Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whip It (2009)

Football quote of the day

Ooh, I wish I'd thought of that:

"Wayne Bridge has just texted John Terry, "That's how you play away from home you ****""

That wee gem of wit comes courtesy of 'Smackhead' and the comments section of the Guardian's report of today's game.

Does that qualify as 'esprit du tunnel'?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Anderson Tapes (1971)

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (Scribner 2007)

I am not the kind of person who is interested in Britain's royal family. I've visited computer chat rooms full of this type of person, and they are people with small worlds, they don't consider the long term, they aren't concerned about the home front; they are too busy thinking about the royal family of another country. The royal clothes, the royal gossip, the royal sad times, especially the sad times, of this one family. I was only interested in the boy. The older one. At one time I didn't even know his name. If someone had shown me a picture, I might have guessed who he was, but not his name, not his weight or his hobbies or the names of the girls who attended that co-ed university of his. If there were a map of the solar system, but instead of stars it showed people and their degrees of separation, my star would be the one you had to travel the most light-years from to get to his. You would die getting to him. You could only hope that your grandchildren's children would get to him. But they wouldn't know what to do; they wouldn't know how to hold him. And he would be dead; he would be replaced by his great -grandson's beautiful strapping son. His sons will all be beautiful and strapping royalty, and my daughters will all be middle-aged women working for a local nonprofit and spearheading their neighborhood earthquake-preparedness groups. We come from long lines of people destined never to meet.
(From the short story, Majesty)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kurt & Courtney (1998)

'Celtic go 70s retro with the unveiling of their 2010/2011 tracksuit range.'

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 139

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 139th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1562 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Building a future
  • Free Trade, Fair Trade or No Trade?
  • Danger: capitalism at work
  • Quote for the week:

    "As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks."

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Grace of My Heart (1996)

    'Did the boy with the comb over do a step over as part of the walk over?'

    Nice result for Everton today. And on the back of beating Chelsea the other week.

    If only they got the memo that the season starts in August rather than late November, they'd be a shoe in for the fourth place. They might still make it but it'll be close and, as they don't have much depth to their squad, they're only a couple of injuries away from the wheels coming off their recent resurgence.

    I've got to ask, though: what's the deal with Dan Gosling's hair in the picture below?

    Isn't 20 a bit young for a comb over? The last time I saw a haircut like that it was leading the 1984/85 Miners Strike. We all know that ended in tears and this will too. Maybe Stephen Ireland can have a word before the matter gets out of hand.

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    God Save The King (2005)

    Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin (St Martin's Paperbacks 1996)

    "Mr. Haldayne has a point, Inspector." Mathieson was sitting down again, in his big Chief Executive chair at the end of the table. Tables without corners were supposed to make everyone equal, but Mathieson's chair was a leather throne. He looked and sounded completely unruffled by events thus far, while Rebus felt his head would explode.

    Hundreds of jobs . . . spin-offs . . . happy, smiling faces. People like Salty Dougary, pride restored, given another chance. Did Rebus have the gall to think he could pronounce sentence on the future of people like that? People who wouldn't care who got away with what, so long as they had a paycheck at the end of the month?

    Gillespie had died, but Rebus knew these men hadn't killed him, not directly. At the same time he hated them, hated their confidence and their indifference, hated their certainty that what they did was "for the good." They knew the way the world worked; they knew who - or, rather, what - was in charge. It wasn't anyone stupid enough to place themselves in the front line. It was secret quiet men who got on with their work the world over, bribing where necessary, breaking the rules, but quietly, in the name of progress, in the name of the system.

    Shug McAnally was dead, but no one was grieving: Tresa was spending his money, and having a good time with Maisie Finch. Audrey Gillespie, too, might start enjoying life for the first time in years, maybe with her lover. A man had died - cruelly and in terror - but he was all there was on Rebus's side of the balance sheet. And on the other . . . everything else.

    Capitalism and Michael Moore

    A short review of Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story' over at the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog.

    Apparently the review is going to be distributed as a leaflet when the film gets a nationwide release in the UK at the end of this month.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    The Wackness (2008)

    Mixing Politics and 365Watch #2

    Back to the Baconian Mixing Politics and 365Watch

    From Natalie Wood to the 1918/19 German Revolution in 4 moves:

  • Late last month I squirmed through the execrable 'Sex and the Single Girl'. My only defence -and it's a flimsy one - is that it starred the divine Natalie Wood.
  • Adapted from the 1962 book of the same name, the film's screenplay was co-written by Joseph Heller who - and I'm guessing wildly here - got the writing gig as he was still at that point considered the literary hot stuff off the back of his 1961 novel, Catch-22.
  • Literary sensation, Catch-22, received its very own film adaption treatment in 1970. I've only ever seen bits and pieces of the film here and there but it's got a stellar cast and I love the book, so it'll probably find its way onto 365Watch at some point. Despite all the right credentials, the film was neither a success with the public nor with the critics. (M*A*S*H stole its thunder that year.) All the more surprising because director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Buck Henry were coming off the back of the success of The Graduate.
  • Mike Nichols was born Michael Igorevitch Peschkowsky in Berlin in 1931. His maternal grandfather was Gustav Landauer, communist anarchist theoretician and a leading participant in the Bavarian Soviet Republic of the Spring of 1919.
  • As mentioned previously, "Sorry, it doesn't get any better."

    T-Shirt Spotting

    Oh, I'm a sucker for a good political T shirt - and this one has definitely caught my eye - but wearing one in Brooklyn?

    I should just get it over and done with and have 'wannabe hipster wanker' tattooed on my forehead.

    Saying that, I do need some new T shirts. All my politcal T shirts are simultaneously disintegrating before my eyes. And that's even on a bastard cold wash. If this was a novel, I would read some significance into this current course of clothing events.

    Back to the non-365Watch post in hand. The T shirt was found via Citizen Bone and comes courtesy of Sabcat, a newly established anarcho workers co-op based out of West Midlands, who specialise in printing T shirts of a political nature. (What else are you going to do in the West Midlands on a wet Wednesday afternoon? Makes sense to me.)

    What would make even better sense is if they knuckle down and work on a Kingmaker 'Armchair Anarchist' T shirt in time for this year's London Anarchist Bookfair. That revival in interest in Kingmaker has been threatening to ignite for years, and it would be chucklesome to see some market forces in operation at an Anarchist Bookfair to force down AK Press's extortionate prices.

    February 2010 Socialist Standard

    February 2010 Socialist Standard


  • Calling on Beelzebub
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders The Machine inside the Ghost
  • Cooking the Books 1 Dreams and nightmares
  • Cooking the Books 2 The yellow brick road to nowhere
  • Material World American Public Opinion and the S-Word: weakening of a taboo?
  • Greasy Pole Hoon or Buffoon?
  • Pieces Together A frightening world; The oil invasion; Merchants of death
  • 50 Years Ago “You’ve never had it so good”
  • Main Articles

  • Haiti - an un-natural disaster The reality with earthquakes is they kill so many only if we let them. They are inevitable, but the death toll is not.
  • Christmas bombers The son of a Nigerian banker wasn’t the only one on a bombing mission at Christmas.
  • Who bailed out the bankers? They tell us that we “the taxpayers” did? But it’s not as simple as that.’
  • Beyond Capitalism Attempts to reform capitalism, whether through parliament or dictatorship, have failed. This leaves conscious majority revolution as the only way forward.
  • The market versus cooperation Difficulties with cooperation arise when the restrictions of the market start to operate
  • Car Boot Capers Shopping, it’s said, is the new religion, the new opiate of the people.
  • Ire of the Irate Itinerant Cartoon Strip
  • Book Reviews, & Meetings

  • Book Reviews:Cronies or Capitalists? The Russian Bourgeoisie and the Bourgeois Revolution from 1850 to 1917 By David Lockwood; Red Planets - Marxism and Science Fiction Edited by Mark Bould & China Miéville; First as Tragedy, Then as Farce By Slavoj Žižek
  • Socialist Party Meetings: Clapham, Holborn, Manchester & Norwich:
  • Voice From The Back

  • Green shoots of recovery?; Capitalism is obscene; This Sporting Life; Behind the glamour

    Oh shucks, I'm only 18 days late in posting this. Encourage me to be less tardy next month by clicking on lots of links . . .

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Away We Go (2009)

    Trenchcoat Wankers

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 138

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 138th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1564 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • What is common ownership?
  • The social revolution
  • America and the S-word
  • Quote for the week:

    "The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost invariably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And if he is not romantic personally, he is apt to spread discontent among those who are." H.L. Mencken, 1880-1956.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Chan Is Missing (1982)

    Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce (Bloomsbury 2001)

    'So Bronzini and Llewellyn would have had plenty of enemies, and Brainbocs wouldn't say boo to a goose?'

    'Just about. Although even Brainbocs had a few enemies.'


    'Brainbocs got a Saturday job working at the rock factory - helping out in the R & D unit after hours. He became interested in the great age-old puzzle of rock manufacturing, called D Quincey's Theorem. It's very complicated, but basically it concerns the attempt to change the wording of the letters midway through the rock. You know, it starts off saying Blackpool and then after a few mouthfuls it says Zanzibar or something. It's one of the last great challenges of the rock-marker's art. And he cracked it. Just like that. Sat down with a pen and paper and a set of log tables and worked it out. So then the management make him head of R & D and within a week - and the kid is still in school, don't forget, hasn't even done his O levels - within a week he'd found a way of computer type-setting the letters. Saved a fortune: twenty old-timers were thrown out of work the same afternoon. Entire factory closes down on strike. The Unions say, "Get rid of the kid, or you'll never make another stick of rock in this town" So they fire the kid. His parting shot was forty cases of rock that said "Aberystwyth" and then after two mouthfuls read: "I've pissed in this rock".'

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    A Serious Man (2009)

    How the mighty have fallen

    Further to this little matter:

    How the mighty have fallen.

    No, not Lindsay German’s resigning; Lenny having to pen a piece on his blog about a little local difficulty concerning the SWP so soon after it happening. (48 hours? Lenny would usually sooner wait about 48 months before coughing up a response on his blog.)

    Funny times. That leading SWPer all those years ago who bemoaned the internet and its nefarious effect on the organisation really was onto something.

    Lenny having to comment reminded me of this old joke concerning the SWP and the internet. It's sectarian and it's silly but it still makes me laugh two years after the fact.


    Madam Miaow provides the video response to German resigning, whilst someone in a darkened room somewhere works on the Downfall video to mark this momentous occasion concerning the British Vanguard.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    King of California (2007)

    Mixing Politics and 365Watch #1

    I've not been mixing it much lately, so, as the blog is currently in film watching mode, I've decided to kick-start a series entitled, 'Mixing Politics and 365Watch'.

    I can't guarantee that it will have the longevity of 'Mixing Footie and Politics' or the studied obscurantism of 'Mixing Pop and Politics', but I do promise irrelevance and responses of 'What the fuck is he on?'*

    Inspired by the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon trivia game, the idea is that I will take a film that I watched as part of 365Watch and somehow link it to fringe left-wing politics. The more tangential the connection the better. The more obscure the politics? All the more in keeping with the blog.

    Of course, such a series should start with the usual suspects. From Dustin Hoffman to the SPGB in 3 moves.

  • Last night I watched the 1969 movie, John and Mary, starring a buttoned-up Dustin Hoffman and an eyebrow-less Mia Farrow.
  • Adapted by John Mortimer, the script is based on Mervyn Jones's 1966 novel of the same name.
  • Mervyn Jones? Only the same Mervyn Jones who reviewed Barltrop's The Monument: the Story of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in the pages of New Statesman in 1975. (The review wasn't as hostile as you would have thought. It wasn't that glowing, either.)
  • Sorry, it doesn't get any better.

    *'What the fuck is he on?' Lack of bastard sleep.

    Democratic Martinism*

    OK, it's patently obvious that neither my heart nor my head are in blogging mode at the moment, and me merely using the blog as a data entry site for films and books I've watched and read this year is a poor substitute, but I would be doing the (past) spirit of the blog a disservice if I didn't at least mention the hot news on the left blogging front back in Britain: Lindsay German has resigned from the Socialist Workers Party after 37 years of membership!

    In the (present) spirit of the blog, I can't be arsed going into the whys and the wherewithals of how someone went from being one of the leading members of the SWP and the Stop the War Coalition to being part of the opposition rump Left Platform in the SWP that was routed by the spectacularly unimpressive Martin Smith in the little matter of a couple of years but if you follow the links below (or ask me kindly in the comments box), I'm sure it will all become clear:

  • AVPS Phil had the scoop of Lindsay German's resignation.
  • The ferocious commenting (and cries of schadenfreude) is naturally enough taking place over at Socialist Unity blog. (228 comments at the last count.)
  • Splintered Sunrise provides the kremlinology.
  • Ian Bone provides the best visual gag about the strained correspondence between Lindsay German and the SWP's National Secretary, Martin Smith, which led to her resignation.
  • Breaking news on a late Wednesday night affecting the British Far Left means that once again the former king's of the hill, the Weekly Worker, have been out-scooped by a lowly blog. Through gritted teeth, they insert one line into this week's online version of the Weekly Worker to try and give the impression that they've got it covered. They're fooling no one.
  • A sitemeter sighting lets me know that an old post of mine, concerning Martin Smith, has a broken link and I'm able to correct it accordingly. If you want to get the full sense of comic dread of an SWP now led by Mr Smith, have a peep at this old article from the aforementioned Weekly Worker, which concerns his actions in expelling a dissident member of the SWP in Bedfordshire. We're in Dario Fo land.
  • Now, back to 365Watch and rereading old books.

    *Kudos to Robert in Splintered Sunrise's comments box for 'Democratic Martinism'

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    John and Mary (1969)

    Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (Riverhead Books 1992)

    Social History

    Arsenal v Derby


    The replay finished nil-nil, a game with no merit whatsoever. But it remains the only first-team game that has taken place at Highbury on a midweek afternoon during my Arsenal time: February 1972 was the time of the power workers' strike. For all of us it meant sporadic electricity, candlelight, occasional cold suppers, but for third-year football fans it meant visits to the Electricity Board showroom, where cut-off rota was posted, in order to discover which of us were able to offer The Big Match on Sunday afternoons. For Arsenal, the power crisis meant no floodlights, hence the Tuesday afternoon replay.

    I went to the game, despite school, and though I had imagined that the crowd might consist of me, a few other teenage truants, and a scattering of pensioners, in fact there were more than sixty-three thousand people there, the biggest crowd of the season. I was disgusted. No wonder the country was going to the dogs! My truancy prevented me from sharing my disquiet with my mother (an irony that escaped me at the time), but what was going on?

    For this thirtysomething, the midweek Cup-tie (West Ham played giant-killers Hereford on a Tuesday afternoon as well, and got a forty-two-thousand-plus crowd) now has that wonderful early seventies sheen, like an episode of The Fenn Street Gang or a packet of Number Six cigarettes; maybe it was just that everyone at Upton Park and Highbury, all one hundred and six thousand of us, wanted to walk down one of the millions of tiny alleys of social history.

    The wolf was at the door

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 137

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 137th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1565 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The market versus cooperation
  • Who needs money?
  • Who bailed out the bankers?
  • Coming Events:

    Discussion on the Labour Party

    Monday 22 February, 8.30pm

    Unicorn, Church Street, Manchester City Centre

    Sunday Evening Film Programme
    6pm at 52 Clapham High St, SW4, London

    14 February - Why We Fight

    28 February - Comrades (part 1)

    14 March - Comrades (part 2)

    Norwich Radical Film Forum

    2pm at The Workshop,

    53 Earlham Road, Norwich NR1 3SP

    27 February - The Story of Stuff + Manufacturing Consent

    20 March - Zeitgeist III

    Quote for the week:

    "The rich require an abundant supply of the poor."


    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Taking Woodstock (2009)

    'No luck with the woodchuck?'

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 136

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 136th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1562 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Beyond Capitalism
  • “All this Hard Graft no Longer Makes Sense”
  • Demand the Impossible
  • Quote for the week:

    "To accept civilization as it is practically means accepting decay."

    George Orwell, Inside The Whale, 1940.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    (Hat tip to Matteo Scalera for the image.)

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)

    Killie me softly


    You don't even have to click on the link. All you need to know is the opening paragraph to the report linked to:

    Robbie Keane's Celtic debut ended in disappointment as Kilmarnock recorded their first win at home against the Glasgow side in nine years. [My emphasis.]

    Does Tony Mo have to go? Should I have copyrighted the 'Melting Mowbray' post title all those games ago? Will Owen allow me have a full night's sleep again before his seventh birthday?

    Slater or Larrson?

    A canny bit of last minute business from Mowbray on transfer deadline day , I guess. If only because it takes the heat off him and his transfer policy for a few weeks or so. (February 28th, to be exact.)

    Only thing is; hasn't Keane been here before?

    And hasn't Celtic been here before, as well?

    I guess I'm being unfair to Keano Mark 1, as Celtic did win a league and league cup double the year he was at Celtic Park, and I'm definitely a lot fairer to him than Keane Mark 2 was at yesterday's press conference when - mentioning no names - he stated: ""I am here until the end of the season, that is as far as I have thought about it. I didn't want to come here aged 35, at the end of my career and struggling. I am here at the peak of my career . . . "

    I guess for some people Japan/South Korea 2002 was only yesterday.