Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Arrested Development - too smart for tv

The title of this post might have been more accurate if it read 'too smart for American tv' although I am not convinced that Arrested development would have lasted any longer in the UK. This is a programme that demands your attention.

I had only seen one episode on BBC2 last year and it hadn't really clicked for me. I just didn't get it. It was too weird, too out of context. I didn't get the jokes. It wasn't very funny. I was wrong.

I met up with a couple of old mates at christmas and they told me to check out Arrested development. They told me that the show only works in context and that the best way to approach it was on DVD. These guys are people I trust. They have good taste (apart from the death metal) so I took a leap of faith. I bought the DVD of series 1 in the HMV sale (only £17.99).

I'm glad I did. The first episode introduces the freaky cast and sets the show up. The series features the Bluth family, a collection of spoilt rich eccentrics who suddenly have their financial security pulled from under them. It is shot with a single camera making it look a bit like a reality TV series.

The main character is Michael, the normal one, who becomes head of the family business after his dad (played by Jeffrey Tambor of Larry Saunders fame) is jailed for dodgy deals. There is the incest-bent son, the failed magician brother, the rich kid activist, the mummy's boy, the 'never nude' psychiatrist and the domineering mother. All very weird. All memorable.

What makes the show interesting is the interaction between these characters. They struggle with each other for money and power. They lie and manipulate. They are greedy and stupid and loveable. They are surreal yet real. Well drawn characters.

I've not seen series two yet. I can't wait.

Check it out


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tabloid headline from hell

The headline of todays Sunday mail reads 'Girl, 11, hooked on heroin'. A young girl collapsed in her primary school class after smoking some heroin and then admitted that she had been smoking heroin for two months. This is in Scotland, today. In my city.

What can you say? The world is just a messed up place sometimes. The girl was getting a bus to the other side of the city to buy £10 bags from a female drug dealer. She was apparently doing this on a regular basis. Messed up.

But we live in a culture where other deadly drugs like alcohol and cigarettes are legal. When I was 13 or 14 I would drink cider or thunderbird wine in the streets and puke my brains out. Society makes this sort of self-abuse acceptable. Sure, I like a drink every so often but I see what too much alcohol does to people. And cigarettes kill people and have no other purpose that I know of.

Preaching again. Empty rhetoric. Screaming at a wall. How does this get fixed?


Friday, January 27, 2006

Bob Mould - live in Glasgow

Bob Mould is one of my favourite singer/songwriters. I started buying Husker Du albums when I was about 13 or 14 (about 15 years ago) and I quite like some of the Sugar albums and solo stuff that he has put out since. His influence on punk (with the du) was immense. Can you imagine Nirvana or the Pixies or 'emo' punk without Husker Du? What about My Bloody Valentine?

I can't.

This show was just Bob and his guitar. And that voice. The intensity of his guitar playing is amazing. One guitar sounds like a whirlwind. Tonight we got both acoustic and electric.

The show was in the ABC2, the smaller stage at Glasgows ABC venue (where all the best gigs have been recently) and it was pretty packed. The sound is good (although the main hall is better). It was an older crowd, ostensibly made up of original du-core fans. And they were in for a treat.

Celebrated summer. If I can't change your mind. I apologise. Makes no sense at all. Hoover dam. Songs from ZEN ARCADE! One of the greatest albums in the world EVER!

This was a bloody good night. Gripes - it was a short show, just about an hour long. He had to catch a flight to belgium. Bugger. He only plays songs that he wrote (fair enough) so he didn't play never talking to you again which is one of my favourite songs. EVER!

Great night. Come back soon!

I am such a fan-boy geek


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Memoirs of a geisha - film review

As I have more time on my hands during this blissful post-exam week I went to the cinema again tonight to see this big budget chick flick. The audience was probably 80% female. That scared me. I wasn't sure what to expect. Was this going to be bridget goddamn jones in Japan?

Day 65 - kimonos destroyed - 4. Sumo matches attended - 2. I saw darcy-san in the buddakan today. Will I ever learn how to walk in these fucking shoes?

Thankfully not. It was another great film. Sad at times, funny at times. Beautiful women and an amazing amount of bitchiness. I don't know very much about Japanese culture so I don't know how accurate this film was. Not that accurate when all the actresses were Chinese.....

Nitpicking aside, this is a good film. Even if you're male. It's a bit of a cinderella story and my flatmate tells me that it has been 'given a touch of hollywood' in places but it's still bloody good. I could watch it again without falling asleep. It's about as good as 'brokeback mountain' .

I hope Spielbergs munich is this good.

9 outta 10

check it out


Brokeback mountain - film review

This is a sad film. It's about when things go wrong in life and you just do what other people expect you to do. You wake up one day and you realise that your life is gone. It's a film about not spending enough time doing what you want to do.

A lot of people (guys, mainly) won't want to see this film because of the fact that it's about two gay cowboys. That's a shame because the themes of the film are universal. The characters are well-rounded. One guy takes things too seriously and spends most of the time acting like an arsehole and treating people like shit. The other guy is more happy-go-lucky and seems to lead a more fulfilling life. The relationship between these men is more vivid because we see how it affects those around them.

So, a good film. Much better than the pish 'hulk' film that ang lee made a few years back. It will make you cry. Alternative title - 'seriously, life is shit if you're a gay cowboy'


9 outta 10


p.s. just did horrible exam today. not gonna think about it for a few weeks. just glad i don't have to do multiple choice questions this weekend

Monday, January 16, 2006

Belle & Sebastian - live at Glasgow ABC

I'm a big fan of B&S. They've written about 40-50 of my favourite songs on two of my favourite albums and several cracking EPs. Sadly, I feel that their is a dark side to their muse. I'm not too keen on the last two albums (fold your arms..... and dear catastrophe waitress) for various reasons. I find chalet lines from fold... too upsetting to listen to and I'm a cuckoo just annoys me in an existential way.

I've been a fan since 1998 (maybe earlier). I bought the boy with the arab strap the week it came out and it had been one of my favourite records since then. If I give someone that record it probably means that I like them. Somehow I managed to avoid seeing them live (although I might have seen them play once in ashton lane. I'm not sure.

It was with some trepidation that I went to tonights gig. I've been told that the band are often shambolic when they play live. Basically shit.

I was very pleasantly surprised. They opened with a track from if you're feeling sinister, possibly stars of track and field and they were bloody good. String section. Trumpets. I think they must have been practicing. (they played all of that album last year at a special show in london).

The band were tight and the sound was good. The string section was attractive. Stuart was an entertaining frontman making sick jokes that I didn't really expect. Crowd interaction was present and correct. Sadly, the crowd at the gig was just as I expected. Static. No rhythmic movement to be seen at all. Lots of girls (thankfully) but no real party atmosphere.

The new songs were good, boding well for the new album. I don't really like the 'crazy frog' song. It's just cheezy. We did get several classic tracks; the state i am in which he dedicated to his 'very hetrosexual' brother, dog on wheels, 4 more from sinister and dog on wheels. We also got the 'gay disco' (as my mate put it) number from tigermilk which worked surprisingly well and i'm a cuckoo which wasn't as shit as i feared.

All in all, a good show. I'll buy the new album and go and see them again. The only low point was the lack of songs from the boy with the arab strap. It would be nice if Isobel Campbell was still in the band but that ain't gonna happen.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

film review - just like heaven

I enjoyed this film. Possibly because it takes its title from my favourite song by the cure. In some ways I feel that I shouldn't have enjoyed this film because it's a cheesy romantic comedy (about necrophilia) but I did.

The film is about two people who have lived sad lives. Both of them are dead in their own ways. The girl is dead because she had a car crash and..... The guy is 'dead' inside because of his last relationship.

The interesting thing about the girl is that she doesn't have much of a life before the car crash. She is a doctor who spends 26 hours a day at work. None of her neighbours could describe her. She hasn't had a boyfriend in years but she is successful in her career. Her heart is beating but years of her life disappear every time she blinks.

The guy doesn't have much of a life. He just has beer.

Basically it's a remake of ghost without whoopi goldberg. Except not really. This film is like a million other sappy rom-coms that you have seen a million times before but it has a good soundtrack and a couple of cheap laughs. And you learn how to save someones life with a vodka bottle and a steak knife which is cool.

the story is formulaic and the ending is obvious.

I liked it. 7 out of 10. you will probably hate it


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Friday night TV is looking better

I watched a new TV series on channel 4 last night. It's called My name is earl and it stars Jason Lee. I know Jason Lee from his appearances in many Kevin Smith films notably Chasing Amy and Mallrats. He is in other stuff (including a sonic youth video) and he's a funny guy.

The eponymous Earl is american white trash. He lives in a trailer park with his semi-human brother, his trashy wife and his two kids (that ain't his kids). He is a pretty bad human being who has hurt a lot of people over the years. He has an accident and his life gets worse.

Then he discovers the concept of karma whilst high on pharmaceutical morphine watching a late-night TV talk show. He realises that he has to make right his past mistakes and help all the people that he has hurt. He writes a list of all his sins and starts to help people out and his luck improves (it reminds me a bit of quantum leap but not really).

I watched the first episode last night and it was laugh out loud funny. One of my friends in America told me to check it out. I know where I'll be at 10PM next friday. Hope that this does well in america so it keeps being made. Somehow I doubt it. It's too clever.

dr. funk

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The end of the festive season

Back to work tomorrow. Christmas and new year are over yet again. Not too bad. Acutally had 4 days off in a row there which was nice. Spent time with family, saw friends and did some studying. Back to work in the morning. Poo.

Just been out with my two oldest friends. One guy who I've known since the age of 2 (about 26 years ago) and another who I met at the age of 4 on my first day at school. Both good guys. Both smoke so will probably die in horrible ways (had to get that in, i've been telling them all night)

One of them is doing some sort of research work in america. He's a smart guy but you just don't get paid for what he does in britain. He's working on new antibiotics that will overcome antibiotic resistance and MRSA. Important work that will help us fend off the coming apocalypse! As a side note, if you are applying for a research grant in america and you use the phrase 'bio-terrorism' you will get lots of money.

My other mate works in a record shop but he's in an underground noise band who are good at what they do. They've just signed some sort of record deal so you can buy their CD in HMV soonish. They are called 'black sun'. I've seen them and they put on an amazing show but I wouldn't listen to them around the house. They sound a bit like someone drilling your teeth as you fall down the stairs in a metal bin. Through a distortion pedal. They are that good.

I used to be in a band with both of these guys years ago. I sang and they both played guitar. The drummer in that band is now the drummer in a very successful glasgow noise band who I won't name. Suffice to say we know his secret. He was a blur fan. (answers on a postcard. the person who names the band gets a no-prize)

The friend in memphis is now playing in a band with someone who played drums for Dexys Midnight Runners which is fucked up. What's even more fucked up is that I own all of Dexys albums. I even have a copy of the theme from 'brush strokes'. I am a sad man.

I took some photos with my new toy. My parents gave me a digital camera for x-mas which was very cool. Expect to see more amateurish pictures on this site at some point (sorry, no porn. I'm physically unattractive and girls don't like me that much)

anyway, enuff


Monday, January 02, 2006

Punk: Attitude - DVD review

Just watched this DVD when I should have been studying. It was pretty good and I would recommend it to anyone with a general interest in the meaning of punk. This film gives a more universal insight into the spirit of punk that the minutemen film I was talking about a few weeks ago.

The film was made by Don Letts, friend of the clash and DJ. He has scraped together archive footage and fresh interviews and melded them into an interesting hybrid. The usual suspects are present (thurston moore, henry rollins and glen matlock) as well as some less familiar faces (dick manitoba of the dictators, daryl from the bad brains).

The meaning of punk is discussed and the punk attitude is put into its historical context. Letts explores the MC5, the velvets, television and the new york dolls moving through the ramones, the clash and the pistols to the dead kennedys, agnostic front, sonic youth and nirvana before finally looking at todays youth culture. He casts his punk net wide and brings home a decent catch.

In britain most people (stupidly) think that punk was just the pistols and the clash and racist skinheads in the late 70s/early 80s. Punk was a leather biker jacket that said 'fuck' and a bottle of cider. It was a heroin addiction if you were a hopeless loser. In 2006 we have mtv punk with green day and arctic monkeys.

But punk was more and is more.

Punk is attitude. Like the title of the movie. Check it out.

(plus the packaging is totally unpunk and contains a reprint of the first issue of sniffing glue which is nice. I'm far too young to be a real punk but I did listen to my slits album tonight)


Sunday, January 01, 2006