Monday 31 December 2018

Sunday 30 December 2018

There she blew

So, the pic on the right is being used to advertise... "flatulence filtering garments". Yes, really.

The headline "There she blows" is followed by this picture, and then the following customer testimonial:

I am absolutely amazed by the quality and efficiency of your fart-filtering clothes. I can go out with my friends now and I haven't done that in YEARS!"

Flatulence filtering garments? Fart-filtering clothes? What the...?

The company behind this unbelievable venture is called Shreddies, which might be enough to put you off your breakfast. What a time to be alive...

Oh, and if your friends are that irked by your wind, you've probably got the wrong friends. Just saying.

Saturday 29 December 2018

There she blows

"There she blows" was the headline and this was the picture. Go on, guess what it's advertising. I'll wait...

Answer tomorrow. If I remember.

Friday 28 December 2018

Blue Friday - There Is A Place In Hell For Me And My Friends

My perennial New Year song. Sorry if you can't stomach Steven any more, I get it, I do. Just another reason to feel blue.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Please don't be terrible

The new BBC/Netflix co-adaptation of Watership Down starts tonight at 7pm. Long-term readers of this blog (both of them) might know that Watership Down is my desert island book, so I am excited about this. But also quite nervous... because the 1978 film adaptation with John Hurt and Richard Briers is pretty perfect, and I wonder what this new version has to add. Other than lots of complaints online already about the poor CGI which, when compared to the hand-drawn watercolours backdrops of the 70s, may dazzle with detail but lacks reality.

Anyway, BBC and Netflix, please don't dump on my perfect book. Fingers crossed it's good and, at the very least, not terrible. Here's a trailer:

For comparison, here's the 1978 trailer too:

And just for laughs, because some complain that the '78 version's depiction of nature red in tooth and claw was too violent and upsetting (please, get a grip), here's Carnage Count's take on the film too:

Anyway... let's hope this new version is more El-Ahrairah than the Black Rabbit of Inlé...

Thursday 20 December 2018

A Gift for you

Well, here's a thing. Back in the mid-90s there was an indie band from East Anglia called The Gift that made a bit of a flutter. They were likened to The Bluetones, there was some minor label and music press excitement and then ... then nothing. The band split, and various members went on to try other things. So far, so unremarkable.

Twenty plus years later, they're having another go. There are new tunes, and new gigs. The world is unstaggered. Which is a shame, because they make a nice noise - here, gets your ears around this:

See, that's alright, isn't it? Sure, you can hear their 90s indie roots but in this track (though not others, Rol'll be pleased to hear) there are traces of Zoo Station-era U2 and even, in the minds of some reviewers, Thom Yorke-esque vocal traits.

All very nice. Will they garner any more success this time around than before. Unlikely, I'd say, and for the same reasons I've written about before: the fine margins that exist between bands that make the next step up and others, seemingly as good or better, that don't. Still, this is alright, I think - you might agree. (Poor choice of band name though - do you know how many bands there are called The Gift?)

Wednesday 19 December 2018

That Was The Year That Was: 2018

A Brexit stamp
This is the eighth time I've recapped a year like this (for completists, here are the others), but this time it's going to be brief - just winners, no runners-up. Why? I'm tired, and this crap doesn't write itself. Plus, you know, I'm no influencer and nobody really gives a monkeys about what I think. Yes, that makes this whole post an exercise in vanity ... but exercise is good for you, right?

Best album

I've bought very few new albums this year but, of the few I have, True Meanings by Paul Weller is worth a mention. As he has throughout his career, the Modfather has dared to do different, and it works. A classic? No. But rewarding of repeated listens? Yes.

Best song

Hi Hello by Johnny Marr, and not just because it evokes his old band. But the fact that it does is no bad thing.

Best gig

Sorry but it was Morrissey at the Royal Albert Hall. I wrote about it at the time. Been a good year for gigs.

Best book

Best I've read this year? The Knot by Mark Watson. Best I've read that was published this year? The Outsider by Stephen King. Best I've been involved with this year? The Petrified World and other tales, edited by yours truly.

Best film

I haven't been to the cinema as often as I might like but, even if I had, I think Ghost Stories would still have been my film of the year. Genuine chills and some great performances, especially from Paul Whitehouse. Jeune Femme was also noteworthy.

Best television

The most fiercely contended category. The award goes to Killing Eve, for being inventive, original, compelling and brilliantly soundtracked - a must-see! The protagonists are wonderfully played by Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer too.

Best comedy

I was lucky enough to catch Dave Gorman's new show, With Great Powerpoint Comes Great Responsibilitypoint, and it made me laugh out loud more than anything else, all year. The ticket price was worth it for the giraffe joke alone.

Best theatre

A bit of a cheat here, as it really deserves an honourable mention in the comedy category, but David Baddiel's My Family: Not The Sitcom deserves all the plaudits it gets. Funny, yes, but emotional too, and laudably honest. Can't wait for the Trolls show he's working up to tour, hopefully in 2019.

And that's it for this year. Yes, I know, that's fewer categories than in year's gone by. Sorry. Am time-poor and all out of words.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Christmas Shat

Apologies in advance, but once seen no amount of mental sorbet will ever purge this from your mind.


Monday 17 December 2018

Buzzcocks and memories

So as you all know, Pete Shelley died a couple of weeks ago, relatively young and quite unexpected. The Beeb has a good obit, if that's your thing. I held off writing anything about Pete, or Buzzcocks, at the time but here are some random memories about them. Better late than never.

January 2009: I am watching Buzzcocks live in a sweaty, sticky-floored venue and they are ripping up the place. It is fantastic, and I should be loving it. And I sort of am, but only sort of. I bought two tickets, you see, in the hope that someone else would come with me. Purely hope. She stood me up, that night, and however good Pete, Steve and the rest were, there was an unspoken limit on how high my mood could be lifted.

July 2008: Buzzcocks are the surprise set-closer at the Mark Lamarr-curated God's Jukebox event at the Latitude Festival. We are in the front row of The Music and Film tent, which has staged the event, and have sat through perfectly serviceable sets by Pete Molinari, The Heavy, James Hunter and Eli 'Paperboy' Reed & The True Loves. Buzzcocks come on and the place goes berserk for their blistering (and ear-drum popping) greatest hits set. Whilst Steve Diggle still looks a bit angry, Pete Shelley looks like someone's dad (or granddad), but that doesn't matter... as the moshpit chaos testifies, this is awesome. Such is the mosh (and the volume) that my partner bails out but I stay for the duration, and will be a little deafer ever after.

Mid 1990s: looking for a birthday present for The Man Of Cheese, I happen upon a numbered CD reissue of Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch e.p. It is class, of course, and makes an excellent (and easily wrapped) present. Years later, in a house move, The Man Of Cheese would become separated from many of his CDs, so I doubt he still has this - a shame because it goes for about £15 now, according to discogs.

Most evenings in the early 80s: my brother, a crucial four years older than me but still living in the familial abode, comes home from an evening in the social club somewhat the worse for wear. He takes off his 8-hole DMs and stumbles up stairs to his bedroom, which is directly above the living room. He cues up essential Buzzcocks best-of Singles Going Steady on his frankly shitty Amstrad stereo, lowers the tone arm and we're off into side 1, track 1.... at a volume that is intended to rile the parents below. To their credit, they remain unriled, and this is how I learn Buzzcocks tunes - listening to them through the ceiling. By the time we get to the end of side one the lager has taken hold and my brother is invariably asleep on his bed. It is then my job to tiptoe into his room, the sound of my approach masked by the buzz and hiss of the cheap, amped-up speakers, lift the tone-arm from the vinyl (the auto-return doesn't work) and power off the Amstrad. Out go the cheap LEDs, and out I go, leaving him to sleep it off.

Of all the many, many gigs I have been to, the ones my brother would also have enjoyed are relatively few. Paul Weller, From The Jam, Billy Bragg... and Buzzcocks. So here, for Pete (and my brother) is side 1, track 1 - it's some way from their finest work but it's what I heard first, so it ought to be what I hear last.

Bonus trivia that you probably all know already as well: Jamie Lee Curtis's character in 1991 schmaltz-fest My Girl is called Shelly DeVoto. No prizes for guessing where they came up with that name from...

Friday 14 December 2018

Blue Friday - When I'm Gone

I dreamed I saw Phil Ochs last night (and there's +1 kudos point on offer for that reference).

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Monday 3 December 2018

Monday long song: Three Points on a Compass

I said I wouldn't do this every week, and I won't, but a recent Blue Friday post revealed I am not alone in wanting more solo work from Martin Rossiter. This song is ten minutes of raw emotion and also, I know, a particular touchstone for my oldest friend, the best mate anyone could ever have, The Man Of Cheese. So here we go.

Saturday 1 December 2018


I'm not doing a New Amusements Advent Calendar this year. They're a lot of work to put together (bah) and finding decent alternative Christmas tunes gets harder every year (humbug).

The calendars from the last three Christmases are all still here for your listening/viewing pleasure though, so I'm just going to recycle them instead. After all, shouldn't we all be recycling as much as we can these days?

Knock yourselves out...

Advent 2015   •   Advent 2016   •   Advent 2017