄̾̓̒̑͐T̂̎̔͐o͗̍̍̅͆ ̍̐a͗̿ͥ͊l͒lͦ̆͒̃̚̚ ̂̊̊̾͆̂ͣtͤ̑̽ͥ͂̑ȏ̃̏̔m̊ó̃́͑̒̍̚r͆͗r͒̎ͩo̓̏w̉ͧ̅'̽s͐̑̏ͧ́ͨ ̏̓͌̊̚pͧ͆̔ͥ̽̃ͮǎ̆ͨ̇ͩ̓ṙ̿̊ͨ̄̚̚tͦi͌͗̃̆͗es̓ ̓̽ͨͤͩ̔
ͥ ͤ
A͑̆̋̍ͯͣǹͬͪ̇ͣ̆͊d͒ ̾w̿ͤhͪ̈ͨễͫͤ̈́̆r͗e̓ ͨ̉̆ͯ̌w̉i̋lͪlͦͭ̑̈̋̎ ̀̓s̔ͥͫh̄̂̚e̿̑ ͥ̍̽̓̍̈́g̓̄͂̄ͧͥͧoͥ̒ͭ ͊̏ͯ͂ă͌̑͛̈́n̓̈́̈̂̐d̿̃ͦ̋͆̓̓ ͛́̔͒ŵ̒̃ͧ̋ha͗ͪ̓ẗ͑ ̎̓ͦs̑͊hã̓̉ͨͥl̊͆͒l̉ͯ̓ͫ́̀ͧ ͫs̿̔͗h̋eͮͫͤ̈́ ̔d͗ͮ̔͆̍o̔̉̊̉̾ ̊̆̎̚
ͭͦ̃̉Wh͛͊ͯ̒ͭͤě̾ͧ̀ñ̈́ͦ̊̍ͩͧ ͗ͫ͂m̊̏̌id͛͗̂ͩ͗͆̄n̄ͪ̒̌ͤiͧ͌̐̓̂̑́g̑̑͆̏h̏̅̍t͂ ̎̚c̏ͭ̔̉ǒͩ̾ͪͪͦ̚meͪͨ͂͛̈̊͊sͤ̍͒̉ͣͯ ̑͑ͯ̂a̒ro͊͋̄ǔ̑n̅͆̇ͣd͋̾̌ ͐
͐̊̐ͪ̚S̓ͨ͒h̽͒͆̉̓̓̒ȅͥ̾'͆ͯ̾̓̂̀l̓̎l̊ͬ̓ ͪͪtͯ̓u͗͑͗̄͋r̅͆̆ͯͯ̊̚ñͦ̾ ̀o͆̇̒̃ͤͨ͑n̒̐c͌̉͆̀ͦͦ̾e ͊m̆͊̅o̒̽r̓e ̎̆̚t͂̆͋oͭ͒ ̊͌̅̾ͫSͩuͪ̓̈́́̇n̅̓̓d̓͆ͣ͆ay͂͑́̍̍'̐ͥs̊̽̂ ͤ̈͌c̏ͫ̌̓̐̓loͪ͐͛̽̈́͗̔ẅ́̃̽̄̌n̋͗͊̈́̐
ͣ͐Aͤ̐̑̀ͣͥǹ̾d́ ͤ̅͗̄̌̄ͤc̚ȓ́y̒͐ͫ ̆͊b̍̔ͫ͑̑̌e͋͛h͗i͐̊ͨ͑̏ͩň͑̏̂̋d̃ͬ̔̍̔ ̽͂̈̉̎̎t̐̒̿hẽ ͯ͂ͫ̀̌̂do͊̈̓̑oͮ̅͒͆r̀͌ ̈́
̿͂ͩ͗̽ ̊
̓ͥͯ̌̓Ȁ̉ͨnͬ̒̉͛̎́̄dͯ͆̓͛͋̚ ̋̇͒w̌̇ͯh̀͛̃̽́̈́̒a͊͂̐t͛̑̏͛͊̋͛ ̃c̀ͬ̀ͦ̔o͑s̑̔͊͛̓̂t̎̂ͥ͋̓u̎ͤ̀́ͥ̉mͬ̿́ͯ͆̏e̾ s͑̒͑ͨͦͪ̋hā̿̌̔̓l̋̽͊̅l̋ ͨt͒͛h̋ͦͦ̈́͒̈̅ẽ̇̐͐ͬ ̀p̏o͊̓̓̈̚oͣ̅̑̂̏r̀ g̈̽i̽͛͌̏̃rͯͣl̊͌̀̉̌ ͤw̽̄ea͋̅̊ř͗̊ͫ
̑̉̇̄̉̔Tͫ̑ͭ́̓͆ö́̋ ̽͒̓͛͂̎̐a͑̊̀̈́l̒̆͒̄ͯ́l͐ ̉͐ͮt̃̑ͥͬ͑o̾m͆ͬ͆ŏ͆͛́̾̃rͬ͐̉ͭ̈́r̒ô̔ͪ̅ͦ̏w͂ͦͤͥ'̔͐̇s͛̓͊̅̚ ͤp̐ͬ̿̇a͒̏̌̌̉r̍tͪ̑͐̎̏̆iͤ͆̇̾̈́ͨ͌ëͮ͆ͥs̎̾͌̽̾̓ͥ ̏̋͊͋ͪ͐
Wͨ̐̓̇ͨ͊hͫy̏͊̐͑̊ ͯ̓̽̔̈́s͌͂̈̏̓͌ï̓ͮl̓̓̿̉ͫ̉kͪ̄͐̆sͣͬ ̓ͣͦ̇̃a̎̒nͤͧ̾͋̀d͑͑̌̓̉̔̒ ̃͆̒̎l̈́̂ͬ̍̓͆ͫi͒͑̽̈́̑̚n̉̊͆ȅ͌̿n̓ͨ͊͛ͮ̉ͭs̋̍̔͗ͭ̒ ͭ̒̇̌oͨf ̌ͣy͆ͭ̏͋ȅ̂̈ͦͤ̿š̓̊t̊ͯ̽͌͊ĕ̄ͨͬ̏̓r͐̀da͗ͧ̈́yͩ͋̾'̍ͯ̽̒̏͗ṡ̽͗̋ͧ́ ͛̏ͬ̄ͮǵͧ̔̎o̾͗wͩ̀ͫn͌̓ͬ̒͆̆s̿̋
̌Tͫò̈̂̋̓͂͗ ̇ãl̂ͤͯ̏̇lͤͪͨ̚ ͐̑̍̔́͆̈́t̒̈́ͥ̂o̐m̈́̃ͥ̂ͮ̉ͪo̿ͤ̊̈̒ͧ̚r̉̈̚rͬ͋ͧ͋ͧ̿̋o͗̇̈͒͑̿ͪŵ͗ͤͣ̊'ͬ̊̎͊̈ͧͦs̋͒̌̃ ̚pͦ̒͆̃͊ͫa͗͛̽͒̽͐̅r͑ͣt͌̅̉̐̚i̊̄ͫ̄̄͑̑ë́̃̀̓̃ͪͪs̒͋ͯ̈́͆̋ ͦ̂̈́̽͂
͒͊͛̐͋ͯ̚ ̏̌̒̐̍
ͭ̐̐ͯȀ͋͋͐ͫ̔n͐̿ͣͤ̈ͮ̇d̾ wͩͯ̓͊̈́h̐͌̈́̒͐a̔ͫt̂͐̔ͥ ̀w̒ilͩl̈̓ͪ̈ͧ ̔ͥͥͫ̑̌̉sͪhͩ̐̆̎̓ͭeͦͥ ͋ͩ̽ͦdͤ͗o̎ ̔̇̑̈ͬ̊w̑̅͑̒͊̂i̔ͬ̈́ťͥ̊̉̑h T̄ͦh̆̃̌́u̍ͨrͪ̏̎sͮ̇̔́̐ͧdä́ͦ̊́̍̅̚ÿ́'̅ͧsͭ͒̋ͦ̎ ͧ̀͌ͨ̍r̽̓ͥ͐̋ag̽̒̑sͯͭͪ͋̃̑͊ ̏͊ͬ̍̃
ͦ̇ͮ̚W͐́ͧ̓h͑͑͒ͧͩ̋eͩ̎̽̈̒nͦ͌̋͂͑͛ ͨ͐ͭ̅Mͤ̐ö́̿͆̇̆nͤ̔d̅̀ả̑̑ͨy ̾ͣc͒ͦͨo̍ͮͫͨ̈́͑̅m͑̓͛̅̊̑ͩe̍̽̍ͣ͊̊͐s͋ ̀aͦͭ͒r̈́̈̆o͒̀͊uͬ͌̉̎ͭn̋͌́ͩd͐ ͧ͗ͪ̊
̌ͩ̔̂͆̏S̓́h͛͑̇eͧ̒ͯ̌'͌ͨ̆̈́l͌͛͑̓lͤͧ ͐͆̊̉ͪ̚t͑̈́uͣ̉̎̏͑̚r̄͊̐̆̋͊nͥ̂ ̀̏ͧͪỗͩ̽ͨ̈́ͤncͧ̊̑͑ẽ̿̈́͆̚̚ mͮȯ͋̌̐̇řͨ̑̽e ̒̉̌̆to̒ͨ ̂̃̆̀͑̌̑S͊͗͒ͪ͒̓͌u͌͋̊ͫnd̒̉a͋ͯy͒̏̓̀̒ͫ'ͫ̇s̏̄ ͯ͛̎͌̃͐͆cl͊̏ő̂̃ͨ̏̅ͦwͮͬ̂̿ͤ̅nͬ̌ ͫͦͩ́ͮ
̌ͤ͐̂̓͆̚A͐ͫ́̅nd̎ͪͩ͒ ̄̌ͧ̌̉̍c̊̈́r̋̽ͭ̈́͒̋y̎ͧ̉ ̓ͨ̋̏̎̚b̆̄͗̐eͥ͐̓hͭͪ̆i͌̉̏̓̾̆n̋ͤͭ̀͋͂dͩ ̈̔ͤ̏̒t̔hͦ͌́ͥ͊ͮē̌ͨ ̋̇͌ͬ̆d̒͐̒ͥ̊͛ǒ̊͑̚o͆̂̊r ̽͆ͤ
͌ͥͩ̃ͩ̊ ̔ͤ̊͒͂
ͮ̀Ȧ̅̂̆̐n͌̌dͫ̀ ͌ͪ̐̔w͛ͪ͂ͬ̿͋h̀ͦa͒̈ͩ͌̚t̽̈ͤ͛ ͦ̅ͬ̀ͮ͋cͫ̎ǒs͗̆tͯ͊̽̎̏̃ǘ̊͌̽̃̆m̽͆͋͌eͦ̽̃́ ͐̉shͮ́̔̿a͛ľ̒̋͒ͬĺ͋ͫ ̀t́̉hͥe͂͊ͩ͛ ̽ͤ̈͂ͤpͨ̔̍́́̉̆o͐oͥ́̂̊r͆ ͣ̈ͧ͋̐ͥͥg͑̎͊ǐ̽ͦ̈́ͫ̋̾r̍̃̂̏̅̚l ẇ̿͆͑͐̓̇e͌̉ͦ̚̚a̿̇r̃͛͊̓ͭ͑̒ ̈́̒̆͗
͛̓̄ͤ̀̇̚To ̎̃ͤ̇aͫ̇ͨͨllͥͮ ͬ͗t͂̑ó̎̅̔m͆̍̓̓ö͊ṙ̃̽ͧ̑͊roŵ͛ͥͬ̑̔̌'́ͮs ͆̈̊͋̇́p͛̊̋ͯa͌̉ͧ̈̈̇r̎t̂͒͗̚iͤ̿ͩͦ̄͆e͌s͆͒̃ͪͩ
̆̎ͪ̒̆̚Fͩ̒or͌̅̿̽̉̾͊ ͩͧ̇ͭͮ̃͑Tͦͤ̃̏̆ͮhu̎͑̄rs͂̽̋ͤ̋̔̆d̈̓̌ͫ͂a͆̎y̾ͮ's̍ͭ ̾ͬ̚c͋ͧ̉̑ͧ̏h́̀i̎̈́ͦ̎̅̈́l̇̉ͬd͛͑̇̓̂͑̒ ̉͗ͩ̍̚ĩͭͧ͊̌̇sͥ̆͛͆̎ͫͧ ͛ͣͧSuͬͥ̒̒ndaͯ́ͩy͑'̈́̐͐̽̊s̍̂ ̋ͨ̋c̈͒ͩͭl͒ͯͮͪ̊ͭ̆o̿ͯwn̾ͦ
̽̈F̌ͩŏ͗̋̊r͋̏ͫ̍ͪ ̄͛w͗h̽őmͪ̎ ̂̊̏n͂͋ͮ̃ͯͯo̅ͮ̇̅n̚e̋̉͌ͮ̐ ̾ͯwi̓l̄͌͌ͤ̑l̂ͦ͆̆̏̚ ̃͂̓́ͬͬ͗g̿ͤ̋̑̾̏͋o ͭ͋ͨ̇͒m̌ͥ̈́̎ͧ̿ou̐̌r̀͒̎ͮͮ̋̎n͆̇̾͒̒iͪ̍̑ͥnͦ̈́̉̆̇̊ͤg͒͗ ̇͐ͣ̽͋͂
ͤ̆̎͒ͥ̒̏ ͨ͌ͮ̈́̉́
̾̇͐ͩ̔̋Å̉͋ͬ̒ͧ̚ ̍͆͆͊bͧ̇ͫͦl̅ă̽ck͐̈́̓̓̍̐e͗nͩ̐͑ed̉̑ͨ̓͊͋ ̀ͤͯ͐s̾͒̾ͣ̅̉h̎ͬͭ̊ͨ̇ͬroͦ̇ͪ͒ͬͬ̅ũ͂dͧ̔͒,͆͒ͬͧ͂̃̉ ̓a ͯͫ̐ͮ̚hͬ̒̏ͪ̚a̐̔̎̅n̑ď̋͒̚-̚mͩ̈́̃eͬͭ̉-ͦ͒̏̈́̽d̅̓͌͌̓̾ỏ̅̿w̽̈́̊n̐ ͬg̃͑̉̇͊o͊̑̌̂wͬ͒ͨͬ̄͑ͧn͐̔̾̎ ̍̎̎̑̀ͤ
̿̑̄ͤ̍Oͥͭf͒ͨ̃ͧ ́̈́̓ͮͤr̎ͤagͩ͛̎s̃͌̇̈́̚ aͥn͂dͦͥͫ ͛̃́͋̓ͨ̃s̄ͨ͆̓͌͒̍iͦ̐̈͊ͨlkͪsͬ̈́,̔͌̂̂͂ ͭͯ̾ͨ̊ͮǎ̏̅ͫ͑ ͛c̏͐ȏ̆̑͌sͥ̄tͧ͛ͮ̈̈u̇́m̈́̂͆ẻͮͣ̈̿ͮ ̂ͯ̄
̅F̓̎̉i͂̾̀͒͌̊t́ͫ̈́͒ ̀͋̉fͮoͬ͗̿ͧ̄r͋ͮͤͮ̏̋ ͥ̑̽̅ͣͬó̄ͭ̔́̅̚ne͗̊͗ ͤ̐̂͌͛w̓̈́ͯ͊̾͆͊h́̔̈́̍̂oͯͬ̔ͣ̓̏̃ ̚sͭ͑̊̽ͪĩͯ̈́t̓̿͋ͬ͐s̉̊́ ͐̿̒̆ͭͩaͭͩnͫͧ̈ͤ͐̓́d̋ ̓͋̈ͫc̾͆̍r͐i͒̇ͪ̐e̐sͬ ̑͑̆ͨ
͛F̈́oͪͬ̋ͪ̋̾rͫͦͯ͛ ͣͥ̌̒ͮ̉̓a͗ͥ̿̓͛͐ͪl̾ͥ͐̓͐l͌̍̈́͋ͮ͐ ̌͆̆ͫ͋̾t͋͋̆ͥͨ͐oͣm̾̃oͩ͂ͫͮ͛͛rͧ͗̍̑r͒̌̓ͧͦ͆̒o͌ͣ̿wͫ'̄s pa͑rͦ̃ͩ͌t̐́̌̈́ȋ̓̊͊ͤesͤͮͮ͛̒

Friday, April 09, 2010

With Teenage Crime/Now Fashion's Dead

So there goes Malcolm McLaren, and, as is the tradition with these things, even the people he ripped off quite badly (Note: This is almost everyone he worked with) are saying nice things about him. The claim that he invented punk is, of course, wrong in that the New York and London scenes existed prior to his arrival on the scene.

What's good about his contribution is that it's impossible to tell whether the Sex Pistols are a cynical cash-in or a satire on cynical cash-ins. What's even better is that I'm pretty sure McLaren himself didn't know.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

"There are some things we'll never understand..."

Look at him again. This 23-year-old with a day job and a kid, a wife and lover and a debilitating, unpredictable illness, all of which are killing him. This is his moment. He isn't fucking about on Later, he will not be clinking a bottle of green-room Budweiser and sharing a few jokes with Jonathan Ross and The Kooks about his dancing. He will not be putting his arm around his bandmates' shoulders for the bows. There is no time for that, no time for anything now. Love is tearing him apart.
- Stuart Maconie on Ian Curtis, Word magazine August 2008.

Something of a companion-piece to the previous post, this week I finally got around to seeing Control on DVD. It's a worthwhile film, being beautifully shot, and concerning itself with the facts far more than 24 Hour Party People did. Where it falls down somewhat is the fact that for much of its length it feels like quite a conventional biopic, with only the last 45 minutes operating above that. I also felt that the film doesn't really offer any insights into who Curtis actually was, but then, that's something that it may not be possible to provide any answers to.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Very Andy Warhol." 'Very L.S. Lowry.'

My sister was up from London last weekend, and coincidentally Friday was the opening of FAC251, the old Factory Records building, as a new live music venue and club by Peter Hook of New Order, so I got tickets for it. Apparently the tickets had sold out in about 10 minutes, so I seem to have done pretty well.

There's been a bit of backlash about the whole thing in some blogs as an cash-in exercise which reduces Manchester and its music scene to a late 70s-late 80s theme park. And y'know, to some extent they have a point - the crowd was a mixture of senior types in their 40s and 50s (blue jeans & pinstripe suit-jacket) and students (newly-bought "Unknown Pleasures" t-shirts). The set that Hook played, despite featuring contributions from Hook's current bands The Light and Freebass, was mostly a run-through of the Joy Division and New Order back-catalogues. Being too young to really remember 1980s Manchester, the only song played the I recall from the charts was Monaco's "What Do You Want From Me". Anyone? Anyone?

But treating The Factory entirely as a bit of reification and a retirement plan for 'ookey might be both too harsh and too premature. Yes, the opening did feature the shambling corpse of Madchester in the form of Mani and Rowetta, but in coming weeks the club is playing host to bands, such as MAY68, who are precisely the sort of new, non-Madchester-types that some of The Factory's critics are championing. And from observing on the ground, one of the striking features was how young and inexperienced most of the staff of the club were. They were recruited from the same Facebook group which I was part of, and giving people a chance to actually do something and get an idea of the ground seems genuinely in keeping with the spirit that the city should have.

The gig was pretty enjoyable, kicked off by Howard Marks doing his usual schtick, and really only marred by Peter Hook not actually being a singer and his unnerving habit of at random intervals pointing at the audience from slightly above his head. Rowetta actually justified her presence by coming onstage to provide the vocals to two Joy Division tracks. "Atmosphere", never fails to move me to the core, and her vocal performance had all the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Hearing "Warsaw", "Transmission" and "Shadowplay" was pleasing to me, as well. Of some interest was a "lost" Joy Division song which from the lyrics I would have said was called "In The Night Time", but actually turns out to be "Pictures". Closing, predictably enough, was Ian Curtis' own anthem to doomed youth "Love Will Tear Us Apart", although being part of a large crowd singing the chorus is vaguely unsettling. The encore was "Blue Monday", and this, in truth, was something of a let-down. The understandable desire on the part of the band is always to do something slightly different with the really famous songs, but the original "Blue Monday" managed to capture the sprawl of night and cities in which we all now live so perfectly that nothing else really does it justice.

It's impossible to say whether The Factory will turn out to be a springboard for new innovative talent, but it seems unlikely that you'd be able to pre-judge it from an opening-night party.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Idiosyncratic History of the Music Video, Part 2

Sometimes, good songs have inexplicably bad videos made for them. Recently this point was hammered home to me on viewing the video for The Sisters of Mercy's 1988 single "Lucretia, My Reflection".

I think it's best if I keep a log of my reactions:

0.17: The line "I hear the roar of a big machine" is illustrated by filming Andrew Eldritch standing next to a big machine. This does not bode well.

0.41: Goths on a Train would have been the natural direction for the "Snakes on a Plane" franchise to go in.

0.49: Eldritch appears to have come dressed as the villain from every Hong Kong action film I have ever seen. I actually approve of this.

2.10: Homeless people in developing world filmed for use in goth-rock video. Classy.

2.34: If he keeps pratting about with the metal bar like that, I'm going to think we've found the direct ancestor of Star Wars Kid.

2.53: From what I gather from music videos, people in the mid-to-late 1980s spent an inordinate amount of time running down corridors in slow motion.

4.03: "Oh, sod this - let's just go to the beach."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I did spend a weekend at a conference in Athens last month, but was too busy with one thing and another to post much about it here. I thought I might share some choice photos, though.


Oh, what a surprise. Yes, the crane is ancient - IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR?

University of Athens

The conference was at the main building of the University of Athens, seemingly unscathed by the anarchist riots a week before.

Schliemann's House

Not far from the university is Heinrich Schliemann's old house, now the National Numismatic Museum, which sported graffiti and broken windows. Whether the anarchists were more enraged by the presence of their oldest enemy - coins - or by the pre-Nazi swastikas decorating the railings, I couldn't really say.

Acropolis Museum

The new Acropolis Museum, unfortunately closed on Mondays, which was the only time I was able to make it there. The glass box on top is a viewing gallery for the Acropolis itself. Opinion is divided over the architecture of the museum - I rather like it.

Dionissiou Areopagitou Graffiti

Graffiti not far from the Acropolis Museum. Arabic, I think.

I did get the chance to spend a short time in the reorganised National Archaeological Museum. Having to take photos without flash meant that not all of my pictures are as sharp as they should be, but I did get some decent shots of a few of my favourite objects.

Boar's-Tusk Helmet

A Mycenaean boar's-tusk helmet of the 14th century BC. A helmet of this type is lent to Odysseus by Meriones in Book X of the Iliad.

Warrior Vase Side A

The "Warrior Vase" from Mycenae, c.1200 BC, as discussed in my thesis.

Cycladic Harpist

A marble figure of a harpist from the island of Keros, dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2800-2300 BC).


Maximum Octopus: a Cretan "Marine Style" vase of the 15th century BC.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It Is Snowing Here Also

Snowy Stockport

The North, where we do what we want - or would if we weren't worried about getting the car back into the drive.