Sunday, July 11, 2004

Blogging break 

Though there's been a lot going on in my world, and lots of stuff to blog about, I haven't really had the impetus to do so recently, so I've decided to take a more official break. I imagine I will be back to it, but not for a little while, except with the odd film review. Meanwhile, I'm off to get a change in medication, and am going to try to continue to enjoy the sunshine and a new relationship. Happy summer, everyone.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Bug me not 

I always get irritated when using Political Theory Daily Review, because it links to lots of articles in online newspapers which require registration. Very usefully, a friend has now passed on the link to a site which gives you the codes you need to log on to these sites without registration. So I thought I'd pass on the favour.

And the sequel... 

Unfortunately the real world is intervening often at the moment. So it's fortunate that The Virtual Tophet has provided me with more ways to fill in space with minimum effort:

1. Cats or Dogs? Cats
2. Elizabeth Taylor or Richard Burton? Taylor.
3. Royal Opera or ENO? Brian Eno? Hmm...
4. Ancient or Medieval? Ancient. Medieval stuff's causing me trouble at the moment.
5. Titian or Caravaggio? Titian.
6. Yeats or Eliot? Yeats.
7. Bruce Forsyth or Larry Grayson? Yuck!
8. George or Ringo? George.
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca
10. Tracey Emin or Rachel Whiteread? Emin, but not for any good reason.
11. The Who or the Stones? Stones.
12. Dylan Thomas or Ted Hughes? Dylan Thomas
13. Robinson Crusoe or King Solomon's Mines? Haven't read either.
14. Fellini or Begnini? Fellini, but I like both.
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? See previous post.
16. Oxford or Cambridge? Oxford, perhaps obviously.
17. The sixties or the seventies? The 70s, because of a lot of good music and good politics (the true beginning of lesbian separatism perhaps?)
18. Burger King or MacDonalds? Macdonalds, at which I've shamefully started eating through sheer laziness.
19. Jonathan Ross or Angus Deayton? Deayton.
20. Peter Mandelson or Alastair Campbell? Mandelson. But again, yuck!
21. Verdi or Wagner? See previous post.
22. Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet? Duran Duran, but only just. I have far too much 80s music hidden behind the more obviously 'cool' records.
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? See previous post.
24. The Iliad or the Odyssey? The Odyssey.
25. Hello or Heat? Neither.
26. London or Paris? Paris.
27. Moscow or California? Moscow.
28. Athens or Rome? Rome
29. Red wine or white? Red
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Wilde
31. Vanessa Redgrave or Judi Dench? Dench, but both are great.
32. Brown or Blair? Brown
33. British Museum or Natural History Museum? British Museum is in my favourite bit of London (near Gay's The Word, Foyles, Bookmarks, Soho, The Astoria...) so I'll go for that.
34. More museums: Louvre or Pergamon? Louvre.
35. Pubs or bars? Pubs.
36. Comedy or tragedy? See previous.
37. Fall or spring? Both, then one's less painful. (D'oh!)
38. Coffee or tea? Coffee
39. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Austen
40. Bull-fighters or gladiators? gladiators.
41. Renaissance or Enlightenment? Enlightenment.
43. Town or Country? Country, but with convenient towny bits.
44. Mac or PC? PC.
45. Charles or Diana? Charles Windsor - 'You're on your way to the guillotine!'
46. Tuscany or Provence? Tuscany
47. Email or Telephone? Email has made phones obsolete. I only wish everyone with mobiles agreed.
48. Fruit or Cake? "'Cake or death?' 'I'll think I'll take cake'. 'I'm afraid we've run out of cake'. 'So the choice is 'or death'?'"
49. Football or Rugby? Neither.
50. Dolphins or Tuna? Slurry.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

More Pointless Fun 

[Via Chris]

1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Neither.
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? The Great Gatsby, because I've read it.
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Count Basie, as a populist, though I know Duke Ellington's meant to be better.
4. Cats or dogs? Cats all the way.
5. Matisse or Picasso? Picasso.
6. Yeats or Eliot? Yeats.
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Buster Keaton, for everything.
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike? Don't know.
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Haven't seen either.
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? Willem de Kooning.
11. The Who or the Stones? The Stones.
12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath? Larkin.
13. Trollope or Dickens? Dickens, but not a big fan of either.
14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Billie Holiday.
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? I've read more Dostoyevsky, but I'm more impressed by the little Tolstoy I have read.
16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? The End of the Affair, for a film.
17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? Who?
18. Hot dogs or hamburgers? Vegetarian hotdogs.
19. Letterman or Leno? Lenin.
20. Wilco or Cat Power? Cat Power (to Chris - they're both recent lofi American artists).
21. Verdi or Wagner? Wagner, since my dad blasted him at me for years.
22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Monroe.
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? Johnny Cash.
24. Kingsley or Martin Amis? Neither.
25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? Brando.
26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Who?
27. Vermeer or Rembrandt? Indifferent.
28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Tchaikovsky.
29. Red wine or white? Red.
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Oscar Wilde.
31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? High Fidelity, or so people keep telling me. Haven't seen/read either.
32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev? Prokofiev.
33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? Don't know.
34. Constable or Turner? Turner.
35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? Don't know.
36. Comedy or tragedy? Tragedy, because I haven't reached true profundity yet.
37. Fall or spring? Fall, to be American about it.
38. Manet or Monet? Manet.
39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons? The Simpsons - the best thing ever to hit a TV screen (along with Blackadder).
40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? Rodgers & Hammerstein.
41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James? I've only read small amounts of either. The Turn Of The Screw pissed me off intensely, so it'll have to be Conrad.
42. Sunset or sunrise? Sunset.
43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? Cole Porter.
44. Mac or PC? PCs. Never used a Mac.
45. New York or Los Angeles? NY.
46. Partisan Review or Horizon? Don't know.
47. Stax or Motown? Motown.
48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? Van Gogh, but only because I don't really know any Gauguin.
49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? Costello (for Oliver's Army)
50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? Blog.
51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Gielgud.
52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers? Only The Lonely.
53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? Dunno.
54. Ghost World or Election? Ghost World.
55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Dunno.
56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? Bugs Bunny, though Daffy's great in the early cartoons when he was insane and kissed everyone.
57. Modernism or postmodernism? Dunno.
58. Batman or Spider-Man? Spiderman.
59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams? Harris.
60. Johnson or Boswell? Dunno.
61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Austen. Woolf's often unreadable.
62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Dunno
63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? Dunno
64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? Dunno
65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni? Figaro, because I know it.
66. Blue or green? Grue.
67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It? As You Like It, though I wouldn't go for either from Shakespeare's plays.
68. Ballet or opera? Ballet, but I'm uncultured and don't really like either.
69. Film or live theater? Film. Can give myself in to isolation better.
70. Acoustic or electric? Acoustic.
71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? Vertigo.
72. Sargent or Whistler? Dunno
73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera? Kundera.
74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? Oklahoma.
75. Sushi, yes or no? It makes a change every once in a while.
76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? Dunno.
77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Williams all the way. He's great.
78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove? Portrait of A Lady.
79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? Dunno
80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? Dunno
81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? Dunno
82. Watercolor or pastel? Watercolour.
83. Bus or subway? Bus (but see previous post).
84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg? Dunno.
85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth, but neither preferably.
86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser? Dunno
87. Schubert or Mozart? Schubert.
88. The Fifties or the Twenties? Twenties.
89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick? Huck Finn.
90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce? Mann, because I've read some of him.
91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? both are beautiful, but I'll go for Young. (jazz musicians, Chris).
92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman? Dickinson.
93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Lincoln.
94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? I think I'm meant to like Mann, but I don't know.
95. Italian or French cooking? Italian.
96. Bach on piano or harpsichord? Piano.
97. Anchovies, yes or no? No.
98. Short novels or long ones? Long, but only if I have a long time.
99. Swing or bebop? Swing.
100. "The Last Judgment" or "The Last Supper"? The Last Supper.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The drinking theory of class 

My friend Mike has been putting forward a drinking class theory, which because both he and I had been drinking sounded quite appealling. This being that a working class person will never have alcohol in the house, because they drink what they can afford, while an upper class person will drink everything they can, but what they can afford is so much that they may still have a bit left - just a wine cellar or two's worth, of course. The middle class then work as the oppressive ones, because they place too much emphasis on appearance and social status to be drunk all the time, but want to look like they can afford a good stock of alcohol, so they'll always have some in the house.

Add into that that it is of course in the interests of the middle class to keep the working class drunk, a traditional truth anyway, and it all works quite nicely.

The Transfiguration of Vincent 

This was one of the albums I got for my birthday, the most recent from M Ward. Having heard a few tracks of his on various Uncut Free CDs, I had him passed off as nice-but-dull alt.country, worth listening to but only as one or two tracks on a mix tape. But he's much better than that, and I recommend this CD highly (as I do most things I blog about, I know - really, there's a lot of stuff out there for which I have nothing but contempt, but I don't think it's worth bringing it online).

One of the highlights of the album is his cover of Bowie's 'Let's Dance', one of my least favourite Bowie songs. His version is a slowed-down acoustic number, bringing out the soul in the song (which I'm not sure was there at all before). Reminded me of Cat Power's cover of '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction', which removes the chorus entirely, goes slow and acoustic, and comes close to cryingly beautiful at the lyrics 'baby, baby, baby come back - can't you see I'm on a losing streak?'

There are a few instrumental tracks on the album, which are nice jazzy bits of guitar, forming breaks between Ward's voice, which is great in its own way, but something you could otherwise get too much off - sort of a permanent husky Tom Waits falsetto. His own songs are great, with 'Sad Song' nearly a blues number, and 'Helicopter' reaching rockabilly, but with each songs also maintaining something that's distinctive to Ward, and that distinction adds the extra layer the album needs. Really excellent.

"The wheels on the bus..." 

Monica Bennett likes taking the bus. I'm not so keen, though like her I've had many life-affirming experiences on buses which I might not have had while driving. On really bad days the insane bus driver who'd start improvisationally singing the numbers from 1-20, in increasingly climactic notes - "17!" - was a real kickstart to the day. The guy who told me I looked intelligent and then offered me a spliff when I was 12 was also appreciated. Being beaten up twice on the bus was less fun, and one experience (my best friend's, not mine) is particularly worth mentioning on the 'mixed blessing' side:

A man was smoking on the bus, as many do on the top floor (illegally). This was pretty annoying, as the windows don't open very well, and another man came along and told him to put the cigarette out. He didn't, looking tough with a don't-fuck-with-me mouth. This other guy then took out a gun and said calmly 'I said, put out the cigarette'. This time the first man obeyed, looking a little less tough. The man with the gun then put the gun away and came up to my friend, beginning to chat her up. What do you say to turn down a guy with a gun?

So yes, I have a certain fondness for public transport, but the general rudeness of people on buses, added to experiences like this, has fuelled my love of solitude. I'd rather walk or take a car. Saving the environment can wait until they make public transort a bit safer.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Onion Link 

I'm probably the last person I know to have discovered The Onion, but it's great, particularly the horoscopes:

Sagittarius: (Nov. 22—Dec. 21)

You will be faced with the unenviable task of telling somebody that they have lost that loving feeling without breaking into song.

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