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Archive for January, 2005

Panda Bear

Posted: January 20th, 2005, by Ollie

Went to see Panda Bear and pals last night, and it were right good. More exciting than any of the bands though, was the fact that it SOLD OUT. Like, it was RAMMED and there were people outside who couldn’t get in! Anyone who’s ever visited or played at Cambridge’s illustrious Portland Arms will know how insane this is, in fact in all the years I’ve been going to gigs there this is the first time I’ve known it to happen. The apocalypse is surely upon us.

Comets on Fire and Kid Commando this evening, lovely stuff. Also, please check out my pal’s blog. Lots of random MP3 goodness.


Posted: January 19th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

Note to Cinema-goers: If a notice on the door says “the temperature in this theatre is slightly lower than usual. We apologise for the inconvenience blah blah blah” please read this is “Our heating is broken and it is snowing outside, therefore this theatre is freezing. Just go and ask for your money back”.

Or you could stay for the film wearing your thick winter coat and mittens while the chill air blows around the large theatre and its 8 occupants. If you’re really lucky you’ll have turned up to watch a film with lots of outdoor scenes in wintertime and rain which will make you feel even colder and which also drags out its plotline so it seems like the film lasts for 4 hours rather than the actual 2. Then see if there’s any feeling in your feet when you leave. Thanks UGC, I love you too.

If it wasn’t that 2046 was such a distracting film then I probably would be £3.75 richer, and warmer, but then I might have never have had another chance to see this on a big screen which it begs for. A time twisting tangled love story, this makes such amazing use of colour, texture and the widescreen format that I kept forgetting to read the subtitles because I was gazing at a bit of wall or pavement which was taking up two thirds of the screen framing the action into the final third. Basically a tale of lost love and the inability to love, switching between the 60s and the futuristic train from 2046 it’s filled with long pauses and lengthy narration and had a similar mind breaking confusion/clarity of Murakami novel. I wish I could have cinema sized print outs of some of the stills to put on my wall and look at. Sigh.


Posted: January 18th, 2005, by Simon Proffitt

One of the many cool things I got for Christmas was Zobmondo!! That Crazy “Would You Rather” Game (exclamation marks not mine. It amuses me to think that if you were to go into a games shop and ask for Zobmondo, or Zobmondo!!!!!, the assistant would stare blankly and tell you they’d never heard of it, and you’d have to repeat the word, changing your intonation slightly until you managed to vocalise the two exclamation marks, and then they’d say ‘Oh, Zobmondo!!, yes we’ve got loads of them on the shelf over there, in between Game of Life! and Pass The Pigs!!!!!!’).

Now, B., a friend of mine, has been asking Would You Rather questions for years, but they invariably involve the imbibing of bodily fluids. His latest one is ‘would you rather drink a pint of semen, a pint of pus or a pint of phlegm?’, and it’s made pretty clear in the framing of the question that ‘None’ is not an option. Usually there’ll be a clause that you have to choose one otherwise unspeakable things will be done to you and everyone that you’ve ever loved. It’s an interesting one for sure, but the decision’s pretty easy for me, seeing as two of those are generally the result of infection and one is healthy, protein-rich, life-giving juice. Ahem.

Anyway, the game is great fun, and is based on you having to predict which option your team-mates will choose. When 12 of us played over New Year, my team lost, basically over a disagreement about whether I’d rather eat 4 banana skins or a medium sized cardboard box. Here are some random sample questions:

Would you rather be the world’s tallest person, or the world’s shortest?

Would you rather chew the toenails off a dirty man’s foot or thoroughly lick his unshowered armpit?

Would you rather spend a long-haul flight next to a huge sumo wrestler or a screaming baby? (personally I’d rather spend the flight next to a huge silent baby)

Would you rather know exactly how but not when you’re going to die, or exactly when but not how?

Would you rather have one genius and one idiot for children, or two thoroughly average kids?

Would you rather have all ten of your fingers broken one by one, or the little finger on your non-dominant hand chopped clean off?

Would you rather be stuck in a lift with TV evangelists or circus clowns?

Would you rather walk ten miles with shoes one size too small, or with underwear three sizes too small?

There are hundreds of these, but we started making our own up, and B. developed a new technique – rather than ask about bodily fluids, he started asking about abstract concepts versus material objects and such like. These became ‘Which do you prefer?’, such that the one you don’t choose gets destroyed/prevented from existing. For instance:

Which do you prefer, tables or Scotland?

Which do you prefer, militancy or disappointment?

Which do you prefer, shoes or fruit?

Which do you prefer, grass or heat?

Which do you prefer, being lied to by a maternal grandparent or grazing your knee on gravel?

Which do you prefer, nitrogen or dogs?

It says on the game box ‘1 to 2 hours of fun’ – I think they’re being a bit cautious there. It’s now the 18th January, and we’re still at it.

My Top 5 Websites of 2004

Posted: January 16th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

(Sorry for dragging this out for so long. It was not my intention but things have been busier, and windier, than expected). But, finally….


Probably not a surprise to anyone as I have never stopped going on about how great The Morning News is since I discovered it years ago. It is surprising though that they have managed to continue being fantastic when most of my other favourite websites have disappeared, gone rubbish or turned into ad-filled nightmares. Basically you’ve got a group of extremely witty and intelligent writers with some link to New York with the freedom to write about pretty much anything they choose. It’s updated daily with links to the day’s most interesting stories and wonders to be found on the web and an article or two ranging from in depth interviews and round table discussions to How To guides and illustration galleries. Over the years I have learned an enormous amount about smart dress for men and wedding etiquette and when I do eventually visit New York I’ll probably find I already have an in built city guide buried in my brain. My only gripe is with the current redesign process which has been going on for about 6 months now with no results but from what I hear there are exciting plans afoot and I guess they’ll be worth waiting for. In the meantime go and have a dig about or just go look at my favourite article of 2004, The Bear.

I’m also donating $20 to The Morning News as a prize of sorts. Long may they continue.


My Top 5 quotes of 2004

Posted: January 13th, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

From the temping job that has been slowly destroying my life since June:

Number 5. From someone who wrote a five-page letter about the brown spot on their ceiling:

“…please note no one in the house who smokes as this is a CHRISTIAN home.”

Number 4. From a man who wants his local housing association to reimburse him for the uninsured stuff he got stolen from his house after he forgot to lock the front door:

“I don’t believe I should pay because I am a victim”

Number 3. Explains itself nicely:

“I have absolutely no intention of returning to shop in ********* ever again, until all of the parking meters produce tickets with sticky labels to enable me to fix the ticket properly to my screen, as is the style in Derby. My daughter, who is 6′ 5″ has the greatest difficulty finding clothes to fit. Derby cannot help her and ********* was one place that could help. She has, since the above incident, found one or two good shops in Leicester.”

Number 2. An email, apparently drafted on a mobile phone:

“our tax 4 136 leybourne dr is up to date acc no ********,wepay monthly over the fone so why r u taking us to court 11-11-40 we dont owe you.

yourskevin and sonia wright”

Number 1. Some constructive criticism in the wake of the very publicised murder of a teenage girl:

“You people are to blame, your city is the most violent city in the UK.You are all accountable and have presided over this continuing decline in the quality of this city.

1. Bring back the death penalty

2. Sack the entire ********* council and the staff

3. Wipe ********* off the face of the map”


Posted: January 11th, 2005, by Stuart Fowkes

CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG. Macaque from Finland possibly own a few Helmet records. ‘I Wanna Be Your Failure’ and ‘Whatever’ both trundle along inoffensively enough at a brisk walking pace, but without an instinctive grasp for a killer hook with which to beat you into submission, they plod from muted verse to not-quite-epic-enough-to-pull-this-sort-of-thing-off chorus. There’s a laconic vocal somewhere between Page Hamilton at his most bored and Eddie Vedder musing to himself in the shower, and the kids certainly know how to CHUG. The pace change in ‘130’ is welcome, with a promisingly all-over-the-place breakdown at the end spoilt by a final track reminiscent of constipated mid-nineties grunge outfit Moist. They’re not without talent, certainly, but it all sounds too noncommittal to get excited about. C’mon fellas, we wanna see some blood!


ALINA SIMONE – Prettier in the Dark

Posted: January 11th, 2005, by Stuart Fowkes

It’s no secret that I have more than a passing interest in the music of Cat Power, but when a press release comes covered in references to Matador’s finest, I get the fear: it’s usually a pretty lame ‘girl with guitar sings sad songs’ comparison that detracts from both artists. Thankfully not so here: while Alina Simone might not be possessed of the kind of voice that tenses every nerve in your body, there’s an impressive, understated elegance at work in these five songs that suggests she’s cut from the same cloth as Chan Marshall. ‘Louisiana Song’ (the highlight here) treads a similar path, obliquely and vulnerable, and unfolding a story just as shyly as it gives up its musical secrets; it wouldn’t sound out of place on Myra Lee. Alina’s at her most impressive when the songs are at their quietest, her backing musicians filling in the spaces with an admirably light hand. Elsewhere, there are shades of Julie Doiron in the poised, smoky tones of ‘Prettier in the Dark’, and maybe a touch of Shannon Wright in the arrangement of ‘Siberia’. In amongst these touchstones and reference points may be the biggest challenge for Alina at the moment – carving a niche in a crowded field of some rare talent. But if songs as gorgeous as the remarkable ‘Louisiana Song’ continue to appear, she could just be onto something.

Alina Simone

My Top 5 Websites of 2004 #2 – FREAKY TRIGGER

Posted: January 9th, 2005, by Marceline Smith


Changing from an irregularly updated webzine to a frequently updated weblog is becoming a bit of a cliche these days but FT has reinvented itself as possibly the best group blog around. They always had a good group of writers including a fair chunk of freelance music writers but they’ve enlisted lots more people with all kinds of interests and got them writing informally on a range of topics over 7 themed blogs covering music, film and TV, books and art, food and drink, sport, science etc. meaning when one blog gets a bit quiet another will be full of new posts. They also cleverly organise a few long running series of posts to keep things ticking over and prevent the usual posting droughts of other blogs. The recent Top 100 Films voted using drunken pub science was great and they’re now doing the same with pop songs. Also a special mention for linked sub-blog Popular which is one man’s task of writing about every UK number 1 record in order from the beginning.


My Top 5 Websites of 2004 #3 – JGRAM WORLD

Posted: January 4th, 2005, by Marceline Smith


So good it got him sacked so maybe it should have been #1. Or maybe JGram World will be all the better for learning those important rules about Google proofing, pseudonyms and not talking about your workmates and boss on your blog (Hi everyone at my work!). V1 is now no longer online as was but instead you can jump straight into the aftermath on V 2.0. What puts this above most peoples’ blogs is Jason’s prolificness and seeming complete lack of shame. Most bloggers post once every two weeks with an edited take on what they’ve been up to, kinda. Jason, on the other hand, posts lengthy daily posts in great detail without worrying about making himself look good. So you can really get into JGram’s World for what it is which is often riveting and hilarious. The changes in tone from the work entries to the days of unemployment have been particularly poignant. If you know Jason it’s twice as fun and if he knows you then beware! You will be mentioned and you may not look cool either. Read it now before he gets a book deal and why not see if you can be the first person to get sacked for reading blogs at work instead of working.


My Top Spam Email of 2004

Posted: January 1st, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

“Our children tall ram calculates. Our children tall fancy recycle bin stands-still. Their noisy little bra show its value. Their purple fancy house stands-still and still whose slopy smart hairy stupid caw run. His tall well-crafted underwares calms-down. Our slopy t-shirt calms-down and any given round-shaped table is thinking and still his brothers odd shaped door lies. Our noisy hairy omprella falls while whose green glasses falls however, any given beautiful small well-crafted t-shirt calculates. Our round-shaped bicycle run. His odd shaped paper sleeps or whose well-crafted paper got an idea. Her daughters white slopy door sleeps. Her daughters fancy pensil calculates. A stupid golden glasses smells. Mine smart omprella smiles. The smart shining silver caw lies. Any little slopy book sleeps. His expensive soda show its value. A given red sport shoes makes sound and still th! eir hairy gun walks. His green ipaq spit. Her daughters stupid paper fidgeting. Any given golden recycle bin got an idea. Her smart well-crafted house looks around.

Their bluish sport shoes makes sound while his brothers golden glasses sleeps or maybe any expensive balloon calculates however, our silver house got an idea and still our white bluish beautiful small shining recycle bin sleeps however, any given small eraser stares however, her bluish shining magazine is on fire.

Her hairy computer smiles.

A odd shaped clock is on fire and her tall laptop stands-still.

Any expensive beautiful white well-crafted wine looks around at the place that their green fancy bra stinks.

Whose expensive dog fidgeting.”