Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Mud, glorious mud

Best laid plans etc etc. Afraid that last week on this very blog I made promises, promises that I've shamefully failed to keep. Promises of serious content, rather than the watery gruel I've been feeding you over the past couple of weeks. It WILL come, I assure you - just not yet. Because, as of tomorrow, I'm off to spend a few days in a field in Somerset like another Geordie I know - which, incidentally, should provide serious content in the form of some kind of diary. Let's hope it's more sunburn, blisters and 'Good Fortune' than cholera, trenchfoot and 'The Frog Chorus' - but, going by today's weather, I'm not that optimistic.
Labellous

Have you noticed how all those England fans arrested following drunken incidents of violence in Portugal and deported refuse to accept the label "hooligan", even though some of them admit to being involved in the disturbances? What do they think the word means?!

It reminds me of Big Ron and his laughable defence: he might have called Desailly a "n****r" but he's not a racist, oh no. So then, Ron, what exactly IS your definition of a racist? Please, we're waiting to be enlightened.

So, the behaviour seems to be admissible, but not the corresponding name. Racists and hooligans - pretty much one and the same - seem happy to label others but not so comfortable being labelled themselves. Hmm.
Indie rocks

I don't buy newspapers that often, but when I do I seem to have some kind of reflex action which makes me pick up the Guardian. Today, though, I restrained myself and plumped for the Independent instead. "Newspaper of the year", it proudly proclaims on the front page. Well, at first I wasn't impressed - the sports coverage seemed distinctly average, even worse than the legendary Grauniad for careless and glaring proofing errors.

But elsewhere there was much to enjoy, from the coolly measured opinion pieces to the superb range of features: an interview with the bloke who created a "magic" panacea cream in his garage (people who spend too much time in their garage should always be regarded with suspicion...), insightful media pieces on the future of the Mirror and the BBC's coverage of Glastonbury (I'll ignore the lame feature on the Daily Telegraph by a dewy-eyed Peregrine Worsthorne, even though he does have a pop at Daily Mail columnists and SWSL hate-figures Simon Heffer and Peter Hitchens), and fascinating arts articles on Belgian painter Luc Tuymans and documentary film-maker Michael Grigsby.

But, of course, the feature that guaranteed my overall approval was one which focused on that finest of pub snacks, and one to which my addiction knows no bounds: pork scratchings. Apparently, they're becoming increasingly popular among the Atkins crew as a low-carb snack, and now they're being sold in six Pret A Manger outlets as part of a trial: "They're fatty, sometimes hairy, occasionally with an inky hint of a tattoo, and most of them come from the West Midlands. They have names like Mr Porky, and their image is not traditionally a glamorous or healthy one. This week, pork scratchings (what else were you thinking of?) have taken on a bourgeois respectability". Food of the gods, they are. The hairier the better.

Anyway... I'm not alone in feeling that the Guardian has been becoming a bit lazy and dull of late, and when it comes to music features Alexis Petridis seems to wind me up regularly. From this point onwards, I may well be an Independent man - as Destiny's Child didn't sing.
Quote of the day

"The best co-commentator by far is Bobby Robson. His knowledge and enthusiasm are a delight to listen to, even when he is doing little more than counting passes and demanding 'now who wants it'? His streams of consciousness have the added and significant advantage of keeping the extremely irritating and jingoistic Clive Tyldesely quiet.

If Robson encourages his Newcastle team to play as he suggests England should, Newcastle fans are extremely lucky. He clearly thinks there is more to be gained by taking the game to the opposition and making something happen rather than sticking rigidly to a game plan and waiting for the opposition to make a mistake. His frustration at the inability of England's full backs to get forward in the France game was refreshing to hear.
"

Pete on our very own Sir Bobby. However, call me cynical, but personally I suspect we generally don't have much of a game plan to which we could stick rigidly to, and even if we did, the likes of Robert and Viana would always likely to do their own thing anyway. Sometimes, the merest semblance of a defensive game plan might be useful though...

Monday, June 21, 2004

Random Euro 2004 observations

Given the peculiar similarity in the pronunciation of their surnames, is Croatian striker Dado Prso in any way related to 'This Morning' agony uncle Raj Persaud? Just wondering whether the pony-tailed Monaco player might be any good dispensing words of advice about messy divorces sat on the sofa next to Denise Robertson.

I can't be the only person to think that brilliant Italian ref Pierluigi Collina and Denmark's midfield maestro Thomas Gravesen would make a fantastic serial-killer tag team - scary heads, bulging eyes, occasional maniacal grimaces. Most people are happy to tend to their garden once they retire - when he calls it a day after this tournament, I suspect Collina will be hard at work tending to his new concrete patio.
Quite a find

Found Magazine's site is the sort you can browse for hours - fascinating stuff. I'm always making shopping lists so I don't forget anything and then losing them at some point between the house and the shops - maybe this is where they end up.

(Thanks to Jon for the link.)
Feel good hits of the 21st June

1. 'Temptation Island' - Love As Laughter
2. 'Getting Bright At Night' - The Icarus Line
3. 'Trick Me' - Kelis
4. 'This Charming Man' - The Smiths
5. 'Cheapo Destruction At The Hands Of A Ragtime Sales Instructor' - Qhixldekx vs Cardboard Dead Boy
6. 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - Queen
7. 'Stereo Tinnitus' - Bluetip
8. 'Crazy In Love' - Beyonce feat Jay-Z
9. 'I Left You' - Sophia
10. 'Starfire' - Low

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Blooming marvellous

At last, after all the right-wing wailing and the snivelling tributes to the late and not-quite-as-cuddly-as-he's-been-made-out-to-be Mr Reagan, comes something worth commemorating: the centenary of Bloomsday.

I've read 'Ulysses', only last year, and although it's a very demanding novel in terms of patience and perseverance, and I wouldn't pretend to understand it all - the continual references to Irish politics and history are even more bewildering than all the allusions to Greek mythology, which you can easily miss - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Brilliantly written, cleverly parodic, provocative, playful, encyclopoedic in scope, a romp (or an odyssey) through the history of discourse (both literary and non-literary). But, whereas many people fear it as some kind of unapproachably dense and impenetrably difficult cornerstone of the Western canon, few seem to realise that it's actually very funny - hilarious at points, even. Undergraduates I taught last year looked shellshocked when I raised the possibility that certain incidents wouldn't be out of place in a Farrelly brothers film, but it's true.

What I'm not so sure about is the nature of the commemoration. Far better to read the book for yourself, for instance, than to lap up the BBC website's sarcastic summary or to enjoy a special commemorative breakfast in Dublin featuring "food in keeping with Bloom's love of 'the inner organs of beasts and fowls' as described at the start of the book" - that's like the literary equivalent of the re-enactment of a historical battle. It's unfortunate but entirely inevitable that Joyce, like many other literary heavyweights granted saintly status after their deaths, has become a brand name that can be used to make a fat wad of cash.

It looks like it's going to be the same for dear old Ronnie, too. Earlier I noticed in the box at the top of my blog advertisements for Reagan "commemorative silver and gold medallions" (presumably designed so that Peter Stringfellow and Mr T can pay their respects) and "limited edition postal envelopes" (no, me neither). Nice to know that the advocate of a ruthlessly exploitative economic ethos is ripe for exploitation as soon as he's in the ground. Ronnie might be gone, but at least capitalism's in rude good health, eh?
Wake up Boo!

I've just finished reading 'To Kill A Mockingbird' - I'd read it a few years ago, but it was better this time round. The trial on which the whole novel centres is a bit too conveniently cut-and-dried, as the plot demands - the sudden revelation that Tom Robinson is a cripple reads like something out of a very bad courtroom TV movie - but its charms are legion, not least the wonderful evocation of childhood. Harper Lee manages to convey the world as it's seen through Scout's naive and innocent eyes, but also to hint at the unperceived deeper and darker significance of the events which unfold; and to incorporate humour and warmth into a novel which deals with such a weighty issue as racial intolerance. Perhaps it's no surprise she never wrote anything else, even if it is still something to lament.
Candid camera?

I'll admit to not being a motorist (primarily due to my inability to drive in the legal sense of the term - though I frequently try to dress it up as a matter of personal choice out of concern for the environment and my own health), but I simply cannot understand what all the fuss about speed cameras is, especially in the face of seemingly incontrovertible evidence in favour of their use. The cameras are "concealed", and the police are "sneaky bastards" for using them - yeah, that's right, they're sneaky bastards for enforcing the law. We're told that the money speeding motorists have to cough up is yet another crippling "tax", and not a fine imposed for an infringement of the law. If you don't speed, you ain't going to get fined - it's as simple as that. Of course, the fact that the most prominent whingers are people like that fat-faced cock Clarkson doesn't exactly help me sympathise with the drivers' cause, especially when he comes out with the usual right-wing middle-class bollocks about how the police are "wasting taxpayers' money" and should be out catching the "real criminals": "£71million quid last year, from 6million people being caught. That's 10 per cent of the population criminalised, more than a quarter of the motoring population. Most of them were little old ladies doing 32mph."
Entrapment

Office Shaped Prison, the latest addition to the SWSL blogroll, is the work of John, a fellow Brit contributor to Stylus's ongoing I Love The 1990s series. OSP immediately endeared itself to me with its comparison and indictment of the two Jamies, Cullum and Oliver, and, let's face it, any blog with the strapline "Does Tigra prefer the crack of his bolo-whip to the crack of Cheetara's pussy? It's amazing what crosses your mind when you're tied to a PC in a straitjacket" has got to be worth a read.

Also discovered via Danger! High Postage and Office Shaped Prison: Freshly Sharpened Pencil.
Random Euro 2004 observations

No considered, well-informed and intelligently-written commentary on either individual games or the whole tournament here - for that, you'll just have to look elsewhere. No, here on SWSL you'll just be getting the odd random observation, the stale crumbs that fall from Baddiel and Skinner's table...

With his blond hair and unbuttoned shirt, doesn't the Swedish ref Anders Frisk look like an ageing porn star? Either that, or a member of Bucks Fizz. Either way, I was continually expecting him to whip off his shorts during last night's Germany - Holland match.

And hasn't Pavel Nedved got the most extraordinary haircut? I think it's a mullet, but not of the sort you'd see on a night out in Shoreditch. Perhaps the blogworld's own mullet expert, Phill of Danger! High Postage, can adjudicate.
Quote of the day

Graham of Wisdom Goof has obviously been at the cheese again, just before going to bed:

"In the middle of the night I had a vision for a Doors tribute band called the Trap Doors. At the end of the act the fake Jim Morrison would announce to his bandmates that he'd had enough and he was going to Paris to write some poetry and have a bath. Then - poof! - he would disappear in a puff of smoke (down a cunningly hidden stage trap door you see.)"

I like it. All tribute bands should spice up their act with a bit of magic - The Bootleg Beatles producing rabbits from hats during 'Can't Buy Me Love', Bjorn Again interrupting 'Dancing Queen' for Bjorn and Benny to saw the two women in half... They'd need professional training from the likes of Paul Daniels and The Lovely Debbie McGee, mind.
The definition of depression

It's that feeling you get when you catch yourself watching 'Diagnosis Murder', and then realise it's an episode you've already seen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The late show

Still depressed and / or incredulous about France's last-gasp victory over England? Well, spare a thought for us poor Newcastle fans, who've had to put up with imbecilically conceded late goals all season only to find that the national side have developed the collective concentration span of Titus Bramble ie a couple of minutes less than the duration of the game, during which time our loveable large-arsed plodder seemingly becomes distracted from the game in hand by ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING (sounds, bright colours, movement), thus allowing the opposition to spirit away a point or three. Actually, come to think of it, Bramble should have been playing instead of Heskey - at least he would have made the thoughtless and costly lunge with more style and finesse.
It's oh so quiet

Silence sometimes really does speak loudest - or at least it does for Jonny B...

"It’s that sort of silence that you get when you invite Arial Sharon and his wife to tea, only to find that you’ve double booked with the Arafats."

"It was now the type of silence that James Herbert would have featured, had he written a book entitled ‘The Silence’, about an evil silence that goes about turning people mad. Except this WASN’T a James Herbert book, so I couldn’t even skip to the porn."
Maggie, you're next

Sick and tired of all the pomp and bullshit surrounding Reagan's death? Get on over to Excuse Me For Laughing, where you can read a party political broadcast from the Come Fuck Me In My Ass, You Right Wing Pigfuckers Party. I'm all for these plucky little minority parties, aren't you?

Friday, June 11, 2004

Have you heard the one about the Englishman, the American, the Frenchman, the German, the Russian...?

Was anyone else slightly disturbed by the news footage of the G8 leaders at their Georgia summit? "Hey, we're just a regular bunch of guys - look, we don't always wear ties and look like stiffs, we like goofing around just as much as you do. That's how down-to-earth and in touch with the ordinary man-in-the-street we are. (Just ignore the helicopter gunships overhead)". For fuck's sake, the world is in their hands and it looked like a fucking golf club committee meeting - and that was before we were shown them whizzing around in little golf buggies like joyriding teenagers.
"You stoooopeeeeed eeeeeeeeediot!"

The latest installment of Stylus's I Love The 1990s series, complete with the odd contribution from yours truly. This week, 1993.

Part One: 'The X Files', '(I Would Walk) 500 Miles' - The Proclaimers, Pogs, 'Dazed And Confused', 'Amazing' / 'Crazy' / 'Cryin' - Aerosmith
Part Two: 'Sim City' and 'Civilisation', "female alternative rock", 'The Fugitive', Take That, 'Beavis & Butthead', 'Ren & Stimpy'
Part Three: G-funk, David Letterman vs Jay Leno, starter jackets, 'Runaway Train' - Soul Asylum, 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers'
Part Four: Chicago Bulls, Wu-Tang Clan, 'Doom', R&B divas, 'Schindler's List' vs 'Jurassic Park'
Part Five: 'Thank God It's Friday!', 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', Lorena Bobbitt, 'Free Willy', 'No Rain' - Blind Melon
Quotes of the day

Yes, today I just couldn't choose between these two brilliantly insightful comments from two of my favourite bloggers.

Lord Marmite of Amblongus on the proposal to put Reagan on the $10 or $20 bill:

"The thought of seeing Ronnie's face twinkling up at me from a crumpled bank note gives me the willies. I hope they put him in the $20 so that at least the people who have been most fucked up by the legacy of Reaganomics won't have to look at it very often..."

Simon of No Rock 'N' Roll Fun:

"Prince Charles has been off to see 'Mama Mia', the Abba musical, which reopened the Prince of Wales Theatre with a charity show. 'I knew every word. It certainly dates me', said Charles, heading backstage after the show. No, son, what dates you is being part of the last vestiges of an archaic feudal aristocracy who's been handed large chunks of Cornwall, Wales and god knows what else just as an accident of birth. Compared to that, being able to hum along with 'Take A Chance On Me' makes you look as up-to-the-minute as a plasma screen TV."
Know Your Enemy #45

"Filth porn Mancunian slang university collision literature. She is like, SO, obsessed with skies (and cocaine). Doesn't she ever look at her toes?"

He Who Cannot Be Named on Helen Walsh's 'Brass'.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Brain slurry

Apologies for the lack of substantial and nutritious content on SWSL of late - I'm not trying to make you feel like you're on the blog equivalent of a Slimfast diet, honest. It's a combination of work, evil heat and late-nights propped in front of 'Big Brother Live' that's turning my head into a sort of pulpy mess. I've written some whimsical stuff about amputation and runover cats, but I don't think the wider world deserves to be subjected to that.

So, just hang on in there. Next week promises a shift of gear with a major and more serious post that I'm currently concocting with a little help from some friends. There should also be reviews of the new Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey albums if they arrive in the post, as well as long-overdue thoughts on The Icarus Line's Penance Soiree, Explosions In The Sky's Those Who... and Broken Social Scene's You Forget It In People. In the meantime, take a peek at Kenny's views on Sonic Nurse and Uh Huh Her (as well as Morrissey's You Are The Quarry and The Streets' A Grand Don't Come For Free) here, and at Josh Timmermann's slightly disappointed review of PJ's latest.
Murder ballads

Woo-hoo! Sorry, that wasn't the right reaction. Um, draw the velvet curtains, light the candles and crack open the red wine - Nick Cave's new double LP Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus is set for release in September. Is it just me or is there a hint of knowing self-parody in that title?

(Thanks to No Rock 'N' Roll Fun, an old SWSL favourite that I'd drifted away from for reasons that are quite beyond me - suffice to say it's as excellent as ever.)
Know Your Enemy #44

"An incredibly pompous, deliberately obscure, pseudo-profound windbag."

Ian Mathers on Martin Heidegger, who features alongside Wittgenstein, Descartes, Kant and A. J. Ayer in his Top Ten Least Favourite Philosophers. Not something you're likely to see on C4 in the near future.
Heavens above

Thanks to those who've tipped me off about defunct or temporarily suspended blogs, and especially to Paul for alerting me to the whereabouts of one SWSL associate's new blog, Northern Lites.
Quote of the day

Pete explains his voting strategy for tomorrow's European elections:

"Just who do you vote for if you don't vote labour? Well in the last 3 elections I have participated in I have drawn a picture of a cat on the ballot paper and voted for that, and I will do so again tomorrow ... I see my deliberate despoilation of my ballot paper as a principled stand and is certainly preferable to voting for a joker merely as a protest."

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The final curtain

So, Reagan's dead. Once his term of office was over, unlike dear old Maggie the man she referred to as "one of my closest political and dearest personal friends" never sounded off at every opportunity like an embarrassing cranky grandparent. In fact, I'd forgotten he was still alive. So had he, probably.
Cleaning out my closet

Sad news that Mike has decided to shut up shop at Glamorama, an SWSL favourite owing to the always-engaging music-and-book-centred content. I for one am sorry to see it go.

Incidentally, over the last few weeks and months my blogroll seems to have become an overgrown bush in desperate need of pruning. Here's a list of what appears to be dead wood:

Acerbia
Arpeggio
Blogged
Neil Grayson
The Highrise
Me(ish)
Mo Morgan
Not You, The Other One
The Pill Box
Quotes Du Jour
Rogue Semiotics
Wildly Inaccurate

Not You... I know about already, but please let me know if you have any information about whether these blogs are only temporarily suspended and likely to be brought back to life, or whether they've been abandoned for good and their authors have either given up or set up new sites (URLs appreciated!).
Text message of the day

"Y'know, without The Stooges we would never have had Busted. And music didn't mean fuck all before Busted. 'I messed my pants when we flew over France.' Classy!"

Friday, June 04, 2004

Blogwatch

Congratulations to BykerSink, who's off to 'Nam with the VSO; to Anna, who's had a short piece published in the Guardian; and to Largehearted Boy on being named daily Top Blog in the same paper.

Meanwhile: Lord Marmite of Amblongus has been on a road trip travelling about the southern states of the US on parts of what used to be Route 66; Graham of Wisdom Goof is fighting against the forces of old gimmerdom by loudly pronouncing his love of Mclusky and The Fiery Furnaces, whilst also admitting a new-found fondness for stoner rock; and He Who Cannot Be Named tries to wow his readers with tales of close encounters with members of Keane and The Ordinary Boys - less like rubbing shoulders with fame than sniffing the gusset of fame's discarded underpants.
Cultureshock

Potentially a new regular feature on SWSL, but nothing more grand than a collection of links...

Stephen Merchant of 'The Office' on the legacy of the Marx Brothers: "Born of the Great Depression, the brothers were unhinged maniacs with no roots, no ties, no responsibilities, fighting back on behalf of the disenfranchised little man. ... When MGM vice-president Irving Thalberg kept the Marxes waiting once too often, he returned to his office to find them stark naked, roasting potatoes over an open fire."

Johnny Marr talks about his love for Keith Richards, Bert Jansch, T-Rex and a whole host of psychedelic folk bands. Nice to see another former member of The Smiths make an appearance in the media, for a change...

Clem Bastow's Top 10 Songs I Hate Off Albums I Love, which includes Led Zeppelin's 'D'yer Maker' (Houses Of The Holy), The Beatles' 'Her Majesty' (Abbey Road) and Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Daddy' (Rumours). Off the top of my head, I'd say 'Well, It's True That We Love One Another' from the last White Stripes album (utter shite) and the Peter Buck collaboration 'Estate Sale' on the Eels LP Daisies Of The Galaxy (completely pointless).

Ian Mathers on Mogwai's 'R U Still In 2 It?': "This song, and the way Aidan won’t meet your eyes, and Stuart’s whisper, and that damned inflexible progression of notes, over and over, they all mean the same thing, less mutable than death or taxes (because they can both be cheated), the one dead certainty the lyrics end on: 'I will leave you and I will miss you'." Awful title, brilliant song - that's Mogwai in a nutshell, really.

... And finally: heavy metal belly dancing.
Feel good hits of the 4th June

A long-absent friend returns...

1. 'Kiss Like Lizards' - The Icarus Line
2. 'Point Of Disgust' - Low
3. 'First Of The Gang To Die' - Morrissey
4. 'Witch Mountain Bridge' - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
5. 'Skeleton Key' - The Coral
6. 'Greet Death' - Explosions In The Sky
7. 'Wanna Be That Way' - Ikara Colt
8. 'Gigantic' - The Pixies
9. 'Ch-Ch-Check It Out' - Beastie Boys
10. 'Inbetween Days' - The Cure

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Cash cow

Several days behind the times this may be, but a post on Nick Southall's blog Auspicious Fish about the Saatchi warehouse fire reminded me of a few other things I wanted to say.

Nick wrote: "I can't help but feel that it serves him right; not because I have any malice towards Saatchi, I just think it's quite beautiful that all this art which he was treating as a pension plan, an investment, a bond, financial capitol rather than cultural documentation, has been destroyed by an airily tossed cigarette or a gas leak or whatever it was that caused the fire". Irrespective of the quality or "artistic value" of the works which were destroyed, it's disappointing to see art treated in this way. OK, Saatchi might be a very important and influential patron in the British art world, but his purchases can hardly be regarded as altruistic and directed towards sustaining and promoting these artists when their works are stuck in a warehouse and viewed as an investment, simply as something to make money out of. Saatchi seems to have been happy just to know that he owned them.

Nick continues: "I like the idea of art being temporal anyway (sculptures should be touched, paintings exposed to light + air - how things react and change and decay over time is as much what the art is about as the actual things themselves; decay is as much a part of an object as its colour or molecules or whatever), and this art, preserved, hidden, banked upon, is now the most temporal of all". Part of the reason that I have a problem with people who buy cultural artefacts as status symbols and investments is that they're so reluctant for them to be "used". Books should be read, art should be seen, music should be heard - however rare or "valuable". Placing these objects in a glass dust-free case (whether literally or metaphorically) effectively denies the possibility of deriving enjoyment from them. And this instance is worst of all - a whole host of works bought and then shut away in a warehouse. Whatever you think of Tracey Emin's tent, that's not what should a patron of the arts should do; buying is only half the responsibility, if that - it's ensuring the pieces remain on public display that really matters.
Toonnews

More blathering from Radio 5 Live's Pat Murphy in today's Birmingham Post about the prospect of Blues boss Steve Bruce taking the reins at Newcastle next summer, when Sir Bobby retires: "The chairman of Newcastle, Freddie Shepherd, has gone on record to say that the next manager will be a Geordie. Well, to the best of my knowledge Jimmy Nail, Steve Harmison and Gazza aren't available so I'm racking my brains to think of suitable candidates from that neck of the woods. But Steve Bruce qualifies." According to Murphy, Bruce's "heart is still with Newcastle. His family are from there and he goes up to watch Newcastle play whenever possible." What a load of old shite, quite frankly. Even if this was true and not just the sort of sentimental dross Brucey comes out with himself when it suits him, we (and I mean the fans here) don't want him. I'd find it very hard to warm to him, so Pete, as far as I'm concerned you can keep him. However, if as looks likely, Rafael Benitez ends up at Liverpool, then I'd be very happy to see us make a move for Alan Curbishley - sorry to say it, Inspector...

As regards incomings and outgoings, Steve Caldwell's left, and Andy Griffin's signed up at Portsmouth, while today's Mirror links us with an £8million double raid for James Beattie and Michael Carrick, two signings that I'd certainly welcome.

... And finally, commiserations to West Ham, who'll be spending at least another season in the First Division after losing Saturday's play-off final to Crystal Palace. Cursed with the SWSL blessing of good luck - sorry Kenny.
"I'm the only comedian qualified to navigate a supertanker"

Yes, it's that man Peter Baynham again, this time talking to the Independent. There's plenty of interest, not least more comments about his current SWSL approved series 'I Am Not An Animal': "[The animals] don't exactly do what their liberators would want them to do, which is to go back to the wild and tear off their clothes. After living on food like wild-mushroom risotto, they're not really prepared for seeing things like birds eating worms."

(Thanks to Tobi for the tip-off.)
Quote of the day

"The opportunity to drive a golf ball down a street in Shoreditch, near the City of London, was too good to miss. This would have been the case on any day of the year, quite frankly, as creaming one straight down the middle would give you above average odds of smacking a low-quality artist clean between the eyes."

Scott Murray writing in yesterday's Guardian about the Shoreditch Urban Open.
"Oh Jesus, I'm never drinking ever again..."

Courtesy of The Whole Wide World Of Fat Buddha! comes a link to an invaluable internet resource for anyone who, like myself, often finds themselves incapacitated for days at a time after protracted drinking sessions. Happy boozing!
You WHAT?!!

painting of woman with pushchair at the seaside
world's loudest taxis
barnsley naked gnomes
smiths hand in glove fisting
the grim reaper eats fudge

Sorry people, I can't help you. Therapy probably can, though.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Blogwatch

Missing: Not You, The Other One. Sarah and her site (a SWSL fave) seem to have gone AWOL. Anyone who has any information is requested to come forward. Reward: my gratitude.

Deep breath...

Casino Avenue is the place to be for profiles of the prospective candidates in the London mayoral elections; a league table of the most linked UK blogs is up on Troubled Diva, itself a big hitter - incidentally SWSL rather likes being a minnow in the cyberocean, thank you very much, and there's no envy here, oh no, for links and hits bring pressure to produce, my friends; Mike of Glamorama is indulging in an orgy of excitement ahead of the release of the new Libertines LP (ditto Phil of Danger! High Postage as regards PJ Harvey's new album); Paul of 1000 Shades Of Grey remembers ex-Newcastle-and-now-of-Portsmouth defender Andy Griffin's time on Tyneside by dredging up the story about the time he crashed his car into a Metro train; and Jonny's got a few issues with New Labour and hoovers.

... And finally: best of luck to Kenny's beloved West Ham in Saturday's First Division play-off final. It'd be good to see the Hammers back in the Premiership again, if only so we can take from them the six points they surely owe us for dumping Bowyer on our wage bill last summer...
Flaming 'Hell'

May I be the first to start the conspiracy theories about the Saatchi art warehouse fire? Jake Chapman, whose piece 'Hell' is one of many to have been destroyed, told the Evening Standard: "I hold God personally responsible and, on a scale of one to 10 of how annoyed I am, I'd say about 11." Nope, God had nothing to do with it, and neither did anyone from the Daily Mail. Personally, I'm more inclined to believe it was a brilliant K Foundation stunt, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond seizing the opportunity to send a whopping £50m up in smoke, rather than just the paltry £1m they burnt in 1994, and passing critical comment on the Brit art scene in the process...
Quote of the day

"In many ways, Nasser Hussain's retirement from all cricket is absolutely typical - it was something most people in his position simply wouldn't do."

BBC cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew on former England captain Nasser Hussain's decision to retire from the game with immediate effect. He certainly went out in style, scoring a brilliant century on Monday to propel England to victory in the first test against New Zealand.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Pigeon's treat

The mottled grey pigeon tottered over to the gutter. Evidently a more discerning gastronome than his fellow feathered friends, he (I'm assuming here...) seemed desperate to find something more nourishing than the usual fare of flattened and scuffed cigarette butts and the unsavoury half-eaten remnants spilt out of McDonald's wrappers and cartons onto the tarmac. Dipping and bobbing his head he pecked and picked, pecked and picked, tossing bits of roadside detritus into the air with a dismissive flick of his beak before tottering on to peck and pick some more.

And then, after an extended forage, he raised his head up once more, his ungainly totter suddenly morphing into a confident strut, as he triumphantly held up high in his beak for all to see the sweet spoils of success : a scabbed and withered pigeon's foot.

It's a bird eat bird world out there.
Viva hate?

There was one reason to watch 'Later With Jools Holland' on Friday night.

It wasn't for The Ordinary Boys - predictably, they were ordinary (note to anyone who's smitten by them: listen to The Futureheads). It wasn't for The Beta Band - despite Nick's enthusiastic endorsement of their latest LP I found it hard to muster any kind of appreciation. And it certainly wasn't for the ivory-tinkling tosspiece of a presenter.

No, it was for the appearance of Mr Steven Patrick Morrissey. The three songs he and his band played from the new album - the single 'Irish Blood, English Heart' plus 'First Of The Gang To Die' and 'Let Me Kiss You' - are all decent without stunning you into submission, and my interest had wavered to the point of switching over by the time they wrapped things up with The Smiths' 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' (curses!).

But it was as one of the piano-stool-interview victims that Morrissey was at his wilfully awkward and entertainingly obnoxious best, refusing to engage in any kind of matey bonhomie with Holland and coming out with some wonderfully acidic observations. He claimed that Los Angeles is "a very pleasant place, as long as you don't meet people", and in response to Holland's suggestion "You look like you could be a politician", he said curtly "I've never been so insulted". Even better was his immediate riposte to the rhetorical question "Can you think of a better show to be on than this?": "'Badger Watch'."

I couldn't help thinking that someone involved in the making of the programme has a mischevious sense of humour, putting the man who once told NME "Reggae is vile" on the same show as a trio of reggae artists including Junior Murvin. The fact that he also called it "the most racist music in the entire world. It's an absolute glorification of black supremacy" might explain why he has his own fanpage on a white supremacist website. The kindest thing you could possibly say is that what he says (and sings) often leaves him open to misinterpretation along these lines, and you have to wonder about someone who is revered by people who despise Cromwell for letting Jews back into the country and who are so detached from reality as to believe that New Labour is a "thinly-disguised Communist farrago". Morrissey's refusal to distance himself from any of this hardly helps matters.
In denial

On the subject of "white power", I was disappointed to see that the BNP's Nick Griffin made an appearance in Nottingham on Saturday. It seems as though this is part of a campaign aimed at stirring up trouble in advance of the Euro elections next month. A friend and his Asian girlfriend who live in Ilkeston, a place where racial tensions have flared up in the past, had a BNP flyer through their door the other day. The picture was of the party's prospective candidate for the area, surrounded by his family and holding his baby boy. Above the child's head it read: "Daddy's not a racist". As far as cogent denials go, that's pathetic. You can dress it up all you like, but under that suit-wearing family man image it's the same old poisonous prejudice.