Sunday, January 28, 2007
A bit of a typo in the title, what I meant to say was hard core punk. I have been reading American Hardcore - a tribal history by Steven Blush. Hard core punk was an American punk movement based on playing really fast. (If you want to know more then you can read the book). In my amateur opinion, the most famous of the hard core punk bands were: Dead Kennedys, D.O.A. and Blag Flag. My only real involvement with hard core punk was around 1985. My family was living in Knutsford. This is a small town with a very small record shop. My mum was going into Manchester, so I asked her to get me the latest Dead Kennedy's record. When she back she said, that it wasn't in the store and one of the clerks thought that was because it had been banned. This was probably just after the Dead Kennedys had broken up after some court case about some art work included with their records. My mum was not best pleased to be asked to buy a banned record, but I didn't know it had been banned. Somewhere in the boxes around me I have CDs and tapes by some of the bands mentioned in the book. Some of the US record stores I used to frequent used to sell tapes and CDs by circle jerks and others. I was always intermediated by the straight edge scene. This was a subset of punk who didn't do drugs or booze. That scene imploded as well, so I can enjoy my beer at gigs. Blush knew so many of the hard core bands. I was dissapointed that he didn't mention 9 LB hammer from Kentucky, but on reflection they may have not fit the hardcore straight jacket. I have been to see bands play where the audience was slam dancing. My guess was I watching a pale shadow of the slam dancing done in between 80 to 86s. It did look to be done by blokes who had watched too much MTV. Anyway I used to stand many rows behind the people standing outside the pit. I had never heard of a band called "bad brains", so I have ordered a CD by them. Steven Blush would be pis*ed, but I decided to buy some early slayer CDs as well. Slayer were never a hard core punk band, but they were influenced by the hard core punk bands. I am now feel up to date on both the "post-punk" and hard core punk scenes, so it is time to move on. I don't think I will be reading a book about whatever scene Green Day are in, because I still bitterly regret buying a CD by Green Day. Every time I see some one with a Green Day T-shirt, I am reminded how much I hated the Green Day CD.
Although I was wondering around in a confused state, last week, due to the flu/cold that was controlling me, I still seemed to have the energy to stay up late and watch a documentary about JJ Cale. I first got into JJ Cale, when I picked up a tape of his at a market close to Wembley Stadium. I don't think I have ever talked to anyone else who liked JJ Cale. In some sense I feel a bit guilty about liking JJ Cale. He is not so prolific and not so driven to create new songs and sounds as other people. Certainly, he doesn't make so many records as say John Cale. Also John Cale has experimented with music way more tha JJ Cale. The documentary only played stuff, I had heard before. Also his sound hasn't changed too much. If I didn' need things to change, then I would be happy to listening to the same Beatles tracks, over and over again, like the amjority of so called normal people with wide musical tapes. Anyway, I feel no guilt for liking JJ Cale's music (even though Clapton is a fan as well). I can remember John Peel playing a track of JJ Cale's. After complaining about JJ Cale not making many records, I have just seen on Amazon that he has put out a number of records that I don't own.
I watched the DVD: "Rancid" on Friday night. This film was about a failed writer who gets mixed up with an ex-girl friend. There was a lot of chasing about. I personally thought that the hero was a dick. There was one scene, where his ex-girl friend sees that he has not written a single new line on his novel, since she left him six years ago. That is taking the muse thing too far. Roll on interactive TV. I could then join the film and waste most of the characters, except the nice cop with the moustache. Perhaps, I am just bitter that the "writer" still ended up with a new chick, even after his ex-girlfriend got cut up and died. Saturday night's viewing was better, as I watched the DVD Taxi 3. Being a sad person, I have watched both Taxi 1 and Taxi 2. Taxi 3 was set in Marseilles. It was a fun film about police looking for bank robbers. There was a lot of fast car stuff. Gosh, I so want to visit Marseilles.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
When ever I go to see a film I have to sit through the adverts before a film shows at the cinema. In Glasgow this involves first seeing an advert against smoking, then an advert aganst drinking, then an advert warning of the dangerous of cocaine, and then an advert about the importance of keeping fit. Nanny state or what? I usually gnash my teeth and hope that the zombie movie main feature starts soon, so that I can see some ones head ripped (now that is something I need to worry about). The people of glasgow seem pretty normal to me. From the adverts at the cinema I would guess that the place is full of overweight alcholic crack heads. The adverts before films in England used to try to sell me icecream and whisky (yummy). Also I can't seem to be able to buy "pop tarts" here. I couldn't find any in the big Tescos in the Maryhill shop centre. Pop tarts are very useful to have in the cupboard -- in case of surprise guests. Also Tesco will only sell medium strength chillis. I want maximum strength chillis.
Friday, January 26, 2007
I have seem to have spent an age sitting on the couch. I am soon to be coming up to a birthday with a number that ends with one of those dreaded 0s in. So I thought I should go somewhere slightly different. The other option was spending my birthday in Glasgow, perhaps staying in with a crate of beer and a box set of the 24 series on DVD (sounds fun though!). So this morning I booked a holiday to Beijing, China. Using expedia makes travelling too easy. In the past I have burnt out very badly and I have had to go on an emergency holiday. Getting the flight was usually easy, but getting the hotel was always so hard. So a couple of times I have turned up to places with no place to stay. On reflection I don't think it was so wise to arrive at the airport in Mexico City with no hotel room booked (There was a counter where they booked me a room). I did of course think I was like Jack Kerouac in "On the Road" where Jack and his buddies slept on a car in a Mexican city after they had smoked a little too much blow. Also I have had bad experiences with paying huge amounts for a hotel because I didn't plan anything. I would like to travel by hitchhiking or just get on a truck and wonder around a country. I don't think that China is so exotic. It would be cool to go somewhere like Latin America, but I am coward. One of the tours that Expedia recommended was to do a trip to the great wall of China and shoot weapons. Ex-members of the chinese military would be on hand to help. Yep, that would be a cool way to spend my birthday. I doubt that people would be impressed though. "Oh yeah I went to China and shot at the great wall of china with a gun." Not eco-tourism. I was telling some people over lunch that I was going to Beijing in March. Somebody noted, that should be before the "dust storms start." What! Cool, I can't really enjoy a holiday unless there is a nice bit of suffering.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I have found another good place to get CDs in the fabulous West End of Glasgow. The shop is called Lost in Music. It is behind Woolworths (location wise only) on Byers Road. I was a bit unsure about the place until I found that they sold Lee Hazelwood CDs (although not his latest CD). They also have a small section for German music (krautrock). I got a copy of the CD Landed by Can. I liked the sound of this band a lot. I am going to have get more CDs by can. I need to check out the CDs when they had crazy singers. The fall have written a song to honour one of Can's singers. Yes Can are that important. I should have been listening to Can when I was at school in the early 80s. I will have to sign on to friends united, so I can complain about my friends not being cool enough to introduce me to ground breaking new music.
If anyone is thinking that all I do is sit at home and watch DVDs then they would be right. Given this cold/flu thing I can just about do something useful for an hour before I have to lie down. Last night I watched the DVD "born to fight". This was an action movie set in Thailand. There was a fairly standard chase sequence at the beginning of the film. Two cops are chasing two big lorries. Then somebody fell off the top of the lorry onto the ground. Normally when this is done there is some clever cutting and you know the guy went onto a mat. But that didn't happen in this film. One guy gets knocked off the top of the lorry and in a single shot you see him fall on the ground. The lorry looked as though it was travelling fairly fast. Wow, I though the stunt men in Thailand are pretty hard. The whole film was full of stunts that looked real. In the interview part of the DVD, the director noted that they tried to do a blue scene version of a stunt, but it didn't look real enough so they got a better stunt man to do it for real. OK, the plot wasn't upto much. As the reviewers noted it was not as good as Ong Bak, but still it was a surprise to see something like that.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Last night I watched "American Splendor". This is a film about Harvey Pekar who wrote a famous comic strip about his life. He was working a dead end job and was living alone, but managed to create this cartoon that made him famous. He was buddies with Crumb, who did the drawings for his first comics. Some parts of his life looked depressingly similar to mine. When he met his third wife, almost the first thing he set to her was that he had had a vasectomy done. I would have never said this when meeting someone, but later on it started to bother his wife. The guy was pretty insightful, as well as being a bit weird.
I have some kind of mild flu or cold at the moment. It is a dry cold, so I am not spraying snot around, but I have the fever so I can't think. I spent most day at working sitting front of my desk with my head in my hands, as I tried to get my grey cells to work. This kind of illness makes me look lazy. I don't look externally ill, but my brain is almost shut down. To cure this I usually stay in the flat and watch DVDs until the fever passes. As a bloke, I never liked to take pills and medicine for colds, because I have always felt this was unmanly in some way. I have now just scored two tablets of "Tesco max strength Cold and flu Capsules". So I feel like William Burroughs. Perhaps I will open a can of Stella later to see how far I can push myself into the interzone. From a pill for my cold, into the loving arms of Kate Moss, what a strange trip. No I don't need another pill. My DVD based cure for my cold involves watching: born to fight, pitfighter, and undead. Quality!
I watched a DVD called "severance" over the weekend. This is film about some people on team building retreat in Eastern Europe. They work for an company that manufacturers arms. Unfortunately there are some killing freaks in the woods and people start to tie. Not a particularly deep film, but good fun to watch. I also watched the DVD of "Crank". This was an action movie with Jason Statham (of transporter fame) as the lead. It was a pretty dumb film, but I enjoyed the non-stop action.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Last week I went to see the film Pan's Labyrinth. The film was set at the end of the second world war in Spain. A young girl and her mother go to live with the mother's new sadist of a husband. The film blends reality with a bleak fairy tale. In fact both the real and non-real stuff contains a lot of blood and guts. I liked the way that the sadist had a watch that was left to him after his father died. The watch was meant to be broken to remind the son of the son's potential bravery. However, the watch ticked and ticked through out the film. Fair enough, because the Captain was a coward on the inside.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
I was at a meeting and I just casually mentioned I hated some piece of software. The chairman of the meeting renormalised "hate" to mild dislike and ignored me. So I probably use the "hate" word too much. For example, I have always hated the "vi" text editor. Whenever I am trying to help someone who uses this piece of ancient crud software and they start up "vi" I know that they are going to take about an hour to enter some simple key strokes. So I pull up my chair and start to fume and rant. So imagine my surprise when I read that the vi editor was written in certain way because the developer didn't have fast net access. The MIT people who wrote emacs had fast (for the time) computers. So their editor could be more elaborate. That is your cold war tax dollars at work . So perhaps I don't hate "vi" after all. I was also amused to see a music reviewer for the online guardian complain that he didn't like Springsteen. I have to agree. I have tried to like his singing, but there is something about him that I don't like. I watched some TV program about his recent CD of Pete Seeger songs. Anyway Springsteen doing Seeger covers didn't do anything for me. I would rather hear Seeger doing Seeger. Wikipedia tells me that Pete Seeger is still alive. Have I mentioned that I hate "vi".
Friday, January 05, 2007
Last night on bbc4 they showed a series of programs about the old grey whistle test. This was a famous music show in the 70s and 80s. I saw Captain Beefhart perform on an old show. Wow he had a kind of crazy stage presence. This was a performance from the mid 70s, so perhaps not one of his best songs. Beefhart's visual performance although out of this world was topped by Alex Harvey doing the Brel song "Next" (the song about losing virginity in an army whore house). Harvey's eyes were shining with maniac madness. Still a number of the bands were too hippy for my taste. I did find myself shouting at the TV "get a haircut you hippy bast*ard" (as you do) and cut down on the length of the guitar solos. I was hopping to see the set done by Jerry Lee Lewis. He is playing the piano and at the end of set puts his hand in the air and twirls his finger around in away that some people may have found to be lewd and suggestive.
I listened a lot to Bob Dylan's theme time hour radio show that was played on radio's 2 and 6 over the holidays. I like Bob's patter between songs, it was some how comforting to hear his gravelly voice, He also played a good selection of older music. The guy is not stupid. I don't see that the smile addicted dick head Paul McCartney could have managed such a good job. (Not that I would have known, because I would have trashed the radio, when humble Paul started talking). When I was at school I really liked Bob Dylan. The trouble was that I was perhaps the only person (under 20) who was into Dylan. My school chums were more into the chart material. I am sure there was a lot of underground material at the time that I should have been listening too. If I could travel back in time, I would give myself a slap and a good talking too. (Note I was listening to The Smiths and New Order of course, I was uncool at school, but I wasn't that uncool!) At some stage in my life, I wanted to talk to Bob Dylan and try to convince him to make good records again. Ego of course. My brother lent me a copy of Bob's recent CD "Modern Times", that I like, but I am moved more by people like "Cat Power", "Mary Lou Lord", and "Jeffrey Lewis". Such is the fate of old artists. When I was at school Dylan put out the CD "Infidels". This was his last great lyric album. It was good that my hero was making good records again. I went to see him play at Newcastle around 1985/1986. I had to take a day off school and I missed some school trip. This annoyed some of the people in the sixth form that they threatened not to support my application to go to Cambridge University if I went to see Dylan play. Being stubborn I went to see Dylan anyway, so I didn't apply to Cambridge. For some time after this I tried my hand at telling this as an amusing story. However, I seemed to have to explain things like who Dylan was that tended to reduce the comic impact of the story. Let us see if the blogosphere responds better. One year I spent Christmas in Las Vegas. As I was walking through a casino I heard the Bob Dylan song "Jokerman" play. My life is getting strange I thought.
Monday, January 01, 2007
On new years eve I watched a DVD called Beautiful boxer. This was in the world cinema section at Blockbusters. I was hoping for a bit of mindless martial arts butt kicking. The film was about a transvestite kick boxer who fights to earn enough money for a sex change. This was your typical Van Damme clone film. I was hoping for something like the Ong Bak, but I suppose it cultivated my sensitive side. The film was based in Thailand. This film was meant to be based on true events. Anyone who knows about muay Thai would not even dare to take the pi*s out of a transvestite who fights in the ring. No one would want to get a knee to the head. It is never very clear to me whether the elbow to the top of the head is an effective technique. I would have thought that the bone is very thick there. Perhaps I will ask an expert. I still need to do more work on my sensitive side.
I just finished reading "the soul of a new machine" by Tracy Kidder. This is a fantastic book about a small group of engineers who build the first 32 bit computer for a company called Data General. It describes all the technical and political problems involved. The book is also very good about the motivation of the people working on the project. It explains why many engineers move into management in their 30s, because of heavy burn out. A postdoc recommended that I read it, when I was a graduate student. I don't plan to be involved in any computer building, so perhaps I should have read it five years ago.