Monthly Archives: March 2007

am walkin heeyargh 3

plane!Do you like drinking rum?

Do you like drinking… Havana Club? I do, and I got news for ya buddy, in the U.S. you are shit out of luck.

Havana rum, along with all other produce from Cuba, is illegal. Those nice Amurkan folks have banned all trade with Cuba since 1962, in order to – wait for it – foster the growth of democracy in that Communist country.

Do you like art?

Do you especially like art that isn’t very old? I can recommend the NYC Museum of Modern Art.

They have lots of cool stuff. They were showing Andy Warhol’s hilarious eight hour film Empire. They had that piece that won the Turner prize with just A Light Going On And Off. There was a great section on the astonishing CCTV building in China. There was a wonderful exhibition of giant lightboxed photographs by Jeff Wall [see here], which reminded me a lot of Gregory Crewdson. And Duchamp’s stuff was actually pretty good when he was taking a break from the readymade laffs.

I didn’t like Cy Twombly very much though.

Just his name. Twombly.

Do you like getting your way?

Like to order your vodka by name? Like getting your 20-cent burger just the way you like it? Like having everything open 24hrs a day? And self medicating? Do you want to become a shallow, ignorant, mewling, drug-popping baby?

Might there be too much of convenience, and having one’s least whims satisfied? Do you want convenience above all else? At the expense of dignity? The life of least stress? Do you want to float in a permanent bath of serotonin? Do you want to push your race closer to Mike Judge’s Idiocracy?

Amurka is your kind of place.

OK, so I happened to meet some people who needed a slap.

Do you like praying in public?

On the way home, the big white guy with full beard, black suit and big hat got up every couple of hours to make his way to the front of the plane and shuffle up against the partition wall, nodding his head like a damaged child and reciting silently from a tiny book.

I now know he was shuckling. In some nervous places it can get you ejected.

am walkin heeyah 2

Back again. The weather has taken a 180 turn and today I am shielding my coupon from driving hard sleet and the sidewalks are white with slush. When did the iconic WALK / DONT WALK pedestrian lights get taken away?

Sadly my timetable of sinister lechery has been compromised by more innocuous and cultured activities. Random highlights follow.

people singing and prancing about

With Caitlin’s new media contacts we get freebie access to various Broadway things. Hence we went to a tiny, informal performance where the understudies – i.e. the kids who only get to perform when the stars are KO’d – got to perform some numbers. Some of the songs from a wee show – 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – were hilarious, so off we went to see the full show last night. It was excellent, with great mileage from unexpectedly Pythonesque definitions of obscure words.

I saw the inside of Madison Square Gardens for the first time – we saw The Shins there on Wednesday. Why did I think they were from Australia? And why didn’t they have any support acts?

I can also report that I highly enjoyed 2 hours of a man shouting WE! ARE! SPARTANS! and sometimes for variety, THIS! IS! SPARTA! It’s the loving adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, and it’s great. But it’s also the most indulgently testosterrific film I’ve ever seen. Don’t take the girlfriend chaps.

arcades by god

This is always a priority in foreign countries for me – check out the state of the coin-ops. NYC isn’t far from the UK in terms of duffness here. The one near Times Square I remember from years ago got closed down because of too many fatalities (i.e. real ones, not Mortal Kombat). Shootings not so much of a problem in Arbroath’s Pleasureland.

However we did check out the absolutely priceless Barcade in Brooklyn. Imagine a cosy bar with an excellent beer selection, a pool table and all walls occupied by the best hand-picked selection of 80s gems I’ve ever seen. And all in original themed cabs, i.e. the artwork, screen-side instructions and custom controllers. Ghosts n Goblins, Toobin, Star Wars, Rampage, Gauntlet, 1943, Tapper, Galaga-family shooters and so on. I would live in this place if it was my local.

shopping

I hammered my credit card in the Giant Robot store on East 9th. Got some lovely collections of 70s gekiga manga and some other plastic doodads. Off to Midtown Comics this afternoon to see what else I can lug back over the ocean – hoping to pick up the next in the series of Japsploitation comedy Were-Slut.

A great deal of my time has been spent wandering the streets of Manhattan, as mentioned before. It’s much, much more fun being a tourist in NYC than in London. As a result I think I have a more realistic handle on the place now. I could definitely live here.

nittteliffffe

To return to the theme of violence, we witnessed some highly amusing security at the Black Pussycat (much more nondescript than it sounds). Before you get anywhere near the bar and a sniff of booze, you have to get your passport scanned, while the titan doorman shines a torch in your face and takes a digital photo of you for good measure. Comforting and intrusive.

And if Caitlin ever suggests going to the Bushwick Country Club, smack her immediately. The specialty is the “pickle shot”, where you deck a glass of spirits followed by another of ‘pickle juice’ (that is, the genuinely vomit-inducing green vinegar from the gherkin jar).

the future is an unopened kinder egg

This evening I believe it’s a night in to meet some of Caitlin’s and flatmates’ chums. Am considering the Clint Eastwood double-bill (the new ones, Flags and Letters) on Sunday, and am exercising extreme willpower not to see INLAND EMPIRE before I get back.

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I’m in New York. To get away from 9-to-5 stuff for a while, and get some refreshed perspective, and reflect on my advancing years. Or possibly just to check out the hottt NYC ladies and generally exercise bar staff.

This time I have the days completely to myself as Caitlin is working, so have tasked myself with getting to know the various neighbourhoods of Manhattan. The preferred strategy so far is just to walk the whole damn place and soak it all in. Pick an Avenue and go with what looks interesting. This doesn’t get boring because of the frankly unbelievable amount of randomness happening on every street.

Also the weather is insane. After being assured it would be -5 degrees and carefully packing a warm scarf, gloves, gilet et cetera, the city is focknig baking. I am sitting sweltering in a grocery store just off Little Italy and I think I have mild sunburn.

Ah the nice man is shouting at me that my time is up. Will update later.

The Goldfish Incident.

I’m sorry in advance. Caroline. Please don’t judge me.

Ok, to give them their proper name my first fish of choice were called ‘White moor’. Fabulous little things. Quite portly, with large obtrusive fins which kinda mean they are shit at swimming and ergo, perfect for a girl with an oldskool fish bowl. Lesley and I went to pick them and it was actually very exciting. I’d wanted fish for ages and the shop we went to was like a fish enthusiasts wet dream. Excuse the pun. They had terrapins, newts, prawns, salamanders, fighting fish, pirhanas, sharks and tanks the size of David Blaine. Incredible.

So anyway, I pointed, the wee ned scooped furtively, fucked around with a plastic bag and suddenly I had dependents. Off we skipped back to mine with the sealife, ready to show them their new home (£25) and all was well. Except, of course it wasn’t. You see, the water had been turned off in our street that day and then without much inconvenience, back on again. As I turned on the tap to fill the bowl I noticed that it wasn’t the clearest. Infact to be honest, it almost looked fizzy. So I bailed it out a couple of times, filled it up again and left it to settle. Looked fine after a while, so the little dudes got released…

To Their Long, Agonising Death.

After an hour or so, they were floating on the surface. The first (Bob) had already gone to meet his maker, but the second (Geldoff) was clinging onto the reminants of life, it’s fixed stare begging me to do something. Tesco and Evian thought I. These weren’t ordinary goldfish. They didn’t deserve to swim in Water of Leith pishjuice. I felt horrendously guilty, and started afresh with the good stuff. Didn’t make a blind bit of difference….

Two days later, Geldoff was still sunbathing, unable to eat. Something Had To Be Done. I couldn’t flush him because that wasn’t fixing the problem. His little fishy life had to be terminated. What does one do?

I delicately wrapped his flailing body in loo roll and karate chopped its head, wincing as I did. Then I flushed him.

Huff. That was a fortnight ago and I think of it every day. I feel like even more of a repugnant human than even Ronan Gibson himself. Sorry world. I deserve to come back as something that eats jobbies.

Not Ronan though.

Ars moriendi

I’m aware that I have not written a proper post in ages as I seem to have been spending most of my free time doing Latin or moaning about having to do Latin (just ask Nat if you don’t believe me). I’m the only person left in the class who is not retired/ over 60 and who didn’t do Latin at school (they seem to remember everything even 40 years on!). They all spend several hours a day on Latin and I get left behind feeling a bit stupid. But I will not be defeated.goya_hell.jpg

Last weekend I had the good fortune of visiting Tate Liverpool on the final day of an exhibition of the work of Jake and Dinos Chapman (“Bad Art for Bad People“). I was quite impressed.

Good art: Some reworkings of Goya’s Disasters of War etchings and some sculptural “hellscapes”. Severed limbs, decapitated bodies, McDodonaldses and swastikas aplenty. The exhibition blurb didn’t add much. We are just drawn to the grim and the gory, end of story, no? Not so according to the free booklet I picked up on the way out: “Through an aesthetics of horror and disgust, they deal with the instability of moral and ideological belief systems, particularly those founded on eighteenth century Englightenment thought, Christianity or consumerism.” Well there you go.

Bad Art: Distorted dolls, genitals in the place of facial features: yawn. Freudian trash. Hans Bellmer was doing similar things to dolls in the 1930s.

And in the news, Jean Baudrillard has simulated his own death : (.

iPod violence

sad iPodOk, I’m both amazed and very happy.

Just when I am due to do a bunch of travelling for work (London-Glasgow) and for fun (London-Embra-Newark), the worst thing of all possible bad things happens: my iPod stops working. And – doubly cruel – just when I’ve cleared out the Amazon wish list of CDs and they’re all sitting in exciting virgin cases.

And not just a glitch mind you, but a proper “unhappy iPod” (see icon above). So you try the magic reset (hold Select and Menu for 6 seconds) and nothing. You try the ‘mount in disk mode’ with the additional Select-and-Play step. But all this pansy finger-dancing gets you fucking nowhere and the iPod’s puss stays resolutely soor.

Then you find the advice they don’t give you on the Apple website, viz.: smack it.

Sometimes the hard disk arm inside the drive gets stuck. If your iPod makes an audible whining, ping noise at startup, that’s it. The good news is that a sharp movement fixes the problem 90% of the time. It’s a satisfying fix. Imagine that your distorted reflection on the back of the iPod is actually the evil twisted face of Goldstein and give him a firm rap in the puss. Problem solved.

So my advice is turn off album artwork (as the iPod is crap at buffering the mp3 and loading the jpeg at the same time) and if it ever starts giving you shit, smack its shiny ass.

decade

winding pathI lost another decade somewhere. Don’t start. I know. I think I dropped it down by the trees, on the path back there. Somewhere.

It was mostly in one piece. It’s not as if I didn’t look after it, and left it lying on counters or in alleys being chewed by dogs or on its own to get home at 3am or anything like that.

Mostly in one piece, anyway. The far end was kind of warped and blackened round the edges, I think. I don’t remember too clearly what happened. Still sharp enough mind you, all along. I managed to polish it up pretty well later.

On Friday I met up with some people in London, including old school timers Mr C Cooper and Ms V de Voil. We toasted things and tumbled into Madame Jojo’s for some funk therapy. It was good fun.

On my actual birthday things started well but got pretty bad, in a mundane circumstances kind of way; in that dull direction.

In the morning I had new trainers and a David Lynch book and some nice words in cards. In the late evening I sat in a plane for 3 hours while a mumbling pilot tried to coax the engines into chewing air and pushing everyone forward. At one point he actually rebooted the plane because “it sometimes fixes these things”. A flood of confidence swept the cabin as we pitched into darkness and silence and nervous giggles were heard.

The flight was cancelled and ejected with no hotels, I slumped home again for 3 hours sleep. Then back out again to get the next morning flight. I am now going to bed : )

this friday

This Friday is on. You have to make your own way through to Glasgow. I suggest the 18.30 train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Please note, I have arranged transport for 16, directly from the venue back to Stu’s house. I think it’s going to be memorable.

the road to awe

the fountainThe Fountain is an amazing film, and I will poke hot slivers of kola kube into the eyes of anyone who has even heard of a contrary point of view.

Not perfect by any means, but beautiful and melancholy and awe-inspiring, if you suspend your cynicism by a few percent.

It’s a sad film. Man there is a lot of crying in this film. And lots of intense looks through eyebrows. Hugh Jackman’s alternately grief-stricken/determined/awestruck puss glaring up at you. Rachel Weisz’s lower lip and weighty eyebrows deserve an Oscar on their own merit. Did I mention there’s a lot of crying?

The story is told in three threads, one real life (a man tries to save his wife from cancer) and two fantasies. The early reviews I had read mentioning time travel (nonsense) were mercifully forgotten by the time I saw it.

The lighting and effects are outstanding. The sets are stylised just enough to suggest glowing starfields in almost every scene (no easy feat). Wisely the CGI is cut to a minimum – all the wow-factor nebula shots are done with super-amazing micro-tiny-photography of stuff floating around, an extension of what Kubrick did with the exploding galaxies in 2001′s Beyond the Infinite sequence. Which I cannot find any links for dammit.

The sound is correspondingly well observed (performed by Kronos Quartet and Mogwai, though I was glad I only found that out afterward). I was lucky to have a proper shut-the-fuck-up audience so the silent bits weren’t spoiled.

It’s the crossover between 2001 and Truly, Madly, Deeply that you never thought was possible or remotely necessary. With side orders of Aronofsky deja vu repetition and David Lynch symbolism.

The Fountain made me feel a bit like how films made you feel when you were a teenager. That’s definitely worth £9.50 down at Leicester Square.