Wednesday, April 22, 2009

J.G.Ballard RIP

I was sorry to hear that J.G. Ballard had passed away. He had written some great books over the years and I enjoyed his work. He will be sadly missed.

PopCO by Scarlett Thomas

I picked this up because I enjoyed another book by Scarlett Thomas, The end of Mr Y. I am glad I did because PopCo is a good read.

The book tells the story of Alice Butler, a young woman who works as a designer for a toy company. She has had an unconventional childhood. She was brought up by her grandparents, a mathematician and a code breaker. Before working as a toy designer she had written crosswords.

She is sent to a work related conference in a remote location and someone starts to send her secret coded messages.

The book involves a lot of mathematical and cryptographic information. Despite this material it's a good read and it makes you think. It discusses issues of animal welfare and globalisation.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Stewart Lee Comedy Vehicle

I have vague memories of Lee and Herring during the early '90s but I was never a fan. However I have really enjoyed watching Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle on BBC2 for the past six weeks. Lee has an intelligent and angry style and he managed to throw in a reference to the Jesus Lizard last night. Brilliant.

I'll try and see him live or pick up his DVDs.

For more see

In the Loop - film review

I went to see In the loop on Sunday night. I'd been looking forward to it for a while. I've been a fan of The thick of it for a couple of years. I had just watched the DVD of the two specials from 2007 the day before. The thick of it is a UK political comedy starring Glaswegian Peter Capaldi as spin-doctor Malcom Tucker. Tucker is allegedly modelled on Alistair Campbell.

I think In the loop is very entertaining although I am not sure that Malcom Tucker has made a perfect jump onto the cinema screen. The swearing displayed by Peter Capaldi in character as Tucker is amazing. 'Fuckity-bye' is a personal favourite. I did feel sorry for the two old ladies in the cinema who left after 10 minutes. I feel that whoever sold them tickets should be swiftly re-educated.

It was also nice to see James Gandolfini square off against Malcom Tucker. Gandolfini, in his Tony Soprano character is anothe Olympian swearer although he never really seems to let loose in this film.

In the loop was fun but it did feel like a TV special. I await the return of The thick of it to the small screen.


Saturday, April 18, 2009


One of my co-workers came into my office and installed spotify on my laptop a couple of days ago. I fear my research career is now doomed. Spotify is amazing.

I've been able to find loads of obscure indie-punk tracks by band like The Weirdos, The Seeds, fIREHOSE and the Flaming groovies. It's also good for B-sides and rare tracks by more mainstream blands. Hopefully it will save me cash by stopping me buying crap records at random.


50 dead men walking - film review

I went to see this film last week, not really knowing very much about it. It's the story of a young Irish Catholic man in Belfast in the 1980s. He's a petty criminal although both the IRA and the security forces see some potential in him. He becomes a double agent giving information on IRA operations to the police.

The lead character spends a lot of time being beaten up by the British forces and the IRA. Lots of people die and are horribly mistreated. The film was OK but it just highlights how nasty the situation in Ireland was at the time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fucking hell

Kurt Cobain died 15 years ago.

I am very old. I'm actually 5 years older than he was when he died.

Suicide is stupid. Life gets better

Too many CDs

I rescued 4 more crates of CDs from my parents house yesterday. It's good to have all my music in one place but I have too much of it. I think I have about 4000 CDs.

It was great to listen to my Cramps CDs yesterday but I have serious storage problems now. I need more shelves. I'm also a bit frightened by the multiple copies that I have of several albums. I have 3 copies of one Goldfrapp CD which is not good.

The Damned United - film review

I'm not a football fan. I've not been to a football game for over 20 years and I normally avoid football on the telly. I have a vague interest in the Scottish national team and a passing opinion on the Old Firm but I am not a football fan.

I went to see The Damned United because a friend wanted to see it and most media coverage suggested that it was good. I have a memory of the name Brian Clough but little else.

The film is a good character study. Clough is portrayed as a driven man capable of great things but with a tendency to self destructive film. There is very little football in the film.

I probably would not have watched this on TV or DVD but I'm glad I saw it.