Sunday, May 30, 2010

What are they gonna say about him?

What are they gonna say?  That he was a kind man?  That he was a wise man?  That he had plans, man?  That he had wisdom?  Bullshit, Man!

I'm gonna say that Dennis Hopper was one of the finest character actors of the last fifty years.  He had his demons - and he played some demons as well.  Frank Booth may well be the scariest, most believable psychopath ever portrayed on screen - and Dennis portrayed him to perfection.  Just how much of Dennis was in Frank?

But Dennis didn't just do scary - he did cool as well.  Here's a great scene from a great film.  Clarence and Alabama have just left for California, when Christopher Walken comes calling on Dennis to find out where they've gone - with all his narcotics...

You're Sicilian, huh?

Dennis Hopper.  Legend.  As Frank might have said, "Don't drink to his health.  Drink to his fuck."

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Today's soundtrack:  Cornershop - Handcream for a Generation

As always, following in the footsteps of my youngest, I've extended my blogging wings across to the next big thing, Tumblr.  A slightly prettier blogger, a wordier Twitter, it just might catch on.  I'll still keep posting here, for all you blogger diehards, but will port everything across to my Tumblr page as well.

Neatly, I can also link my Tumblr page directly to my own personal website - so those of you who've looked in vain for some content on - look again!  Given the nature of Tumblr, you might find some additional content up there that won't ever appear on this page - so get bookmarking...

A while since I've posted - a combination of work taking up most of my time and precious little exciting to blog about, but what else is a boy to do on a wet Bank Holiday Saturday?

With the festival season approaching, the wetness needs to be having a word with itself and disappearing to foreign parts.  Weather something like that we had last weekend will do very nicely, please!

And a very pleasant weekend it was too.  Went over to Huddersfield to see The Boy, and we ended up in his drinkery of choice - The Parish.  No bands, just a nice couple of pints in the sunsheeine and one of the best burgers I've ever eaten.  Tasty!

And speaking of festivals, tickets arrived this week for both Glastonbury and Cropredy.  Spent the day "working from home" waiting for the Glasto ticket - which finally 9:15 in the evening.  So a day wasted - but ticket firmly in my grubby paws.  Yay!  In other Glasto news, U2 dropped out due to Bono's back-knack, to be replaced by Gorillaz.  All well and good, but I've got a dilemma now.  With U2 playing, it was a no-brainer - off to the Other Stage to see the Flaming Lips (and finally be persuaded - one way or the other - whether they are The Most Wonderful Thing Ever or The Emperor's New Clothes).  Now, it looks like I'll have to see the audio-visual extravaganza that is Damon Albarn's side project (or side-side project, not sure which).

Or I could just sit quietly in a corner somewhere, up to my gills in Strawberry Cider.

Cropredy should be interesting - backup festival with Simon, given that Latitude went and sold out on us.  Looking forward to some folksy jiggery-pokery, washed down by the odd gallon of real twiggy ale, in the hot August sun.

One band I won't be seeing this summer on the festival trail is Cornershop, that excellently-named fusion of Asian rhythms and western rock/hip-hop/reggae embellishments.  Often too eclectic for their own good, they are always interesting, if easier to admire than like.

Here they are, 'Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platform", which is easy enough for them to say.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

No Winners, Only Losers - Election Reflections

So - three days on from the election - and the dust is still settling.

Ironically, it looks like I got what I wished for - sort of.  What I really wanted was an option on the ballot paper that said 'none of the above'.  And that's what we've got - so far.

All three major parties managed, unerringly, to lose this election.  And despite it being a very good election to lose, I'm not sure any of them meant to.

Labour obviously lost - votes, seats, credibility.  Although constitutionally still in charge, Brown is now Dead Man Walking - in his own party as much as in the country.

Lib Dems - incredibly - also lost ground.  After the initial flush of Cleggmania, the country looked a little more closely and decided they weren't that keen on what they saw.  And, most likely, they were squeezed in a number of seats where the best 'keep Brown/Cameron out' option was someone other than the Lib Dems.

So if Labs/Libs both lost, then the Tories must have won, surely?  Well, no, they didn't, did they.  Yes, largest share of the seats, largest share of the vote...but our current voting system is called 'first past the post' for a reason.  And - despite 13 years in opposition, up against the most unpopular, discredited, party and party leader for decades, in the midst of a massive recession and caught up in a deeply unpopular war - Cameron couldn't persuade the country to give him a clear mandate to govern.  And he certainly does not have the 'moral right' to govern that some commentators have ascribed to him - if you're not first past the post, then you're not the winner.

What will we eventually end up with?  Clearly some sort of short term coalition or looser alliance, with Clegg as kingmaker.  Firstly, and rightly, he is talking with Cameron to see if they can find some common ground.  Currently Cameron is playing hardball - a meaningless commitment to do a bit of thinking about PR, and an agreement to explore areas of common ground with the Lib Dems that they were already committed to - in short, Cameron is offering nothing to Clegg in the way of concession.  Cabinet seats are meaningless and worthless if they do not come with any associated executive power.

For Clegg to agree to work with the Tories on this basis would be absolute madness and surely would be unacceptable to his party and to the vast majority of Lib Dem voters.  This will probably be Clegg's one and only chance to get some meaningful progress made on electoral reform - and he won't get that from Cameron.

So - will Clegg end up propping up the Labour party?  I think he'd probably like to - negotiating from a clear position of weakness, Labour will offer far more in the way of concession, particularly on electoral reform.  It feels like Labour would sacrifice the chance of absolute power if they could introduce a form of PR that would guarantee, more than likely, an ongoing centre-left coalition that would force the Conservatives into the political wilderness for generations.

But, but... an agreement with Labour alone will still not provide a working majority.  And there's the rub.  The Scottish and Welsh nationalists would have to be accommodated as well - and how do regional parties fare in a proportional representation-based system?  Furthermore, to bring the nationalists along, financial concessions will have to be made to the regions that will squeeze England even more.  And the electorate will not like that.

And since the country, quite clearly, does not want Labour, Clegg will get no credit from the electorate for propping up the current government - with or without Brown at the helm.  But - big but - he just might get electoral reform.

Despite the advantages of a deal with Labour, I think Clegg has to do a deal with Cameron - for his own credibility and for that of his party.  But he won't get PR, and he'll lose massive support both within and without his party in the process.  The Lib Dems are not a party of the right (or even the centre-right) so it will be an uneasy and fractious alliance that will do the country no good at all.  Might it then be the best option for Labour?  To go quietly, lose Brown and bide their time while the Tories and Lib Dems tear each other apart trying to deal with an appalling economic situation, then come back in a year's time?

But if Cameron succeeds in getting a grip on the situation - or if events work to his advantage - he has the power to call the next election at a time of his choosing, and with a modicum of goodwill from the electorate, just might get a working majority this time next year.  At which point he drops Clegg like a stone and the Lib Dems are consigned to the wilderness.

Ultimately, Cameron HAS to get the Lib Dems on side - but without conceding an inch on PR.  If he can do that, then he might - just might - end up the winner.  But in the longer term the biggest loser - ironically - will be Nick Clegg.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Another Year Older...

Today's soundtrack:  Various Artists - 12"/80s

So - another year, another birthday.  Spent in far more enjoyable circumstances this year than last year, without a doubt.  This time last year I was working my way through an all-day interview session with a predetermined outcome (quite possibly) that did not involve me being the winning candidate.  This year however, back in the saddle, it was over to Manchester in the sun for a spot of lunch with Mrs W, Son No 2 and his girlfriend.  We went to the Hard Rock Cafe in the Printworks, and very enjoyable it was too.  Despite gentle threats, I managed to avoid the birthday sing-song from the waiters and we filled up on nachos and a variety of burgers.  I commend the Red, White and Blue!

After the inevitable trip to Fopp, we went our separate ways, me laden down with CDs both purchased and gifted.  Coupled with the monthly download from eMusic, I'm now well stocked up with a range of new music to listen to on the trips up and down the motorway, to and from work.

Ah yes, work.  Week two passed very smoothly, thank you very much.  Lots of meetings in different places as I continued the induction process, all passing off very smoothly indeed.  Oh, and a birthday card from the team on Friday as well.  I'm going to like this job.

With the extended weekend giving us the chance to recharge our batteries, it's been quite a lazy couple of days.  Got back in time on Saturday to catch the second half of Everton's disappointing draw with Stoke that inevitably condemns us to a season without European football.  Now whilst part of me thinks this might be a good thing - fewer games, a focus on the domestic competitions - I'll miss the midweek games against obscure Slovenian teams and the inevitable exit to a half-decent Spanish outfit in the 'round of 32' or whatever they call it these days.  A fate Liverpool are now condemned to after their meek capitulation to Chelsea yesterday.  So it looks like Chelsea's title rather than ManYoo's, thanks initially to Stevie G's misguided backpass that let Drogba in for the first goal.  What was going through Stevie's mind, I wonder?

I think Liverpool's close season is going to be hugely interesting this year.  Will the FSW still be there?  Stevie and Nando?  Not if their body language is anything to go by.  Which doesn't leave much.

Double bill (quite literally) of Tarantino this weekend - we watched the two Kill Bills over Saturday and Sunday.  Hugely enjoyable, entertaining tosh, borrowing heavily from the chop-socky kung fu films of the '70s, with a bit of manga thrown in as well.  Loved it, and on the big telly, the blu-ray version looked great.

Despite all my new purchases (and gifts) over the weekend (oh, since you ask, some Fall, Weller, Santana and the new Laura Marling, plus downloads of Midlake, Caribou, Luxuria and a Cath Carrol album I found lurking on eMusic), today's soundtrack comes from that much-maligned decade, the '80s.  The 12" collection does what it says on the tin - collects extended 12" remixes of songs released in the eighties.  As I type, I have Pete Wylie's 'Tribal Mix' of Sinful playing in the background and very fine it is too.

The 12" remix was very much an eighties thing, and I was an absolute sucker for it at the time - I must have bought more singles on 12" vinyl than on 7" - just to get the extra tracks and the remixes.  Some were great - notably the Trevor Horn remixes of the Frankie stuff - and some were pretty awful (the Langer/Winstanley extended mixes of Costello's stuff spring to mind).  But to inveterate collectors like myself, it was a great time to be buying singles.

Here's Grace Jones, with Pull Up to the Bumper.  Not the extended version unfortunately, but very redolent of the era.  This couldn't be more '80s if it came with its pastel jacket sleeves rolled up and a pair of espadrilles on its sockless feet.  But it is still very good indeed.