Sunday, August 24, 2008


And, on the subject of reading material on trains (see below) and still on the evening in question, the train I boarded at Milton Keynes after spending a lovely evening with JJ drinking and eating had a very weird catalogue sitting on it when I took my seat.

Among the products on sale are a silver vertex distance guide, flippers, Maddox Phoria measure, face dot test panels, a red/green Lorgnette, a fixation ball, and amsler grid pad.

So what was the profession of the person sitting there before me?

*Joy Division


Hellnation *

I'm loathe to pick up those free papers you get bombarded with when travelling in London. Saying nothing of the content - well, okay, on the content, just how many times a week can you have pictures of Any Whinehouse acting like a drunken and drug-addled lunatic? - I really object to all that waste. I read somewhere that the paper isn't even recycled, hence they contribute to tonnes and tonnes of wasted paper every day. Grotesque really!

Nevertheless, pick one up I did last week as a result of my having finished my book on the train from MK to London. Once again, it was confirmed why I shouldn't encourage these twats to produce a newsless newspaper. One cracking piece did catch my eye, however. This was a whole page on how to "write the perfect love letter." Among the sage advice it offers are these:

Make it personal: Letters should be crammed with compliments. Fill it with those gushy things nobody else will ever have noticed.

Send it on a memorable day: Choose a day that's meaningful in some trifling but romantic way.

Pick your paper with care: It won't be noticed if it's written in blue biro on torn paper.

Get in touch with your emotions: Don't just say "I love you," write "I love you desperately.

What really struck me about this was the thought that I had already read this in one of the Khmer Rouge Strippergram posts!

*Dead Kennedys


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sealed With A Glasgow Kiss *

I was going to post this with a bit of comment, but, on second thoughts, it needs no comment whatsoever. Only to say, it's a classic! The headline alone is fantastic!

* Carter USM


Things Your Mother Never Told You *

It's about time I got back to blogging and I can think of no better thing to blog about than the 50th anniversary production of West Side Story, which JJ and I went to see at Sadlers Wells last Thursday.

I am certainly no expert on musical drama, dance or anything really but ... stunning is the word for this one. Yes, we all know the story - gang warfare, love across a cultural and racial divide, teenage alienation, turf wars, racism, poverty, a fear and hatred of outsiders. Yes, as I say, a story we all know, but ... it's done so well, the musical is beautiful, the lyrics mind-blowing, the choreography mesmeric, the social message so strong (but not over-bearing) and a mixture which comes together so perfectly (well, with one very slight flaw, in my opinion).

So those are the elements which those of us like me are well familiar with from watching the film throughout our many years. But I certainly didn't think I would be seeing such an amazing production as that put on during this limited season at Sadlers Wells. The music was perfect, but certainly not in any shallow and clinical way - it was pounding, it was soaring and it was highly emotional. The cast belted the songs out in cracking form - to say nothing of the quality acting. And, as for the dancing, well, as others have remarked about West Side Story, it was in many ways unique in the way the beat and rhythm (are they the same thing?) are so unlike anything that was being danced to up until it was opened in 1958. One writer (Martin Samuel in the Times - brilliant piece, btw, which I should really link to) compared it to his contemporaries in the '70s pretending they could dance to Jethro Tull, believe it or not. But, anyway, the movement of those at Sadlers Wells was pretty outstanding. Whether the fight scenes, the gym dance scene, the Puerto Rican women doing America or any other scene, we had grace and beauty moving around the stage, with what seemed to this totally amateur eye as perfection.

So what was this flaw that grated on my mind? The Officer Kruppke song! I was of the belief that this production messed around with the running order of the songs, as this very comic turn comes shortly after Riff and Bernardo are killed in the rumble. My view, based on what I remembered of the film, was that this appeared earlier in story. I thought this as I just couldn't get my head around the fact that a bunch of teenage lads would be in the mood for messing about when their gang leader had just been stabbed to death. They would have been shitting themselves, no matter how much of a bravado front they wished to put on. So a bit of research - and JJ seeing the film at the weekend - confirmed that, indeed, this silly song comes much earlier in the film, but, in fact, in the original stage production, it was in the same order as the Sadlers Wells show. A strange thing for Robbins, Bernstein and Sondheim to have done, but, hey, they are still a collection of geniuses.

Fuck, sorry for going on there, but it just sort of played on my mind a bit.

Anyway, it in no way spoiled things as this was way up there with the greatest spectacles - musical or otherwise - that I've ever seen on a stage. I've been cranking my brains since last Thursday to come up with something better and I just can't get there. I loved Brigadoon, which was the first major show I ever went to see on a London stage. A production of Madam Butterfly at the Royal Albert Hall was beautiful. The Play Wot I Wrote - with Ranulph Fiennes making the guest appearance that night - was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. But ...

Perfect music, perfect ensemble acting and dancing, beautiful lyrics and singing. This was all anyone could ask for. Perfect!

* Wayne County and the Electric Chairs


Friday, August 01, 2008

I Don't Mind If You Forget Me*

Tried to post Kool and the Gang doing Celebration, but something went wrong. But, hey, if it has appeared twice already, then won't I look stupid.

Anyway, anyway, anyway, thanks to TNR, my computer is working again and I'm back online at home. I've much to discuss, like ... err. What was it again? Can't remember, now. But back in time for football season about to start. Watched Celtic play abysmally against Spurs tonight - what utter garbage. Message for Darren: forces of darkness for the league (I think you know why I do this now!).

Went to see Jefferston Starship at the 100 Club last night - what a fantastic, groovy, far out and truly wonderful experience.

But the big, huge, massive cultural highlight of the week was booking tickets for JJ and I to see West Side Story at Sadlers Wells - absolutely cannot wait til Thursday August 14th. It will be fantastic.

Anyway, so glad to be back and will be annoying you lot (all three of you) big time!

Recent music purchases: Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane; Idlewilde by Outkast; lcd soundsystem; Infinity Land by Biffy Clyro (which reminds me, must blog about Dowload, which was the worst weekend of my life, but was the boy's best weekend, which made it brilliant, really. If you know what I mean!)