Sunday, July 30, 2006

BSP + JDB = A Real Mixed Bag

I feel a brief musical update is well and truly in order. Friday night delivered my latest encounter with everybody's favourite purveyors of magical soundscapes and delicious art pop, British Sea Power, at The Empire in Middlesbrough. Like all of their gigs I've seen, it descended into yet another suitably raucous affair - this time with the introduction of a tin-foil robot.

Their gigs are extremely entertaining, mainly due to the fact that they're intent on creating chaos on stage by the time they get round to their head-fuck finale of Carrion and Lately. When I saw them down at Dot-to-Dot in Nottingham in May, it was even stranger with Noble disappearing offstage and reappearing in a duffel coat complete with inflatable green alien head. Go and see them if you've never managed it in all your life thus far. Your insanity depends on it.

A far more saddening development this week was the release of the debut solo album from Manics frontman James Dean Bradfield. The man is a legend, but this is very disappointing fare... it sounds like a bunch of the more mediocre Manics b-sides from 1996 repeated enough times to fill an LP. It also sounds like JDB wrote a load of catchy choruses first and then added the verses later to pad out every song. I wasn't necessarily expecting a brilliant album, but The Great Western even lacks some of the redeeming factors of the most recent Manics albums. Considering he's been such an outrageously fine songwriter over the last fifteen years, writing alot of my all-time favourite songs in the process, it's disappointing. Less said about it the better. Mind you, I'll still be going to see him on his October tour...

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Night With The Stars

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Let me be weak
Let me sleep
And dream of sheep.

Mmm, sheep and that. Last night I camped upon the great Moors of North York with a small cluster of acquaintances, and I really must say it was a most pleasurable experience. Not only did it signal a glorious bridging of the gap between Man and Earth, but it was also a good opportunity to get merry on ale and peruse the stars. From Blakey Ridge, perched majestically atop the moors at 1,325ft, the dark sky is your visual oyster. It was an eye-opening experience... we saw shooting stars, ambling stars/satellites, and a couple of constellations that dispelled consternations. The longer you looked, the more you saw. We just lay on our backs for nearly two hours staring at the sky. It was a catharsis for me, I felt cleansed as I lay gasping in awe at the white trails that occasionally burst out above me. I felt connected man... innit.

Not having any of it.
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As the morning sun beat down heroically, I woke like a human sweatbox to the grating sound of irate sheep bleating just the other side of my tent's flysheet. Lovely. It was probably about three hours later when I finally gave up with the old pseudo-sleep routine and admitted defeat to the great woollen ones. As the old saying goes: 'if you can't beat them, try and lure them with Bourbon Creams'. He had a few nibbles, but was ultimately disinterested.

Camping on the moors will hopefully be on the agenda again some day though, and when it happens, I know those stars will be waiting for me.

The new advert for the Vauxhall Corsa: The best car baah none.
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(I really couldn't think of anything better than that - it's late).

Everyone in this photo is an actor, l-r: Jen, Laura, Ed, Lav.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Jump in The Hoff's Car

Like an audiovisual shotgun, this will blow your head off. David Hasselhoff's plot-heavy and dialogue-laden new video is brilliant. It reduced me to silent, invisible tears, so I'm sure it will you.

But even I can dance better than that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What you reading... (for)?

Having perused the newspaper racks in the palatial surroundings of a British Petroleum forecourt this evening, I lifted a copy of The Independent and strode towards the counter with a chip in one hand and a pin in the other to make my purchase:

Me: "Just pump six and this please" [handing over The Independent]
She: [waving paper at laser thing] "That's a strange paper for a lad of your age to be reading."

Shocking. What should I be reading... The Dependent? I'm 22 years of age I'll have you know. But then again if there was a paper called The Dependent, I'd probably read it because I consider it generally very healthy to remain in touch with today's youth. Regardless... what a strange thing to say. I'll never fully know what this woman was trying to get at, but there are two possible conclusions to be drawn here.

1) Idle chit-chat should be forbidden in garages, or:
2) Idle chit-chat should be forbidden in garages for people who think it's strange that a young adult (hello) would want to read a newspaper that, you know, contains news.

It all calls to mind the Bill Hicks sketch with the waffle waitress asking him what he was reading "for". Except we don't have 'waffle waitresses' in this country, we have BP staff. Which maybe I don't want to become one of.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Great Lies Of Advertising

1) When Cadbury's specifically targeted their advertising campaign for the Flake at women, they used images of women perched in bathtubs with one leg bent nicely on the side while sensually biting away without a care in the world. What they failed to mention is the fact that when eating a Flake in the bath, the little bits of chocolate get bloody everywhere, float about on the surface of the water and end up getting stuck in the hairs on your legs. It's a bloody nightmare.

2) The adverts for WKD talk about having a 'WKD side', and paint this as a loveable penchant for fun-filled pranks between lads who celebrate a special bond of friendship. In actual fact, most people's 'WKD side' involves scraping about in their pockets for their last quid of the night, buying a s**t alcopop, drinking it, and then puking it up on the sticky floor of a nightclub and starting on one of their friends at the taxi rank.

3) The old adverts for Pringles suggested that it was possible and indeed fun to casually pop a whole Pringle into one's mouth, and also that it'd make a really satisfying crunchy noise when you did it. In reality, you end up with small cuts alongside your lips, which are then immediately filled with salt and inevitably causes a stinging sensation, AND you're left with little shreds of crisp on your crotch. Not worth trying. Unless I've just got a really small mouth.

There's probably bigger advertising crimes out there concerning exploitation and degradation but who's interested in those...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Something I made earlier...

Well, that was a bit of alright but it just didn't quite feel right.

The World Cup trundled along to its denouement last night, which means attentions of a footballing nature can revert to the real deal. The run of the mill action, the bread and jam... Boro and Association Football. Obviously the World Cup is a 'good thing' - it always is - but it doesn't even come close to those special little tingles that Boro can conjure in a body like mine.

The last month has been a loveless affair with the sultry temptress of international football. She's got hips, legs, and all the other required anatomical parts that any self-respecting lady should possess, but there's something missing. She just doesn't captivate... there's this vacant stare that looks right through you, and she's got the mental capacity of a Lego man. And she's got a 'tache. Man alive.

So it's back to the wife, the glorious familiarity of the homestead. Everything I pledged myself to all those years ago during our lavish wedding ceremony before the stunning backdrop of Redcar beach (OK that bit didn't happen. It was Barbados). My beloved wife might be irritating - nay, infuriating - at times, but it's when she gets it right... blimey. Back of the net.

Look at what I made. It might serve as some form of audio-visual backup for the point I was (poorly) attempting to make above. If you have a soul, you'll enjoy this:

The Good Fight - Hope Of The States


Following a protracted saga of negotiations and subterfuge I have agreed to record a few thoughts and observations for you, the dear reader, live from where I'm sitting.

It all began when Blogger contacted my people one balmy evening in June to enquire about the possibility of taking me on board. "What are they offering?" I barked at my attractive PA, Gertrude, as she whispered this occurrence into my left lobe. Rubbing a calligraphy pen up and down her neck in that hypnotic manner that only she can, she replied: "Four thousand pounds a week, a maisonette overlooking the banks of the River Thames, and an authentic brass bedpan from the Victorian era."

"Tell them I'm still laughing" I howled derisively, understandably insulted by this offer.

And so began the tense diplomatic standoff between myself and For three whole weeks, I held my nerve in the belief that their people would come back to my people with an improved offer.

True to expectations, they cracked first. Last night, just as I was preparing to bathe in a vat of champagne, Gertrude burst forth into my oak panelled bedsit in that hypnotic way that only she can.

"They're throwing in a year's supply of blue raspberry Slush Puppie!", she proclaimed, clearly excited.

Deal. Cock of the North.