I suddenly find myself unable to continue ignoring the royal wedding. It's got Daleks in it.
A royal wedding street party with a difference will see a Dalek serve up trays of drinks and snacks to guests on Friday - presumably with cries of 'Extermi-Cake'.
WOULD YOU CARE FOR A PLAS-TIC CUP OF LUKE-WARM CHE-RRY-ADE. Although, the more I think about it, the more this starts to make sense. What better way to celebrate a great British institution than with a terrifying symbol of imperialistic aggression? Particularly, one that some bloke from the Home Counties has spent a week painting red, white and blue?
I am no stranger to those odd periods of mass hysteria that we're all subjected to on occasion. When Diana died I bought Candle in the Wind twice. I saw Titanic three times in the cinema (and each time, because it is a four-hour-long behemoth, I had to go to the loo just before Kate Winslet gets nekkid.) We're all allowed to get emotional beyond the bounds of reason now and then, especially if we blog self-deprecatingly about it years later. But this one just seems supremely pointless. Two people I don't care about are performing a ceremony I don't care about. I'm not invited. I don't get any of the cake. I am unsure what, as a nation, we all gain by waving flags to solemnize the fact that, according to a book most of us haven't read, two young people are now permitted to fuck.
I shall be at work tomorrow. Although I might take the opportunity to have an excuse to rewatch The Princess Bride.
Obviously I never, under any circumstances, want to give the Daily Mail the benefit of my pageviews. Every time I click on a link to dailymail.co.uk I get counted and increase the value of their website to advertisers, and I don't believe the Daily Mail deserves to be considered valuable by anyone. Sometimes, however, I want to read their articles to see what kind of a car crash they've come up with this time, and this is where istyosty.com steps in.
Istyosty.com reads the Daily Mail so you don't have to; saving a cached version of the page so that it only gets viewed once on the Mail's server, and can then be pointed/laughed at at our leisure elsewhere. The cached version, when viewed, might have comments that are out of date, but seriously, nobody reads Mail comments.
I will get this damn thing to work. Once it's done I'll probably install the official version instead, but this has become personal now. So far it installs properly, but doesn't actually work. I'm learning things about variable scoping that I really hoped I'd never need to know.
Still, it beats doing real work.
miss_s_b just posted her Political Compass, and reminded me that it's been a while since I've done mine. I know that I've swung significantly more to the radical-left in the last six months alone. So here we go:
The Political Compass
Economic Left/Right: -6.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36
The last time I did one of these was 24th August, 2007, when it looked like this:( Moar graphs )
You can, of course, do your own here should you so wish.
It's come to my attention that I should probably make the following clear: I was not actually present at the demo/riot in Parliament Square on Thursday. Somehow in my blog post I managed to neglect any mention of the words
BBC News live stream, which might have made the whole thing significantly more clear.
It might also have been more clear for those of you who read me on the Twitters, on which I made comments like
@gominokouhai I got no work done today and BBC News is burned-in to the company monitor. Thanks for the economic stimulus, fuckos.However for those of you who only read the blog post I may have given the wrong impression.
I don't have the money to go down to That London for a demo. I went to That London for a holiday. I came back, and as soon as I'd done so, I watched the place burn on live TV. The content of the post is still 100% accurate: I saw all of those things happen, I just saw them happen through a browser window.
What's interesting, though, is the distinction between the live news stream and what was later shown, after editing, on the 8 o'clock news. I suppose that's why they call it a news
story. The BBC have a duty to provide balanced coverage, but sometimes I wonder if they take that duty too seriously: there's a difference between balanced and insipid. It's blatantly obvious from the raw footage that the Met instigated the violence. The march was peaceful and good-natured, and was proceeding along the agreed route until the demonstrators saw a kettle being formed ahead. We've all seen what happens in kettles, and it's entirely understandable that they might want to avoid it.
@PennyRed To avoid kettling, bits of the march are splitting off down sidestreets then rejoining. Benny Hill again!
I read another blog post (can't find the link right now, will edit if I see it again) that suggested that the agreed route was cordoned off. The marchers had nowhere else to go, so kept walking, and found themselves in Parliament Square. They weren't supposed to be there, but they hadn't been given a choice. The Met subsequently used the fact that they'd deviated from the agreed route as the sole justification for everything that followed.
Once inside the kettle, the police continued to deny that it was a kettle. Protestors who wanted to get out were sent to the opposite side of the square, where they were told they could exit; once there, they were sent back to the other side again. I watched Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry claim that no containment was taking place. At the same time I could watch the crowd trapped in the Square and read their Twitter streams: it must have felt very different to the demonstrators on the ground.
When you get 20,000 people in a small space, there is inevitably going to be some pushing and shoving. I watched it on the live stream. It looks like nothing more than a quiet crowd of people confined in a small area. Certainly there was nothing going on that warranted this mounted charge.
A lot has been made of the fact that a police officer was pulled off his horse and injured. We've got the footage of that too. There are no protestors anywhere near him; it looks like the horse gets spooked and he falls off because he's a crap rider. The BBC report suggested that the horse bolted because of a firecracker; not a very good police horse either if it can't deal with loud noises (Note: see expert commentary below), and besides this is a world away from
being dragged off police horses and beaten. Furthermore, behind the guy falling off his horse you can see two young women being whacked with a baton for no reason whatsoever. So the violence had already begun by this point, and it wasn't the students perpetrating it.
Newsnight last night was a fifteen-minute condemnation of the fact that some protestors brought snooker balls with them. The NUS spokeswoman, who hadn't brought snooker balls with her, spent the whole time being asked why she might have brought snooker balls with her. We have one single report of a snooker ball being thrown (and one of a golf ball), which rapidly snowballed into Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry announcing that her officers were
under constant attack with snooker balls. I would expect a senior police officer to at least be able to count to three, let alone one; it's the number of
'ellos they're supposed to say.
While we're at it, let's look at Charlie Gilmour. The kid's a prick, no question. What's important is that there was one of him, and let's be generous and say ten idiots who'd brought snooker balls. That leaves 19,989 people in the kettle who were not utter tosspots and who had no reason to be contained.
In any gathering of 100 people I fully expect 90 or 95 of them to be fucking morons. That's simple statistical expectation. The fact that we can only talk about two or three idiots in a throng of twenty thousand says a great deal about the majority who were there for peaceful reasons and who remained peaceful throughout, even while the batons rained down indiscriminately. The police, on the other hand, went to Whitehall spoiling for a fight. Not finding one, they created one to suit their purposes. While they did so, Julia Pendry was lying on national TV about
methods of last resort.
And now: linkdump! Here's just a selection of eyewitness reports.
- Laurie Penny's excellent piece: Inside the Parliament Square kettle
- This is what democracy smells like
- Jody McIntyre was dragged from his wheelchair and beaten; police later set about beating up the empty wheelchair
- Police claim they
showed restraintat student demo
- Here is a photo of a police officer laughing while hitting a 15 year old girl
- Lies, damned lies, and crowd control
While I'm here, this is an excellent summary of the reasons underlying the protests, and why it affects more than just students: What we're arguing against and what we're fighting for
I was standing in Parliament Square two days ago. Today I watched it burn.
Specifically, I watched a peaceful protest march take legitimate steps to avoid an unauthorized kettle on the street ahead of them, which the Met then used to justify random and wanton police brutality against unarmed students. There was a bit of jostling, sure. Maybe some pushing and shoving. That sort of thing happens when you have a crowd of ten thousand people in one place. Then I watched the horses charge for no reason. It takes a lot of people to organize a charge like that: you can see the unmounted officers simultaneously move aside, presumably on a prearranged signal to let the horses through, who stampede into the crowd with no warning. I can understand a certain amount of violence from individual policemen who might get caught up in the moment: they're human like the rest of us. But here we see that somebody in command made a decision to charge into a mostly-quiet crowd, and the order was passed on to several hundred trained police officers, each of whom is charged with maintaining the peace. Not one of them said: hang on, this might be dangerous.
And then I watched Metropolitan Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry lie, and lie, and lie again. First she said that the police had been facing constant violence all day, which was a lie. Then she said that no one was being kettled when they were. Then she said that kettling was a necessary act of last resort, which it isn't, and which doesn't explain why the Met always hurtle to use it at the first available opportunity. We saw them try to establish a kettle while the march was still peacefully processing along the prearranged route. That's why people deviated from the march route in the first place, and why all of this kicked off in the first place.
If the Met insist on using kettling as a standard practice, people are going to start dying, and it's going to be the Met's fault.
I was standing on Whitehall just the other day, doing the tourist thing. Big Ben was right there and Downing Street was right behind me; all these icons of our common culture that stand out.
REVOLUTION was still spraypainted on the walls from the last protest, but I was able to look beyond these temporary aberrations and see the beautiful buildings and architecture of a glorious nation.
Not any more. This is Britain now, and we're all fucked. I want out.
I think I've figured out how to destroy the Conservative Party. How to make their tiny inbred brains asplode so that we can move into their disproportionately huge Knightsbridge houses, roll around in all their leftover money, and ultimately become the very things we hate and thus let the cycle begin anew. It's ideologically unsound but it's a vocation, at least.
The trick is to make the Big Society actually work.
Nothing will make that oleaginous Etonian fuckface and his waxen-fizzoged fourth-form fag (I am convinced that Gideon Osborne is secretly an Auton) more angry than the sight of poor people getting on with their lives and being relatively comfortable. It is our moral duty to see that this is so. With any luck, we can make them all die from a combination of gout and hypertension. Let's let the retired colonels seethe themselves to death at the sight of poor people being happy.
The Big Society is, as everyone knows, a giant lie intended to make poor people suffer. Let's call their bluff.
Let's help those of our friends who need medical care. Let's set up charities and trusts for the disabled and the mentally ill. Let's generate community-based work programs directed at the unemployed with the goal of beautifying our townscapes. Let's do these things, not out of a sense of love for our fellow men (although feel free to do that if that's your bag; in which case, groovy), but because it will drive Cameron and his ilk into a full-on rage.
In ten years time, we'll be living in flower-bedecked, well-tended communities with neighbourly values and a functional system of socialized healthcare. They'll have gorgeous glass and steel towers in central London, but there'll be nobody there to clean their toilets or look after their children or work in their Starbuckses.
The societies that we form will actually work. Theirs will be hate-filled, conspicuous-consumerist hellholes full of rich people who sneer at their neighbours and fear everyone else. We will have good coffee and clean toilets. They will have large bank balances. Let's see which of us sleeps warm and cosy at night. And when they come crawling to us because they have terrible liver diseases brought on by overconsumption which we know how to treat, we shall say: sorry, you can afford private healthcare, thus you're not eligible.
Their children will be spoiled brats with an aristocratic sense of entitlement. Our children will know how to make stuff and do stuff. And when the class war finally comes between our two societies, it will be be fought by people who know how to shout orders on one side, and people who know how to make guns on the other. I predict it will last about twenty minutes.
Let's do it.
My editrix informs me that I should make the following clear: when I say
fag above I'm talking about the public-school sense and not with any reference whatsoever to homophobia. (Interesting, however, that the word
fag is a homonym.)
While I'm at it I should probably point out that the
good coffee in the socialist utopia described above almost certainly won't come from the former Starbucks workers previously mentioned, unless they can learn new skills on departing the Starbuckses (although the clean toilets possibly will). Good coffee by definition comes from other, non-Starbucks, coffee shops.
Apparently national icon and jovial cuddly polymath Stephen Fry feels sorry for me. Apparently, if straight women were as mad up fer it as gay men were, I could go cruising. That way, I could have a lot more sex, because as a man, I want lots of sex. Gay men don't have this problem because when two gay men have sex, they're both men, and they both want sex, so they both have sex. But when a straight man wants to have sex with a straight woman, the straight woman doesn't want to have sex, so the man has to buy chocolates and flowers and shit and it's just not fair.
Do you hear that, straight women? The smartest man in Britain says that you're letting the side down. You're oppressing me with your persistent failure to organize dedicated areas of parkland where I can go to anonymously stick my wanger into you whenever I feel like it. For shame, straight women. Men want sex and you're not providing it. There must be something wrong with you.
As a straight man, I'll be the first to admit that I've not had nearly as much sex as I'd like to have had. And I'm in a committed relationship now, so I'm unlikely to get much more of it. All I have left is my memories, and they're no good—most of the women who feature in them were from Hull. I understand that my oat-sowing days are long in the past and that, even when they were going on, they weren't all that much cop. I hardly think that this is a reason to feel sorry for me. I feel that, as a straight man, I've received a number of other benefits that more than make up for the lack of sordid secret handjobs on tap.
Besides, there are straight cruising areas. They're the bars on the main street of every town on a Saturday night. And the surrounding areas. And anywhere within shouting distance of any sufficiently drunken straight man. These areas are designated as cruising areas by straight men and straight women don't get a lot of say in the matter.
Basically, all this shows is that sex is probably a little bit more complicated than one might think, even if one is a popular, reasonably intelligent, celebrity media figure.
(PS. All that stuff he knows about when he's presenting QI? I don't think he actually knows all of it. I think he reads a lot of it off an autocue. Industry secret.)
Apparently they're remaking The Day of the Triffids. I loved the book: I remember reading it on my way home from school. That wouldn't be a particularly interesting story, but I cycled.
The franchise is rather beloved across the pond, witters patronizing Yank David Ehrlich,
and maybe the closest thing the British have to a genuinely iconic monster. I'm not so sure about that. We've got Daleks and Cybermen. We've got Sontarans, Haemovores, Silurians, Sea Devils, Rutans, Terileptils, and the Nestene Consciousness. I could go on for some time in this vein, from Autons to Zygons, so perhaps I should move on.
The British need a mobile nettle as their
iconic monster? We've got Mr Hyde. We've got freaking Dracula. (Okay, Bram Stoker was Irish. It's close.) And we gave the world Margaret Thatcher. We're doing pretty well for monsters.
The 1962 movie took huge liberties with the book and is notable only for having Janette Scott in it, whom, it should be noted, I really got hot when I saw. Based on the trailer, though, it seems that all she gets to do is swoon over Howard Keel. I think I can safely give that a miss.
I'm off to watch the 1981 BBC adaptation again. There are two seconds of sub-par special effects and one bad hairstyle, but apart from that, it's pretty much perfect.
Auntie has an article about the hatefulness that is Comic Sans today. In the comments is the following gem:
I like it. I wouldn't use it in a business e-mail, but it's my choice of font for less formal conversations in the corporate version of MSN that's used where I work. I was completely unaware that it was controversial!
S Weekes, Cardiff
Dear S Weekes from Cardiff: everyone in your office secretly hates you. They wish death upon you every time you send an email. Out of your hearing, you are known as
the one that uses Comic Sans, and the person thus addressed always rolls their eyes and says,
oh, God, yeah. You'd never have known about this if it wasn't for the information you receive from an unbiased media outlet. Murdoch would have just let you continue oblivious as a despicable excuse for a human being.
Seriously. The BBC has educated ≥1 person about the awfulness of Comic Sans. That's worth the licence fee even if I didn't already get Doctor Who.
The Twitters are afire with the startling new revelation, made by the Doctor in his guest appearance on the Sarah Jane Adventures, that Time Lords are immortal now. Apparently the Doctor makes an offhand comment that indicates a vastly increased regeneration limit.
But everybody knows that Time Lords have twelve regenerations, witters the Radio Times in a spate of self-promotion: to claim otherwise would contradict canon dating back to 1976. The horror!
A few relevant points:
- The Deadly Assassin  itself already contradicts canon established in The War Games , in which—as the RT notes—the Doctor said that Time Lords live
forever, barring accidents;
- The Deadly Assassin was dull as fuck, and introduced a whole slew of problems into Doctor Who canon—let's just say that it wasn't the best idea in television history to reduce the Time Lords from powerful, enigmatic, mystery beings to a handful of squabbling bureaucrats in silly collars—so I, for one, would be quite happy to see it vanish from my personal canon;
- Doctor Who doesn't even have canon anyway. For fuck's sake, we've seen the fall of Atlantis three different times, and we've met three different Rassilons.
Not to mention, let's not forget, that regeneration limits are controlled by the Time Lords' omniscient council of vagueness (so they could offer the Master a new set in The Five Doctors), who don't exist any more; or possibly by the Eye of Harmony, which may or may not be inside the Doctor's own Tardis, so maybe he's hacked it since the Time War; the Doctor is
far more than just another Time Lord; and besides,
Rule One—the Doctor lies.
Is anyone really surprised about this? The BBC is making unimaginable amounts of money off the back of its most popular flagship program, but in about six years from now, after Matt Smith's replacement quits, they should start planning to shut it all down so as not to contradict a line of dialogue written 34 years ago?
A lot of subsequent stories have been based on that line of dialogue—like the entire plot of Mawdryn Undead. I've no sympathy. That's what you get for writing derivative works. Specifically, that's what you get for writing derivative works based on canon that a series doesn't have.
Besides, Matt Smith is my Doctor and he's going to be the Doctor for ever and ever and he can retire when he's eighty or something and hand over to the Twelfth Doctor then and not before. That's my personal canon.
Let's get one thing clear: Joseph Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth. He had the misfortune to be born in Germany 73 years ago. He was fourteen years old, probably not very bright (
it's always the family idiot who takes the Cloth), and if you didn't join you got shot. Calling him a Nazi Pope is lazy. Let's blame him for all of the things that are his fault.
That said, this ridiculous speech in which he equates atheists with Nazis simply goes to illustrate the levels of hypocrisy that only an organization like the Catholic Church can reach. The Nazis were bad: on this His Holiness and I agree. But you were there, dude, and what the fuck did you do about it?
I wasn't born until long after the Nazis had been defeated. If I had been, you can be sure that there would have at least been a blog post or two. But Ratzinger paid lip service to their morals, waited sixty years, and then tried to blame all of their crimes on atheism. You bastard.
I watched a reasonably interesting documentary [Iplayer, available until Wednesday] about Ratzingerdict last night, notable mostly for further displays of this same hypocrisy. The documentarian is a gay Catholic and he interviews a couple of other gay Catholics. All of them seem to be fine with the concept that their own Church wants them to go to Hell (
it's not a priority for me), because the Church does many other good things. It then totally fails to specify what those other good things are, but at one point the VO mumbles something about building a dialogue with the faithless. He then spends the rest of the hour talking about how much the Pope hates secular humanists: more so, it would seem, than he hates child molesters. Dear reader, you might want to use this as an indication of the Holy Father's balance of mind. Secular humanism is a great evil to be stamped out, believes the Pontiff—and this is, after all, the reason for his visit to these shores, the UK being a hotbed of secularism. I, for one, am (still) proud to live in a third world country.
The documentary jumps about from place to place and never reaches any sort of conclusion. If it were up to me, given the same raw material, I could have done an interesting, poignant piece about a man who grew up liberal, formed hardline opinions during the student riots, wants to continue his scholarly work but can't because he's duty-bound to be the Pope. Could have been a marvellous, humanizing piece about the man behind the monster, still totally within BBC impartiality guidelines. But even the Catholic who produced the documentary about the man doesn't seem to know what to make of him.
Plus, they get as far as interviewing his elderly brother, and this is apparently some sort of journalistic coup. This is the BBC. It should have gone like this:
Dear [some cardinal, any one, really]
Hello, we're the most respected broadcasting institution in the world, and we'd like to do an interview with your boss. Tuesday okay for you?
The Pope is many things: he's a doddery old man with a charming smile, and almost everything else about him is monstrous. But he's not a Nazi. He's just very, very bad at Godwin's Law.
I am, of course, avoiding the bloody football as much as possible, but I've still managed to hear about the great vuvuzela debate. They're horn things that make a noise, and some people have been complaining that the noise is distracting them when they're trying to watch the match. Because everyone knows how much you need to concentrate on the little men running around on the field. It's a tough job when you're a football supporter and therefore your entire cranium is filled with pus and luncheon meats.
Some football fans. Are complaining. About some other football fans. Making noise.
The irony is killing me.
Where can I buy me a vuvuzela? I shall stalk the streets of Edinburgh on Saturday nights, the Cloaked Avenger. Noisy bastards shall flee at the sound of my terrifying death-honk.
Not to mention the galactic logical disconnect involved in holding a World Cup in South Africa and then being surprised when South African fans act in a South African manner. The fact that people are whining about this demonstrates exactly the intellectual capacity of the average football supporter.
Three days down. How long is a World Cup, and when can I come out of hiding?
The plan for tonight was to get horribly drunk and watch The West Wing until I passed out. If I woke up tomorrow morning in a terrifying neo-Thatcherpunk dystopia, then so be it: start stockpiling guns then. (The phrases
disabilty benefits and
cold dead hands spring to mind.) But I have to be up at 10am tomorrow for an 11am appointment, after which I expect to be on my feet for ten hours straight, in uncomfortable shoes.
But this is, after all, the first truly online election in our nation's history. I'm sitting here now with the BBC live feed running and two-and-a-half IM windows open to politically-clued-up people. I could have Channel 4 open if I ran a shitty operating system; I could have Twitter open if I gave a fuck about Twitter.
This is like Eurovision, except that the fate of the country is in the balance.
Maybe I'll stay up. There's gritty drama, and legal challenges, and Paxman, and long queues in true British fashion.
Worst case: we get punk music back.
Apparently Chris Morris says that attempting to create controversy is
one of the most boring things you can do. It seems odd, then, that he never sits down and thinks:
for my next project, I'll write about the droll antics of a cartoon dog. Instead, for his first feature film, he's taken on the popular subjects of Islamic extremism and suicide bombing. A rollicking good time is guaranteed for all.
Morris is doubtless going to receive unending flak from the same people who spectacularly missed the point of Paedogeddon by claiming that it was making light of a taboo topic. But terrorism is comedy and has been for some years now. Remember the Glasgow Airport attacks? Two idiots drove their car into a bollard, a wee jakey baggage-handler having a fag break kicked them in the nutsacks, and they fell over. While on fire. That's not terrorism, that's slapstick. With a provenance like that, a film like Four Lions can't fail to have comedy value. But is it good satire?
It doesn't have to be. Morris' satire is uncompromising and uncomfortable; it goes beyond amusing into disturbing when he depicts a bunch of bizarrely stupid people, then turns the mirror around and says, That's You, That Is. You squirm in your seat and maybe come away with a different view of the world, but you don't laugh. This is why I've always preferred The Day Today to Brass Eye; it's sillier, and it bites less. No one can deny that Morris' satire bites with the viciousness of the deadliest shark, but you don't always want to settle down and watch a fun comedy only to find, halfway through, that your arm's hanging off.
So in tackling the very current and pertinent subject of Islamic terrorism, Morris has wisely chosen to use it only as a setting. This isn't a film about terrorism, it's a film about dysfunctional group dynamics. The characters are jihadists, but they might as well be a five-a-side football club or a scout group engaged in some crazy caper. Actually, thinking about it, they might as well be The Young Ones. There's the bossy one, the thick one, the cool one, and the slightly-saner one. As they bumble and bicker their way through doctrinal disputes and IED manufacture, we get to see some wonderfully-drawn character moments and learn convoluted new insults amongst the immensely quotable dialogue.
The plot follows our eponymous Lions through the tribulations of martyrdom: building suicide bombs, trial runs, selecting targets, and avoiding detection. Everything is presented in such a straightforward way that when they finally start to execute their plan in the final reel, it comes as a jarring shift in tone. The awkward juxtaposition of domestic comedy with real horror perfectly mirrors the characters' own feelings towards the end of the story, and thus was probably intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Morris may not always be subtle, but he knows his craft.
There's some incredibly effective use of hand-held camerawork to create an immersive feel, and not in the usual, tired manner in which they lazily emulate the fly-on-the-wall documentary. Since the characters spend half of the film pointing cameras at each other, when your point of view wobbles it simply means that you're standing in the living room with them, a fifth uncredited co-conspirator with another camcorder. The performances are genuine and natural: the characters are just blokes who happen to be making explosives on their allotment.
If anything, that's the message of the film. Terrorists are human beings, just like you: which means that, just like you, they're incompetent, clueless, and foolish, vainly stumbling through life in a harebrained struggle to find some sense to make of it all, an attempt that's ultimately doomed to be an utter failure. Most of the kneejerk criticism from the tabloids is going to be about the fact that the film portrays terrorists in a sympathetic light, but what it's actually doing is portraying people with bitter, nihilistic cynicism, in a heartwarming sort of way.
The climactic scenes are set at a major public event such as that where terrorism might conceivably take place (no spoilers here). They feel like a bit of a copout, as if it's an attempt to cram some extra humour into the film by having everybody in silly costumes at the end. If so, it's a wasted effort: the film is hilarious without help. I laughed a lot. And because it wouldn't be a Chris Morris production unless it made me feel horrendously uncomfortable in some way or other, I laughed a lot, realised with horror what nightmarish events I was laughing at, and then started to laugh at that instead.
It's a very British film. I think it's a very important film, but only in an incidental way. Mostly it's a film with brilliant characterization. If it horrifies us then it's because we find ourselves relating to and engaging with monsters, but we did that in Frankenstein, Downfall, and Dr Strangelove. Sometimes it's good to stare into the abyss, and to realise that the abyss is pathetic.
Just like you.
Since time immemorial, man has asked the eternal question: how much bacon do you get off one pig?
The answer, apparently, is
Since time immemorial minus the time it takes to get that somewhat unhelpful answer, man has asked the second question: okay then, how much meat-in-general do you get off one pig?
According to my documentary photographer, who was tasked with the recording and exact quantification of this momentous event, the precise answer is
Gorgie City Farm was selling off some rare-breed pigs, born early last summer. The boar was Gloucester Old Spot, and the sows were a mix of Large Whites, Landraces, and Berkshires. I don't know which kind it was that we got. I set up a consortium with spudtater and digitalraven, with the intention of buying half of one.
Harsh winter weather kept delaying the finishing of the pigs. In the meantime, they were free to frolic and play and enjoy a long life, and to continue consuming food so that they could convert it into meat for my benefit. Finally it was time, and on Monday wee Snorkle was killed on my behalf. He was then sent to the excellent Findlays of Portobello for butchering, and we collected half of him on Saturday. And thus began the legendary Week of Eating Quite a Lot of Pork.( Pictures herein )
I still have to work out what to do with the flank, though. And I understand that the kidney didn't work out too well. For balance, here's digitalraven's report of the barbecue, which contains the phrase
the platonic form of pork, a phrase with which I find myself unable to disagree.
I've always said that happy pigs make the best bacon, and Snorkle was, by far, the happiest pig I've ever had the pleasure to meet.
After a week of nothing but pork, I'm still looking forward to pork omelettes tomorrow, and the last chops the day after that. What could be better recommendation than that?
I bought an album. For money.
I first came across The Indelicates when they were supporting Amanda Palmer at the Picture House last Fringe. Half way through the first song I thought: hang on, these guys are actually pretty damn good. I downloaded their first album (American Demo) that evening, and have been listening to it ever since.
American Demo is epic stadium rock, like Queen at their best, with witty, yet deeply bitter and sarcastic, lyrics reminiscent of The Beautiful South. So when I heard, through elmyra's brilliant guest post on Charlie's blog, that the second album was forthcoming—and, no less, available online via a new record label offering a pay-what-you-like model—I hied myself thither as soon as was convenient to buy it for real money. And I paid twice as much as I would normally have done, because I freerode the first one.
I was also delighted to learn from elmyra's article that there's an actual economics term for illicit downloading. It's not
stealing because it's physically impossible to deprive someone else of property which they still own when you're done not-stealing it. The proper economists' term is
freeriding, and it's a word that I intend to popularize as much as possible. Not least because it doesn't sound nearly as punchy in overproduced, obnoxious, lying adverts telling you that you
wouldn't freeride a handbag.
***ASIDE IS OVER***
American Demo began with a track named The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock And Roll and ended with a furious howling exhortation to destroy all pop:
No more music—thank you and goodnight. In their follow-up album, Songs for Swinging Lovers, it becomes clear that The Indelicates don't just talk the talk: they've demonstrated the courage of their convictions by making an album without any music in it.
Gone is the RAWK of the previous instalment. In its place the lyrics have got a lot more angry, which is equivalent to Rage Against The Machine just shouting
FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME a lot without bothering to do a song first. Hmm.
It's cleverer than the previous one: I notice the second of their references to Nineteen Eighty-Four in the lyrics, and several vicious deconstructions of the class war. It's more grotesque than the previous one. And there are a lot of new musical influences: shades of swing, jazz, cabaret, and something like Bill Bailey's 1970s TV cop show music. This serves to brilliantly highlight just how musically versatile Simon and Julia are, but they all happen to be musical genres I don't particularly like—with the exception of 1970s cop show music obviously, which is awesome. Oh, and there are a few hints of the good bits of mid-90s Britpop chick-rock, which I love with a fervour unknown to most mortals.
And then I listened to it again, because I'd paid for it. Did I mention that I paid for it with money? Money, incidentally, which goes to the artists, which they can then exchange for goods and services. And when I listened to it again, I turned the volume up on the speakers of DOOM, DOOM, DOOM (thoroughly annoying scattergather in the process). And all of the old RAWK came flooding back.
The Indelicates are still The Indelicates, but now they're smarter, braver, subtler, and more intimate. More importantly, they've developed a voice for themselves that no conventional record label would ever dare allow. And they still rock, because you can't stop, can't stop the rock. Particularly in tracks like Europe, which is a bit like what would happen if Republica did hair metal in the style of Emerson, Lake and Palmer; or Be Afraid of your Parents (a sentiment of which I thoroughly approve), which is what would happen if Noel Coward did stadium rock, or Jerusalem, which is what would happen if The Beautiful South did The Beautiful South. I love it.
Did I mention that you, too, can own this album for the entirely reasonable price of whatever-you-want-to-pay-for-it, from the Corporate Records site here?
I am dying to find out what it sounds like live.