The Spotify Playlist

A-Z of Little Things

Little Boot's new single is Remedy, which I think is the most exciting dance record of the year and the reason I probably think that is because it seems to be designed specifically for the kinds of people who wouldn't typically listen to dance music and don't know how to dance to it. In other words, the crowd at this live show:

Boots is working really very hard and a bloke at the front who is texting. Arse. Whenever I've seen Boots on television, like Duffy to some extent, she's never quite managed to capture the spark of the record. Thanks to YouTube I can now see that in fact Boots is great live, even if this audience doesn't think so. A typical television appearance can be found in a clip from Later With Jools Holland:

Here, she hasn't quite decided on how to do her music on television yet. Her vocal's a bit scrappy and she doesn't seem to know what to do with herself, shifting back and forth from the keyboard. But Boots does have bags of screen presence and it must be horrendous even attempting to sing live a record with so many vocal repetitions. If only she could somehow bring the person who turned up in Manchester that night to television.

Finally she has. Witness GMtv yesterday morning. Notice that she's moved the keyboard closer:

PopJustice think this is her best tv performance yet. And they're right.

we dislike him so much

Film Rope is a film of firsts. The director's first use of technicolour, though trust Hitchcock to have been given the gift of technicolour then use it in a film completely set in a drab apartment with characters wearing muted colours. First appearance for Jimmy Stewart in a Hitchcock film, as the professor of the murderous boys or eventually figures out the mechanics of their scheme, here resting just between a Capraesque everyman and morally ambiguous figure of Rear Window and Vertigo. First time Hitchcock manages to make a film in which the suspense develops even without the need for fast cutting and the reduction of information. First time that a director intended to give the impression of one continuous shot running right through the film (a subject covered in some detail at the wikipedia).

It’s a technical tour-de-force. In these days of digital-cameras in which Mike Figgis can shoot four whole feature films simultaneously in real time and have them all interact with each other and then repeat the process daily over a whole month (which is how he shot Timecode), it’s perhaps difficult to accept the effort that went into stitching together the eighty-minutes of Rope. But these were heavy cameras; furniture and parts of the set had to be pulled in and out and silently too since he was actually recording naked sound from the stage and blocking everything out so that the end of each ten minute reel of film matched the right point so that the next one could pick up hassle free. And on top of that, having to reshoot the second half of the film again because the director of photography had misunderstood what was needed to show the on-creep of dawn though the sky-light.

The actors have said they appreciated the opportunity to develop their roles over a longer scene without too much directorial interference. The cast of Timecode said much the same thing. Except in Rope, there’s no improvisation, everyone has to stay on-script, since to dawdle, to throw in some new element would ruin the timing, which makes the performances all the more impressive. True, there’s an element of stage acting, but even in a theatre (and in a television studio) there’s latitude to move about. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to not only have to remember Patrick Hamilton’s dialogue but also the blocking, especially John Dall, who is in nearly every scene. It’s arguably his sneer that makes moments like the famous one in which the camera stays on the wooden chest work, because we dislike him so much we’re desperate for Stewart to realise where the body has been left.

at the drummer's own wedding

Music Last year during the mystery music month I wrote about Airhead's Funny How and lamented its obscurity, my only copy a recording from a MW radio broadcast. It leapt back into my brain tonight when I tried out and beat Lyric Rat, a song search engine,. The rat hasn't heard of it. Which then led me to check YouTube, where I found this:

A video of the band playing the song live at the drummer's own wedding. The tempo has slowed but the sound is still there. Further research reveals their myspace page, with Airhead streaming. Having heard the off-air version so many times, my brain somehow misses the electromagnetic interference caused by our tower block lift going up and down.

There's also a petition to get the album (including Funny How) rereleased which already has 691 signatures and I think we should all sign. I've now decided I need a cleaner copy.

Doesn't feature much different from what we've heard before

  • Anna Pickard's excellent Comic-Con dispatches: "While some of us spent most of the day with a large sleeping gentleman dribbling on our shoulder on one side and a lady eating jerky with her mouth open on the other; there were many other things happening around the San Diego convention centre."

  • Stephen's Dr Who script finally to enter production. Honestly. "There is no clue as to the title of the story, nor the precise location of the scene. All it is possible to surmise is that it appears to be a conversation between two people, Dr Who and the Black Guardian."

  • Jonathan Rosenbaum's 1998 critique of the AFI's list of the "best" 100 US films of all time. Sadly he doesn't also tell us which films from the past ten years he might add.

  • There have been two albums apparently. Plenty to choose from…

  • Intelligent piece. Doesn't feature much different from what we've heard before, but it makes a change to hear him talking about Doctor Who and that other thing with the thing. Plus can you believe: Russell T. Davies interviewed by The AV Club.

  • Good to have a preview of what Marcus's spot is going to be ahead of schedule.

  • … which basically branded Richard Herring a racist. I love The Guardian. But sometimes it makes me grind my teeth so much, my fillings might fall out. Someone get Siobhan Butterworth on the phone.

  • The Daily Mail wonders why it's readership might be stressed out. Here are a few suggestions …

  • Long range Star Trek fans will remember ion engines being chatted about in spin-off novels and books in the 90s. Warp drives the century after next then?

  • And the answer seems to be "Yes, well no, well maybe. Listen …"

  • Gawker asks Wurtzel and her answer seems to be: "Yes, well no, well maybe. Listen …"
  • #fltq

    Quiz! On Sunday night, on a whim, because sometimes I can have a whim and do things on them, I ran an ad-hoc music quiz on twitter. After it was over, I suggested that we should have a proper quiz some time and that I'd write about it on the blog "in the next few days..." Here it is.

    I suggest we convene on Twitter at around eight o'clock GMT on Sunday 2nd August.

    Here's how I think it should work:

    * No prizes. This is just for fun. An experiment.

    * There will be just ten questions. At least this time, just to see how we go.

    * General knowledge to give everyone a fair go.

    * I'll tweet a question about every five minutes and everyone will have those five minutes to @reply with an answer.

    * At the end of the five minutes I'll tweet the answer and a scoreboard so that everyone can see where they're up to.

    And, um, that's it. Everything else is up to your own conscience. You know what I mean. Pub quizzes haven't been the same since the invention of the text message have they?

    Sound good? Oh and the hash tag will be #fltq (feeling listless twitter quiz, you see, plus its short enough to make room for the questions). And you'll obviously need to follow me to take part at

    Josie Long is hilarious

    Comedy I think Josie Long is hilarious. Her routine on tonight's You Have Been Watching about the sheer horror of enjoying The Jeremy Kyle Show was a perfectly timed bit of comic desperation, especially as she rolled in the comments from Frankie Boyle and Charlie Brooker.

    She's equally clever in the following. It's the Australian version of recent ITV improv failure "Thank God You're Here" and she's playing the part of Nicole Kidman or something.

    Her fellow actors don't miss a beat either. Genius.

    I’m going to be on the plinth!

    Life It’s half past two this afternoon. I'm at work. My mobile phone rings. My mobile phone never rings when I’m at work. It caught me unawares. I dash somewhere private.
    “Hello, is that Stuart?”
    “Hello this is [name redacted] from One & Other.”
    “Oh, um, err, hello.”
    “Hello, yes, a slot has opened up on the 10th August at 9am and we wondered if you could make it.”
    “Oh, um, err. Actually, that’s a bit early ….”
    “I don’t know if I can make that. It’s a bit early – I don’t think I could get there in time. Um, can I say no?”
    “Oh. Oh right. Oh ok. Thanks anyway.”
    “Take care.”

    My work colleagues asked who it was. I told them. What, they said, stay overnight, you can't not do that. I know but it’s hard to get to. Oh well I suppose. Oh shit. I check my mobile. The office number is still in the memory.

    “Hello [name redacted].”
    “Oh hello, this is Stuart you just phone me about the plinth. Is that [name redacted].”
    “Oh no I’ll put you through.”
    I wait.
    “Hello this is [name redacted].”
    “Hello, this is Stuart. You just phoned about the plinth slot. I was just wondering if it would be possible for me to change my mind.”
    “Oh erm, yes. Which slot where you?”
    ”August 11th, 9 in the morning.”
    “I don’t have an empty slot …”
    “Sorry, August 10th.”
    “Oh yes, there you are. Right, I’ll send you a confirmation email.”
    “Thanks! Sorry about before I was in the middle of something and I wasn’t quite prepared for…”
    “That’s ok.”
    “Take care.”

    People who’ve known me for any kind of extended period will know I have a habit of doing that, find reasons not to do something before pushing myself to do them for the good ones and this is a very good one.

    I’m going to be on the plinth! In Trafalgar Square. As part of Antony Gormley's One & Other. August 10th, 9 in the morning.

    Here is my profile. The photo will look very familiar to some of you, but despite the crooked smile and three o'clock shadow it’s the best one I have.

    People tend to say two things. Wow, congratulations and what are you going to do?

    I still have a couple of weeks but I think I’m probably going to simply enjoy the experience; contrary to what you might assume I’m not really an exhibitionist, I don’t have the brass balls to hold a placard with the words “I’m glad Ianto’s dead” or whatever as was suggested to me earlier on Twitter.

    I’ve seen enough of the archived videos to recognise the number of people who’ve tried something but it’s gone horribly wrong and then they have the rest of the hour to contemplate their failure or it’s a single idea which they then have to spin out for the excruciating sixty minutes.

    I think I’m probably just going to write a blog entry (long hand) about what it feels like to be up there, take some pictures, perhaps read my book. My methodology has always been, keep it simple, and that sounds like the way to go here.

    At least I think it is. Up until now.

    The other by-product is that I’m going to be in London for a few days and I’ll be able to visit some of the parts of Shakespeare’s life that weren’t in Stratford, amongst other things. That should be good for a few hundred blog entries at least.

    Pizzagate success!

    Update! I've had a reply on my complaint. Pizzagate success!


    History With the sad death over the weekend of Harry Patch, the last surviving ‘Great’ War veteran, a vital link to that conflict has been lost. In November, for the first time there’ll no living survivors to remember their colleagues so it’s vitally important that we should be there for them, just as we should pay attention to the contribution made historically to any man or woman who has set their own safety aside to defend ours (and especially in wars which we might consider to be unjust because they were and are also brave enough to do their duty).

    It’s through the longevity of these veterans that up until today we could still consider World War I as being within living memory. Patch was 111 when he died. Henry Allingham, who died last week, was 113. The oldest living person is Gertrude Baines of the United States, who was born on 6 April 1894 at 115 years old. She was born in the year Manchester City Football Club was formed, Blackpool Tower was opened, the International Olympic Committee was founded and William Kennedy Dickson received a patent for motion picture film.

    As I wrote yesterday of how Elizabethan times can seem like a fictional realm and how seeing Robert Dudley’s tomb brought the period to life, I thought too about how, if you were to take people of great longevity into account, there aren’t that many lifetimes between now and then; that in her early life Gertrude would have been on the planet with someone who was born during the Napoleonic Wars and they in turn the Anglo-Spanish War. Today, with the aid of the Wikipedia, I think I’ve worked out that there are only five lives between us and somebody who could recall the Spanish Armada.

    Gertrude Baines was born in was born April 6, 1894. Two months later Karl Eduard Zachariae von Lingenthal the eminent German jurist died, he was born on December 24, 1812 which was the death day of George Beck, American artist and poet. Beck was born in 1749 the year that Handel gave his first performance of Music for the Royal Fireworks. The Italian painter Giovanni Maria Galli da Bibiena died in that year. In 1656, the year of de Bibiena’s birth, Thomas Fincke the Danish mathematician and physicist perished. He was born in 1561.

    Five lifetimes between us and someone who, if they’d left Denmark, could have watched a play at the Globe and for whom Shakespeare was a contemporary. Wow. Of course, though facts become murkier, you can continue even further backwards:

    In the year that Finke was born, we find the funeral of Claude Garamond, the French publisher and designer of the famous typeface. He was born a whole twelve years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the Americas in 1480. Tristão Vaz Teixeira explorer (‘discovered’ the Madeira Islands) died that year and assuming he was born in 1395 (the wikipedia isn’t sure), it was at the same time John Barbour the Scottish poet left us. He originally joined us in 1320 when Ricold of Monte Croce, Italian Dominican missionary died. To close out the millennium:

    Hōjō Yasutoki, regent of Japan (1183-1242)
    William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester (1116-1183)
    Robert of Arbrissel, preacher (1045-1116)
    Emperor Go-Suzaku of Japan (1009-1045)

    Emperor Go-Suzaku born one thousand years ago. Thirteen lifetimes. There could even be less. The wikipedia only lists royals, artists, scientists and celebrities – for all we know there were people who simply worked hard and survive all of their lives whose births and deaths weren’t recorded. And, I’ve only created linkages through hatches and dispatches in the same year. With more time, a more complex hunt using a wider range of sources could narrow the gap even further too.

    Thirteen lifetimes. A thousand years. Like I said, wow.


    Life Watching The Winter’s Tale at the RSC wasn’t the only occasion I became sentimental on the trip. The other was in Warwick at the Collegiate Church of St Marys. One of the most important religious buildings in the country, it betrays all of hallmarks of church history, having been built and rebuilt over the years. The crypt is the original Norman structure from when the land was originally consecrated in 1123. It’s especially famous because of its Beauchamp Chapel, constructed in the Fifteenth Century to house the tomb of Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick and “one of the richest and most powerful people in the history of our country” [source].

    And it is beautiful, as regal and colourful as you’d imagine Egyptian burial chambers must have been before time and grave robbers intervened. I was already suitably impressed and then I bothered to read the guide leaflet and one of the plaques for confirmation and yelped. For this is also the final resting place of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, his wife, his brother Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and his son. And Dudley’s important because he’s the man Elizabeth I would have married given half a chance if duty and political intrigue hadn’t intervened. If you’re a fan of the period he’s one of the figures who looms large.

    But all too easily we forget that these people really existed, history with the help of film and television and indeed the revisionism of historians spinning off and winding itself into its own fiction. Only in situations like this are you reminded of the reality and here I was standing within his final resting place and amongst his immediate family, which is about as realistic as these things can become. I was, to use a good Liverpudlian word, gutted and in a way which hadn’t happened at Shakespeare’s birthplace, presumably because I’d been prepared for that and because he isn't commemorated by an effigial tomb (pictured) which illustrates the man in such a vital manner.