Monday, January 31, 2011

Document and Eyewitness: an Intimate History of Rough Trade by Neil Taylor (Orion Books 2010)

Geoff Travis: Alan Horne used to come in and play his Andy Warhol games. He was always a bit miffed with me because when he originally came down looking for a distribution deal and played me Orange Juice's 'Falling and Laughing'. I listened to it and quite liked it but didn't say it was the best single I'd heard in my life and that reaaly annoyed him. He went back to Scotland and Orange Juice made 'Blue Boy' and it got Single of the Week in Melody Maker. I read the review, listened to the record and loved it and said to myself that maybe I had been wrong about them. So I called up Alan and offered him a distribution deal. I think that not having embraced Alan's genius immediately counted as a big blow against me.

An addition to "A bursting forth of many things together"

Before I forget . . .

Last Friday's Joy of Six missed the Joy of One.

Tags should include Hoddle; Ardiles; the Guardian's The Joy of Six; League Cup; Jumpers For Goalposts; . . . and does Gary Bailey still have that blond thatch?

Coogan's Guff

2011Watch was never going to be 365Watch. That was never my intention . . . but I should have at least made it to the end of January.

It was that bastard Coogan film that broke my spirit.

I should stick to documentaries. I know where I am with documentaries.

Not mixing footie and politics

I'd set my heart on entitling a post 'The Tragedy of the Commons', but it wasn't to be.

Kris Commons's chip was sublime.

Get Bent!

Comedy silver.

My iPod shuffle made me do it

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What to Do in Case of Fire? (2001)

Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story by Alec Foege (St Martin's Press 1994)

Sonic Youth, too young to be punk and too old to be alternative, is the key to understanding and appreciating what happened between then and now. In 1981 Sonic Youth formed amid the burnt embers of punk's explosion and No Wave's fizzle. In 1990 the band enjoined Geffen, its current label, with Nirvana, the group who changed it all. This book is an attempt to tell the story of the last fifteen or so years in rock-music history through a band that, although it has yet to sell a million albums or become an MTV or commercial-radio mainstay, somehow embodies a sea change in American popular-culture tastes.

My Father and other Working-Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach (Yellow Jersey Press 2005)

Later, I called around and discovered that two other members of Scotland’s 1958 World Cup Squad had been in the same situation as my father. Archie Roberston of Clyde was dead; Hibs’ Eddie Turnbull had never bothered pursuing the SFA for a cap. I was inclined to agree with Eddie’s stoic acceptance of the rules as the rules, and the players simply victims of the period in which they’d played. Then I spoke to Tommy Docherty, who had gone on to manage the national team in the early ’70s, and heard the story of how he’d intervened to help get a cap for Bob Wilson. Bob, he told me, had played for Scotland but never against the home countries.

What? The Scottish Football Association, with its fear of floodgates and its respect for tradition, had been dishing out retrospective caps on a selective basis? It was only Tommy Docherty’s famous assertion that the best football managers are liars that kept me from calling Hampden Park there and then. Instead, I contacted Bob Wilson. He cautiously declared himself unaware of any intervention by Tommy Docherty on his behalf; but otherwise confirmed the story, which apart from the outcome sounded exactly like my father's. He’d written periodically to the SFA over the course of two decades with no success. It was only after Craig Brown took over as national manager that he’d got his cap. jim Farry had also been helpful.

I mentioned this discovery to Eddie Turnbull. ‘The English keeper? He got a cap? You’re kidding’ He was scarcely less incredulous by the time I’d outlined the sequence of events to him. ‘That’s ridiculous. That takes some believing, that Wilson got a cap.’

To many people, Bob Wilson - born in Chesterfield and a key member of Arsenal’s double-winning side of 1970-71 - was an English keeper and a very good one. In fact, he was perfectly well qualified to play for Scotland through his parents and turned out twice for the national team: in a European Championship qualifier against Portugal and a friendly against Holland, both in late 1971. His cap, inscribed with the initials P and H, finally arrived in 1996. That made it two years after Jim Farry had first written to my father, all sympathy and tied-hands, to say that it simply wasn’t possible, and four years before the SFA - following ‘some research into the circumstances’ - had turned him down for a second time.

The implication was clear: a well-known, well connected television presenter who could call on the Scotland manager to lobby on his behalf was worth an international cap in the eyes of the SFA; an older name frm a less spotlit era, sitting at his dining-room table with a ballpoint pen and some Basildon Bond, could be safely fobbed off with the official line.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bandwagon (1996)

Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie (Vintage Contemporaries 1976)

Her hair always crackles with electricity. She puts hair spray on the brush, hoping this will cure it. George Harrison is her favorite Beatle. She never had to wear braces. She likes expensive, delicately scented soaps. Her hair is long and wavy. She was so thrilled when she got her own car, even if it was an old car. She got Bs in college. The first drink she ever tasted was at eighteen, a rum collins. Now she drinks scotch. She feels sorry for giraffes. She doesn't care what's on her pizza, as long as it isn't anchovies. She loves Caesar salad, however, and was surprised to find out that crushed anchovies were in it. She likes Jules and Jim. She thought about being a filmmaker. She saw Otto Preminger on the street. Of course she was sure. She stirred tiny slivers of meat, almonds, and vegetables in her wok, grew violets the same colors as her round, pastel bars of soap, showered in water too hot for him. She asked, once, why May Day was celebrated. She does not remember names or dates well and is not apologetic about it. She has big feet. Big, narrow feet. Butchers are kind to her, men in gas stations clean her windshield.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cruising (1980)

Strange but true . . .

. . . if you put the name of the French Communist Party's leader through the google translator, you come up with this name. I think it's a sign. A sign I should switch off my google translator.

I stumbled across that wee bit of political fluff after clicking on the link in a comment in this thread over at Tendence Coatsey.

Poor old Tendence Coatsey Andrew. Even when he's trying to high-hat a common SPGBer-in-exile with patted head advice about " . . .this site is mainly about European Left. I’m afraid that the SPGB figures very small in this array", it still boomerangs back to the SPGB. (It was a post about the SPGB, after all.)

Shouldn't this post be in the 'Do They Mean Us?' section?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Comic Book Villains (2002)

"Better to eat shrooms than kill others for your rulers."

Hat tip to MB over at Facebook for both the picture and the post title.

The Stephen King Books Meme

Just spotted this book meme over at A Very Public Sociologist.
I'll let AVPS Phil do the explanation bit 'cos it's going to take me at least one side of That Petrol Emotion's Chemicrazy - Sides? I'm so 1970s. It must be the Cemetery Junction effect. - to format this bastard post:
"At the back of the book, [Stephen King's 'On Writing'] King provides a bibliography of best books he read during the composition of On Writing, From a Buick Eight, Hearts in Atlantis and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. This sounds like ideal meme fodder to me.
Of his list of 93 books how many have you read? Those in bold red are books I've read. Those in italics are books I own. And if they're bold and italicised, well. I think you can work it out."

  • A Perfect Crime by Peter Abrahams
  • Lights Out by Peter Abrahams
  • Pressure Drop by Peter Abrahams
  • Revolution #9 by Peter Abrahams
  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis
  • Regeneration by Pat Barker
  • The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker
  • The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
  • In the Night Season by Richard Bausch
  • The Intruder by Peter Blauner
  • The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  • The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley
  • Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
  • Werewolves in Their Youth by Michael Chabon
  • Latitude Zero by Windsor Chorlton
  • The Poet by Michael Connelly
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Family Values by KC Constatine
  • Underworld by Don DeLillo
  • Cathedral by Nelson DeMille
  • The Gold Coast by Nelson Demille
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Common Carnage by Stephen Dobyns
  • The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns
  • The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle
  • The Dick Gibson Show by Stanley Elkin
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • The Beach by Alex Garland
  • Deception on His Mind by Elizabeth George
  • Gravity by Tess Gerritsen
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene
  • Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
  • The Fifties by David Halberstam
  • Why Sinatra Matters by Pete Hamill
  • Hannibal by Thomas Harris
  • Plainsong by Kent Haruf
  • Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
  • Dirty White Boys by Stephen Hunter
  • A Firing Offence by David Ignatius
  • A Widow for One Year by John Irving
  • The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce
  • The Devil's Own Work by Alan Judd
  • Good Enough to Dream by Roger Kahn
  • The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
  • Survivor by Tabitha King
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Kraukauer
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz
  • The Ignored by Bentley Little
  • A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
  • The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
  • Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
  • Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt
  • Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
  • The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
  • Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
  • Zeke and Ned by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller
  • Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
  • In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
  • The Speed Queen by Stewart O'Nan
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
  • No Safe Place by Richard North Patterson
  • Freedomland by Richard Price
  • Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
  • The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
  • One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
  • A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendall
  • Waiting by Frank M Robinson
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
  • Mohawk by Richard Russo
  • Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz
  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • The Crater by Richard Slotkin
  • The Illusionist by Dinitia Smith
  • Men in Black by Scott Spencer
  • Joe Hill by Wallace Stegner
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
  • Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Ax by Donald E Westlake

  • I've read 12 13 of the books listed and I own 9. 12/93 is par for the course with me and book memes . . . until some bastard pulls their finger out and finally creates that Gordon Legge Book Meme that some of us have been waiting too long for.
    It's strangely reassuring that there is no book on the list that I own but have yet to read. And who is Peter Abrahams, btw? Surely it's not the same Peter Abrahams who co-wrote a couple of books on Orwell a few years back? I read those books during my last Orwell phase. Wiki will no doubt reveal all.
    Phil tags people with these memes but, then again, Phil has readers. I just have people who stumble across the blog because they want to know more about Kevin-Prince Boateng's tattoos. It's official: Boateng's tatts are this year's 'Kika Markham + nude'. If that footie fan in Ulan Bator wants to take time out from poring over Boateng's upper torso - and wondering what the hell Viz is - please feel free to take the meme.
    Now back to Stevie Mack singing vandal over and over and over again.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Good Dick (2008)

    Breaking Stuart's heart

    That sound you hear over at Big Chief Tablet's blog is the sound of a grown man sobbing. I share his pain.

    (Very late in the day) conclusive proof that the 'Wanking Bankers' clip was a very funny set-up.

    I guess I knew it all along. Mentioning the working class was the giveaway.

    'Idiot with a Tripod' in Astoria, Queens

    A fresh blanket of snow in New York overnight allows me to right a blogging wrong by posting this wonderful short film by the filmmaker Jaime Stuart on the blog.

    'Man in a Blizzard' was filmed and edited in the space of few hours this past boxing day when New York got hit with that blizzard which resulted in Bloomberg's approval ratings taking a skid and, at one point, thirteen vehicles being abandoned in the road outside our apartment building.

    Roger Ebert thinks it should win ". . . the Academy Award for best live-action short subject". One of the funnier trolls on the internet thinks that Roger Ebert should "see more movies". I just think it's beautiful.

    That music? Yeah, I thought it was Blur, too, but it turns out that it's Trent Reznor.


    Just realised that you really don't get the full experience of the film from my embedded YouTube link. You're better off checking the video out here over at Vimeo.

    Saturday, January 08, 2011

    A Country Doctor's Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov (Harvill Paperbacks 1975)

    'Clever people have long been aware that happiness is like good health: when you have it, you don't notice it. But as the years go by, oh, the memories, the memories of happiness past!

    For myself I realise now that I was happy in that winter of 1917, that headlong, never-to-be-forgotten year of storm and blizzard.

    (From the short story, 'Morphine'.)

    Cemetery Junction (2010)

    Thursday, January 06, 2011

    'If I was in London right now . . .'

    . . . I think I'd have to hot foot it over to the Tricycle Theatre to check out Traverse Theatre Company's musical comedy play, 'Midsummer'

    You'll want the blurb:

    "It's Midsummer's weekend in Edinburgh. It's raining. Two thirty-somethings are sitting in a New Town bar waiting for something to turn up. He's a failing car salesman on the fringes of the city's underworld and she's a high powered divorce lawyer with a taste for other people's husbands. She's out of his league and he's not her type at all. They absolutely should not sleep together. Ever Ever.

    Which is why they do.

    Midsummer (a play with songs) is the story of Bob and Helena and a great lost weekend of bridge burning, car chases, wedding bust-ups, bondage miscalculations, midnight trysts and horrible hungover self-loathing misery.

    Featuring Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon as the ill-advised love match, Midsummer is a quirky, charming love story by one of Scotland's leading playwrights, David Greig and top Edinburgh singer/songwriter, Gordon McIntyre."

    Cora Bissett from High Times and songs from ballboy's Gordon McIntyre? What's not to like?


    The Guardian's Michael Billington gave it a glowing review last year.

    Still marching, still fighting

    Via my inbox.

    LabourStart's Labour Photo of the Year

    Kudos to the photographer, Gerardo Correa. More info on the context for the picture here.

    The Stranger (1946)

    Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    44 Inch Chest (2009)

    A Three-Pipe Problem by Julian Symons (Penguin Crime 1975)

    ‘But how did you discover it? I mean, the docks?’

    ‘I read this Observer colour supp. piece, you see, and it said all the obvious piaces are finished, a house in Battersea even costs a fortune, but around the East India Dock area there were still some of these perfect little squares -’

    ‘Lived in by the peasants, no doubt, with a loo out at the back -’

    ‘Exactly, and there was this perfectly dreamy little house, just a cottage, and Fabrina said it’d got terrific possibilities -’

    Possibilities, I should think so.”

    He listened gloomily to the exchange taking place between a couple with long flowing hair, both wearing bell bottoms and bright pullovers. Did the absence of make-up indicate their masculinity or the opposite, were their voices male or female? He found it impossible to say. The pub depressed him. It had been done up by the brewers, and in honour of its name they had turned it into a kind of military encampment. Reproductions of battle scenes were around the walls, regimental flags and scrolls took up other bits of vacant space, what had once been public and private bars were now called Sergeants’ Mess and Officers’ Mess. It was certainly not what it had been in Holmes's time, and he would infinitely have preferred a few villainous Lascars to the trendy young creatures who mixed with the tough-looking dockers. Not that the dockers seemed to mind either the desecration of their pub, or its part-occupation by these aliens. From the large central bar which was actually called the Parade Ground, Sher pondered on the superiority of past to present. He was jerked out of this reverie by the words: ‘That’s Joey, just come in.’

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Bulldog Drummond (1929)

    Splits and giggles

    Via Facebook

    It nearly pains menshevik to write it but a nice line in self-deprecating humour from the SWuppies in response to Laurie 'Chuckles' Penny's recent comment about how, " . . . It is highly likely that even after a nuclear attack, the only remaining life-forms will be cockroaches and sour-faced vendors of the Socialist Worker . . . "

    More please.

    Sunday, January 02, 2011

    The Anarchist Cookbook (2002)

    A slow dance, some romance and R*ngers didn't stand a chance

    Deserved it.

    Going into the game I thought they'd get walloped and I was so, so happy to be proven wrong.

    McCourt answered his doubters and showed that he could perform in a big game. His reverse pass in the first half that created a scoring chance for Forrest was the pass of the game . . . Miller went missing . . . Samaras should have got a hat trick (and deserved it) . . . Mulgrew was good going forward but scares the hell out of the spectator when called upon to defend . . . Ness looks like one for the future for R*ngers . . . . and Forrest still looks like he'd get carded if he tried to get into an over-12's youth disco.

    R*ngers are still the favourites for the league, but this win makes it much more interesting.

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    An Awfully Big Adventure (1995)

    The Long Honeymoon

    No idea when the January 2011 issue of the Socialist Standard is out so, in the meantime, a blast from the past with this Socialist Standard front cover from July 1979.

    I know the front cover is referring specifically to the Tories but who knew thirty plus years on that Thatcher would still be the apple of the eye of so many tens of millions.

    The Editorial Committee of the Standard certainly didn't.