Quiz Are You A Rock Bore? I got 15/35 which isn't at all surprising considering the questions...
Music Lovely article from John Peel writing in The Guardian about his favourite record: "Maybe once a fortnight, after a few days of listening to sizzling new releases and worrying that the music is merging into angst but otherwise characterless soup, I play Teenage Kicks to remind myself exactly how a great record should sound. "But what's so great about it?" people, from my own children to complete strangers in wine bars, have asked. I've never yet come up with an answer that pleased me much, falling back each time on: "There's nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it."
Blog! Here is something you don't see every day -- a weblog with it's own radio station. Slightly North of Tomorrow is the work of Erin and Shawn a couple from Seattle. Erin (who strangely shares my birthday) seems to be the more talkative of the two. Yesterday she experienced the kind of bureaucrassy we're somewhat used to in the UK when trying to get a passport: "I called the Canadian Consulate here in Seattle and left a message for a woman to call me back so I could figure it out. She called me back today and was a bit of a bitch. I don't know if she's having a bad day or what but she was just really unpleasant. She was alright at first, asking me my address and stuff so she could send me a form and then she asked for my last name. I hesitated a minute before giving it to her as when Shawn and I got married I decided to change my name and wondered if I should use my maiden name or not. Eventually I gave her my "new" last name and she goes "Are you SURE that's your last name??" "
Film In case anyone missed it (in other words in everybody) BBC One's kids current affairs programme 'Newsround' is showing the first Star Wars (gritted teeth) Attack of the Clones trailer on Monday 5th -- it starts at about 5:25 usually (although I haven't watched the thing since John Craven left). Just a heads up for interested parties who know how to set their videos. [via TheForce.net]
Wildlife Breaking news from Alaska as biologists are chasing a Moose about the Kenai Peninsula. It seems it's a common problem that the beasts get various human gardening equipment stuck in their antlers, such as hoses and tires. This one shouldn't be too hard to spot -- it's got an 18-foot swinging frame rammed in there: "State wildlife biologists tracked the stressed moose Tuesday and Wednesday, following a trail of shredded blue plastic and gouged snow, but eventually lost the trail. Large parts of the swing set have fallen off, but biologists believe the moose is still tangled in ropes and chains."
Music Web version of Time Magazine's special 'Music Goes Global' issue. Mostly worth a stroll if you forgive the obviously America-centric writing -- all too often we find contextualisation rather than examination. And is there really a need for another interview with Christina Aguilera? I really am beginning to lament the demise of Songlines, the world music magazine which was discontinued a few months ago...
Mefi Random Metafiter -- a bit like a Tardis, whoop yourself into any thread in Metafilter's past. And just like using that blue box, realise things were better in the olden days. Here is the thread which prompted it. The URL you'll need to create this elsewhere is:


[courtesy of Alan]
Time Quiet birthday -- actually feel a year older for a change. Most interesting moment? Going for a meal with my parents. As we were leaving, my Dad was paying, and said proudly:
"It's my son's birthday."
The waitress, quick as a flash:
"Oh -- erm -- I should have put candles in his food or something."
Never underestimate the deadpan power of waitresses.
Me time And that brings an end to tonight's blogathon. I'm off for a few days for my birthday (tomorrow -- yes that's right, Halloween) and a cinema day on Thursday leading into a night out at 'The Pilgrim'. I'll drop something new off Friday. Please don't have nightmares. Do sleep well. Good night.
Pop music Isn't Natalie Imbruglia's new single 'That Day' fabulous? No other comment here -- it's not often I love a pop song with this kind of a passion (last time was 'GrooveJet'). Pity the video is a cross between the promos for The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony' and 'I'm Going Down To Liverpool' by The Bangles. But the advertising campaign is gorgeous. And I do wonder what this guy's problem is, especially when he reminds us that for a good long while, Imbruglia's character Beth was the only thing worth watching 'Neighbours' for.
The Trains From bad to worse. A head of Railtrack (you know that company that was put into liquidation by the government) is to take over the troubled train and bus company, Arriva. Yeah -- that'll work. I'm expecting my nightly train to be delayed even more now.
Journalism I've taken to reading 'Rolling Stone' magazine each week (or whenever it turns up in the UK). Yes it's because it was featured in 'Almost Famous'. But I'm a decerning reader and wouldn't keep buying if it wasn't actually any good. It's a very different animal now, but I really like the writing in general and it's less up itself than Q magazine. I've never heard of many of the bands listed and there has been a tendency lately to cheapen the cover spot by featuring half naked pop princess and teen actress (not that I'm complaining too much). The latest issue ditched most of its musical coverage in favour of a special about the 9.11 tragedy, understandable as the magazine is published a few blocks away from ground zero. They've hypertext much of the thing here.
Safety The barman reeled for a moment, hit by a shocking, incomprehensible sense of distance. He didn't know what it meant, but he looked at Ford Prefect with a new sense of respect, almost awe.
"Are you serious, sir?" He said in a small whisper which had the effect of silencing the pub, "You think the world's going to end?"
"Yes," said Ford.
"But, this afternoon?"
Ford had recovered himself. He was at his flippest.
"Yes," he said gaily, "in less that two minutes I would estimate."
The barman couldn't believe this conversation he was having, but couldn't believe the sensation he had just had either.
"Isn't there anything we can do about it then?" he said.
"No, nothing," said Ford, stuffing the peanuts into his pocket.
Someone in the hushed bar laughed raucously at how stupid everyone had become. The man sitting next to Ford was a bit sozzled by now. His eyes weaved their way up to Ford.
"I thought," he said, "that if the world was going to end we were meant to lie down or put a paper bag over our head or something."
"If you like, yes," said Ford.
'Will that help?" asked the barman.
"No," said Ford and gave him a friendly smile. "Excuse me," he said, "I've got to go." With a wave he left.
The barman cleared his throat. He heard himself say:
"Last orders please."
[from: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams]
People Kevin Spacey hasn't spoken to the press in a while, presumably because they seemed a touch pre-occupied with trying to work out if he's gay or not (who cares?). This interview's mostly a fluff piece for his latest, K-Pax, but he still takes time out to thank his fans (sort of): "I get letters from all over the world. I answer all my mail, and it takes time, but it's worth doing. I don't think there's a type, but I don't think I've done movies that are a particular type. I think my audience moves around and changes. I think expectations change. You don't want to not be able to have fun and be silly, and there is a certain expectation and I don't want to miss out on that challenge."
Video Art I've always maintained that 'Pulp Fiction' is a great film but a terrible video. Some work doesn't survive the transition from big to little screen. Video artists have a stranger dilema -- their work is made on a rough and ready format meant for home use then transfered in to an art gallery, a very public place, and as Dan Fox of 'Frieze' magazine argues this doesn't always work either: "Video is just another tool for the artist about town, and much of the resultant product is, to borrow Manny Farber's phrase, just an 'idea-suggestion'. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when projected on a grand scale, artists' film and video can look like doodles placed in large, ornate gilt frames."
Photography The Scottish countryside makes my heart melt -- the enormity of this natural world dwarfing humanity and it's messes. John MacPherson creates 'Lightscapes', an interaction between the natural light of the sun and the artificiality of the shutter in his camera. The resulting views are breathtaking.
Kids Gladys The Travelling Cow learns about The Force.
Music For years, one of Canada's leading piano firms has developed a scheme for lending their grands to music venues throughout the country which otherwise would not be able to afford to buy or hire of an instrument. Now the firm has filed for bankruptcy the pianos are being recalled leaving some theatre and ballet companies without musical acompaniment. Proves somewhat that there are some things which can't ever be taken for granted. "The move "took us completely by surprise," says one Canadian Opera Company executive, who did not wish to be identified. "Baldwin had for years generously supplied us with pianos for our rehearsals and our orchestra pit. [The pianos] haven't been replaced."
Blogs! A quick search for weblogs written by Leeds locals and we find two which couldn't be more different. Matt is a strategic advisor for Ananova -- like many works his writing is spare yet terribly witty: "reader's queue to have authors sign their books. do authors ever seek out the autographs of their readers?" Jilian Smith's 'pigtails4fun' is a more verbose, slice of life journal in the style of so many American blogs, but it's good to have a familar frame of reference for a change. Her latest post about a night out in Bradford reminds me yet again what a boring teenager I must have been.
History Leeds was much as I left it. If anything it's become even more of a student city, everything seemingly geared towards a particular age group. As anyone who's returned to a place they once lived after years of distance will know it's difficult not to look objectively. Around every corner is a distant memory, even in the most benign of places: the statue which had a traffic cone on it's head during my first week of university which I walked past with Sharon during the first walk back to halls from town; outside The Merrion Centre where I met Rosie that last time; the old library doorway I sat in eating fish and chips when I didn't want to go back to my lodges during my second year; the telephone box I would go to cry in when I was home sick; the museum I first saw Georgina Starr and went to my first private view; the cinema which was the only place which seemed to make sense to me much of the time. There are places which have gone: the second hand bookshop where you had to leave any bags behind the counter while you look around; the coffee shop in the city centre I would go to every Wednesday as treat because I could buy a cheese and ham baguette for 95p; the market stall were I bought the belt I still wear now to keep up my jeans; the Wendy's were I ate a square burger during my first ever movie binge ('Babe', 'Sabrina', 'The American President'); that other place were I fell in love.
Title graphic This week's titlegraphic is of course, Death as featured in Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal'. The one and only time I saw this, one of my top ten favourite films, was in the common room of my university hall. The college library had an extra-ordinary collection of foreign film for loan for free and as I think I've written elsewhere, having no money, when everyone else was out clubbing I'd be in watching something old and international. European comedy films don't have the best reputation ('Stonk!' anyone?) so I'd always seem to pick something a bit introspective ('Decalog') and at the time 'Seal' really fit the bill. Heartened to hear that Bergman is still working ... and that a rock band has taken the film's name ... see you in a few days ... don't forget to write ...
Commuter Life The company which makes my train super late or super cancelled every night has been fined £2 million pounds and could lose its franchise. Since they also run the buses which are always cancelled when I finally get to Liverpool I find myself unable to simpathise with them ....
MetaBlog! Blogger Gangbang is one of most ambitious things I've seen in some time -- and since I've not posted for a few days and I'm going to be away for a few more I thought I'd include as many blogs as I could in one place. A disperate band from throughout the web, this fragmented mixture of tradional weblog and discussion board feels like one of the voice poems of Glenn Gould, with it's overlapping stream of voices and opinions. I wish I had the time to contribute myself ...
Huh? ArtDaily hasn't been updated since September 9th 2001. Worrying.
Journalism I hardly ever visit the satire area of 'The Onion' -- like 'The Simpsons' it's a cultural phenomina I've been unable to follow too well. Still it's hard to feel some simpathy when someone like The Online Journalism Review writes something like this: "Normally, I'm one of the many who finds the Onion riotously funny. But when it came to the attacks, something seemed off. Sure, the Onion got off some amusing digs, but overall it seemed to lack punch. It preached instead of entertained; it showed us a world we already knew instead of its own off-kilter version of it."
Ugh! The NME reports that new boy band 'Blue' may well have just signed their own career death warrant. Lee Ryan (who for all the world sounds like a kid at my primary school who would say things like 'I'm just skill') is quoted as saying: "Who gives a fuck about New York when elephants are being killed? ... They are ignoring animals that are more important. Animals need saving and that's more important. This New York thing is being blown out of all proportion." Ryan has since issued an apology at the band's official site which makes him sound even more silly (but bless him he's tried). Personally, I'd be using that spade to do more good than digging an even bigger hole for myself.
Film A late night tv show about 'failed' pilot show hosted by Phil Jupitus (it was, oh the irony, itself a failed pilot) took great pleasure in lampooning 'Lost Souls', in which two ramblers were flown into the middle of nowhere and challenged to return to civilisation. From the clips shown, it amounted to the two gentlemen strolling around in fields commenting on the landscape: "Oh look over there is a low wall ... careful of that ditch ... I kicked the map into the stream" (oh sorry, wrong film). If this had gone to series it's certain we would all have been chatting nostalgically about it now, with conversations that include the phrase; "Remember when they found that Roman coin." It's with some glee then, that I find that someone has made a Japanese film version, in pace at least. "Eureka" features the travels of three survivors of a bus crash in the Japanese wilderness as they try to find their way home. As The Guardian reports this sounds like a perfect night at the cinema: "Critics have joked that you could happily go out for a cigarette during the film and not miss much, but Aoyama's meticulous compositions and tender observations somehow stave off the boredom. The experience of watching Eureka is more like a trance." It'll be interesting to see something which is meant to be boring. As a coda, it should be pointed out that Channel 4 seem to have borrowed the idea for the afformentioned show for they own late night travelog 'Lost', except we have students and professionals being dropped in the middle of the desert and not Dartmoor.
Commerce Buying the Sunday newspapers was a trial this morning. There is a particluer shop nearby which I would never buy my papers from becuause instead of putting all the sections together, they would leave them on the floor for people to put together themselves. Recently (presumably because the distributor got wind of this) they began selling papers in the same way as everyone else. Today it was slightly more convenient to go there than anywhere else, so I gritted my teeth -- after all my previous boycott was for a petty reason, I suppose. Picked up my Observer, forked over my £1.20 (it's gone up again) and as I'm handed my change I look up to a shelf nearby. There sits a money box, one of those crude ones in the shape of troll. There is a card on it (I'm paraphrasing): "Please give generously to the anthrax fund, signed Osama Bin Laden."
I gaped. My mouth went dry.
I wasn't sure if I should say something. I looked at the queue up the shop .... and left.
Doesn't seem like I have such a petty reason not to shop there any more ...