Oops

It’s been brought to my attention that I’d already posted that Cat Power version of Wonderwall. Apologies. To make up for it, have a Red House Painters song:

Red House Painters — Have You Forgotten?

The question for this week - as I'm a shiftless layabout who can make time, should I go to the Bush protest in London this Thursday, or should I just stay home and do something more useful instead? Leave your thoughts in the helpfully-provided comment section…

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Kiss and Make Up

Flying Machines On The Ground

Feel the vibrations
Underneath your feet
An onground flight
begins tonight
Before you learn to walk
Before you learn to rock

You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate

Your forward momentum slows
And you travel straight lines
You gotta know how to stop
When you do the bunny-hop
Before you learn to walk
Before you learn to rock

You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate

Loop-de-loop
Around the rink let's go I go
Loop-de-loop
Around the rink let's go I go
Loop-de-loop
Around the rink let's go I go
Loop-de-loop
Around the rink lets go I go
I go I go I go I go I go I go
Before you learn to walk
Before you learn to rock

You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate

You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate
You learn to rollerskate

currently playing: Call & Response — Rollerskate

Links and More Links

The answer to one of the ancient questions of the Universe: just how do they make lego bricks?

The Guardian tries to find out just who invited George Bush to next week's Riot In London.

I invoke Godwin's Law on the "What **** Are You?" meme.

"I'm gonna sing the DOOM song now!"

Oasis heading back to the studio with Death In Vegas's producers.

Something to think about when people rant on about how superior our TV is to America.

The greatest intro in music?

And finally, in case you actually want to use the information in my article, be aware that the dvdauthor team changed the syntax two weeks ago. Ho hum. On the bright side, the changes do make it simpler to use…

currently playing: My Bloody Valentine — Soon

To Those Nice Nice Nights

Happy Birthday Laura!

currently playing: The Beat — Save It For Later

Buy My Words!

Out now:

I'm on page 50. US readers can pop along to their local bookstore and get hold of a copy. The magazine's distribution in the UK is rather limited, but I often manage to find issues in Borders (yeah, I know, Laura, worrying globalization, but they carry a wider selection of periodicals and journals than any shop outside of London, so there are times when there's no other option ;-)), so you might be able to pick one up there.

It's very much a technical article (it's about making DVDs in Linux, so there's a bit of code, discussion about how DVDs work and other interesting things), but nevertheless: my first published work!

currently playing: Mint Royale — Don’t Falter

"I accidentally grew a beard"

First, an explanation, because I’ve mentioned what I was doing tonight to a few people over the weekend, and their response was: “who’s Neil Gaiman?” If you’re thinking the same thing, then have a look at his website. In short, he’s a writer, most famous for The Sandman comic and the novel ‘Good Omens’, which he wrote with Terry Pratchett.

He's also rather funny in person. Always a plus. He's on a book tour promoting two new children's books, a picture book, 'The Wolves In The Walls', and a book aimed at a slightly older audience, 'Coraline'. There weren't too many children present tonight (although enough for Neil to be embarrassed when he started swearing during the Q&A session); instead it was mostly teenagers and people in their twenties (like myself and Richard).

Neil read The Wolves In The Walls to us (it's a fun children's book with helpful instructions on how to deal with wolves, silly parents who don't understand the abilities of puppets, and the magical properties of McDonald's apple pies), and then opened the floor to questions. A little boy got the first question in:

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Serious credit to Gaiman here; He told the boy why some of the audience had laughed at the question, that authors always get asked that, but he was going to answer it for him, talking about weird combinations of ideas and ending up creating a story idea for the Evil Were-Chairs that Time Forgot. He then went on to say that he stole the idea for Wolves from his four-year-old daughter, which got a big laugh.

He talked for about half-an-hour, on subjects as diverse as his Babylon 5 episode, the dream he had the night before where he ran around a cartoon world disguised as a dinosaur biting the heads off dinosaurs disguised as humans, sharing a hotel with Terry Pratchett, and meeting Rip Torn in Wilmington, NC ("BEASTMASTER!"). He was as informative and witty as you could have hoped for, plus we got to see the limited-edition beard (he promises it'll be gone by Friday).

We didn't hang around for the signing, mainly because I didn't bring any of my books with me (I wasn't sure whether Borders would allow it - turns out that they would have), and the shop helpfully took all the Neil Gaiman books off the shelves and stuck them on the table where he was signing. Which, of course, had a huge group of people clamouring around it, all trying to get Neil's signature. Sigh. Nonetheless, it was a fun night, and thanks must go out to Richard for coming along (and providing the lift to Oxford and back)…

currently playing: Sister Hazel — All For You

What could possibly go wrong?

Seeing Neil Gaiman tomorrow! Woo!

currently playing: Madness — Our House

Music Day

SuedeTrash

Suede split up yesterday, so here's the first single of theirs that I bought, all the way back in 1996.

Cat PowerWonderwall

From a John Peel session from a few years back. It's like her version of "Satisfaction" on The Covers Record; stripped down to the bare essentials, beautiful and naked. Plus! Also features the dulcet tones of John Peel at the beginning and the end (i.e. I couldn't be bothered to edit the MP3 down).

Camera ObscuraKnee Deep At The NPL (National Pop League)

From their new album, Underacheivers Please Try Harder. They're a Scottish band with some connection to Belle & Sebastian (not quite sure what that is though), and they sound quite similar, so consider that a warning if you think B&S are twee indie-popsters to be avoided. (If so, be ashamed of yourself!) I seem to have really got into this little alleyway of indie this past year; my favourite album so far is Saturday Looks Good To Me's All Your Summer Songs, which filters the C86 sound through Detroit to lovely effect. This is quite nice as well. Give it a try!

currently playing: New Order — Temptation

Those Damned Liberal Hollywood Types!

It’s a TV movie, so it’s probably awful, but it’s worrying that CBS caved so fast over The Reagans. Given the nervousness of American networks (read the history of The Insider for a fun exploration of that), I’m sure the script had to pass a legal test before any film was shot.

Excuse me, Wayne Coyne is bouncing like a monkey. Back in a moment.

Okay, bouncing over. Back to CBS. Is the right-wing power bloc that powerful now? That they can get a show cancelled in a week if they disagree with some of its content? That no-one is allowed to speak ill of Reagan's presidency? I can't imagine they'd make the same fuss if it was a "warts'n'all" TV movie about Bill and Hillary Clinton. Oh, it's going to be a fun election next year.

Talking of Bill, here's an interview where he outlines how he feels the Democrats should approach next November.

But, let's end on a more happy note. Saudi Arabia is going to crack down on people stealing sand. Yes, that's right. Saudi Arabia is afraid of running out of sand. The world is a strange place…

currently playing: Neko Case — Pretty Girls

The End Is The Beginning Is The End

As most of you are probably aware, I’m not the biggest fan of The Matrix series. I came out of the cinema four years ago, thinking that I had seen an above-average action movie with a few ground-breaking effects and a reasonable plot, although it did think that it was far more clever than it was in places. So I was a little surprised when people began discussing it as if it one of the greatest films of all time, with people praising it for its originality and inventive story. At long last, I finally understood what it felt like to be Richard, one of my friends at university, who loathed the Star Wars series with fiery passion, and would often forcefully argue the point (I still have a discussion to have with him that it was The Godfather that caused the downfall of American cinema rather than George Lucas, but we’ll save that for another time). I didn’t hate The Matrix, but I couldn’t see why everybody else seemed to fall over to praise it.

I talked about Reloaded a few months ago, and today I went to see the final film in the series, The Matrix: Revolutions. I still can't see it. On the plus side, there's fewer over-convoluted, slightly-dodgy philosophical conversations this time around, plus you finally get to see those hulking robot suits in action. The attack on Zion is easily the highlight of the film; excellent CGI sentinels swirling and swarming around the city, killing everything in their path, while the human defenders act out all the great war film clichés. It's a great hour.

But.

I don't know, it just doesn't seem to hang together all that well. Loathe as I am to turn to the Star Wars films as an example of how to wrap up a trilogy, Return of The Jedi is actually pretty good in that respect. Revolutions isn't. The first twenty minutes is "What Happened To Neo, Anyway?", except it decides to redo the lobby scene from the first film and have a stupid, stupid confrontation with the Merovingian (no, really, it makes no sense. Why didn't they just shoot them after they agreed the deal, hmm?), and then gives us some time with the All-New, All-Different Oracle to explain the plot again. Then the film splits into three, just like Jedi; There's what's going on in the Matrix, the attack on Zion, and Neo's mission to save humanity. Fair enough. But the film, understandably, wants to concentrate on the Zion attack, so Neo disappears from the film for about half an hour. And we're not allowed to see what's happening inside the Matrix until the very end. It's weird, because you'd normally expect these stories to be edited together, and watching them one after another is a bit anticlimactic, especially after the spectacular Zion scenes. The finale isn't that bad, as it at least attempts to move away slightly from the standard fight setup (I won't spoil it, but I will say it's not something that a long-time comic reader will be surprised at, but it's better than nothing).

Also, the acting is a bit weird. Lawrence Fishburne has very little to do after the initial rescue, Keanu looks bewildered most of the time, and Carrie-Anne Moss turns in her best Skeletor impression (honestly, have a chip!). The best performances come from Jada Pinkett-Smith, who seems to channel Harrison Ford during the chase scenes, and the commander of the APU forces; sadly I'm not able to track his name down on the imdb, but he's playing one of those gruff and insane captains that you find in war films. IN A BIG MECH BATTLESUIT, WITH GUNS. Everybody else is adequate enough, but, as you might imagine, this isn't a showcase for acting talent.

So, should you go and see it? Well, it's always nice to see how things end. And I know that I have a tendency to look harshly on the series as a reaction to how popular it is (sorry), so you might not have the same problems that I did, or they might not matter to you quite so much. If nothing else, there's a cool middle section with hulking robot battlesuits shooting robots! They're always good for a day out at the cinema…

currently playing: Ultrasound — Floodlit World