Jah Jah Dub

Monday, February 28, 2005

I hold in my hands the debut (optimistic) album by G4. When I have a chance to listen to it I’ll write a proper review, possibly in the style of a minute-by-minute match report. First: a few thoughts.

Can it possibly live up to expectations? What are my expectations? Is there even a small, optimistic part of me that thinks that it is going to stride the mounds of mediocrity? Did I ever like them, even a little? Was it all a joke – on me – and has it long gone flat? Can I ever hope to recapture the happy memories G4 have given me, from the initial astonishment that such a group had been given airtime, through their unlikely progress in X-Factor to their final, unbelievable defeat to Steve Brookstein in that woozy post-bottle of wine repose following the Muppets’ Christmas Carol?

The cover is much as you’d expect (see below): four creepily sober undergraduates at the fag-end of an Oxbridge Ball. The track listing is a round-up of their X-factor turns, plus a couple of new tracks. Being a Bowie fan, I’m looking forward to Life on Mars. I’m disappointed that Cry Me a River is no longer present, presumably that’s a copyright issue, I can’t believe that it wasn’t up to scratch.

The CD itself is a minimalist white, and bears the stamp of quality, those two characters: “G4”. Loose in the box is an insert advertising downloads of all the album’s tracks. Promising. Is this normal nowadays? I haven’t bought a CD in six months, it’s taken these boys to tempt me back from my lakeside log cabin.

Who’s the blond one? Is it Jonathan? He seems to have been pushed to the fore somewhat. Can’t imagine why. Perhaps because he is the only one who isn’t a 24 carat minger. The inlay card is not particularly spectacular – lyrics pasted into a Burton’s catalogue. They all thank their parents, which is sweet, and a sop to their target demographic. No shout-outs to God though, for G4 is a heathen outfit.

Why not try texting-“G4”-to-81148-for-free-news-updates from someone else’s phone?

More later.

21.10: Right. Let’s get this show on the road.

1) Bohemian Rhapsody

Fuck that’s loud. Turn it down a little. OK. Relatively faithful to the original. Hang on, “Liddle High, liddle low… doesn’t really madder….” What’s this Jonathan? Where’s the home counties voice gone? Poor show. Growl on the “thrown it all away.” You know, I’ve heard this song enough. If I never hear the original again it’ll be too soon, and shorn of the patented rising-from-stools visual, this is pretty boring. Think I’ll be skipping this one in future. It’s building nicely I suppose… Waiting for the guitar solo. The backing reminds me of a mysterious CD my aunt bought me once: “Orchestral Queen”. I did like Queen once, I guess, could probably like them again. I had a Bohemian Rhapsody t-shirt from the market too. When I was fourteen. Man, I’d love that t-shirt now. It’d be so tight. I would have to be poured into it. Brilliant. Right, Beelzebub stuff. What! No guitar solo! A filthy orchestral break. The main explanation of the success of Queen was the Brian May solos (copyright Alistair Johnston 2005)! Enough of this. Next!

2) Nessun Dorma

Ahh… World Cup’90. The first exams I ever had to do, my end of Year 7 ones, we called it “First Year” in my day, of course. Lineker! My cousin, Carolyn, the daughter of the Queen-buying Aunt used to tease her mother that she’d love a son like Lineker but Gazza was much better. Cameroon for the cup! My exams in C14! A big boy now! Reading Silence of the Lambs from the school library – too young for it really. Walking home past the cinema, picking up my copy of Flicks, acquiring an embarrassing knowledge of the films of the day, cutting out pictures from Return to the Blue Lagoon, sheepishly sticking them up. Hoping one day to be cool enough to go into Magpie records in Worcester. I went in the end too. Looked at a Belly album, thought it was my ticket to the big time. Never bought that ticket. Perhaps I should have. You could see Worcester cathedral and the Malvern Hills out of my window. That and the gasometer.

The song: workmanlike.


3) Everybody Hurts

Ooh! That vocal’s too loud. Jarring. This is the video when they all get out of the cars, yeah? Parodied on the Late Show (links to follow)? I don’t really do REM. I have Murmur, thought I’d make my way through them in order. Stalled. They didn’t do enough to hold my interest. To be fair, I’ve already given G4 more of a fair shake. Can’t imagine I’m missing much; I can more or less guess what they’d sound like. This is alright, actually. Nice enough, I suppose. Time to skip though. Barring an acapella breakdown I doubt it holds any surprises.

4) Circle of Life

Now I know dick about Disney films. Aie! Always with the jarring vocal entry. Where was I? Disney. Yeah, I was never into Disney. Saw the Lion King when I was about 17. I was under whelmed. Cartoon about lions, innit? What can I give you here… If you like the song you’ll probably like this. It’s reasonably faithful from what I remember. I need more though. Time to move on. Are you enjoying this stream of consciousness reviewing? I do hope so. I’m having fun.

5) Creep

When I first saw this performed I could barely contain myself. What brilliance! I doubt this can live up to it. It can’t – the shock of the new has worn off. Would I listen to this song again? Christ, would I listen to the album again? It’ll be recycled on compilations of course, but would I listen to it start to finish? We’ll see… Look, if you’ve heard Creep done by G4 before, then you know how this goes. If you haven’t, download it or borrow it from me. That’s it.

6) To Where You Are

Now I don’t know this one. Introduction makes it sound like a gentle ballad… What’s the history behind this song? It’s pretty poor, is it from Phantom or something like that? Sounds like one of the Lloyd Webber Kryptonite musicals. Can’t be doing with this one. Oh! Life on Mars is next! Is that a trip hop shuffling beat I hear? Might be, I’m not sticking around to find out.

7) Life on Mars

Brilliant! I love this song. Seen Bowie do it live too. It was, needless to say, awesome. He was a bit matey, and as I haven’t got round to saying before, the only good singers look like aliens, people you’d cross the street to avoid or your Dad. This is pretty good, actually. I mean, po-faced rock-bores will say it’s a travesty. Ignore them (oh, you do already? Good): it’s a song. Ignore it or enjoy it. Man, I’m turning this up… From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads, indeed! It’s about to be writ again! It sure is, Jonathan, and you’re doing the writing! And fair play to you. Ha! Excellent warbling on that “Mars”! Well done! Should I be proof reading these?

8) The Flower Duet

Oh, the music from the British Airways advert! A nice palate-cleanser. Now, I know I’m supposed to say, “Oh, the duet from Lakmé, this version is dreadfully disappointing…” but I didn’t know what it was called. To me it’s the music from the British Airways advert, I’m not ashamed – I know lots of things you don’t!

9) Broken Vow

Don’t think I know this one either. Let’s give it a whirl. Piano. Classy. “Tell me his name, I want to know. The way he looks and something something… I need to see his face…” Anything you’re not telling us, Jonathan? Or is this a spiritual? Oh, I see. He’s wearing the cuckold’s horns and it’s all eating him up and shit. Plaintive violin. Sympathetic harmonies. Yes, I get it. This is a bit like a school drama, these are the show off kids. Well, you may have thought you were cool then, but you aren’t now, are you? For all your hanging with the girls from the Alice Ottley on co-productions, where are you now? Out you say. Out in exciting bars and clubs. Well, I am at home writing a review of a G4 album that no one will buy or be interested in reading. Yes. You are living your life, you are unembarrassed to talk to new people, you are not ashamed of your worthlessness. And why should you be? You are better than me. You always were. You always will be. In other news, this song is mediocre.

10) Jerusalem

Can it be true, will they sing Jerusalem? It can be! It is! The one hymn we liked at school. I’m turning this up again. William Blake and G4 – what a combination! I’m in heaven! “AND WAS JERUSALEM BUILDED HERE?” “Built”, surely? Not bringing you your arrows of desire. Perish the thought. Ha! Excellent bass vocal there. Christ! There’s a marching drum. Ta-tum-tum-tum. Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! I stand and applaud you boys, I am truly roused.

11) You’ll Never Walk Alone

I am not from Liverpool. This song has no special significance for me. Quite nice, though. Like a comforting hug. I used to get the ferry to Liverpool from the Isle of Man. To me the Liver Birds were more than a sitcom I’ve never seen (of course Nerys Hughes) they signalled The Main Land. My home. I had made my escape from Alcatraz, survived the storm-tossed Irish sea, and was back in civilisation, or a decent approximation there of. Liverpool was a shoppers’ paradise to the Manx. Mind you, so was Chester. Yeah. Really. People would go “across” on shopping trips and bring back their riches to show their friends. “Ooh, that’s a lovely fabric, where’d you get that? Is that Tammy Girl.” “No. I got it ‘across’.” “Ooooh.”

12) My Way

Wow. The last song already. Feels like I’m just getting started. I’m ambivalent about this song. As a long-time Sinatra fan who has read biographies of the man and that, I am a bit sentimental about it. In a lot of ways it’s very unlikeable – yeah, fuck you, I fucked up all over the place, but at least they were *my* fuck ups; but he did live an extraordinary life on his own terms. He was a prick though. On the other hand, although his most famous song, it’s so far from his best. The early subtlety has given way to cheap bombast. Still, it’s not as bad as “New York, New York” or “Love and Marriage” those two pieces of excrement that usually get played. Anyway, G4. No backing on this, just vocals. You know what this is like? Four guys in tennis whites, jumpers draped over their shoulders, singing to a group of equally shallow, tittering girls. At least one of the men is called Jeremy; at least one of the girls, Jessica. Or it’s like those terrible evenings towards the end of term at college when the choral scholars would let their hair down (to their ears) and sing a few show tunes – to the idiots' delight, and my indifference. There’s a little orchestral swell now. If you need to listen to this song then go for the Sinatra version, but to be honest you need to own at least “Songs for Swinging Lovers” and “In the Wee Small Hours” before you earn that right. And that’s it! An abrupt ending.

So… Is it any good? Well, it depends what you mean. If you mean, “does it have any artistic merit?” then no! Of course it doesn’t! What are you thinking! These versions are completely redundant! If you mean, “is it fun?” Not really! It’ll clear a room! “Will I listen to it again?” All the way through? I already am! Have I had £12.99 (yes, really) worth of fun? Well, what’s that, a film and some popcorn? A gig? A few hours in the pub? Trust me, I’m already up on the deal.

Don’t buy it though. I’ve gone there so you don’t have to.

Hope you enjoyed the 2038 words on G4’s album - don’t worry, as with everything else I put any damn effort into, I expect no comments.

Imagine my surprise!

The outrage described in this article is not that of rational people fearing that televising exorcisms lends the ceremony a validity it does not deserve, but the bleating of superstitious ninnies. I await with interest the live dunking of suspected witches.



Saturday, February 26, 2005

Good enough for me! Well, if you're going to believe in ghosts, I suppose a dry rock is as good a guide as any to the future.

Gary: Famously, about a year ago I had a dream about Phil Collins teaching me the drums... Still the best dream I've ever had... even if I still can't play the drums.

Album out on Monday:

Check out the sales ranking, I have my finger on the pulse of popular culture. I assume you'll be buying it. I'll have it by Monday morning. There'll be a review here by the evening. How much are you looking forward to Life on Mars?

Updated tracklist:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody (Graham Stack & Brian Rawling Mix)
2. Nessun Dorma
3. Everybody Hurts
4. Circle Of Life
5. Creep
6. To Where You Are
7. Life On Mars
8. Flower Duet from Madama Butterfly
9. Broken Vow
10. Jerusalem
11. You'll Never Walk Alone
12. My Way


Friday, February 25, 2005

They were playing Simply Beautiful in EAT today. It's a tune. As if you didn't know!

"Step up on the stage and show these people
what time it is, boooooyyy"

Knowing what time it is:

“Getting it.” Seeing the joke. Recognising a good argument. Sharpness. Wit. These seem to have only a limited relationship with intelligence as measured by our current system. Some of the cleverest people I know in term of book-smarts certainly know what time it is – my friend Stefan for one (Tim knows what time it is, I think, although he may be using the Julian calendar). Others are far off the mark – puffy, self-righteous, humourless… Other things may be more important, kindness for one, but people who get it tend to make the best company; even though you may disagree with them about most everything, you can at least relate to each other. One man who knows the time to such a degree of accuracy I think he may have an atomic clock is Norman Geras. Read his blog.

Talking of foxes, here's a poem for you. It's by Ted Hughes, not me. You need not prepare yourself for the embarrassment of reading terrible amateur poetry (like this).

Don't worry, I'll go back to reality TV and slagging off try-hards soon enough.

The snow is also a welcome intrusion of “the natural” into our lives. Like the squirrels in my garden, and the reek of fox which greeted me when I opened my front door this morning, it is a reminder that we live within nature, we do not stand outside of it. We are animals – not reason machines, consumers or administrators - and we have habitats as well as cities.

The fifth day of snow today. Not one large fall, the only of the year, incapacitating the city - five days where instead of rain: snow. Somehow this seems as it should be. The hum of disappointment that the world is not as it is supposed to be, that the personal reality is inferior to the model, has quietened this week. Looking out of my bedroom window last night, making out the dusted redbrick chimneys of the parallel terraces, it was as if the discordance had shifted. The snow had bound my contemporary experience to other Londons, “real” ones from old photographs and the imaginary but more perhaps more vivid Londons of old films. For once it seemed like the brochure had told the truth. The snow had validated my city, making it as worthy as A Christmas Carol London, Bridget Jones London, Mary Poppins London and all the other, less twee, projections of the place. And it seemed like this new solidity and continuity meant that we could stand unashamed beside Los Angeles, New York, Moscow and Tokyo; our mythical city could match any other.

As my train slid through South London this morning – Balham, Wandsworth Common, Clapham Junction, Battersea Park, Victoria – the usual grime was veiled, the city seemed emptier, quieter, the black stripped trees and concrete blocks had taken on a new role: perches for the snow to sit on. Rather than struggle on the Underground, I decided to walk from Victoria. There were already tourists outside the preposterous (and preposterously ugly) neo-classical façade of Buckingham Palace, tourists who might have felt a similar jolt that I often get in places I don’t know well. My fellow residents and I had not been placed here as local colour. We had places to go; we lived and worked here. I remembered again that the figures in old photographs and films are the same. They are not being charmingly Edwardian or “’50s” for our benefit. This here and now is not an epilogue; it is as deserving of stories and celebration, as glamorous and interesting as any other place and time.

Unfortunately the snow had not settled on Green Park, its name demands that the grass be seen at all times.

"As any US neocon commentator will tell you, Hollywood is run by a vast leftwing conspiracy determined to destroy morality and promote everything from paganism to something one commentator keeps referring to as homosexualism."

Oh really, Alexis Petridis? You don't understand neoconservatism at all, do you?


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Didn't expect to find this in my bookmarks.

I assume there must be a march somewhere against French racism and support for brutal, repressive regimes? What's that? There isn't? Oh, sorry. You're right. They do make marvellous cheeses.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Peter Lawford

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Diogenes the Cynic

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Tom Paine

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Camille Desmoulins

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Friedrich Engels


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A word on Dad's gifts:

It all started a few years ago. Before that Dad used to ask what I wanted for birthdays and Christmas. I would buy him something that I thought he might like but that I approved of: A Kind of Blue, The Black Dahlia, Get Carter... You understand, of course. After some confused years trying to establish what the dynamic between us actually was, I decided to make more of an effort: to slip the shackles of CDs and videos. It was his fiftieth birthday, a special day, so I extended myself beyond what I could really afford and went for The Earth from the Air. As an amateur photographer, pseudo-ecologist (cog in the arms trade) and keen traveler, I thought it was ideal for him. And so it seemed; he lapped it up. I eagerly awaited my next parcel. Eventually it arrived. But I was at work so had to take a couple of hours one morning to go to the sorting office. It was a breezy July morning as I worked my way to the sorting office in Clapham, A to Z clutched in my hand. It was a box! What could be in it? How would Dad respond to my raising of the present ante? Eagerly I pulled off the masking tape. Polystyrene farfalle. I dug. Ah! The DVDs I'd lent him. Good. I could do with watching the Wild Bunch again. Now, what's this? It seems to... No... It can't be... It is... A towel, split in two, white and brown - "Arse" on the brown side, "Face" on the white. Ok. A joke present. What else is here? Of course an electric shock roulette machine. I dug further. There must be more. Surely Dad would recognize my effort and thought. Surely he appreciated my gesture and would respond.

No. He did not.

We've settled into an equilibrium since then. The dates of celebrations are somewhat flexible in our family - we exchange when we see each other. Last summer Dad and I offered the politely expected, both choosing exactly the same things: a bottle of whisky and a book. I received my Christmas presents at the weekend, as baffling, unpredictable and inspired as you'd imagine: a book about buying and selling (hardback, slightly mysterious, same given to my sister - whispers, "remainder"), a biography of Marlon Brando (OK...) and a remote control hovercraft.

That's a "remote control hovercraft".

Hope you enjoyed the working out of some of my issues with my Dad.

My Dad was married on Friday. I was (as always) the Best Man (in the county). An intimate affair, speeches were not required; nor, thank the Lord, was a stag night. I said a few words and proposed a toast to the happy couple. My excessive nerves were rewarded with a hip flask and a half bottle of whisky. Ahhh, father, truly I am thy son.

A bit late, but I'd like to express my solidarity with Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad.

On the bus back to Streatham the Russians exuded, "Kak? You thyink *thyis* is cyold?"

The Africans bristled: "Yes, you fuckers. It's fucking snowing. Stop your unspoken cockiness."

It's snowing in London at the moment; I'm almost persuaded that I live in a charming Northern European city.

Jah Jah Dub Recommends:

Finding the buying of things more exciting than the using of them, I have ended up with far more cookbooks than I need. This one was actually worth it. For someone who didn’t learn at his mother’s side, it is invaluable. The writing is clear and witty (excuse me while I slip into something more comfortable: the vernacular of the lazy and unimaginative reviewer) and the recipes simple and satisfying. Importantly, it teaches you how to cook - not just how to follow instructions - each dish coming with a list of suggested variations. I wouldn’t bother with this though, written for divorcés and widowers (…now you’re on your own, you have to look after yourself for maybe the first time… here’s how to boil an egg… this would be a good dish to serve to any visiting family members…) just browsing through it is to catch a whiff of true loneliness: a bleak and harrowing experience.

Jah Jah Dub's Rules of Thumb - (1)

Any "'blog" which describes itself as containing "rants" or "musings" should be regarded with extreme suspicion.

The girl in Nero’s who looks like the pixie from the “Land on your own moon” Playstation adverts has graduated from trainee to full barista status. She has exchanged her magenta t-shirt for a black one. She has come of age. I felt a taste of the wistful pride that a parent feels when their child leaves home.

In an interview with the Standard, Ms Kelly vowed that the long-awaited Education White Paper will reward high-performing schools and allow more children from poor backgrounds to go to Oxford and Cambridge.

All right-thinking people have long been as one on this: Oxbridge is a throbbing boil on the face of British society, and must be lanced. Its treasures must be plundered and used to fund literacy programmes and childcare. Its land must be seized to make way for Lidls, industrial parks and technical colleges. Its buildings must be appropriated and left standing as a reminder to all of the follies of the past.

Excellence is the goal, not that it occurs in the Thames Valley or the sweaty foot of the Fens. Attracting the brightest, regardless of background, is Oxbridge’s problem, not ours. That the facilities and teaching needed to foster talent exist somewhere should be the national concern. We don’t worry that there are not enough working class children at Eton, we leave that institution to its strange ways. So let Oxford and Cambridge go private and let’s stop shoring up their indefensible position as the Best there was, is and ever will be. Instead of gifting our brightest to these absurd anachronisms, we should ensure that there is excellence elsewhere.


When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?


Monday, February 21, 2005


Thursday, February 17, 2005

People who have studied the following disciplines make the best company:


Phyisicists can go either way: princes or hellhounds.

Anyone else is not really worth bothering about.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Going Up/Going Down

Instead of absolute positions, this list measures the rate of change, the first derivative, dGood/dt.

+10 Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
+9 Taking the stairs
+8 Learning about Greeks and Romans
+7 Walking home via Barcombe Avenue
+6 Thinking about Hispanic culture and language
+5 Science
+4 Penguins
+3 Baseball
+2 Learning poetry
+1 Coffee

0 Tea

-1 Reality TV
-2 Monkeys
-3 Worrying About nuclear proliferation
-4 Trainers
-5 Oscar Peterson
-6 Football
-7 Commenting on blogs
-8 Buying Sandwiches
-9 Arguing about taste
-10 Internally spelling out “different” as “di-ffêr-ent”

Spotted on Jermyn Street: a young idealistic priest, clutching a bible in his right hand and wearing a long, black robe. (Cassock? I don’t really do religion.) I almost asked him where were the twenty French schoolboys who should be following him from a French reminiscence of a 1940s childhood.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

It's late, yet the sky still has the hue of old Turkish Delight. Being in London at night is like sitting on a fading halogen bulb. Bon nuit, my friends, it is time for me to retire for the evening*.

* Note to self: stop talking like Uncle Monty.

You know, Shakira's Suerte is possibly even better than Whenever, Wherever, the English version.

Is it wrong for our house to still have a Christmas tree up? Marvellous thing, selective breeding, it is yet to shed its needles.

Remembered today:

A friend of mine at sixth form had Sky TV. Hours would be filled sampling the thrilling MTV - the videos for Fish Heads, later found to be by They Might Be Giants, and King Missile's Martin Scorsese perhaps making the biggest impression - and, once it was launched, the more sophisticated delights of VH1. However, the film channels provided the most excitement. Now, thanks to "The Lover", "an erotic journey", and "The Colour of Night", "an erotic thriller" - pieces of shit both - for a few heady months Jane March seemed a star in waiting, a bit like Julia Ormand in between Legends of the Fall and First Night*. My friend recorded The Lover and brought the tape round to my house - I trust the sympathetic reader will skip over the whys and wherefores of this, we were sixteen and powerless in the face of a hormonal storm - and left it behind when he left. After a selective reviewing of the film, the next day I recorded Martin Lewis's "Today's the Day" over the sections I thought he would have been most interested in. I returned the tape and started the countdown to when he'd discover my mischief. The next day he confronted me. Luckily we both worked in the same petrol station, and his easy access to free pornography gave him license to see the funny side.

I was pleased today to see that sixteen year old me still has the capacity to make his ten years older self laugh out loud.

* All roads lead back to my sixth form university trip. This was one of the cinema options one evening. Baffling now, my friends and I pushed for Beyond Rangoon**. I have no idea what we actually saw.

** Childhood taste is a whole other crazy issue and I should leave this post now before it's overwhelmed by footnotes. Still, I went to the cinema to see Medicine Man. What's more, I'd looked forward to it.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Baby I would climb the Andes solely
To count the freckles on your body...

Was there ever a more romantic lyric?

Lucky that my lips not only mumble
They spill kisses like a fountain...

Is pretty good too.

I really should have learnt my lesson by now: you go out for a drink after work with James and before the evening is through you’ll be singing karaoke in a gay pub. It’s inevitable. “Let’s Dance” this time - missed the first “Serious Moonlight”, caught the others. I may add it to my repertoire. Two Irishmen came up to us when we were looking at the list of song options. The first, a likeable and oleaginous drunk of around fifty, was all:

Where are you from? You look too exotic to be English.

(Runs back of index finger across my cheek)

Are you sure you’re not Slavic on your mother’s side?

His brief burst of “Danny Boy” was nice too. The approach of the second was – quite frankly - mystifying:

Do you have an agent? I’ll make you a star. You already are a star! Do you have an agent? I could take you to the top. The top! I don’t care about sentimentality or that you’re just here to ‘have fun’. I care about the bottom line.

(Slaps table)

The bottom line! You know Kate Moss? Well, do you? Do you know Kate Moss? Yes? Right. She was discovered in an airport. You see this?

(Takes out wallet)

In here is everything I have – access to all my money. You want it? Take it! Take it all! I’ll make you a star! Do you have an agent?

We managed to escape them. And James's version of A Letter From America was magnificent.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

As well reasoned as you'd expect from the editor of a royalist magazine:

Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty Magazine, told Sky News:
"I didn't think it would happen. It really was a shock but it was bound to happen. He's a widower, that doesn't mean he cares about Diana less. I think people who are supportive now are supportive and those who aren't never will be."

Peace on Earth

If only Arabs and Americans could realise that they aren't so different after all. Their common love of mustaches shows potential for a mutual understanding on grounds which would baffle the clean-shaven British.

John Bolton, US undersecretary of state

An Arab

Which is the more important, this or this? Which do you think will get more coverage?

Christ, what have I become? Posting about celebrity vs politics. Apologies.


The heroic conscience of the England team telling it like it is once again.

Must we live in a mediocre comedian's flight of fancy?


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

That Don't Impress Me Much (2) - Scarlett Johansson

Stop whining Scarlett. “Ooh, I know I’ll end up alone. It’s impossible to make a relationship work in this business. It’s sad, but that’s the way it is.” Boo hoo. Give it up then or stop complaining, you must have made enough to retire by now. And by the way love, you ain’t all that.

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Johnny Cash

I liked him before you did.

An Unexpected Picture for a Surprisingly Serious Post

The year after leaving university I started a Spanish evening class: it felt strange not having a structured programme of learning. I got over it, of course, and only went to four lessons. These were held in one of the Leeds Metropolitan sites. After the first lesson I went to the bar with a couple of friends who had decided to come along too. There was a circle of chairs in the middle of the room, with perhaps thirty fresh first years playing drinking games. It was awful, of course, the forced fun. Every few minutes one of the organisers would play a snatch of the song of the moment and the kids would dance around. “Who let the dogs out? Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!*” I remember one of these chuckleheads more clearly than the others. He’d jump up - bug-eyed, tongue lolling - spread his arms wide, tilt his head back and shake it, shouting out the words. At 22 I didn’t respect him - I could already see his desperation to impress, make friends and avoid some terrible loneliness. I didn’t have any affection for him either; I thought he was a prick. Now that I’m not so threatened by extrovert behaviour I am unable to emulate, I feel an avuncular fondness for that young man. In time, no doubt, the posturing sophistication and search for the hip of the twentysomething will seem to me to be equally sweet: children trying on grown-ups’ clothes. Perhaps the horizon-gap between what we really feel ourselves to be and the image we like to present to others is never closed – I hope I always have it, without this incentive to catch-up, we may ossify. I suspect that everyone has this to some extent, throughout their lives, but we recognise it in those younger than us as it is easier to see ourselves in them. Old people are probably like that too. Unless that’s what maturity is, the solidifying of self and the bringing into line of internal and external personalities. If so, count me out. Through immaturity we remain alive.

That was a bit po-faced, wasn't it? My fingers took over there, kept on typing.

* I always thought it was “Who? Who? Who? Who?” A search for the lyrics persuades me otherwise.

Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Christopher Hitchens

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Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Jose Mourinho

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Jah Jah Dub - Hall of Fame

Danny Baker

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

That Don't Impress Me Much (1) - Ellen MacArthur

Well, it’s an achievement of sorts, I guess, being the quickest at something. But so what? I don’t care that the boats are bigger nowadays, the technology more advanced, I see no reason why someone should make life harder for themselves… I also don't think that she has a responsibility to be charming. The dull are capable of extraordinary achiement too. But what was the point of the endeavour? Just to beat a record, to be number one on a historical league table of an easily-measurable factor. And that’s it. I’m not going to resort to banal adages about the “the journey” being more important than “the destination”, but this feat seems to me to be typical of the behaviour of goal-orientated try-hards everywhere. Going round the world is an excellent thing: there are a million places to explore, animals to observe and unknown situations to encounter. MacArthur is uninterested in these, the goal – its worth unquestioned – is the only thing of value. She reminds me a lot of Ffyona Campbell, another obsessive for whom speed is more important than experience. Take your time, girls, it need not be a race. I am well aware that I may be (am) hijacking the poor woman to make a broader point about society that I can't really be bothered elucidating. Why not try doing the work for me and coming up with the type of person you think she signifies to me?

This could be good, despite being written by Salman "Fucking" Rushdie. I haven't read it yet, perhaps you could tell me if it's worth checking out?

This is interesting, thanks be to Marty.

I'm in fine fettle this morning:

The sun is up,
The sky is blue,
It's beautiful,
And so... am I.


Friday, February 04, 2005

I didn't see Ben Affleck do *that*!

A spring was put in my step this morning when I realised that I hadn't seen a Ben Affleck film since 1998. For seven years I have been free of this pestilence. Looking at what I missed and knowing I will never watch them makes it all the sweeter.

Surviving Christmas (2004) .... Drew Latham
Jersey Girl (2004) .... Ollie Trinke
Paycheck (2003) .... Michael Jennings
Gigli (2003) .... Larry Gigli
Daredevil (2003) .... Matt Murdock/Daredevil
The Third Wheel (2002/I) .... Michael
The Sum of All Fears (2002) .... Jack Ryan
Changing Lanes (2002) .... Gavin Banek
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) .... Holden McNeil/Himself
Daddy and Them (2001) .... Lawrence Bowen
Pearl Harbor (2001) .... Capt. Rafe McCawley
Bounce (2000) .... Buddy Amaral
Joseph: King of Dreams (2000) (V) (voice) .... Joseph
Reindeer Games (2000) .... Rudy Duncan
SNL Fanatic (2000) (TV) .... Jason
Boiler Room (2000) .... Jim Young
Dogma (1999) .... Bartleby
Forces of Nature (1999) .... Ben Holmes
200 Cigarettes (1999) .... Bartender

NB Ben Affleck is good in one film: Dazed and Confused (1993). In this he was chubby and boorish, and some kids covered him in paint. I loved it.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Read this.

You're thinking, "yeah yeah, some kid, has a bit of potential, whatever."

Now watch this.

Tracklist for G4's new album:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody
2. Nessun Dorma
3. Everybody Hurts
4. Circle Of Life
5. Creep
6. To Where You Are
7. Life On Mars
8. Cry Me A River
9. Flower Duet
10. Broken Vow
11. Jerusalem
12. You'll Never Walk Alone
13. My Way

Particularly excited about (7) and (8).

Thanks, popjustice.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Order of Preference for Winners of University Challenge (least preferred first):

1) Durham
2) Any Oxbridge College*
3) Loughborough
4) Any Old University apart from...
5) Birmingham
6) Any New University
7) The Open University

(2) to (5) may be preferred to (6) if, and only if, the team is all women. The aged will be supported above all-women teams, so the Open University is always most favoured.

* There are gradations here, of course (Gonville and Caius, Cambridge would be preferred to Christchurch, Oxford. Balliol, Oxford would be favoured above Peterhouse, Cambridge), but that would take too long.

Transvestitism: anyone else not really buy it?


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