London In Two Parts, Part One

Some things will never change. The North can suffer from huge snow drifts and nobody bats an eyelid, but as soon as a few centimetres fall in London and its environs, all hell breaks loose. Mad panic in the streets, lions and lambs lying together, and the lashing of the Apocalypse Horses in their stables. I got into Oxford with minutes to go until I had to catch my bus to London, because the Bicester-Oxford route was delayed by an hour (and there was no snow on the roads either, so I’m just going to blame Stagecoach and be done with it).

Oxford Tube buses have plugs by every seat. I approve of this. I don’t approve of batteries that last for 15 songs, however (I left the iPod at home, because I thought the hard drive might freeze in the cold weather. I am as much part of the problem as anybody else concerning the weather).

Anyway, London! Lots of fun. I wandered around Camden for a while, buying some belts which, thinking about it, are almost definitely supposed to be worn by women, but I like them so I don’t care. Then, to Regent Street. And the Apple Store.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The Mac Mini is so cute! It’s the size of a fat CD case, and so lovable! If I ever manage to get a job that’ll give me the opportunity to spend £350 on a new computer, I’m so going to be spending it on the Mini.

I pulled myself away from the joys of Apple, and headed off to Oxford Street, where I went into a clothes shop that I was certain sold men’s clothes as well as women’s, but after a minute or so, realised that this wasn’t the case, and so beat a hasty retreat into the more manly world of a bookshop. Oh yes. Okay, so not that manly, really.

Then, it was time to find The Windmill. I went off to Brixton, and started walking down the road towards the venue. Only I chose the wrong road, and walked past housing estate after housing estate for twenty-five minutes as the light faded away. After getting a little worried, I looked at a helpful map (did I bring a map? Of course not! I knew where I was going!), I discovered I had made a little mistake. Luckily, a bus back to Brixton Station shortly turned up, and I was back on my way, discovering The Windmill at half-past-five. Which meant that I was only two and a half hours early. I think that’s a record.

(My idea of turning up fashionably late is to arrive ten minutes early. If I’m running horribly late, I might turn up at the exact time when the event is supposed to start. It’s a curse.)

Deciding that I wasn’t doing to spend two hours sitting outside on my own, I went back to Oxford Street to get something to drink. I know Starbucks are evil and all, but they do good chocolate cookies. And I’m totally up for selling my soul to the corporate world for a hot chocolate and a cookie. Eventually, I thought about heading back to Brixton. But there’s a slight problem.

The Underground seemed to have given up. There were huge queues at all the Oxford Circus entrances, and nobody was going inside. I started to panic - it was almost half-seven now, and the doors opened at eight! I might miss something! I stood in the queue for about ten minutes, before I had the idea of catching a bus.

And now a public announcement: remember that the old Routemaster buses WILL pull away from you, even if you are stepping onto the bus as they do so. I learnt this the hard way, picking myself up off the road as the bus rolled past. But, eventually, I made it back to The Windmill, and thus, to the concert…

(at ten-past eight! HORRIBLY LATE!)

currently playing: M.I.A. – Sunshowers

Wednesday Looks Good To Me

Expect a quiet couple of days here, as I’m off to London tomorrow to see Saturday Looks Good To Me (having sorted out overnight accommodation). So no access to a computer for over 24 hours! How will I cope!?

currently playing: Bloc Party – She’s Hearing Voices

Hehehe

I want a magic cravat!

currently playing: Saturday Looks Good To Me – Meet Me By The Water

The Vincent Black Shadow

I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005.

currently playing: The Clash – 1-2 Crush On You

Adventures In Manga

One of the great things about the Internet is the lovely group of people known as scanlators. They take foreign comics that aren’t available outside of the host country (usually Japan), scan them in to a computer, and translate them into another language (usually English). Then they stick them up on the Internet for everybody to download. It’s a good way of discovering comics from other countries. Completely illegal of course, but the scanlators have a code of honour which means they take down scans once a title is released commercially in the translated language, so the comic companies don’t bother them too much (and indeed, they keep tabs on the scanlation scene to see what’s popular). Anyway, most scanlations are epic Japanese manga series, and not really suitable for casual reading, but every once in a while, there’s a few one-shots which are worth the three minutes or so it takes to read. Today’s discovery is a one-shot tale about a girl who gets turned into a fridge.

Yes. A fridge.

As you might expect, it’s quite bizarre, including almost obscene descriptions of a boy putting beer into the cooler, and it also shows you just why you shouldn’t annoy a fridge.

You can download it using BitTorrent from the scanlator, Kotonoha, but if you want a direct download, I’m hosting a zip archive of it as well:

The Female Fridge (probably not suitable for children)

Oh, and remember, manga is read from right-to-left, not left-to-right. You’ll get used to it, I promise.

currently playing: Annie – Chewing Gum

email-tastic!

If anybody is in an urgent hurry to contact me via email, you can reach me at ianpointer@gmail.com. Hopefully, my poor excuse for a webhost will have sorted out their problems by the time the weekend begins, but I’m not optimistic…

currently playing: Stars — Elevator Love Letter

Human Rights Violations? Iran-Contra? Sounds Good To Me!

John Negroponte’s greatest hits! Definitely a person I’d trust with running all of American’s intelligence services. By 2008, I’m fully expecting Oliver North to be the head of the CIA, with Henry Kissinger and the Ghost of Richard Nixon on Foreign Policy…

currently playing: Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

From the marketing geniuses at Warners!

I give you, Buzz Bunny!

currently playing: New Order — Krafty

LinkyWinks!

iPod Lego!

Oasis sells out Madison Square Garden in less than an hour. Not bad for a band that “never broke America” (™ and © the British press, disregarding facts as usual).

Aluminium cases for the iPod shuffle.

USB Snoglobes!

That would be the record industry dedicated to paying the artists, then.

Alan Keyes (last seen being slaughtered by Barack Obama in November), being completely understanding: by throwing his daughter out of his house, and halting her college payments. Classy.

currently playing: Dubstar – Stars

This Is Not A Valentine

This is not the greatest love song of the 1980s. That title would have to go to Dexy’s Midnight Runners, with either their cover of Jackie Wilson Says (I’m In Heaven When You Smile), or This Is What She’s Like; two pitch-perfect love songs, one describing the concentrated thrill as a crush walks by, the other an eleven-minute epic that manages to capture an almost indescribable feeling, and does it using no words. And yet you can tell exactly what it means.

This is not the greatest love song of the 1980s, because I don’t think New Order were ever capable of writing such a thing. To indulge in a little indulgence, Love Tore Them Apart. But, of course, to say that is to ignore Temptation, which perhaps is the greatest love song of the 1980s; “oh you’ve got green eyes / oh you’ve got blue eyes / oh you’ve got grey eyes” Eight minutes of Factory heaven and the memories of picking up yellow tapers five floors off the ground.

This is not the greatest love song of the 1980s. And that’s fine, because, despite the title, it is not a love song. It is, instead, a song for mending a heart. Stitching back together something that no longer works. 12 inches (and it must be twelve; 7”, in this case, is an edit too far, a course of antibiotics that you never finish, allowing the infection to grow back) of care.

It begins, with the forming of a beating heart, the drum. But something’s wrong; it skips, it jumps. It needs help. Which is where the synth comes in, dancing in and out of the left and right channels, hopping like a butterfly, whispering sweet thoughts to those who will listen to its charms. The drums chime in appreciation, allowing the synth to settle, and play its tune for all to hear.

Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It’s no problem of mine
But it’s a problem I find
Living a life that I can’t leave behind
But there’s no sense in telling me
The wisdom of the fool won’t set you free
But that’s the way that it goes
And it’s what nobody knows
well every day my confusion grows

Then there’s the bridge. The synth just glides over the beat, gleaming in its perfect shimmer, before another synth swoops in to introduce the chorus.

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

And it’s just perfect. How wonderful does the backing sound here? Why does every chord sound as if it’s moulded to Sumner’s voice? Then the drums and the synth play against each other to head back. Back to the verse. Back to the real world. Back to hurt and suffering and loss and why does it have to continue? The drums clatter, as if something’s still not right.

I feel fine and I feel good
I’m feeling like I never should
Whenever I get this way
I just don’t know what to say
Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday
I’m not sure what this could mean
I don’t think you’re what you seem
I do admit to myself
That if I hurt someone else
Then I’ll never see just what we’re meant to be

Resuscitation, An extended synth and drum piece. Effects bounce all over the studio walls, simple ideas becoming complex harmonies. Building up, then stripping back down to drums, real mixed with the drum machine. But can you tell the difference? Glitches stop and start. Then, something magical happens.

At 5:32, the song gives up. It accepts failure. And with that, it is cured. With that, it can live.

The song comes to life. The synth sings for us. Primitive Fairlight technology, but the merging of man and technology is complete. The synth, female, of course, sings the chorus for us, heart cured. It then duets with Sumner for a final encore, before it opens the door the outside world.

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

This is not the greatest love song of the 1980s.

It is a 12” band-aid for the heart.

currently playing: New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle