Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Not Bloggers Anonymous, but Blogging Anonymously

BlogAnon (via rockcreekrambler which I found by clicking randomly on listed blogs - this was about three steps removed from HolyHoses if I remember) is a place where you can blog anonymously. A great idea, but not that great a read, but hey, I guess that's not really the point.

I just can't let it drop, can I?

NME'S Top 100 Greatest British Albums. Now, we all know this is going to be random and arbitary because all these lists are, and to be honest, it's not a terrible list -

1. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
2. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
3. Oasis – Definitely Maybe
4. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks…
5. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
6. Blur – Modern Life Is Rubbish
7. Pulp – Different Class
8. The Clash – London Calling
9. The Beatles – Revolver
10. The Libertines – Up The Bracket
11. Radiohead – The Bends
12. The Specials – The Specials
13. The Verve – A Northern Soul
14. David Bowie – Hunky Dory
15. Primal Scream – Screamadelica
16. Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching For The Young Soul Rebles
17. The Streets – Original Pirate Material
18. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
19. The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
20. The Beatles – Rubber Soul

Eclectic, with a slightly left-field no.1 (well, it's not The Bends or the Beatles anyway), I can live with this. There's just one quibble. And it starts with Arctic and ends with Monkeys. I can't even be bothered to comment on this any more. NME loves the Monkeys. They've built them up so much that they can't even knock 'em down. You get it. I'm sorry.. I'll let this go eventually.


By the way, go visit RockList.Net which gathers together music magazines' lists from the 1950s onwards. This one's particularly interesting.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Strokes, Doncaster Dome, 28/1/06. Yes, Doncaster.

It's not very often I travel to my home town of Doncaster to see a band, so when the eigth biggest in the world* was advertised as playing there, I had to do that whole eye-rubbing thing. But no, it was right, The Strokes were indeed taking a break from the big time to play at what is basically a sports centre. And not some special sports centre, but one in Doncaster. Someone fire the booking agent.

I really like The Strokes; they write brilliant tunes, they're impossibly cool, and could have kept going on the Is This It vein for as long as they'd liked, because I love it. So while I was thoroughly looking forward to this gig, certain things concerned me. 1) That I was seeing them at the Doncaster Dome. Would they put their all into such a tiny date? 2) Would they put their all into it anyway. Doncaster or not, The Strokes aren't known for impeccable stage performances, and if lead-singer Julian Casablancas has had a bad day he might just throw a tantrum and only play a few tracks. Actually, I don't know if he's ever thrown a tantrum and only played a few tracks but the fear of him doing that is always there. 3) That they're promoting a new album. Would they just play First Impressions of Earth from start to finish and growl at every inevtiable shout for 'Last Nite'?

There's a 'but I needn't have worried' coming isn't there? Course there is! They were really, well, profressional. Not a word I thought I'd be using, but they were. They were tight, Fabrizio's guitar solos were clear, Julian was in excellent voice (my classically trained friend said he was note perfect) and what's more they seemed to be really up for it. Julian mumbled in his usual way between every few tracks and got a cheer for every mention of Doncaster - unfortunately one time his lack of enunciation while speaking meant that it took us ages to work out that he'd said that they'd never played the previous track before, which is a shame cos that's a huge thing and we gave no reaction! But no matter. The setlist was a fan's dream - a decent amount from the new album but there was always a hit around the corner, from Last Nite to Reptilia. In fact, no fewer than eight out of the eleven tracks on Is This It were played. I don't have First Impressions of Earth but I will do - the new stuff was certainly, erm, interesting. In a good way. Someday, 12.51 and Juicebox got the crowd dancing, and Julian thanked us all with a bow and a salute. Couldn't ask for more.

*Wanna hazard a guess at the other seven? It's debatable, but that's the point :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Franz Ferdinand musings

Rob Buckley (via Lisa) says they're Divine Comedy without the sense of humour... I do think they they're quite similar, but I'd actually put their arch humour as a similarity!

What it reminded me to blog, however, was that Franz Ferdinand had a jump the shark moment with 'Walk Away'. 'Do You Wanna' was equally dire, of course, but the release of 'Walk Away' showed that it wasn't a blip... Both are forced and awkward, and have too many bits to them. It was like they thought - 'Take Me Out' had two parts, and that did really well - maybe if we make a song with four parts it'll do doubly well! No. And their first album was so good! Very disappointing.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This has even *me* saying enough already...

Not that I'll not watch it.

BBC Drama Awards

The winners have been announced... our faves have done rather well.

Best Actor
1. Christopher Eccleton
2. David Tennant
3. Charles Dance
4. Denis Lawson
5. Rupert Penry-Jones

Best Drama
1. Doctor Who
2. Bleak House
3. Spooks
4. Rome
5. Shakespeare Re-Told

Favourite Moment
1. The Return Of The Daleks (Doctor Who)
2. The Doctor Regenerates (Doctor Who)
3. Grant and Phils Return (EastEnders)
4. Lady Deadlock Reveals She's Esther's Mother (Bleak House)
5. Dirty Den's Death (EastEnders)

Most Desirable Star
1. Billie Piper
2. David Tennant
3. Christopher Eccleston
4. John Barrowman
5. Gillian Anderson

Thanks to david-tennant.com for the easily-copied-and-pasted version of the results!


I was going to do the 4x4 thing I found over at Steve Brown's the trials and perils of music photography, but seeing as though I've only lived in two places and had one proper job, perhaps I won't. But still go over and have a look at his fantastic gig and band photographs.

Sorry for the brief hiatus, by the way - real life and all that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Arctic Monkeys in 10/10 NME Review Shocker!


I'd write something a little more interesting if I weren't so depressed right now.

That song at the end of the Christmas Invasion

I, like many other people, have gone a little bit insane while trying to track down this song - which I had presumed was an old song. Wrongly presumed. In fact it was written especially in our of the new Doctor and it's all explained (and an extract can be found) here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dr Who On Holiday - Dean Grey mash-up

Green Day and Dr. Who. Don't ask. Just download. And thank Rafael Behr. Well, it should be me who does that really. So thanks Rafael.

Casanova or Down With Love?!

Head over to the trailer for Lasse Hallstrom's new version of Casanova (available here at IMDB.com) and you'll see what I mean! Of course it won't compare with *our* version, but I'm sure I'll end up going to see it and being disappointed anyway!

Monday, January 09, 2006

TV Adaption of 'The Ruby In The Smoke'

Yup, Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart tales are being adapted for the Beeb with our very own Rose Tyler in the lead. Should be good stuff.

Really good Ben Folds interview

... conducted by a fan known to his pals as Topha - huge thanks to him. It's in two parts - the second's particularly interesting for anyone who's snooped around message boards. Ben decided to spread some rumours about himself and it kinda backfired. The chat he took part in to clear it all up can be found here (Ben uses the username Zloo). It hurts your eyes to look at but some interesting stuff comes out.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Channel 4 say the cheque's in the post....

First off, come on music-lovers, Vote Preston. Well, don't vote for him, cos that would involve giving channel 4 more money to make more shows like this which suck me in every time (yes, we are talking 'Celebrity' Big Brother, for those of you with lives). Just support him. Seeing Preston and Jodie Marsh have a reasonably interesting and entertaining conversation with Big Brother was like an unlooked-for oasis of calm amongst all the outrageous flirting and slow breakdown of a man with a less-than spotless past.

Second, My Name Is Earl has real promise. The first 15 minutes were pure setup, but at least they got it over with, and the second 15 minutes showed more a lot more potential than I'd expected. I'll be watching this one with interest.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Someone needs to keep Derren Brown under constant supervision...

I was going to go on and on and on about last night's 'The Heist' but Sam Wollaston sums it up. If you didn't see it, just have this uppermost in your mind as you read Sam's review (he says it himself but it's important!): Derren Brown is not with the 'guinea pigs' when they decide to hold up a security guard and nick his money: he's planted the seeds and so when they simply see an opportunity - which they had no prior knowledge of - they do it. It was mouth-open-wide tv.

Sam Wollaston
Thursday January 5, 2006
The Guardian

Vicky is walking along Gresham Street, in the City of London. A green security van is parked a little way up the street. A car drives past, blasting out music - Can You Feel It by the Jacksons. From the direction of the Bank of England, a uniformed security guard carrying two cases walks towards the van, just as Vicky reaches the same spot. She stops, pulls a very realistic-looking toy gun from her pocket, points it at the guard's head and orders him on to the floor. Then she grabs the two cases, each containing £50,000 in cash, and runs off down the street.

This is not normal behaviour for Vicky. She's usually a law-abiding business woman, a sales executive. But this is Derren Brown: The Heist (Channel 4) and he tells her to do it, so she does. Actually, he doesn't tell her directly to commit a crime, she does it of her own free will. Derren's last words to Vicky, spoken over the phone, are: "Make that decision to steal yourself. And grab that opportunity to make all this work really pay off. It's just about standing in the way of security and life and making it do what you want it to do. You're the one with the weapon of absolute unquestioning power."
These words are the last part of a meticulous two-week process. Vicky and 12 other middle-management business people go on what they think is a motivational course with the well-known TV psycho-magician-wierdo-con-artist. He whittles them down to the four most persuadable - including Vicky - whom he will turn into armed bank robbers. The purpose of the whole thing? To demonstrate that, as history has often shown, normal people can be persuaded to act in deviant, criminal and irrational ways.

It is certainly a fascinating process to watch. He says he's teaching them some of the genuine skills he uses, but admits to peppering it all with a fair amount of bullshit. Somehow he instils in them a can-do attitude, gets them to achieve a pumped-up emotional state that can be triggered by the colour green or the Jacksons singing. And then, slowly, he manipulates them into crossing the line into criminal behaviour.

At times it's hilarious. For their first little foray into the underworld, Derren encourages them to steal something from a sweetshop. The poor boys behind the till can't understand why smartly dressed executive types keep coming in and nicking Twixes and packets of Fruit Pastels. Eventually one of the boys plucks up the courage to confront a suited man who is blatantly walking out with a packet of biscuits. "Do you want to put those Jammy Dodgers back, please?" he says politely to Phil. Phil may be a security operations manager, whatever one of them is, but when it comes to Jammy Dodgers he's no Artful Dodger. He does, however, turn out to be a much better Ronnie Biggs in the end.

At other times it's more disturbing. The re-creation of the Stanley Milgram test, for instance, in which Vicky and Phil and the rest of our middle-management business people are made to think they are administering excruciating electric shocks to someone. It's a well-known experiment to show that people will do outrageous things just because a person in authority has told them to. Some of them are quite happy to carry on upping the voltage, even though the victim has apparently passed out from the pain.

The climax, the robbery itself, is extraordinary. Three of the four chosen people - Vicky, Phil and Danny the IT consultant - all decide, when the opportunity arises, to hold up a security van.

Whatever you think of Derren Brown, he's definitely succeeded in creating the subject of this morning's oh-my-god-did-you-see television conversation. Everyone will have their theories of how he does it, they'll wonder if they would have been susceptible themselves, some people will question the morality of creating three new criminals.

I don't know any of the answers. But I do know that Derren Brown is a very persuasive man. As well as persuading three people to nick £100,000, he also seems to have persuaded them that the experience has been a positive one. He must also have persuaded the police to cordon off a sizable area of the City for him. And although I find him a bit creepy, he's certainly persuaded me that he makes very good telly.

A BIT CREEPY? I want the man locked up (apart from a few days a year in which to make wonderful TV). As SW said it was hilarious and disturbing in equal measure. The funniest part was when, having stolen the money, the guys just ran down the street, obviously coming out of their 'motivateaggressiveve' state, and suddenly having no idea what to do. Funny in a horrible way, of course, but funny.

It was interesting to see how they guy who didn't go through with it reacted to seeing the security guard - his first reaction was to go for it, you could tell. Then he screwed up his face, quickened his step as if to get away from the temptation as soon as he could, and shook his head in disbelief of what he nearly did. The same group of people who had silently but forcefully stopped the previous three at the end of the road gather round him - 'I'm a good person' he said, more to convince himself than in any sort of celebration. The others looked like they'd just been woken up after sleep-walking. Thoroughly weird. Great tv though.

A quick blog search has thrown up some intersting reactions, by the way. Bathtubgingirl likes to think she'd have been more polite (though they were pretty polite themselves - the best one was: 'Scuse me, mate, sorry to bother you but... this is a hold-up'. Classic) and brings up the point that 'Derren Brown is a hotty'. Nac's friend Jen was actually in it (though not chosen for the heist itself), and coolnina97 voices all our concerns about messing with people's heads.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mine's to read something not on my reading list...

But what's your Reading Resolution?

Last year I managed to escape the clutches of the dreaded reading list to devour Vernon God Little (excellent... *really* excellent) and little else. Grrr.

The Ultimate Sitcom

I know, I've watched too many of these Channel 4 Top 100/Top 50/Top 20 things, and I know I have too many opinions about them. But what the hey.

So the Ultimate Sitcom, right? I'll rattle through this as quick as possible.

Frasier at No. 1 = fantastic. I have no quibbles with this. Engaging, warm, weird characters, some of the best farce sequences in TV history, and the right mix of that sparkling wit and jokes you see coming a mile off and laugh anyway. When it's at its best, it's the best.

Spaced was surprisingly and deservedly high at No. 9 - though the focus put on the culture references continues to annoy me no end - what about the fact that it's very very funny and has a heart as big as a house? There's more to Spaced than two girl guides in the broom cupboard.

And don't get me started on Blackadder not being in the top 5. Just plain wrong.

And my final gripe? Friends not being included. A victim of its own consistancy in terms of writing and performances, (don't let anyone tell you it jumped the shark - there was a series 6/7 dip, but only in a Shelly Long to Kirstie Alley transition sort of way) and even more so of its popularity, Friends is already being consigned to the wastebin of sitcom history. How sad.


Don't worry, it may appear that both subsidised and commercial theatre is doing well at the moment, but it's really not. What a relief!

(P.S. Please excuse the former multiple postings of the previous blog - one of those pesky glitches in the Matrix...)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Is there an echo in here?

Friday, December 30, 2005

Well, if they (the London Underground strikers) were so bloody worried about my safety, would they really stage their strike on New Year's Eve, forcing me - a single woman who will be going home alone (with my luck anyway) - to brave streets full of drunk drivers and unlicensed minicabs? Safety my yoga-toned arse.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lionel Shriver (Guardian):
As for London, the RMT claims that its real concern was for "public safety". Oh, really? That's why they struck on the one night of the year most likely to tempt legions of the inebriated to drive and to send fleets of faux mini-cab drivers to lure women in a compromised condition into their cars. So much for public safety.