Monday 31 August 2009

Fabulous at 14

Happy Birthday Sophie! 14 today. Love ya lots - Dad, Mum, James, Hero and Jasper xxxx

Saturday 29 August 2009

Last Year At Marienbad

Alain Resnais' 1961 existential masterpiece, L'annee Derniere `a Marienbad.
No, I don't know what it all means either, but it looks amazing...

Friday 28 August 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Mercury Rev / Flaming Lips

The place: Oxford Brookes University.

The date: 6th May 1999 ( how long ago? )

The occasion: that rare moment when a support band blow the headliners off the stage...

Mercury Rev were touring the Deserter's Songs album, a sublime collection of tunes that dragged them out of Wierdo Corner and propelled them into the limelight, after many years of drink, drugs, breakdowns etc. With its horn sections, female sopranos, bowed saws and guest spots by Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band, Deserter's Songs was a revelation of eerie Americana.
I turned up at Oxford Brooks Student Union, expecting a lot from the Rev and very little from the support band with the unpromising name The Flaming Lips. The Lips sort of shuffled onto the stage and seemed to be doing a soundcheck which eventually morphed into a proper set. Steven Drozd and Michael Ivins were sitting down (!), surrounded by banks of synths and keyboards while Wayne Coyne stood tall, often hammering on a massive gong behind him. A large screen behind the band showed weird collections of images throughout, Coyne occasionally pointing at the screen, where sparks seemed to shoot out from his fingers. The music itself was like Pink Floyd playing Pet Sounds or the Beach Boys playing Dark Side Of The Moon. Strangely moving songs about mortality and Man's place in the universe were accompanied by Coyne singing to a Nun glove-puppet or breaking a phial of stage blood on his forehead. The Lips' stage antics have since become bigger and more celebrated but this low-key introduction to the band was enough to make me a believer. I can honestly say I've never expected less but received more from a band...
After that poor old Mercury Rev were almost an anti-climax. I had wondered how they would recreate Deserter's Songs' soundscapes live. Samples, synths, tapes? As it was they did it all with a basic guitar/bass/drums set up, which gave the songs a rockier, less dreamlike feel. But even with this stripped-down sound they still had such wonderful songs as Holes and Goddess On A Hiway, not to mention Jonathan Donahue's plaintive vocals and Grasshopper's psychedelic guitar pyrotechnics. And a great cover of Like A Hurricane too!
Strangely enough, I haven't seen either band play live since. I'll have to do something about that: 10 years is far too long.

"Bands, those funny little plans, that never work quite right." Holes by Mercury Rev.

Soundtrack: Deserter's Songs, The Soft Bulletin, The Rev and The Lips.

Jack Kirby

Happy Birthday to the late, great King Of Comics, Jack Kirby ( 1917 - 1994 ).

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Willow Man

Willow Man, Serena de la Hey's 40-feet tall sculpture, which is a familiar sight to travellers on the M5 motorway through Somerset. We passed him today on a daytrip to Torquay and Paignton.
According to the artist's website, Willow Man is "the largest willow figure in the UK, and possibly the world." It was made out of 30 bundles of 7/8 feet willow, woven around a 3 tonne steel skeletal frame. This is the second Willow Man on the site, the original having been destroyed by fire in 2001.

Monday 24 August 2009

Philippe Caza

Just a few examples of the beautiful, dreamlike artwork of the French illustrator, Caza.
Equally at home in volcanic colour or his Virgil Finlay-esque stippling technique...

Caza, along with Moebius, Druillet, Bilal, Manara and Crepax, rocked Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal in the 1970s and '80s, and gave us a taste of the exotic, often erotic world of Euro-comix.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Silence in the library...

Hi to new Follower, Booksteve, curator of an amazing pop culture collection. Check out his blog, Booksteve's Library, for movies, TV, comics..... you know - the good stuff.

Avatar trailer

The first trailer for James Cameron's much-hyped Avatar has finally arrived. Here are a few pics.

Whether this will be the revolution in film-making we've been promised remains to be seen. The CG images are certainly amazingly lifelike, but it does scream Computer Game!! from every pixel. Hopefully we'll get a decent story and characters to go with the visuals. Fingers crossed...

Friday 21 August 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Faith No More

This is the start of what I hope to be a regular series of posts about some of the best gigs I've been to and the bands who've destroyed my eardrums and kicked my ass.

To start with we're going back to June 1988, the Bristol Bierkeller, and the mighty Faith No More. Not the stadium-bothering megastars fronted by Mike Patton, but the earlier incarnation with eccentric ( ie a bit of a dick ) Chuck Mosely on vocals. They had recently had their first UK hit single with We Care A Lot and were at the stage where they were packing out smaller venues on their way to the big leagues.
They came on stage with Mosely wearing a safari suit (!), shades and a cravat, which he discarded throughout the set as it got hotter and hotter, until he was just down to his boxers. Thankfully he didn't go any further. Behind Mosely's crazed stage persona the band were a powerhouse, insanely heavy and intense: from the crushing tribal drumbeat of Chinese Arithmetic to the final very-metal freak-out of Sabbath's War Pigs, it was non-stop raw power.
A serious amount of moshing and stage-diving fun was had by all. One lad next to me in the crowd obviously wanted to stage-dive but couldn't work up the courage. When it came to the encore he knew it was now or never, I pushed him up onto the stage ( no stupid crowd-barriers in those days ), he launched himself into the air, the audience parted, and splat! he hit the deck, face down. Oops!
So, definitely one of the best gigs I've ever been to. FNM booted Mosely out soon after, released The Real Thing album with Mike Patton and went on to bigger things. But, in the age-old tradition of nerdy music-snobs, I think they were a better band back then, when they had it all to prove. And I was there, you hear me, I was there! ( OK, grandad, calm down, it's medication time...)

Soundtrack: Introduce Yourself by FNM.

Thursday 20 August 2009

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

After my last post about Spain I realised I hadn't included any photos of La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's ( unfinished ) masterpiece. It really is an incredible piece of architecture, almost dreamlike in its detail. Because we were on a punishing coach-tour schedule we didn't have time to go inside, unfortunately. Maybe next time...

Soundtrack: Paper Planes by MIA.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Dreaming of Barcelona

This time last year we were in Spain, having a fantastic holiday...
Above are two photos of the wonderful Parc Guell, designed by Antoni Gaudi. We only had one day in Barcelona itself, but managed to visit the Sagrada Familia ( Gaudi's masterpiece ), walked Las Ramblas and saw the city and port from the viewpoint at Montjuic mountain. Barcelona: bustling and beautiful - we'll have to go there again sometime.
Here are Sarah and the kids chilling out in a little backstreet cafe in the lovely seaside town of Blanes. We went there twice on the local train because the town has a great beach, many historic buildings and loads of stray cats ( los gatos ) living around the harbour and looking for food from gullible tourists like us.
Blanes had a real sense of history, whereas our resort, Santa Susanna, was fine but was obviously built for the tourist trade and could boast no architecture like the sample above.
The view out of our hotel window: sunbed city :-)

No foreign holiday this year. Sigh! We'll just have to dream...

Sunday 16 August 2009

And you think you've got problems...

Two random pieces of Spider-Man art, showing just one of the many heart-wrenching problems poor, put-upon Peter Parker had to deal with in the Bronze Age of comics. Tough life ain't it?

Nuff said!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Have a Marvel-ous birthday

Marvel are celebrating 70 years of heroes, villains, monsters, aliens, cowboys, girls in love and gangsters on the run. So, I'd like to say a big "thank you" to the people that really count in Marvel's success: not the suits and shareholders but the creators - artists, writers, editors, letterers, colourists, production staff and gophers. Oh, and Forbush-Man, without whom etc. etc.

( And an extra special tip of the hat to Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Steranko, Thomas, Buscema, Colan, Kane and Romita for turning cheap newsprint into four-colour dreams. )

Monday 10 August 2009

Wheels of steel

Picked up my new car today! Yeah, booooyeee!!
Just need to load up the rocket-launchers, power up the atomic turbines and head out across the mutant-infested, radioactive wasteland to search for survivors and/or hot babes. Oh, hang on...
...I need to tax it first.

Soundtrack: Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen
"It's a town full of losers, we're pulling out of here to win..."

Saturday 8 August 2009

Vettriano vs Banksy

Pleased to meet you...

Hi to new Follower, Lubbert-Das ( aka Colin ). Come on in, don't mind Fluffy, he won't bite...

Soundtrack: Champagne Supernova by Oasis.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Bob Marley

Today is Jamaican Independence Day so it's as good an excuse as any to post a couple of cool Bob Marley photos.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Zombies, zombies everywhere...

You just can't avoid zombies nowadays can you? They're out there doing their shuffling, flesh-ripping thing in movies, comics, novels, and even on TV. They can also be seen voting BNP but that's a different story...
The above is a still from the classic 1943 Val Lewton / Jacques Tourneur movie, I Walked With A Zombie. Of course, in those days zombies were supernatural creatures, animated by voodoo priests and stomping around plantations, normally for the purpose of carrying off young women. Today they are mindless cannibals, reanimated by vague pseudo-science for no purpose other than to eat people and create more zombies.
This modern conception of the walking-corpse seems to stem from George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, the 1968 classic which brought an unparalleled realism to horror movies, and threw in some Vietnam-era allegory to boot. This is now the archetypal zombie, almost unthinkingly ( of course ) adopted by film-makers and writers ever since. So, did Romero create this modern variant on the zombie myth or were there any precedents? If he did that's quite an achievement and might explain why he returns to the theme time and again. Oh yeah, it makes him a few bucks too. If he didn't, I can't think of any previous stories that took the zombie out of the plantation and into the streets. Unless, of course, you know differently.....

By the way, wiec? over at the eponymous When Is Evil Cool? has just completed his zombie survey which makes interesting reading. Did you vote to eat or be eaten? See the results at

Monday 3 August 2009

Mean and Green

James wearing my old Incredible Hulk T-Shirt which has just beamed in from the Planet 1970's. ( A bit like his haircut: a visit to the barber's seems advisable. )

Soundtrack: Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal.

Nothing to see here...

Haven't been doing much blogging of late. Must try harder. This self-portrait will have to do for now. I think I've caught my good side...

Soundtrack: The Stone Roses by, er, The Stone Roses.


Related Posts with Thumbnails