Monday, 30 November 2009

I found more great music for you.

Chris told me to get the new Gallows albumcoz it was awesome. I remained sceptical because I did hear the first album and I don't think I was all that impressed. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wasn't. Still this:

Is incredible. There ain't no dystopia like a British dystopia, and Gallows have embraced this kind of concept-sound whole heartedly. They're laying on the suits, the boots and a kind of British punk sound that makes their new record sound like more than the sum of its parts. I'm a sucker for that mass-male-chanting shit too, and it's a shame that they cut the swearing from that video, because some of the expletive asides are my favourite bits. I mean, seriously, I want to hammer this home, because people have been flogging the dead horse of semi-mod wannabe-laahhhndan-gangster bad boy bullshit for years. But this new Gallows image (and yeah, despite their dislike of "hairstyles" this is as much an image as anything) is the first time I've actually found it in the slightest bit exciting. I'm sure it's been done before, but fuck it, they do it well.

The second St. Vincent album, from earlier in the year, is stranger and less catchy and better than her first, and this video:

...specifically the bit where the drums and synths kick in for the first time, is mesmerising. I mean, seriously, it starts off and I'm like: oh yeah, this is what St. Vincent sound like... ho hum... HOLY SHIT! Fuck yeah Annie Clark!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Isn't this the most awesome thing ever?

Tomoyasu Murata is an animator that my dad (I swear, some how my sister now knows more than I do about Japanese pop, and my dad knows more than I do about Japanese art, they're lapping me here) introduced me to, and this is awesome:

His website is here, and his youtube channel is worth keeping an eye on here. He's one of those people who, one day, I want to make a music video for me (though I think he already got pretty famous by making a music video for Mister Children).

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Sapporo Citizenry Resource - Sapporo Source UPDATED!

UPDATE! It didn't last long!

I meant to post about this a long, long time ago. It fits nicely with my blogs sensationally narrow remit of covering Sapporo, junk food, pop music, movies, comics, strangely named apartment buildings and the occasional psychic projection from my sister.

Sapporo Source, Sapporo's first and finest free English language magazine launched about six months ago, and - in a shocking turn of events - it's not half bad.

To be honest I'm a fan of schadenfreude, and I often find that free-press publications like this one (c.f. the nightmarish Niseko based one I picked up there last year and every University newspaper ever) can induce some pretty sweet paroxysms of embarrasment. Sapporo source, for the most part has managed to hit a pretty professional tone, thank God, and the quality of writing is nothing to be ashamed of.

Of course it's mainly focussed on the sponsors and the restaurants which the staff often frequent, but you've got to start somewhere, and I don't think I've massively disagreed with anything they've written so far, even if I don't necessarily rate or patronize the same places they do.

There's also a column from Arudo Debito, who I admire greatly for his work making life fairer for foreigners living in Japan, but who's column I'm really enjoying kind of ruefully shaking my head over. Here he's putting aside the politics and trying his hand at a lighter op-ed style, and the results... vary. There was a lovely column about how no-one makes "album" albums anymore - properly sequenced albums that is - which would be a wonderful point, were it actually true. At all. In the slightest. Just coz you stop listening to new music, doesn't mean people stop making it! And I just remembered that one time he equated the word Gaijin with Nigger and just... (sigh)... idiot. Still, thanks for your hard work trying to stop Japan turning into a police state for foreign residents man.

(edit: Just to say I spent a while just now browsing Debito's website and it is a pretty important place for foreign residents in Japan, regardless what you think of his opinions. I've stuck it in my sidebar too)

The first issue was fun too, featuring as it did messages for foreign residents of Hokkaido from the governments of Australia, America, Canada and New Zealand. The UK was asked to contribute, but replied that since they had no Sapporo consulate it was hardly worth it. Which is, y'know... I'm not sure what they're job is, but I'm pretty sure it's not to insult their citizens who happen to be living on a different island. Nice work there British Consulate staff!

Ah crap, they're going to cancel my passport now aren't they? I was joking!

Ok, I'm gonna wrap up this little backhanded-insult fest with crossed fingers and an extra link. Because the last awesome thing about Sapporo Source is that it's entirely available to browse online through a pretty handy piece of software. So if you're living here and haven't picked it up, it's worth a look.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Moments from Crows: Zero II

Crows: Zero II - the sequel to the hit movie prequel to the popular manga series about high school boys hitting each other, was pretty good fun as far as movies about twenty-something men playing high-school boys hitting each other go. If you're a fan of cute Japanese boys I would say that the thing is a veritable jamboree, and for me as a fan of punching in the movies, it was heartily enjoyable. It was too long, and spent too much time revelling in some of the 'character traits' and rivalries that it set up in the first film, but still - fun.

Of course when there is approximately one female character in the movie (who does even less than she did in the first film) it's gonna be impossible to avoid some kind of homoeroticism:

Although that guy, front and centre, was a nice addition to the cast that allowed them to play around with that whole - men liking manly men thing. Though sadly:

And the bromance between the two leads finally blossomed too:

Yeah, bromance, I used it without blinking. Get over yourselves. The movie was basically an extension of the first, a cartoonish coming of age piece where delinquent youths try to come to terms with what it is to be a 'man.' And it was about cute boys punching each other.

That of course, less of a draw for me than it might be for some, but I am seriously considering renaming this blog "Gay For Yamada Takayuki" because seriously, that guy may be short, but he's just insanely cool:

Or maybe a "Fuck Yeah, Yamada Takayuki" tumblr? God, he's amazing. Swoon etc. Last week I was in an office where they called for a guy with the same name. Seriously, I heard "Yamada Takayuki" and almost fainted. Must suck to be that guy at the moment though.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

J-Pop - Yuki

Well, I went through JUDY AND MARY and also their guitarist Takuya's solo stuff, all of which I like; but I'm kinda feeling a bit dumb that it took me so long to get to their singer, Yuki's solo stuff. The one album I got so far is amazingly fun. And check this out:

She's awesome, she has a fat drummer, and considering that's taken from MUSIC STATION, it's proof positive that it's ok to swear in English on prime time Japanese TV. Not just the end of shit mind you, the end of shite!

Need more Yuki albums. Must feed hunger.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A little bit of design: Sapporo Lager Beer

Sapporo have put out a few retro beer can designs this year, along with what (I think) is a different kind of lager beer than the standard black label they put out at the moment. The last one I saw was alright, but this new one is a really nice piece of design:

Needless to say that this would be my beer of choice all the time if it were widely available in this can. Not that I put design before flavour or anything... And as a last throw away line, I do much prefer drinking beer from 330ml cans than from the 500ml cans that are standard for beer in the UK.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Comics Stuff : Thanks for the geekgasm Jason Aaron

So apparently someone gave Jason Aaron (a writer who has been impressing me greatly recently with his quality, manly, comics) the keys to my comic geek subconcious, because he picked out pretty much my favourite two semi-obscure recent Marvel characters to star in his spuriously titled "Wolverine" one shot. I mean, Wolverine doesn't exactly do a great deal, while the limelight is comprehensively stolen by Fantomex:

...the French (or faux-French), gun-toting, amoral, mutant, super-thief with the external nervous system; and Marvel Boy, the fascistic, half-insect, super soldier from another dimension:

Both of whom were created by Grant Morrison during his brief tenure at Marvel where he almost turned the X-Men into the powerhouse of ideas and excitement that they should be, before someone screwed something up and he went back to DC. I mean, considering the absolute farce that surrounded the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, DC aren't much better at utilising his talents, but at least they're letting him do exactly what he wants on the books he's writing.

Anyway, Marvel have built massively on the work that he did for them in recent years, but every time they pull out a character like Fantomex or (especially) Marvel Boy, I hold my breath because I really love those characters and while I try not to be unreasonably geeky about these things I don't want to see them fucked up. Jason Aaron fails to fuck the pair up in this comic so spectacularly, that it ends up absolutely amazing.

Seriously, if the world could be twisted to the extend that I could get a Fantomex / Marvel Boy monthly team-up written by Aaron, I would buy the shit out of it.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Product Review: Kit Kat Ginger Ale

Jesus wept, Nestle Japan! Can you slow down for just one second?! No sooner am I over the delights of Royal Milk Tea Kit Kat and the shock of seeing Sports Drink Kit Kat back in the shops than:

Ginger Ale Kit Kat! Do I need to review it? It smells a little like Canada Dry and it tastes like tangy white chocolate. There is a faint ginger aftertaste that's quite impressive, but really if you served me this and the Apple Vinegar Kit Kat I saw a while ago on a silver platter, I don't know that I could accurately identify which was which.

Christ. I love their... verve.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Greatest Living Englishmen #17 : Luke Haines

I'm currently reading, and enjoying the good goddamned hell out of, Luke Haines' "Britpop" memoirs Bad Vibes, in which he comes across as something of a cunt, but a glorious one, and cements his position as one of the greatest living Englishmen.

On David Gray:

"Gray also has a nasty tick for lengthy onstage guitar-tuning sessions. Deoowwwing. String goes down. Boowwang. String goes up. Time passes, somewhere a life flickers out, and somewhere a new life begins. Yeah, strum a chord, see if it sounds OK. Murwaaang! No improvement then. Christ"

On The Boo Radleys:

"I didn't think it could get worse than Gray. I have a lot to learn. Tonight we are sharing the bill with the Boo Radleys."

On Pulp's early albums:

"Pulp's career has run like one of those silent movies showing man's early attempts at aviation. Each Pulp release is like a preposterous flying machine trundling toward the cliff edge, only to break up like balsa wood as it flops into the sea."

He's clearly well aware that he was an absolute bastard for a lot of his career, and a lot of the vitriolic, splenetic ranting can be picked apart, or treated as one man's snooty opinions I'm sure, but he still makes a great many good points about all the shit that was released under the banner of Britpop. And it's great fun to note how many people he takes to just because his hated cellist doesn't like them. For me his best album might be the one as Baader Meinhoff, but I like his entire catalogue, and because I'm only a third of the way through the book I'm on an Auteurs kick at the moment.

Here they are playing a song about Lenny Bruce dying of a drug overdose and dreaming that he's in Rudolph Valentino's funeral motorcade on Jools Holland (who now has two shows a week? sign of the end times people, I swear):

Grand song, and as Haines points out, releasing it as a single made it a great record too. And here's a pretty fantastic video for Rubettes from their last album:

Love the way he's integrated into the video there. And finally he makes the excellent point, that I have seen made before, that deep in every Englishman's heart there is a gaping whole that no love can fill, and a hunger that can only be sated by conquering an empire.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Product Review: Reece's World's Largest Peanut Butter Cups

Obtained from New York by Chris Baker, at no little personal risk one would imagine, what the packaging claims are the "World's Largest" peanut butter cups. I had met my match. The very thought of sinking my teeth into that massive crust of chocolate was so thrilling / terrifying that I couldn't face it alone, so I shared the responsibility with about a dozen assistants.

To be honest the packaging does hint that you should probably eat them in "servings" rather than as some giant, painfully heavy tablet of peanut-chocolate insanity, and thank God for that. A little, I regret not just devouring a whole one in one sitting, but realistically... it might have killed me.

They were, of course, amazing.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Product Review: Pepsi Azuki

Ok now, WTF? What. The. Fuck. I leave the country for less than a month, and nobody (except Yuki) thinks to tell me that this hit the shops? -

Did I not make my love of novelty flavours and ill-advised limited edition taste experiments obvious enough? Azuki flavoured Pepsi, and no-one noticed? I find that hard to believe.

Azuki, for those not in the know is another very Japanese flavour - a sweet bean that is made into a paste and often used to fill sweets and cakes and sweet cakes and cake sweets. My gut feeling is that azuki is a better fit for a soft drink than shiso, but better in the way that an otter is better suited to space travel than an anteater - i.e. neither of them should really be operating in the field being discussed.

And taste wise, yes, Azuki Pepsi is better than Shiso Pepsi. For a start the shiso flavour pretty much only stretched to the smell, the actual drink itself wasn't so distinctively flavoured, whereas the azuki smell and taste are pretty strong throughout the 'drink experience' here. Yuki agreed that it really did taste like azuki, but still thought it was pretty horrible. I thought over all it was... ok. It's actually not bad at all, and if you're after an azuki flavoured soda then - my friend this product is for you.

Problem being, hands up who's really craving azuki flavoured soda?

Thought so.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Moments from The Ten

So. Bunny, Ben and I were galavanting around Brighton and some turn of events prompted Ben to compare the situation to "The Ten, where Liev Schreiber is buying all those CAT scan machines to keep up with his neighbour." He dropped it into the converstation so smoothly, as if this was a movie that everyone knew, so it would be an easy shared reference point - but neither of us had ever heard of the movie. In fact as he continued to outline it - the bit where Adam Brody falls out of a plane and gets embedded in the ground, the bit where Winona Ryder runs away with a ventriloquist's dummy - we just flat out started calling shenanigans. There was no way this movie could have been released without us clocking it.

Well, turns out since it was something of a flop with about half of the feedback I saw starting "this movie sucks" I guess it might have been buried a little bit. In fact when Bunny finally saw it she warned me off, saying she didn't understand how Ben could like the movie. However having now watched it twice (Yuki was intrigued, so I agreed to watch it again with her) I can reveal that... it ain't as bad as all that.

I laughed out loud about five times, which is pretty good going, but I also physically winced at some of the jokes. I liked the running gags, but often the more free associating jokes fell flat, and the musical number at the end was atrocious. That said it was a bizarrely unique piece of goofy Hollywood comedy and I would... cautiously recommend it, if you don't mind checking out something that sucks in an interesting way.

Cautiously mind you.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

1st Snow

Would you Adam and believe that it had the temerity to snow while I was back in England? I KNOW! Like it couldn't wait a couple of weeks for me to come back so that I could revel in it. Anyway I had my first blast of snowy weather that left the streets an icy death-trap, and the day after they took the scafolding off my building so I can actually see out of my window now!

Overall the weather here is really fucking cold and I dread to think what my heating bill is going to be like this year. I might have to start picking up bits of wood that I find on the street to light a fire in my living room if it gets really bad, but overall I'm happier with this than that hot weather business in the summer.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

I love Shiina Ringo moonwalking

Spotted by Yuki on TV the other day, Shiina Ringo in a new Watering KissMint ad:

A pretty awesome ad where Ringo-chan has a Watering KissMint (ah, that product name doesn't even seem strange to me anymore) and then decides to do a moonwalk and a really cool pose. I'm for it!

And of course this led me to find out that Tokyo Jihen have a new single coming out:

Hmmm, I'm not sure about the single really, but the video is great and also includes moonwalking. I like to think that this whole thing is some conceptual art project paying tribute to Michael Jackson in the most deadpan way possible, but who can say. I really should have known about this single before of course, but apparently news broke while I was out of the country, and while there is a really good Shiina Ringo English language forum - that place is just exhausting. I don't mean to be horrible, but I really can't be bothered to spend any time there. I feel my life force being sucked away as soon as I even think about commenting there.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Comics Stuff: Deadpool Watch & Joe Kelly

So, Deadpool, the Marvel comics character who I keep mentioning despite the fact that people who read this blog probably have no interest in comics (ah, but it's daily, there's the rub). Deadpool who now has possibly three ongoing (as in, not limited, running until they stop making money) series, and who is essentially a kind of fourth-wall breaking, wise-cracking mass murderer who brings an occasionally much needed dose of post-modern levity to comics that can often take themselves too seriously. There's gonna be a movie so I guess comics fandom has reached tipping point in that respect, but three series? The Daniel Way series is good, the Merc With A Mouth one is not, and the other one gave me, so far, a story by a writer I like featuring two characters I like which nevertheless... kinda sucked.

But even though the Daniel Way series is good, nothing in this Deadpool renaissance has matched up to Gail Simone's run or Joe Kelly's original run that made Deadpool the lunatic comic relief he is. And interestingly Kelly had been back working for Marvel recently putting far too much energy into writing Amazing Spider-Man. Far too much energy because while he shoots ideas off well enough his scripts have been like trying to follow a madcap, zany comedy where everyone's timings are just a split second off and none of the cast has any chemistry. In fact reading them reminded me a lot of watching the Hitchhiker's Guide movie in that way. I wanted to like him on Spider-Man, but... his issues so far have invariably had some moment that made me want to cover my face, and the "banter" comes off like irritating twonks trying to talk over each other.

That said...

His latest issue is a one off Spider-Man vs. Deadpool and it's absolutely astounding. Kelly, with fantastically loose art from Eric Canete, doesn't hit a duff note for once. The banter, the set-up, the action, the "yo mama"-off... nothing is a let down. It throws in references to DC stuff without being stupidly insulting, which I really like. And throughout it all Kelly's work serves the book too, setting up the upcoming big Spidey storylines excellently. I loved it so much, I wanted to blog about it.

Check out this ridiculous way of laying out the plot:

And this?

It's cheap, but "That's how I defenestrate" is the perfect example of a Joe Kelly line that would have sounded lame in some of his recent work, but here it actually made me laugh out loud it fit so well.

Chumples? Not so sure about, but still.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Japan Food: Kit Kat Watch!

While back in Mother Engerland one of the things that tickled people was hearing about the crazy-balls flavours of Kit Kat they have here (Sports Drink, Apple Vinegar, Sweet Potato etc.) While many products go out of their way to try variant packaging and limited time flavours (someone once told me that it's a commercial fact that Japanese consumers will always buy more of a new, limited flavour, something that I've often seen for myself), I really feel that Nestle Japan are constantly striving to evolve the Kit Kat into some kind of future-space-food where any meal can be created with four sticks of chocolate and wafer.

And I come back to Japan to find that they've paid tribute to my trip home!

My review - again, smell is probably the easy bit, so it certainly smells like Royal Milk Tea. Strange to say that I've eaten sweets and breaded products with a Royal Milk Tea flavour before in Japan too, so the flavour wasn't really that much of a surprise for me, and it wasn't that nice either. Like white chocolate with a faint aftertaste of tea... I won't be picking up another pack.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Mr. House

I can't decide whether this:

makes the derelict building look more pathetic, creepier, or more awesome. I'll let you decide.

Oh, it's like the skeleton of the awning is his moustache! Aw!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Putting them ears to good use.

Something something something and then I listened to a whole smorgasbord of good music. There you go, there's my one sanctioned use of "smorgasbord" for this blog, for this lifetime perhaps. I mean, you use it once and people raise an eyebrow and think "hmmm, smorgasbord's a fun word." Use it twice (or, heaven forfend, more often than that) and people start to think that smorgasbord is the only trick you've got up your lexical sleeve. In fact, do yourself a favour and look up smorgasbord on wikipedia (I'm not going to do it for you), that way you can see the official accenting and an awesome photo of what might actually be a real smorgasbord.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, sports.

Themselves, to me, sound a lot like Subtle, the other band from Jel and Doseone, but I guess more hip-hop. Subtle have developed into this kind of electro-rock-hop-dance five (or six) piece, while Themselves (who... probably get up into my top ten gigs I've ever seen now that I think about it) have been on the backburner. There are plenty of surreal hip-hop references on this record (check out the Suge Knight one in this video) and I suppose it is a hip-hop album, but like nothing else on earth. It is what it is:

And what it mostly is, is awesome. Doseone, by the way - totally on my gay-for list.

The new Chuck Prophet was a two-step grower; in that on the first listen I thought it was pretty good, then it clicked on the second. The first half is stronger for me at the moment, and his delivery on the line: "I went to see the doctor, he said 'you should be dead', I said 'I was doc, but now I'm back'" is just hilarious. Here's a three minute documentary about him making the album in Mexico:

One of the coolest men in the world.

The new Converge album is, according to "fans" something of a departure. In a way I can see it - they've taken their foot off the accelerator in order to write some slower songs that sound like THE END OF ALL LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE instead of only doing fast songs that sound like THE END OF ALL LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. For me, the effect is remarkably similar, except that I can see myself listening to this one a lot more than their previous albums, fantastically skull-crushing as they were. There's an official video for this song, but I kind of like this sans-vocals rehearsal tape:


Thursday, 12 November 2009

She ends up with the doctor.

From Falling In Love #43, 1961:

And so she fled to the kingdom of the Mole Man. Actually, reading through this random scan of an old romance comic that I found reminded me 1) that I love cheesy old romance comics, and 2) of Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein. That's a really interesting site, and while I'm not sure if it actually devalues Lichtenstein's art (it was always obvious that he was just replicating comic book panels), it certainly shows that the original illustrations are much better than his blow ups. Poses seem more natural, people seem more balanced. Perhaps I do have a little less respect for Lichtenstein now, and a lot more for the original comics' artists.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Englanding #23 : Lawks a'mercy, is that the time?

Sadly, it it. Time for me to go back to Japan and revel in the glorious, freezing, bastard Sapporo winter.

And to everyone I saw while I was back in the UK, you're all gorgeous and I hope it won't be so long until I see you again.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Englanding #22 : Funny Men

So, hi, well, yes. I remembered something that had changed when I went back to England, to wit: Comedians! YES! Apparently while I had been over here filling my head with Japanese comedians and celebrities in order to... oh, I dunno, facilitate my ascension to some kind of pop culture God-Node, a whole bunch of British comedians "came up through the ranks". Most of them seem to have started their careers while I still lived in England, but only to have come to prominence in the last two years. Also the show on which many of them seem to appear: Mock the Week, which I think I saw a couple of times before I left and thought was sort of crap, but seems to have found its feet and, y'know, can't argue with 7 series and counting, can you?

And there was a whole new stand-up show "Live at the Apollo"! Man, leave the country for two years, the things you miss out on. Here's Michael McIntyre, who is unfeasibly popular and whom I had never heard of before I left:

My parents were both like: "You've never heard of Michael McIntyre!?" Here's Russel Howard, whose name rings a bell but I don't think I'd ever seen:

And here's Frankie Boyle, who I had never heard of and now apparently he's famous enough to get his autobiography in Tesco. He's offensive!:

Which sadly seems to get in the way of him being funny all the time. That's a pretty spectacular one though.

Watching British panel-show comedies, it does strike me now that they do operate in a fairly similar way to a lot of Japanese comedy shows - essentially just acting as a showcase for stand-ups, but in a slightly different way (team based quiz shows as opposed to variety free-for-alls).

Oh, I should mention, all these guys seem to be pretty funny too! Good show!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Englanding #21 : Pizza Pie

Pizza pie is just a quaint Americanism for pizza right? It's not like some special pizza/pie hybrid whereby they make a pie with a pizza on top or something?

Anyway, interestingly the food that I ate most of while back in England (oh yeah, filling up the backlog again, seven days late!) was pizza. I had Domino's a couple of times, pizza from Marks & Sparks and Pizza Express and all of them were amazing and, frankly, ten times better than any pizza I've had in Japan. Sad truth - no great pizza in Japan, the best it gets is good enough.

Domino's particularly was a revelation. It was always a mid-practice meal or snack for my band, but I'd never really compared it to other pizza's in a serious way. This time, I've gotta say that the thin, greasy, unhealthy mess that Domino's presents as pizza was one of the best things I ate. Specifically:

"The Sizzler" Now, The Sizzler is off most Domino's menu's now I think, but luckily they still knew how to whip one up when I asked. Pepperoni, spicy chicken, jalapenos, some kind of spicy sauce. It's like the saltiest thing in the world and I was so happy to make its acquaintance once more. Of course combine that with the ludicrous "Dominator" base (two bases with cheese in between) and you have one of the greatest pizzas ever. And you can take that to the bank.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Englanding #20 : Curry at last.

Kababish, Moseley, Chicken Patthia Balti and a Peshwari Naan:

Amazing. Just, amazing. To have a proper balti again, and just as perfect as I had imagined it.

And today I also drank a smoothie that came with a hat for charity.

The hat is for charity, I didn't drink it for charity. I mean, the hat designates money going to charity, you don't give the hat to charity. Because, I mean, the hat is just ludicrously small, there's no way it would fit anyone, so giving it to charity would just be insulting.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Englanding #19 : The Villa

How awesome is it that the first Villa game I go to in more than two years, they win 5 - 1?

Very fucking awesome.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Englanding #18 : The Rock

What did you do on Friday night?

Devil and Casey Jones made a Rock delivery. Ka-POW! Have some ear damage!

Thanks to everyone who came to our one-off reunion, we had a blast! Maybe see you in another few years!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Englanding #17 : TV Times & Guy Fawkes Night

Despite the glorious opportunity of being in the country to attend our annual celebration of failed terrorism I didn't actually go to any bonfire nights this year. I did however get to see a whole lot of fireworks because they were going off bloody everywhere. For at least three nights coming and going to different places I could see them shooting up from gardens and parks and behind buildings, even in the pouring rain. I don't think any of them matched the sheer bombast of some of the shows I've seen in Japan, but hearing explosions coming from all over the place was really awesome, and more impressive in a different way.

Watching TV has been a mixed bag. I was reacquainted with Anne Robinson and The Weakest Link, and - oh yeah, it's the most hateful, sickening, disgusting show on TV. Watch a bunch of regular people get insulted in the most dim-witted way imaginable by a moron who could probably answer barely any of the questions she asks. I felt nauseous watching it.

On the other hand Harry Hill's TV Burp, where he decides which of two arbitary objects, people or animals is the best by staging an actual fight, seems to have just got better and better:


Also of note is this trailer for the kids Doctor Who spin off The Sarah Jane Chronicles. One of the biggest news stories since I've been back has been the big postal strike, and the unfortunate timing of this trailer makes it look like the reason is that the postmen are aliens, and Sarah Jane's solution is to shoot them in the fucking throat:

I mean, easy tiger.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Englanding #17 : Happy Birthday Gran

Wednesday was my Grandma's 80th birthday, and we went down South again to have lunch with the family. It was awesome.

Happy birthday Grandma!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Englanding #16 : Extra Brighton & London Content

Well, it turns out that I have a bunch of good snaps from Brighton and London and it would be positively criminal of me not to share them with your good selves. Thus, the Brighton pier that you can't go on:

God, people must love taking pictures of that thing. I kind of want to write an action movie in while the final punch up takes place on it. Awesome. As well as a burnt-out pier, while in Brighton you may also come across the gentleman with whom I'm drinking here, Robert:

He is a scoundrel and a cad and please treat him as such. We saw Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is very good but I have no idea who it's pitched at. It's essentially an animated film in very much the same vein as Wes Anderson's other movies but made a little simpler and with no swearing... y'know, for the kids. Then again, I don't really care who it's aimed at, I really enjoyed it.

Here's where the spies live in London:

Place on the left that is. And here's my touristy tube snap:

Trains that go under the ground?! Sapristi! There could be a whole civilization down there!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Englanding #15 : London again - Turner Prize Atomization

So basically on the Friday: Tate Modern and down to Brighton. On the Monday: back to London and Tate Britain for the Turner Prize exhibition. I've always wanted to go to the actual Turner Prize show since, as I said on Friday: modern art makes me want to rock out. Your mileage may vary, but I really liked this years shortlist. In reverse order of which I liked best (oh, photos thanks to the Guardian!):

Lucy Skaer had some nice pieces, but nothing struck a chord with me at all. I did not want to rock out, thus I did not really rate it.

Enrico David's work I kinda liked. Actually his actual, physical work I was on the fence about. He had some great pieces and some that I found really lacklustre (they were all wonderfully displayed though on a kind of black art-stage.) What I really dug about his work were the themes he dealt in: not just the difficulty of human communication but almost the impossibility of it. It ran through all of his work in the curious clumsy shapes of the figures, and even the placement of each work as they occasionally obstructed or supported one another.

The last two were really difficult for me to pick between, they both seem to be geniuses. Richard Wright paints directly onto the walls, and is inspired by the space in which he works. In this case that brought the intricate gold leaf work above, and a smaller more unobtrusive piece. After each exhibition the walls are repainted and his works are destroyed, which is... dizzying.

So the best for me was Roger Hiorns. That pile of dust right there? An atomized passenger jet engine. Atomized. I have no idea how you even go about doing that. He also made several wall pieces that included brain matter and famously filled an entire flat with blue copper sulphate crystals so that they covered every surface. I would have loved to see that, but as it is - atomized passenger jet engine? I'm officially rocking out over that.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Englanding #14 : Brighton = Dead Birds, Bones and Candy

Lest the comments make no sense - originally there was nothing here, no words, no nothing. That's what I get for leaving a job half done.

Brighton, jewel of the south coast, where all the Londoners go when they get as sick of London as everyone else in the country is. Brighton's cool in a lot of ways, but it is kind of like mini London and a lot of the problems that I have with it are the same. Certainly the good, good people who I know currently residing there seem to get driven a bit crazy by the place. Still, lots of good pubs, restaurants, shops and amusements - even two piers! One working, one a broken, ruined skeleton! Also the Booth Museum, which contains more dead birds than I've ever seen in my life!

There were aisles and aisles like that - just floor to ceiling cases packed with stuffed birds in what I assume were accurate dioramas. In the middle there were many, many dead bugs and at the back:

Skeletons! Isn't that the creepiest damn skeleton you've ever seen? It's a baby orangutan, brrrrr. They had a lot of other good skeletons too, if skeletons are your thing. I was pretty impressed with the narwhal head, and it was a good place to go for Halloween too y'know. What with it being a giant house of death.

Another good place to go for Halloween was the sweet shop where my sister works... after hours!

I mean, we went after hours. She doesn't work there after hours selling illegal, experimental, under the counter sweets to the seedier denizens of Brighton. At least I don't think she does. We stocked up on sweets and then Halloween night viewing was one terrible 80s horror b-movie that I can't remember the name of, and Trick or Treat, the 80s hair metal slasher flick that's actually really fucking awesome.

Oh, and the Halloween episode of Pete and Pete which, as Chris says, is one of the best pieces of television ever made.