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4/26/2004

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Leonardo's car brought to life
"A programmable steering mechanism allows it go straight, or turn at pre-set angles. But only to the right. Good in towns like today's Florence, with a one-way system. As ever, Leonardo was centuries ahead of his time."

BBC NEWS | Technology | Fingertips 'read' text messages
"Pieces of art could be developed solely to be touched, by 'tactile composers' akin to music for the ear and paintings for the eye."

8/22/2003

This blog is dead. Come to my new home. It tastes better.

8/11/2003

Iranian Spread I missed the last two MIFF sessions I was supposed to attend (Durval Records and Osama) due to study commitments (I'm such a nerd). But I did make it to Iranian Spread), the last film I'll see at this year's festival. Kianoush Ayyari's film follows the travels of a counterfeit 1000 toman banknote, as it changes hands in markets, taxis, weddings, shopping malls, and other transactions. Not only does this provide a clever transition point for linking a series of short stories, it also provides a moral and ethical testing point for the characters. Each story takes as it's beginning and end, this transferal of the banknote, the passing of the problem as though it's a baton in a relay. Each recipient of the money deals with its problematic nature in a different way. A wealthy man offloads it by giving a beggar 50 tomans, receiving 950 legitimate tomans in change. The husband of an abortionist attempts to return it to the woman who handed it over for an illegal and seemingly brutal abortion, only to find the weak and pained woman struggling to afford a much needed banana drink to recover from her experience - instead of returning the forged note he pays for her drink. These two exchanges at each end of the ethical spectrum within this film, and in between we find the processes of trust and charity, greed and self-centeredness, as each character deals with the situation. As the note passes hands, we encounter not only the story of the note itself, but also the peripheral story of the character and those around them; the woman who defiantly beats all the men in her group by standing in a freezing cold creek for longer than them, thereby winning the money to undergo an illegal abortion; the familial drama surrounding a rural wedding; the university student whose father pays for her education by begging, much to her chagrin. I'd have to say that this is the best of the ten films I saw at MIFF this year.

8/07/2003

Jakarta attack John Howard's twists of logic continue today. After a terrorist attack on Jakarta's Marriott Hotel, an establishment heavily frequented by Western business-people, Howard has pointed out that only Indonesians were killed. This proves, in Howard's view, that the targets were Muslims. Muslims attacking Muslims, this concept not only implies a certain lunacy, but also validates a call for Muslims to make a stand against fanatics. "They're attacking and killing fellow Muslims and that means that this is a war that must be waged by Muslims and Christians and Jews and all people of good will around the world against fanatics." I think it's a long bow to draw, to assume that Muslims were a target here. Howard's schematic flows of logic have sparked my interest in the last few days. In this case there's a positive angle; by including Muslims in the victim-barrel, it lessens the backlash against them (hopefully). Also interesting in the aftermath of the Jakarta attack, is the faux-implication of Jemaah Islamiah. There has been no solid proof as to who is behind the attack, and as I write nobody has claimed responsibility. The Australian media has been pointing a veiled finger at JI, implying but never concretely stating who's responsible. We love super-villains. We love having a focus for out collective hatred. It lessens the confusion of the world.
New CNWB blog at Typepad I've been inspired by Angus' move from Blogspot to Typepad, and have consequently started up a new version of CNWB there. I've got a free one month trial, so I'll post the same entries to both Blogspot and Typepad during that time, and then decide if the benefits of Typepad are worth paying for. The new blog is here. The layout is still under construction, and visitors are requested to collect their helmets from the site office.

8/05/2003

Adam and Steve John Howard has joined both the Vatican and George W. Bush (is that surprising?), in denouncing the notion of homosexual marriage. This is to be expected from a man who places much emphasis on (nuclear) 'family values', but what I found interesting was his reasoning behind his stance. Gone are the days where conservatives could claim moralistic reasons for their exclusionary opinions on homosexuality (well, they still can, but not if they want to win an election). Howard has claimed that marriage is the bedrock of society because it ensures "the survival of the species". The inability of homosexual couples to produce offspring places them at odds with the social responsibility to procreate. What I find curious is the reduction of a cultural phenomenon to a scientific one. While procreation is a natural urge which ensures the survival of the species, marriage is merely a cultural construction, and has nothing to do with the survival of the human species. Seagulls don't get married, and they're bloody everywhere. I think that to reduce marriage to a purely utilitarian function ignores the whole notion of people choosing to share their lives together. Using the Howard model, every marriage is under some obligation to bear children. It ignores the fact that people get married because they love each other, and choose to express their commitment to each other through a cultural outlet. Conversely, there's the issue of teenage pregnancy. Here's a situation where natural urges are ensuring the "survival of the species", yet we're not as keen to defend this phenomenon. Our society and culture is set up in such a way that makes teenage pregnancy problematic. By the same logic of defending the institution of marriage as a kind of natural evolutionary tactic, and ignoring its cultural relevancy, one could also argue that teenage pregnancy should be encouraged. Of course, teenage sexuality is terrifying within the construct of 'the family'. I'm getting a bit off track now, but the primary point I'm trying to make is this; it's quite offensive to imply that homosexuals being able to express their love and commitment in the same way heterosexuals do, is somehow endangering the survival of the human species, especially in the shadow of war, famine and disease. Finally, how must Janet Howard feel, knowing that her husbands primary reason for marrying her is the survival of the human species. The Null Device has also had a stab at this issue.

8/04/2003

More MIFFism Crimson Gold I Was disappointed with Jafar Panahi's Crimson Gold. The film opens with the story's conclusion, and so the rest of the film consists of the backstory to the events we've already seen. Unfortunately, the conclusion is that the film's protagonist kills himself in a bungled jewelry shop robbery, and so we're left following a character who we know is essentially a timebomb. The intention of the film therefore, seems to be to show us what drove the character to such ends, why did he rob a jewelry shop and why would he kill himself when it all goes wrong? These questions aren't really answered effectively, which leaves the conclusion-first narrative somewhat pointless. Furthermore, many of the scenes seem to be left inconclusive. Two scenes in particular left me feeling that the situation was left unresolved. I'm not usually one to fuss over unconventional narratives, in fact I quite enjoy them, which lead me to wonder why this film didn't work for me. What I concluded was that, as often happens with foreign-language films, words alone cannot convey all the subtle and intangible elements of language. Subtitles allow us to follow the basics of the plot, but much of the message is lost; physical gestures made while we're furiously reading lines of text at the bottom of the screen, cultural references, irony, sarcasm. I get the impression that much of Crimson Gold's story was lost in the translation, not only of language but also of cultural subtleties. I'm therefore more inclined to say "I didn't enjoy this film as much as I'd hoped" rather than "this is an bad film". Ballroom Parallel universes make for some interesting films. One of my favourites is Robert Lepage's Possible Worlds, another is the Back to the Future trilogy. Ballroom is set in a small coastal French town, where two men live in a renovated old ballroom. One of the men, Rene, is a visual artist whose work somehow involves toy bears and webcams. Rene becomes obsessed with an old photo he finds in a magazine, a pair of men dressed as little girls, some kind of vaudevillian act called The Bernard Brothers, which is also Rene's surname. Rene starts to notice unusual things occurring around the ballroom, doors left open and food disappearing from plates. He soon starts to catch glimpses of the culprit, it's one of the Bernard Brothers, though it's actually him, Rene. On a trip to Copenhagen with his partner, Rene meets an associate who explains his theory of parallel realities. He uses the example of the parallel world that would exist in which Nazi Germany won the second world war, and then goes on to point out that Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen cars are everywhere in Europe, and that IG Farben, the company that made Zyklon B, is still listed on the stock exchange. Other realities aren't parallel to ours, he says, but rather we are constantly at intersections between multiple realities. Clearly the recurring appearance of the Bernard Sister is Rene himself, from a different reality. Somehow Rene is able to peer through the curtain which separates these worlds. As a counterpoint to the Nazi Germany theory, television news reports are audible throughout the film, clearly defining Rene's world as the world we are part of; the fall of Kabul, the truckload of dead refugees found in Britain, the calls to close the Sangatte refugee camp. Towards the end, Rene incorporates the Bernard Sister character into his performance art, effectively merging the two worlds. Doing Time The reflections of Anime writer Hanawa Kazuichi's time spent in prison. One of Hanawa's pastimes was battle re-enactments, similar to those that take place in the USA or the UK. In Hanawa's case it's not the American War of Independence or Medieval scenarios, but rather Vietnam that he and his friends recreate. A subpart of this community is the crafting of replica guns, and Hanawa's pistol is regarded as a fine piece of workmanship. In fact, so lifelike is his gun that it's capable of firing real bullets, which makes it illegal to own in Japan. Consequently Hanawa spends time in prison, and this film follows his observations on other inmates, and of the strictly regimented daily routines they're forced to live by. There is no specific narrative to the film, it's purely a nicely paced observational wander though the lives of the prisoners, coupled with some genuinely humourous moments whereby the warmth and humility of the characters shines through the barrage of pointless protocol and institutionalisation. Feisty Noodle Feisty Noodle is a Melbourne blog which has hitherto escaped my radar. They too, are blogging their journey through MIFFistan.
The Allegorical Power Series The August volume of The Allegorical Power Series is up; a selection of free MP3 files, curated this month by Dion Workman. Featuring Okkyung Lee, Raz Mesinai, Rosy Parlane, Toshio Kajiwara, Julien Ottazi, Tim Barnes and David Daniell.

8/01/2003

Plastic Balls A very addictive Pong / Breakout-style game. Great interactive animation in The Man Project (reminds me of the stomach worm things in Donnie Darko). Both via Blogdex.
CNWB Top Five for 27 July - 2 August 1. Sean Paul : Like Glue 2. Dizzee Rascal : I Luv U (remix) 3. Dusty Springfield : Just A Little Lovin' 4. The Postal Service : From Great Heights 5. The Gossip : Fire Sign

7/31/2003

Old blogs Abbas Aly's fight against the bigots of Annangrove has surfaced in the news again. This time the Land & Environment Court has overturned the Baulkham Hills Shire Council's decision to disallow Aly to build a Muslim prayer centre on his own property. I wrote about this in an old blog of mine, which sent me looking for it. I must've erased it for some reason, but it was interesting to look over those old blogs; Logic Probe was my attempt at a copy-n-paste scrapbook, while Silent Type dates back to January 2001 and trails off just before September 11, 2001 (which is a pity, because I would love to have a record of my thoughts at that time).

7/30/2003

More MIFFin' Love Liza Directed by Todd Louiso (who played Dick in High Fidelity), starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman (one of my favourite actors), and written by Hoffman's brother. This film about a successful web-designer whose wife has committed suicide, left me pretty cold. A character on a descent into destitution and madness, with little left open for our engagement with him. Hoffman's journey takes some interesting and unconventional turns, but ultimately I'm left not caring about the outcome. Warp : Film for Music A selection of video clips from the Warp Records back catalogue. Lacking from the selection was any indication as to what each track was. Some were obvious (Aphex Twin, Autechre, Plaid, Squarepusher), but other required some post-film investigation. Three videos which really stood out for me, were Antipop Consortium's Ghostlawns, Vincent Gallo's Honeybunny, and Autechre's Gantz Graf. Antipop Consortium come through with such a successful take on futuristic Hip Hop, so 'funky' yet perfectly mutated. Vincent Gallo's 60s perve-fest was just so overtly and unashamedly sexual it's impossible not to give it props. Autechre's Gantz Graf is a perfect symbiosis of sound and image, a faultless realisation of the links between electronic music and graphic design, between shape, movement and sound. Interestingly, the two Aphex Twin videos (Come To Daddy and Windowlicker) raised a certain amount of cheer from the audience. This reminded me of the 'golden oldies' syndrome, whereby familiarity draws appreciation. Or something. I must admit that I cringed when the opening images of Come To Daddy appeared. Not that I dislike Chris Cunningham's brilliant work, it's just that the effect of this particular video has worn rather thin on me. It's impact is its shock and fear, which becomes tiring with repeated viewings. Windowlicker is another matter, a hilarious piece of mutant-sexuality and self-parody. It's a pity however that the video's comedy distracts from the music, which is one of the finest Aphex moments. Leaving the cinema, I heard one woman say to her friends "It was just beats and sounds, but really fucked up". So dismissive yet so articulate.

7/29/2003

Jamaican Riddim Directory Massive selection of Java-based Jamaican riddims (via MeFi).
RIP John Schlesinger
Mistress For Christmas The A-Z of S&M undertones in pop music, from AC/DC to ZZ Top (via NR&RF).
Glowing mice My new desktop wallpaper.

7/28/2003

Australian Idol : it's like punk never happened Being a glutton for (or victim of) hype, I watched the first episode of Australian Idol last night. Having never immersed myself in Popstars or Search For A Supermodel, this is my initiation into the 'talent-search' genre of reality TV, and I'm therefore still brewing over my initial reactions to the show. This subgenre is often approached from the perspective that it's exposing the real workings of the pop music industry, and that this in itself is interesting, even subversive. From my initial musings on Australian Idol, I couldn't disagree more. I think this is a symptom of the public's increasing cynicism and the consequent marketing aimed as such cynicism. This explains the success of programmes like The Secret Life Of Us, which prances around proclaiming to be in touch with the cynicism of hip innercity late 20-somethings, yet offers nothing in the form of social critique. The characters imply that they're disillusioned with modern hyper-consumer culture, yet the same characters are used to sell toothpaste and burgers during the ad breaks (I've had my little rant of this before). Similarly, we get local Hip Hop outfit 1200 Techniques pushing Frankfurt School Franti-isms on us, yet their main mouthpiece part-times in TV ads for chocolate biscuits. In both situations, we're having our cynicism sold back to us. By buying into The Secret Life Of Us or 1200 Techniques, we feel like we're engaging in a critique of consumer culture, like we're expressing our disillusionment with the hyper-reality of television advertising. But really, it's simply a case of the No Logo generation becoming another niche market. Which brings me back to Australian Idol. It seems that this show, and it's predecessors, are tuned into the fact that its target audience is aware of the inorganic manufacturing of pop stars, and so they've flipped the machine on its back allowing you to view the inner-workings. It panders to our cynicism of manufactured pop music, making you think you're getting some kind of insight. It pretends to completely blow the lid on the manufacturing process, as though our simulacrum-savvy wits have earned us the rights to look inside. But in doing this, it doesn't so much expose the inner working, which is what you're supposed to think it does, so much as it re-mystifies it. The status of 'celebrity' is removed from any preconceptions that it's in any way accessible. In programmes such as these, we're shown the supposed prerequisites for celebrity status; a one in ten thousand chance, a grueling training regime which lasts months, humiliation, degradation, debasement. Winning this competition, and earning celebrity status, requires almost superhuman abilities. The curtain is parted, and one lucky person is invited to enter the mythical world. Guarding the door are the three judges, consisting of one bona fide celebrity, and two manufacturers. It was their job in the first episode to construct their own characters; Marcia Hines the motherly figure, Ian 'Dicko' Dickson the arsehole, and Mark Holden (whose character was indeterminate, having been drowned out by the other two). Ian Dickson's character is the most interesting, the personification of industry creep, he's obviously the villain of the series. It's his job to vilify and upset, to reduce people to tears, to shatter their confidence. He makes a lot of money from hurting people, which makes him a certified prick. His justification is that the entertainment industry throws so much hatred at celebrities, the contestants must be able to handle it. To get into the party you've got to get through this idiot's insults. Once again the myth is constructed. Being a celebrity is exceptionally difficult, and not something that most people could handle. The life of a celebrity is stressful and full of criticism (oh, how remarkably different from the real world!). In reality his character is a ratings earner, he's there to create drama. Dickson extends the rejection of unsuccessful applicants, creating entertainment out of disjection. Dickson's character mixes post-PC irony with retro-sexism. The blatant judgment of body image and sex appeal is overt and unapologetic. This shallowness is justified by the fact that the audience is shallow, that consumers of pop culture are shallow, that the whole entertainment industry is shallow. This is part of the notion of looking at the innards of the pop music machine, the fact that it's superficial and emotionless, that we expect our celebrities to fit into a certain physical mould. The blame is effectively passed on to us. A skinny young man is auditioning (and here's someone whose body shape I can relate to). "I don't wanna sign someone who looks like they'd lose a fight with Nikki Webster" says Dicko. A woman who may not be considered stereotypically good-looking auditions, only to be confronted with Dicko's "You haven't got a voice strong enough to overcome the way you look". A slightly overweight woman auditions (and when I say 'slightly', I mean that she looked totally 'normal' to me), which raises questions about whether she's comfortable with her body size. The lowest point came when a black man with an African accent auditions. Dicko asks him why he came to this country, to which the man answers that he was a refugee. Dicko says to him "you represent what I love about this country" referring to the fact that this guy had the initiative to enter the competition. It's odd that this wasn't applied to any other the other 7999 hopefuls, until it becomes clear that Dicko's making an effort to appear as though he has a humanistic edge, but it's such an obviously tokenistic gesture that it becomes exploitative and offensive.

7/27/2003

YellowCat It's always great to find a Melbourne blog with good taste in music. YellowCat is the latest find.
Homework The second of the Abbas Kiarostami films I was to attend. When attending the cinema, I usually try to sit one third of the way in from the front, and slightly off centre. In this session, my preferences were confirmed when Mr Kiarostami chose my aisle to sit in himself. Before the film, he made similar statements (again via an interpreter) as he did at the screening of Ten. James Hewison, the executive director of MIFF, also announces that many of the older Kiarostami prints were very fragile and that any degredation in the quality should be accepted. Unfortunately it wasn't the quality of the print which the problem at this screening, it was the fact that MIFF had been sent the wrong print, one without subtitles. Five minutes into the film, the lights came up and Hewison approached the lectern to announce that the rest of the film would not be screened, and that refunds would be available at the box office. Someone asked if the film could be screened anyway, without subtitles, to which Hewison replied that Kiarostami himself had requested the screening be stopped. So I left, having stood in the queue for longer than I was in the cinema.
Simon Reynolds on Cabaret Voltaire I'm using the new Blog This tool to draw attention to this article on Cabaret Voltaire by Simon Reynolds (via K-Punk).
Melbourne International Film Festival First four MIFF sessions down, nine to go. Dom Durakov (House of Fools) The occupants of an asylum, oblivious to the outside world, find themselves at the center of the Chechen War. House of Fools reminded me of No Man's Land, not only in its similar geopolitical setting, but also in the way it approaches the war genre from a humanistic angle. While Chechen soldiers are holed up in the asylum, they're visited by Russian troops who have brought them a Chechen corpse, out of respect for the deceased. While the commanders of each side are negotiating, the Russian and Chechen troops arrange to trade some weed for ammunition. Meanwhile, the commanders realise they both fought in Afghanistan, where one's troop saved the other's, and so a mutual respect is formed. The humanity and civility of the soldiers are exposed, subverting the notion that they're simply programmed robots, obeying the commands of their leaders. This trans-faction humanism goes against the general Hollywood model, whereby any aspect of humanism is within the one faction (usually the American), while the enemy are simply a prop to signify the united cause of the home-team. All The Real Girls A love story soured by human mistakes, set in a small American milling town, similar in feel to the towns represented in Twin Peaks or Northern Exposure. Mechanic Paul meets and falls in love with his best friend's sister, Noel, who's just returned from boarding school, all grown up. Their courtship is sweetly romantic, and their eccentric conversations convey the strong links forming between them The turning point comes when one betrays the other, and for the remaining two thirds of the film we're following the tensions of the widening rift between them. Their relationship is set up with such saccharine romanticism, it's hard to shift gears and engage with the resultant melancholy, which throws the audience into the same state of confusion faced by the characters. We're left wondering if there's any way out of this mess, if the film will square-out and leave us rewarded, or if we'll be left in the same murk the Paul and Noel find themselves in. A defining moment occurs when Paul finds himself drunk and depressed, talking to an old ex-girlfriend at a bar. He tells her the story of how he once watched a flock of ducks flying through the sky in a perfect V formation (so precise yet so organic), only to smash into the side of a barn, fall to the ground and die. "Have you ever seen that? Have you ever seen animals make mistakes?" he asks her. For all our complexities, we're still encumbered with the tendency to make monumental errors; "it's only human", as the saying goes. Ultimately the film has no solid conclusion, which is a little disconcerting, and it's taken me a couple of days to overcome the disappointment and realise the film has played out perfectly. Ten MIFF's crown piece this year is the attendance of Abbas Kiarostami, the renown Iranian film-maker. He introduced his 2002 film Ten, through a translator to a sold-out screening at the Capitol Theatre. His introduction was very simple; it's a pleasure to be in Melbourne, the theatre is beautiful, please enjoy the film etc. A digital camera is mounted to the dashboard of a car owned by newly divorced woman. As she drives through the streets of an Iranian city, she converses with a succession of passengers, and through this, her story develops. Her pre-teen son is unhappy about her divorce from his womanising father, and her partnership with a new man. Meanwhile, her friend is struggling with her own disintegrating marriage, and advice is imparted. Apart from her son, all the passengers are female; an older woman on her way to pray at the mausoleum, a street prostitute defiantly proud of her profession, the driver's sister. Men appear only as traffic obstructions, who aggravate the driver on both a real and metaphoric level. At times another car draws up next to us, and we see the faces of it's occupants slip into and out of frame. As they stare directly into camera, breaking the diegesis, making no secret of the medium. The performances are so realistic, so genuine, it's extremely difficult to ascertain whether the story is in-fact real or scripted, and the staring faces add to the diffusion. Nice. The Studio One Story The story of Sir Coxsone Dodd's Studio One, one of the most important studios in Jamaica's rich musical history. There's certainly a huge story to tell, encompassing the birth of soundsystems, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, dancehall and ragga. Unfortunately, Soul Jazz's usual attention to detail and love of music is ruined by awkward and clumsy film-making. For a start, a garish coloured frame surrounds the images for the whole duration, which never ceases from being distracting, as it changes colour with each scene. The interviews, particularly with Dodd, are too inarticulate, which is the result of ineffective editing moreso than the fault of the interviewees. For a music documentary, there was too little music. While various studio and musical techniques are discussed, we're not given any demonstration of these techniques, and when some music does eventually begin, it soon fades as another interview begins. With some ruthless editing, and the addition of more archival footage, possibly some narration to add more structure, and the reduction of an hour from it's duration, this could have retained the same quantity of information, and been a lot more watchable.

7/26/2003

Modernist Hip Hop I composed a bleary-eyed post-gin e-mail to a friend this morning, and felt the sentiments worthy of repeating here... Have you heard/seen the new 1200 Techniques song? I hate that band. I hate that really smug, self-righteous Hip Hop. This dude's telling me the internet and TV are draining my brain! Fucking modernists. And then they directly quote that Disposable Heroes 'Television, Drug of a Nation' song, which blows their cover, and exposes them as the Franti wannabes they really are. Go back to Frankfurt and take the John Butler Trio with you.

7/25/2003

Thirty, it's the new twenty-two, and I'll be there in 50 days. Graham's also looking down the barrel of this gun, as I suspect a lot of my fellow bloggers are. I mean, it's 11 o'clock on a Friday night and where am I? In front of my laptop. In my pyjamas. (waiting up to see the Dizzee Rascal video on Rage). Speaking of other local bloggers, Null Device is quick off the mark in getting down his thought on the beatbox doco which screened tonight as part of MIFF. It was only a few hours ago I was walking past the queue for this film (where I made yet another Alex Viviano spotting). I was passing by after seeing All The Real Girls at the Forum Theatre, and House Of Fools at Village. More on those later. Update : Angus had posted his thoughts on Le temps du loup. MIFF and blogging, I'm loving it.
RIP Tim Hemesley, rock n' roll outlaw.

7/24/2003

RIP Jude Milhon (aka St Jude, feminist cypherpunk).
Mega CD & book sale Melbourne readers may be interested to note that the Mega CD & Book Sale is on again at the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre (aka Jeff's Shed). It's open every night until midnight. It's been slim pickings over the last few years, and there are certain CDs which turn up every year (Ian Brown, Peshay) getting cheaper and cheaper. Nothing will beat the bonanza I struck in 2000 when I walked out with an armload of Top Deck and Blood & Fire comps. Update : Don't bother going down there, unless you're after overpriced Ministry Of Sound-esque comps, or Del Amitri, or Nine Inch Nails remixes. I only picked up Ms Dynamite's A Little Deeper (for $10), and contemplated picking up Foxy Brown's Ill Na Na, but opted out.

7/23/2003

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More on BB3 : I'll get a life soon, I promise Max Markson, of publicity / events outfit Markson Sparks, suggests Tasmania should utilise Reggie in promoting tourism to the state, but stresses that it should be done fast ("she should be going on the road very quickly"..."I'd sign her up immediately"). He no doubt recognises her limited shelf-life as a media identity. It's our desire for instant gratification, instant celebrity, which drove Reggie's popularity. We'd rather laugh at someone than get to know them. Jo Chichester makes some ambiguous points about Reggie's success, claiming her unsophisticated demeanor reflects many people's distrust or disgust with the pretension of "the elites". Perhaps, admiring Reggie allows us to position ourselves within this ideology. We can make claims that it links us with the commoner, with the everyman, and sets us apart from pretension or snobbishness. But we're all pretentious in the eyes of someone else, even if we'd like to think we aren't.

7/22/2003

Skeletor's top eleven minions So many memories; Tri-Klops, Merman, Beastman, Trap-jaw, Evil Lyn. They were all minions of Skeletor (via Fark). Of course, Skeletor is second only to Megatron as far as cartoon villains go.
QAF out of sync SBS slipped up last night and screened the wrong episode of Queer As Folk. It didn't bother me too much, as this is the third time I've seen this series, yet for someone who's just catching up, the plot would have gone in a kind of fragmented surreality. One minute Ted's poaching Brian's cast-offs, the next he's in a coma after taking drugs with Blake. Michael, who's just decided to make the commitment to move in with David, is now talking about a guy he picked up at Babylon. Emmett, who's recently renounced his homosexuality after joining a cult-like Christian movement, is now telling tales of the S&M Master he spent last night with. This minor error pales in comparison to the injustice of withholding the third series until next year! The good news though, is that series four is in pre-production, and is hoped to be screened straight after the third series.
Final BB comedown The final episode of Big Brother last night. I was disappointed, yet hardly surprised, that Reggie won. I'm setting myself up for a beating here, but Reggie's popularity has been grating on me for the last few weeks. Reggie represents our fascination with celebrity status, with the narrow confines of charisma, and essentially, with surface at the expense of depth. This prioritising of superficiality over substance is typical of our immersion in pop culture. Reggie's also emblematic of the archetypal 'Aussie battler', those troubled souls paraded around the current affairs circuit like stage ponies; the sick child who gets a visit from High-5, the selfless charity worker who gets given a new Hyundai, the bored fish n' chip shop owner who wins $250,000. Her desire to escape the confines of her life no doubt played heavily into the public's empathy with her. Her charm has been her naivety, and whilst that isn't a particularly demeanable trait in itself, it's been rewarded at the expense of two of Big Brother's most engaging and complex contestants ever. Dan's sensitivity and earnestness, his unashamed weirdness and eccentricity in the face of overwhelming machismo and militant 'normality', his overt expression of his femininity ("now it's just us girls left" he says after Patrick's eviction), his raw honesty. Chrissie's sharp-as-a-knife perceptions, her clarity of vision, her strong sense of self, and also her warmth and compassion. They both had a knack of saying the right things to people, of making outsiders feel welcome, of comforting those who were feeling down, and identifying the good qualities they saw in others. I have no doubt Reggie's a kind and friendly person. My quandary is not with the woman herself, but with her popularity. There were some charming moments on last night's program, such as when Reggie was told she'd just won $250,000, to which she replied "I thought it was gonna be a Playstation", or when seeing her husband for the first time in 3 months, only to be fascinated by his new watch; "it's a nice one" she says. And now Big Brother is over for another year or so. We'll be seeing Reggie's face and hearing her voice for months to come, but she'll soon be as forgotten as Sarah-Marie or Marty & Jess, an instant celebrity chewed up and spat out by the endless cycle of showbiz. If there's any comfort in all this, it's that people like Dan and Chrissie exist, and their unflinching humanity is a reminder that there is goodness is be sought in everyone.

7/21/2003

More BB musings After much searching of websites and message boards, I can't seem to find any mentions of Big Brother parties tonight, except for a mention of the Canada Hotel in Carlton here. I posted a query to the forums on the official BB website, but it was seemingly removed by the notoriously censorial moderators. Maybe it was seen to lead into discussions of commercial establishments not sanctioned by the official BB entertainment conglomerate. I was thinking about tonight's eviction whilst enjoying my Pho soup today. It's a shame that it's such a given that Reggie will win. In a way, it would have been more exciting if Chrissie was evicted last night, as the race between Dan and Reggie would be a lot closer. But there is an outside chance for Chrissie. Popularity polls indicate Reggie is the favourite, but Dan had a large fanbase, and those fans will have seen the strong connections formed between him and Chrissie. There's a possibility, remote as it is, that Dan-fans will join forces with Chrissie fans, and the voting power between them may evict Reggie. Of course, this didn't work last year when Jess fans didn't have the power to vote out Peter, leaving Marty as the winner.
BB3 : Penultimate eviction As last night's Big Brother penultimate eviction was starting, I made the prediction that Dan would go. I considered blogging this prediction, just to prove that it happened, but was a little too comfortable on the couch. The second favourite always gets voted out in the penultimate eviction, because the fans of the favourite, seeing the second favourite as the immediate threat, put their voting power into action. This leaves the least favourite of the three to slip through to the final day. So in this case, Reggie's huge fanbase voted out Dan, allowing Chrissie to stay. This was most evident in the first series, when Sarah Marie was evicted (although I still can't work out how Ben beat Blair). The result would be different if we were asked to vote for who's to stay as opposed to who's to leave, in which case we'd have Reggie and Dan sitting in the house today. All three housemates seemed quite shocked by the eviction of Dan. I think they were all expecting Chrissie to be evicted. This was evident during a conversation between Dan and Chrissie, where Dan said he regarded Reggie as his main competition, and furthermore outside, where Reggie tells Chrissie she's all amped up to beat Dan. Once back in the studio with Gretel, Dan was seemingly in a state of bewilderment, quite stunned by the sudden shift in realities. Quite bizarre was the special prize given to him, a prosumer-grade Sony video camera. I'm still trying to find a price on this model, but I'd guess it would be around $10k-$15k. Gretel made comments to the effect of it being a special prize, given to him because Big Brother (and whether that be Channel 10 or Southern Star or whoever, is unclear) was so taken by his talents that they wanted to encourage him to pursue a film-making career. Indeed, I'd be very surprised if Dan's not offered a role in a kids TV show or something. And so where's left with Chrissie and Reggie in the house. Until now, no women had made it through to the final two, let alone two women. My prediction is (unsurprisingly) that Reggie will win. Contrary to what may have been perceived in my recent BB post, I have nothing against Reggie; I think she's a charming and charismatic woman, but of the human traits I value the most, Chrissie is surely my personal favourite to win. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find out where the final eviction parties are on tonight.

7/20/2003

Shane Lyons on Richard Wolstencroft Some interesting and incisive critiques of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival are presented by Shane Lyons. This may be slightly outdated now that MUFF has finished for another year, but I figured it was worth linking to in the afterglow of the David Irving controversy. Also interesting is Lyons' examination of Richard Wolstencroft's politics and interest in neo-Nazism and fascism. But this isn't a rambling diatribe, Lyons presents a clear-minded, articulate and well humoured assessment; I often found myself laughing out loud, particularly with lines like "The only real threat he poses to anyone in the Australian film community is embarrassment by association". One criticism made by Lyons regards the overabundance of low-budget exploitation films (it almost seems a MUFF prerequisite to include either hit-men or bondage in the plot), which are passed off as being "underground". Compare the films in MUFF with some of the films in the "mainstream", "conservative" Melbourne International Film Festival, such as Li Yang's Blind Shaft, which explores life in China's notoriously unsafe coal mines, made without the approval of Chinese officials, or Mohsen Makhmalbal's The Afghan Alphabet, which follows the life of Afghani refugee children, filmed during the US's bombardment of the area, or Manijeh Hekmat's Women's Prison, made under her husband's name after Iranian officials refused to grant her permission to make the film. In this light, it's embarrassing that MUFF's most controversial offering was a David Irving documentary.
Viviano spotted We went for a quiet drink at Bourgie on Friday night, a sparsely populated local bar with innercity hipster pretentions (still, they gain cnwb points for the great blown-up Bowie poster on the back wall). Phoebe spotted the elusive Alex Viviano, although I didn't realise who it was until I checked his Livejournal today.

7/18/2003

Another Ken Park screening I'm still getting ton of hits from people searching for Ken Park downloads, which is sure to increase as news hits of another illegal screening in Melbourne. 200 people attended this screening at an undisclosed venue, with invitations being spread by e-mail and word-of-mouth. Still, myself and everyone I know seem to have been left out of the loop. When is someone going to invite me?
Punkdub to P!nk: a junk voyage I often make junk compilations; CD-R mixes of stuff which has recently fallen into my mitts. Often they're loosely constructed with another listener in mind, where I try to find an intersection where my taste may crossover with theirs. This is the latest, with my girlfriend's sister in mind... 1. Vivien Goldman : Private Armies 2. Finley Quaye : Even After All (Studio 2000 mix) 3. The RZA : Righteous Way 4. The Clash : Bankrobber (dub) 5. The Pop Group : Where There's A Will 6. Blondie : Once Had A Love (1975 demo version of Heart Of Glass) 7. Go Home Productions : Justin Likes Blondes (bootleg remix of Timberlake and Blondie) 8. DM & Jemini : Yoo Hoo 9. Sharkie Major : This Ain't A Game 10. Hindi Dub : Diwali Riddim 11. Sean Paul : Get Busy (Diwaldi instrumental) 12. Punjabi Hit Squad : Hai Hai 13. Sean Paul : Gimme The Light (2-step mix) 14. Oxide & Neutrino : No Good 4 Me (Foot to the Floor mix) 15. Sean Paul : Get Busy 16. Zapp : More Bounce To The Ounce 17. Pink : Feel Good Time
BB3 : Messages from the outside I've been adding lots of bits n' pieces to other people's blogs on the topic of Big Brother, so I figured in these final days of series 3, I should reflect on my personal perspectives. I haven't written on the subject since Belinda broke the news of her family's dark secrets, at which time I was avowing I would give up on the show. The lure has been too great, however, and I've found myself enjoying this series possibly more than any other. Big Brother is winding down now, which is both exciting and disappointing at the same time. I started off this week believing that any of the three remaining housemates deserve to win, but my impression of Reggie has since begun dropping, while that of Chrissie is rising. Reggie's popularity (and there's little doubt she's considered firm favourite to win, even by those within the house) seems based on her naive ocker-ism, the charm of being a little less cultured than the others. Maybe it's something we can all identify with, when we get the feeling we're somewhat out of our depth in a conversation. But the charm is wearing thin, and the more we get to know Reggie, the less her naivety appeals. In short, Reggie's over-rated. Dan, on the other hand, is someone I really can identify with. The self-confessed introvert, who spent the first few weeks building up a persona to mask his insecurities. This raised the ire of some other housemates, who used Dan's overt performances as a reason to nominate him, stating he wasn't down to Earth and that they couldn't get to know the real Dan. This kind of reasoning has always troubled me. As someone who often encounters insecurity and shyness, I frequently find myself employing some kind of persona to get me through social situations. What's more, I'd be surprised if there's anybody in Western society who doesn't regularly use this trick. Nobody acts exactly the same whether we're at work, at the pub, in the home, meeting people of importance, at a party (well, maybe John Elliot's an exception). Furthermore, down to Earthness is judged from a culturally static point, the mythical Australian-ness of being 'easy-going', friendly, good humoured. To be outside this point invokes criticisms of weirdness, snobbishness (often confused with shyness), or (God forbid!) effeminateness. Dan dealt with the hyper-socialisation of Big Brother by concealing his more natural self beneath a barrage of clown-like performances. He survived an string of nominations and, as the social circle has dwindled to a handful of people he's truly comfortable with, we've been blessed with seeing Dan for what he really is; a sensitive, affectionate, caring and honest man. His survival in the house has proven that beneath every 'odd' person who sits outside the static and (quite simply) boring normality of Australian cultural hegemony, is a real person who's no more messed up than everyone else. Chrissie has similarly shown herself to be a selfless, caring and thoughtful person. Her ability to see through the fog of hyper-reality with the clarity of a critical home-viewer, and her headstrong sense of self, make her my personal favourite.

7/17/2003

Headed down to the Forum Theatre on my lunchbreak, home of the new MIFF box office. It's a broom-closet compared to the old box office at the Capitol Theatre, and even though it avoids the problem of confusing dual queues for tickets and films, I predict it'll lose that community-like feel the Capitol foyer had around MIFF time. Bought my minipass, and booked tickets to nine of the ten films I intend on seeing. It's a sad day in Cuba. RIP Compay Segundo and Celia Cruz.

7/15/2003

Melbourne Blogs now has a discussion board. Pretty quiet so far, but it's only just gone up.

7/14/2003

To open the gate for me there was the gravedigger I had already met at The Star Of Sweden. "I am looking for Mr. Kauderer", I said to him. He answered, "Mr. Kauderer is not here. But since the cemetery is the home of those who aren't here, come in". Ukko Ahti, Leaning From The Steep Slope, pg. 2

7/11/2003

MUFF withdraws David Irving film Once the excitement of mass protests such as S11 and M1 had died down, it became clear to me that I would not attend such events any more. Direct action can all too easily become undemocratic, forcing one's political ideology onto others, attempting to shut down meetings and discussions purely because they go against the beliefs of others. Don't get me wrong, I sympathise with a lot of the concerns of the anti-globalisation movement, but I find such intimidation and bullish behaviour to be contradictory to the goals of the movement. Whether it was intended or not, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students has succeeded in such intimidation. An attempt was made to ban a film by ultra-Right historian David Irving, to be screened as part of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal rejected the appeal, allowing the screening to take place. The group then chose to demonstrate outside the screening. To their credit, the aim of the protest was to be a small gathering where pamphlets on the Holocaust would be handed to patrons. The group resorted to expressing their right to free-speech instead of suppressing someone else's. It seemed like a fair result all round. Cases like this create a difficult situation for free-speech advocates. It's easy to argue for Larry Clark's Ken Park to be accessible to the public, but Irving's historical revisionism (based on Holocaust denial) presents a different challenge, for it undoubtedly re-opens painful wounds for many members of the population. I personally supported the screening, purely on the grounds that everyone deserves to at least be heard, after which their arguments can be debated. But the screening didn't take place last night. The festival's organisers decided against screening the film, blaming fear of demonstrators. Melbourne Underground Film Festival director Richard Wolstencroft claimed that "It's far too scary ... we will never play another film by a historical revisionist ever again". I have little sympathy for MUFF; they pride themselves on being controversial and pushing boundaries, and by deliberately taking Irving as their modus operandi for pushing the point of free-speech they should have expected such tensions to be raised. This is the price for taking such an extreme example to make their point. Maybe MUFF realised that even though free-speech is worth fighting for, David Irving isn't. Gerard Henderson has sketched out some of the background to the Irving debate. Wolstencroft has impressively refused to hold a grudge, and offered to allow the Australasian Union of Jewish Students to curate a section of next year's festival.

7/10/2003

Confusions over gender and sexuality in the Victorian Police Force Victorian Liberal Party leader Robert Doyle has spoken out against the Victorian Police Force's potential recruitment of a transsexual. Doyle claims that while people have a right to express their sexuality, it would be inappropraite for a transsexual to be in the Police Force. In this statement, Doyle confuses sexuality with gender, and proves himself to be an inappropriate spokesperson on this issue. It may seem like I'm splitting hairs, but I think it's an important distinction, and confusion between sexuality and gender is a common basis for misunderstanding and intolerance. In a Sociology tutorial on gender and sexuality last semester, I raised the question of the gender/sexuality vortex. If a man identifies as a woman, his sex is male but his gender is female. If that person is sexually attracted to men, is he homosexual or heterosexual? The same question can be raised if she is attracted to females. What of the men and women attracted to this person, are they homosexual or heterosexual? The subject here is biologically male, and gendered female. The tutor took the easy option and said "What do you think?" I replied that it shows sexuality is fluid, not binary, a point which wasn't raised in that week's reading or lecture. Doyle's statement implies that he's making presumptions on the transsexual's sexuality, assuming all transsexuals must be homosexual (ie. they're attracted to men). This brings my Sociology question into the issue. If the person is attracted to men but identifies as a female, is that person homosexual or heterosexual? Neither answer is right, of course, which just shows how shallow Doyle's understanding of the matter is. This misunderstanding is compounded by his claim that what people do in their bedrooms is their business; again we see his confusion over gender and sexuality (besides which, this kind of statement is annoying because it implies 'other' sexualities are to be hidden away from the public). Police Association secretary Paul Mullet claims that he would support the recruitment, but that it would have to achieve 'community support'. He's at least a little more understanding than Doyle, but still fails to deal with the issue sufficiently. How are transsexuals to become accepted by the community if they're seen to be on some kind of probation or 'approval-pending' situation. The very fact that this has become an issue is damaging in itself, and shows that our society is still yet to grapple with the brave people who have the 'balls' to express their gender identity. Upcoming Melbourne events Live Cinema : Loop, 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne : 8pm on Friday 11 July "Now that pixels are easily sampled & mutated as sound, an emerging breed of audiovisualists are busy carving up the territories that lay between cinematic storytelling and the dancefloor bootylicious. Using loops, layers, live processing, FX and editing , tonight showcases some of the approaches possible for 'improvised cinema'" Feat. Spoole, Future Eater, Cicada et al. Part of Melbourne Underground Film Festival. Infrasound : RMIT underground carpark (meet at Kaleide Theatre, 360 Swanston Street, Melbourne) : 7pm on Friday 11 July Underground Spatial Acoustic Concert, feat. Infrasound (Scott Arford & Randy H. Y. Yau), Lawrence English & Phillip Samartzis, Machina aux Rock, Bruce Mowson. Part of Liquid Architecture. Codec Cinema : Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square, cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne : 8pm on Saturday 12 July "Codec Cinema explores the live interaction of sound and vision. New Media artists from different streams of practice - Vjing, net.art, animation, installation, sound design, noise and music ranging from musique concréte to synth-pop - are invited to form new partnerships in the production of original works, which are then performed live. By creating a dedicated performance space in which the audience can be completely immersed in the audiovisual experience, Codec Cinema offers a unique opportunity for these artists to explore the subtle expressive potential of their chosen media. This encourages artists to take creative risks, and to push the boundaries of their practice, in order to adapt their individual practices to a live, collaborative format". Feat. performances by Casey Rice vs QUA, Cicada vs James Wilkinson, Geoff Robertson vs Andrew Barrie & James Cecil, Cassandra Tytler vs Phillip Pietruschka & Tim Catlin, Sally Golding & Pia Borg vs Joel Stern & Alison Blunt. Part of Liquid Architecture. GRM Films : Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square, cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne : 3:30pm on Sunday 13 July "The finest, freakiest of French animation and video art and all with stunning electronic ("musique concréte") soundtracks by international guest Bernard Parmegiani. Grown in the wilderlands of unloosed imagination, these films are as unalike to Hollywood cinemanure as is the elusive octopus to a fecal-obsessive orangutan". Curated by Jim Knox. Part of Liquid Architecture. Shuriken et al. : Rob Roy Hotel, cnr Brunswick & Gertrude Streets, Fitzroy : Sunday 13 July Feat. Shuriken, Letraset, New Estate, Sister Cities. F-Hole : Bus Gallery, 117 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne : 9-29 July Three week festival curated by Robbie Avenaim, feat. Al Drummond, Anthony Pateras, Ernie Altoff, Robin Fox, Emile Zile, Erick Mitsak et al.

7/09/2003

They have known her since she was a girl, they know everything there is to know about her, some of them may have been involved with her, now water under the bridge, over and done with; in other words, there is a veil of other images that settles on her image and blurs it, a weight of memories that keep me from seeing her as a person seen for the first time, other people's memories suspended like the smoke under the lamps. Italo Calvino, If On A Winter's Night A Traveller, pg.19

7/08/2003

Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears. We can rediscover the continuity of time only in the novels of that period when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded, a period that lasted no more than a hundred years. Italo Calvino, If On A Winter's Night A Traveller, pg.8

7/04/2003

Ken Park screening Fucking bravo to Margaret Pomeranz and the Free Cinema crew for their courageous and defiant action in attempting to screen Ken Park. This crew have put themselves and their reputations on the line for what they believe in, their actions are an inspiration. I'm receiving an inordinate amount of hits from Australians looking for a Ken Park download. I wish I could tell you where to find it, but unfortunately I don't know (although if any of you do find it, please come back and tell me). If anything should be banned, it's the Larry Clark website, one of the ugliest sites on the web.

7/01/2003

Melbourne Events this week Liquid Architecture 4 launch : RMIT Kaleide Theatre, 360 Swanston Street, Melbourne : 7:30pm sharp, Tuesday 1 July (tonight). Feat. Ai Yamamoto, Sue Harding and Bec Charlesworth, each performing for 20 minutes. This follows the gallery opening at First Site Gallery (a few doors down), 5:30-7:30pm (part of Liquid Architecture 4). Mu Mesons - The Foundations of Control : Bug House Omniplex, top floor, 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne : Friday 4 July. "Jay Katz and Miss Death of the Mu Mesons archive present a program of 16mm film and video that displays the manipulation of the media from the beginning of Television in the 20th century up to the recent Iraqi war" (part of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival). Stephen Mallinder : Revolver Upstairs, 229 Chapel Street, Prahran : Saturday 5 July. Founding member of Cabaret Voltaire. Not sure if this is a live set or a DJ set, but I'm predicting the latter.

6/27/2003

borgesian book review conpetition The excellent literary website The Modern Word is hosting an Borgesian book review contest. In the spirit of Jorge Luis Borges' notion of imaginary books... "The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance. To go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes! A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist, and then to offer a resume, a commentary . . . More reasonable, more inept, more indolent, I have preferred to write notes upon imaginary books." Reviews of imaginary books must be between 500 - 1000 words. Entries close 15 July.

6/25/2003

Melbourne Events Ai Yamamoto curated evening @ Bourgie, 397 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne : Thursday 25 June (tonight). Simon from Triple-R's Symbiosis plays "fine minimal electronics". Chad Chatterton and Stephen Honegger present their "exciting visual works baseed on game environment". Dual Plover CD launch @ Barkly Street Warehouse, 153 Barkly Street, Brunswick : Friday 27 June. Feat. Suicidal Rap Orgy, The Purple Duck, Slesu & Mt Tape, Das Butcher Ockerchino Discoteque 1st birthday @ Rob Roy Hotel, cnw Gertrude & Brunswick Streets, Fitzroy. Feat. Cherry 2000, Raycie Pussycat, Dr Jeckyl & the Hydes, the Outfits, Letraset, Slesu, Mr Tape & Videotape, DJs Mack Daddy, Albino Dwarf, Saigon Sausage, VJ Bubonic Firetruck.

6/24/2003

Collated Top Fives During the final weeks of semester I fell behind in my reportage of Annotated Top Fives. Here's what was happening... Annotated iTunes Top Five 2 - 8 June 2003 1. Punjabi Hit Squad : Hai Hai : Prime example of why London appears to be the ground zero for the post-colonial culture-mash. Garage, dancehall, bhangra, hip hop; this is where worlds are colliding, this is where cultural imperialism is usurped by cultural globalisation. London could be the new Alexadria, the point of cross-fertilisation on the riddim trade-routes. There's something essentialist about this, something totally unformulaic and spontaneous, it just works. One of the most refreshing things I've heard this year. 2. Slim Smith : Everybody Needs Love : A slice of soul-drenched rocksteady as sweet as fine apple crumble. Smith's voice is so achingly dulcet, with ample amounts of sincerity and earnestness, the tender organ lines so inextricably imbued to Smith's delivery (like a co-conspirator) you can't help but endorse his overwhelmingly simple yet wonderful truism; "everybody needs love". Amen. 3. Go Home Productions : Justin Likes Blondes : The bootleg remix phenomenon seemed to peak and dissolve quickly, fading from the spotlight, leaving a faint trace of a faddish post-Napster novelty genre. There were, however, some fantastically inventive tracks, this being one of the shining examples where the tracks are synergetically infused, drawing something unforeseen from disparate sources, in this case Justin Timberlake's 'Like I Love You' and Blondie's 'Heart Of Glass'. Might still be available for download here. 4. Out Hud : Dad There's A Little Phrase Called Too Much Information : Californian outfit with links to !!!, which explains the similar approach to the neo-no-wave electro-disco dub-house soundclash. This track sets itself aside from that school via the implementation of 80s-style big guitar lines, a la Big Country's 'In A Big Country'. Nice. 5. Red Shadow : Understanding Marx : A triptych of tales of Marxist discovery, delivered by a Mamas & The Papas / Walk on the Wild Side back-up singers hybrid form. West Coast Summer of Love meets post-McCarthyist proletariat enlightenment. One of the finest 365 Days discoveries. Annotated Top Five 9-15 June 2003 1. Big Star : Thirteen : One of my favourite lines in pop music; "Won't you tell your Dad 'Get off my back' / Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It Black'". Alex Chilton's lyrics convey such an endearing portrayal of the 13 year-old protagonist, it's impossible not to conjure up images of your own misunderstood youth, struggling to make your mark on the cusp of adulthood, and make an impression on a crush, your heart pounding as the rush of love and lust grips you for the very first time. 2. Velvet Underground : Sunday Morning : I'm so in love with the line "Watch out, the world's behind you". Apparently Nico was originally lined up for the vocals here, but once Reed had finished writing the song he insisted on singing it himself. It'd be interesting to hear Nico's take, but Reed delivers such a classic VU-style haunted pop ballad. Mo Tucker's drumming, Sterling Morrison's guitar, the first two notes from John Cale's bass, there's little about this track that doesn't articulate the finest of the Velvet Underground's pop gems. Great photo of John Cale here. 3. Arab Strap : Love Detective : There are few accents I love more that the Scottish accent. I think it's the prime reason I enjoy watching The Book Group. Aidan Moffat's miserablist vocals pack more Scottish angst than you're ever likely to need (which is surely a good thing). Lyrically, Love Detective takes the form of a phone call to you, the listener, from a protagonist who's just uncovered some secrets about his lover. The lyrics are here, and make for an engaging tale in themselves. 4. Alton Ellis : Too Late To Turn Back Now : The story goes that it was at an Alton Ellis recording session in 1966 that Jackie Mittoo invented the rocksteady sound. Ellis concurrently took the crown of "king of rocksteady". This Cornelius Brothers cover hits that slow-ska / American soul tip which resulted in so many sweet Jamaican delicacies during the late 1960s / early 1970s. 5. Sean Paul : Gimme The Light (2step Moabit Relick remix) : I have this sneaking feeling Sean Paul's about to explode all over my radar. 2-Step dancehall; what more could you ask for in a trans-Atlantic heaven. Annotated Top Five 16 - 23 June 2003 1. Desmond Dekker : Pickney Girl : A chorus of children is always an equation for some pure pop euphoria. Regardless of the dark lyrical matter of this track, the kids bring such sweetness and light to the proceedings it's easy to overlook Dekker's spiteful message, even when the kids are repeating that message. 2. Kit Clayton : Surba : Highlight of the Nek Sanalet disc, the almost conversational dialogue amongst the wavering tones creates an abstract desolation and sadness which surpasses most 'human' endeavours. 3. America : Don't Cross The River : It's good to see America attaining some respect via Simon Reynolds' recent Uberhipster Index. MOR mediocrity or classic Neil Young-esque Americana? It's a subjective position. I'll take the latter. 4. People Like Us : Downtown Once More : I've often found People Like Us to be better on paper than in ear, but then I hear moments of collage-beauty like this, and get goosebumps. Based around that wonderful Petula Clark hit Down Town, this has that cosy copy-n-paste warmth I hear from Kim Hiorthøy. Evidence that the skillful manipulation and layering of samples can result in some unexpected softness of the most pleasantly glowing kind. 5. Gamers In Exile : I Am a Decent Man : A vocoded plea for acceptance. All this Italian robot asks of you is that you accept his decency.

6/23/2003

Jules et Jim Watched François Truffaut's Jules et Jim (video), coincidentally a few days before seeing Les Quatre Cents Coups. I'm beginning to really admire the way Traffault's films flow through time, instead of steadfastly marching from plot point to plot point. The relationship between Jules, Jim, and Catherine plays out like in exactly the kind of haphazard whirlwind fashion real relationships, friendships and courtships do, rarely touching down on concrete positions but wafting from situation to situation. The friendship between Jules and Jim is the highlight for me, Truffaut creates a strong sense of the intangible links between good friends, and by the end I'm left feeling sullenly congruous towards Jules and the situation he finds himself in. Secretary Public perceptions around Secretary amongst those who have not (or refuse to) see it, seem to dwell on the fact that it depicts a sadomasochistic relationship. I've long been interested in 'deviant' sexualities, not so much from a participatory perspective, but more from the point of view that for all our supposed sexual liberation, society is still blinkered into narrowly defined concepts of 'normality'. Fifty years ago, homosexuality was treated with the same disdain and ridicule we now place on sadomasochism or polyamory. I'm interested in the ways people express sexuality which lays outside society's cultural expectations. Admitting to having an interest in such activities, from a purely observational viewpoint, can be dangerous ground, as people will automatically assume you're 'kinky' or 'perverted', and fail to understand that there are complex and highly intellectual interactions occurring in most S&M relationships, which are interesting even from an outsider perspective. It's not surprising then, that a raised eyebrow is an immediate reaction from some people when you tell them you've just seen Secretary. But it's the cerebral side of sadomasochism, and not the 'kinky' side, which Secretary so masterfully depicts, and it's a shame that this distinction is blurred by an 'enlightened' public unable to discern the mental and physical sides of sexuality, where 'kink' and 'perversion' are signs of mental instability or cultural outcasts (witness any legal/cop TV drama to see examples of this kind of ostracisism). Subject matter aside, Secretary still stands as a great film. Maggie Gyllenhaal, my current cinéma babe-du-jour, puts in such a wonderful performance of a woman on the cusp of realising her sexuality, torn between societial expectations (her near marriage to family friend James) and her own personal 'deviant' desires. James Spader comes across as slightly less convincing, and there's a certain amount of ambiguity as to his own past, and where he sits in respect to his own acknowledgement of his sexuality. A scene towards the end, where (without giving too much away) Gyllenhaal is visited by a succession of friends and family, is somewhat farfetched, and the only lowpoint of the film. Zéro de Conduite Zéro de Conduite and Les Quatre Cents Coups were screening at ACMI as part of their Rememberence and the Moving Image programme. Jean Vigo's 1933 forty minute film follows the revolutionary plottings of a group of French schoolboys, who aspire to overthrow their principal and teachers. This is incredibly comedic; the teacher who's just a riotous as the kids when away from the eyes of his colleagues, the midget principal, the androgyne boy who becomes the most rebellious of the students, and some obvious digs at the English language "No. 'Father', 'father', say it like you've got a lisp". An appropriate preclusion to Les Quatre Cents Coups. Les Quatre Cents Coups For me, the key moment of Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) comes when Antoine is about to face the detention centre's psychologist, and another boy tells him not to look at the (female) doctor's legs, as it'll go down on his record. Antoine asks what is meant by 'his record', and the boy tells him that it's everything they know about him, 'they' being doctors, the police, teachers, employers etc. This is essentially what Antoine is fighting against, the constraints of social institutionalism, the limitations placed on us by bureaucracy, our identity composed of paperwork and files. Les Quatre Cents Coups is a gorgeous film, not only visually, but also in its characterisation of Antoine and his railing against the constraints of modern life, and his spontaneous and lucid portrayal by the young Jean-Pierre Léaud, and the playful and carefree temporality of the film. Incidentally, Les Quatre Cents Coups was produced by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, who recently stood in solidarity with Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami when he was denied a visa to attend last year's New York Film Festival. Kiarostami is scheduled to appear as a guest of honour at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Let's hope similar controversy doesn't inhibit his journey here. There is a fantastic photo of Jean-Pierre Léaud here

6/20/2003

The global influence of American culture According to BBC research 62% of Americans feel the global influence of their culture is not too little, not too much, but "just right". 44% of Americans feel they are the most cultured people in the world.

6/19/2003

Melbourne events : LCD et al. Melbourne thing this weekend:
werd noiseluvvaz... lcdci announce a show this coming saturday at the lovely good morning captain... the venue not the song.... it'll be earlyish from 3pm... lcdc on around 6... guest lcders will/may include max rebo, sonny icewoman, and YOU!?! also on the bill ist jodi moor ... the band not the person... fast piss blues band... go genre everything.

6/18/2003

The Ken Park controversy "The ill wind of conservatism is getting a lot chillier" said Sydney Film Festival director Gayle Lake, after Larry Clark's film Ken Park is once again refused classification by the Classification Review Board, deeming it essentially banned in Australia.With the Sydney Film Festival nearly over, the next line of attack is the Melbourne International Film Festival, which has expressed interest in trying to screen it. Even the crew at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, who usually (boringly) position themselves at odds with MIFF, have stated their "solidarity" in opposing the ban on Clark's film. The Classification Review Board consists of appointees of the Federal Attourney General. The choice of appointees is not subject to public scrutiny. Libertus.net have a great site on the CRB, with bios on these appointees. Another group who are heavily involved in this issue are Watch On Censorship, an organisation which includes Media Watch's David Marr and The Movie Show's Margaret Pomeranz. But perhaps the most biting and succinct words have come from The Australian Screen Directors Association's Richard Harris : "The fact that the Sydney Film Festival is not able to screen a film that has been shown in major festivals around the world is a national disgrace and will make Australia a cultural laughing stock"
Spontaneous mobs Large crowds of people have been 'spontaneously' forming in New York City, and then dispersing after 10 minutes. There is no logical reason behind the amassment, as curious bystanders display confusion and bewilderment (via Null Device). It was Woozy, a Melbourne fanzine from the early 1990s, which first alerted me to Hakim Bey's notion of Poetic Terrorism. Bey seems rather 'old hat' these days, and like other pre-dotcom-boom heros, such as Terrence McKenna and Erik Davis, he seems to have disappeared off the radar of internet culture (well, at least in the circles I seem to be moving in). Back in the day though, I was really connecting with the ideas of Hakim Bey, and Poetic Terrorism. It seemed to analogise a way of engaging with society which undercut the rigid cultural illusion we'd built for ourselves. Of course, it was somewhat a rehashing, or reconfiguring, of Debord's Society of the Spectacle and the Situationist International movement. But I didn't know this at the time, and the idea of using pranks and creating weird situations as a form of liberation seemed revolutionary to me. A slurry of guerilla-art ideas flooded into my young-adult head; stickers, stencils, projections, graffiti (street theatre was, and remains, too cringeworthy for me). I've grown older and more boring these days, but there are still cats out there doing great things along these lines. The spontaneous mobs in NYC slot nicely into the Poetic Terrorism concept, and it's a pleasure to hear that such projects are still happening amidst ever-tightening security, scrutiny, and suspicion.

6/16/2003

No time to stop n' talk, I've got an exam tomorrow Two upcoming Melbourne events this week. Synaesthesia Records Launch @ Loop, 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne : Wed 18 June at 8pm. Feat. Délire, Snawklor, Anthony Pateras & Robin Fox, and Smallcock. Phantom Image @ Public Office, 100 Adderley Street, West Melbourne : Thursday 19 June at 8pm. [snip] For those who couldn't make the last one, Phantom Image is an event showcasing live improvised soundtracks - short video pieces, (many created specifically for the night) are re-scored by local improvisers and electronic musicians. Theres a wide range of performers & approaches, from Rod Coopers weird sculptural instruments, Fox & Pateras' visceral improv. electronics to Clayton Thomas' double bass playing, Ai's laptop electronica and more.. [/snip]

6/12/2003

exams and events I have an exam tomorrow and another on Tuesday. This is why posts have been so sporadic in the last week. Sometime next week, I'll have to write about the issue of camera-equipped mobile-phones being banned from Australian swimming pools and gymnasiums. There's a ton of issues to unpack here; appropriation of new technologies, cyborg-theory, 'the gaze', privacy... the list goes on. Some upcoming events which should provide a plentitude of blogging material: Melbourne International Animation Festival : 24 - 29 June Liquid Architecture 4 : Festival of Sound Art : 1-26 July Melbourne Underground Film Festival : 3-13 July Melbourne International Film Festival : 23 July - 10 August

6/07/2003

Get Your War On New GYWO is up...
Subsonics A new 6-part series to screen on SBS-TV begins this Thursday at 11:25pm. From the SBS website...
MUSIC SERIES - SUBSONICS Six episodes in this series which explores the long neglected area of experimental music. Over 24 international and local artists are featured - everything from all elephant orchestras, the sounds of electrical activity in the upper atmosphere, to cutting edge turn-table artists and music for sticky tape. Subsonics uncovers a vibrant and thriving underground culture, with the first episode showcasing Mulatta Records in New York, whose challenging and bizarre label includes the sounds of the Thai Elephant Orchestra; the digital computer art of Japanese visual media designer Ukawa Naohiro; NSW composer Sue Harding and her creations from the tones of dot matrix printers; the harsh and barbaric "jumping noise" of Japanese physical performance artist Masonna; and the sounds of 70s African-American experimental jazz musician Sun Ra. Executive producer: Margaret Pomeranz; producers: Alison Wall and Brendan Walls. (An SBS-TV production, in English and Japanese, English subtitles). * New Series *

6/04/2003

Pythagorus Babylonian Bathtub For Melbourne folk : Warren Burt three hour sound installation and live improvisational performance; for 3 laptops, 3 synthesizers, 4 loudspeakers, 48 oscillators, and 167 scales. 2-5pm, Sunday 14 June at Cecil Street Studio - 66 Cecil Street, Fitzroy.

6/03/2003

More on ABC bias The ABC bias controversy continues, Robert Manne enters the fray...
The right in Australia are growing greedy. It is not enough for them that we have the most conservative government in Australia for over 40 years. Nor is it enough that views of which they approve are disseminated daily in the popular press, on talkback radio and on commercial television.
You may not always agree with Gerald Stone, the "godfather of chequebook journalism", yet in his take on the ABC bias issue, he offers some good tips on spotting media bias...
What are some of these techniques? Ironically, though biased reporting is notoriously hard to prove, many of its warning signs are easy for the listener or viewer to spot. Here are just a few. Beware of any report that begins with a value judgement before the fact: "The Government suffered a major setback today when the Prime Minister announced ..." Beware of inference-packed words like "admitted", "conceded", "claimed" when "said" is sufficient. Beware of the use of "but" to link a seemingly positive development with a less favourable one that invariably seems to put it in doubt. For example, an announcement of a drop in unemployment followed by the spoiler: "But unions warn of unrest, etc." Most of all, beware of coverage that continually takes a given fact and immediately overshadows it by raising grave doubts about where it might possibly lead in the future. That was the most frequent "offence" to feature in Alston's litany of complaints.
Furthermore, Michelle Grattan cleverly draws attention to the Howard Government's lack of credibility with regards to the 'children overboard' scandal, and the secret 'evidence' of WMD, which interestingly fall into place vis-a-vis Gerald Stone's comments on incompetency. Post-Suharto Indonesia is getting a taste of a freer journalistic environment, particularly in reportage of the war in Aceh. By being sceptical of the Indonesian Military's actions, especially the executions of unarmed villagers, I wonder if they're being biased. And speaking of media bias, I watched both National Nine News and SBS World News last night. Of the two news items which overlapped, protests in Geneva and Amrozi's trial, SBS came shining through with respect to a broader, more balanced picture (is this really surprising?). SBS noted the fact that the violence and looting in Geneva was instigated by a relatively small band of activists while the vast majority partook in a more stately protest, Nine on the other hand drew a picture of mass riots and mindless violence (once again, is this really surprising?). SBS mentioned the fact that Amrozi's theistic courtroom outbursts were directed at his own lawyers, while Nine simply portrayed him as the lunatic fundamentalist villain the whole of Australia loves to hate. These observations are hardly revolutionary, but their potency rises in times like this, where journalistic bias is in question.

6/02/2003

Annotated Top Five 26 May - 1 June 2003 What's been heavily played on iTunes this week... 1. The Saints : Messin' With The Kid : From 1977's (I'm) Stranded, back in the days when Ed Kuepper and Chris Bailey were still friends, this Stones-esque urban-blues-rock track is all perfectly placed lazy drumming and shimmering guitar and Bailey's snotty Brisbane drawl. Like many of the tracks from I'm Stranded, this is an 8-track demo rush-released to catch the '77 punk-wave, and there's an immediacy and candid earnestness apparent. 2. Hood : You're Worth The Whole World : I'm rather fond of Hood's efforts at blending melancholy slow-fi with elements of 'lectronica. This track, from 2001's Cold House, features guest Dose-One's chopped-up DSP-ed vocals chasing its tail around reversed instruments and pensive acoustic gtr-lines. It's the chopped-up nature of the vocals which make the track work, the masterful use of technology to bend the voice into shape, not just to achieve purely avant-ends, but to push the despondency beyond its usual limits. 3. Cavemen Speak : Episode 17: Acceptance Equals Death : Information on this Hip-Hop outfit is seemingly impossible to come by. I suspect they're either German or Belgian, although I detect traces of Mexican accents (?). This is a slow, melancholy track, reminding me somewhat of Tricky's 'Makes Me Wanna Die'; the beatz slowed down to stoned miserablism, draped over looping piano and inward-gazing lyrics. "I never wanted to be lonely / It's killing me slowly". 4. The Space Lady : Major Tom : Downloaded from the 365 Days Project, San Franciscan busker The Space Lady delivers a beautifully interstellar minimalist Casio-driven popsong. Surpasses any kitsch-factor with its pure textural splendor. Beats Space Oddity at its own game. Of particular beauty is the chorus, where The Space Lady really lets the phasing fly. 5. Music To Get C6th By : And I Love Her : Another 365 Days Project gem. A demonstration record for a pedal steel guitar company, covering a Beatles track, this approaches the cold-warmth bedroom isolationism of Durutti Column, fed through an occasional Hawaiian filter.
Get Carter A botched attempt to see Metropolis on Friday evening, due to the pathetically unreliable public transport system (excuse me while I briefly overreact), saw us heading to a friend's house to watch Mike Hodges' 1971 Get Carter (DVD). Michael Caine comes across as an arrogant tough-as-nails Londoner, up North in Newcastle to get answers for his brother's dubious death. Great contrast between the icy-cool, almost nonchalant big-city crim against the seedy, gritty industrial-town mob. The climactic scene, a chase through a black-sludge beach towards a coal mine, intercut with the rolling black waves making their grisly, forbidding descent upon the shore, the sky overcast and featureless, articulates the overall feel of the film; gritty and squalid, with a sense of desolation and desperation. Metropolis Saw Fritz Lang's Metropolis at the Astor Theatre on Saturday evening, the newly restored version with Gottfried Huppertz's original score re-recorded (ie. not the heavily-cut Giorgio Moroder version). A dystopian futuristic world where the workers slave away in an underground city, while the upper-classes live it up on the surface. You know the story. The proletariat revolt, and pay the consequences by having their city flooded. They learn their lesson, it's a Functionalist world, and slaves would do well to stay in their place. Dubious politics aside, Metropolis is such an iconic film it's hard not to feel humbled by Lang's grandiose SF vision. Essential dystopic reference point. St Kilda Film Festival : competition session 16 The only session of this festival I attended, and like (I would speculate) 95% of the people who attend these sessions, I knew someone involved in the making of one of these films. I've left that film out of this post, and will discuss the others. Sucker : Incredibly typical short-film fare, middle-class angst and capitalist dreams, metaphysical vacuum-cleaners and sex-in-toilets. Ho-hum. Cold Turkey : Superb story-telling from director Steve McGregor. Two brothers tread different roads, one eyes success in the opal-fields of Coober Pedy, while the other prefers the easy-life in Alice Springs. Most of the story takes place in a ramshackle outback prison-cell, as the brothers glimpse flash-backs of the previous night's activities which brought them here. Presiding over the affair is a mysterious older man, with a sage-like presence. The sound design and cinematography were superb, particularly time-lapse footage of the vast cloud-spotted sky, looming over the miniscule human inhabitance, or the streets of Alice Springs as night falls, burning up with headlights. Claudia's Shadow : Wonderful VCA production by Ruth Borgobello. Seemingly biopic, paying reverence to the tenacity and braveness of her immigrant parents, the potency of story-telling, and the connections between oral and filmic cultures. Watched Woody Allen's Manhattan last night (video). More on that later, maybe, but I must convey this line : "I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion". Quick links Australian actors and performers launch a campaign to exclude the culture industry from free-trade agreements. Guardian article on the benefits of blogging over Big Media. The Unh! Project : a glossary of "guttural moans" from comics. Gnoosic is a "self-adapting system" which recommends music for you. It asks for 3 artists you like, and then computes a suggestion for you. I entered Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, and Nico. It concluded that I should give Keiji Haino a try! Next, I tried to confuse it, and entered Black Flag, Artful Dodger, and Ennio Morricone. It suggested the Adolescents.

6/01/2003

Excuse me The previous post, on intertextuality and marketing, was a left-over thought from the essay I recently wrote, and was hastily posted merely for the sake of 'posting something'. But isn't that what blogs are for, quick brain-dumps you'll later regret? Quick Links The Guardian hires Salam Pax, "the Baghdad Blogger", for a fortnightly column. Oh! Dr Philip Nitschke, what will you think of next? I support the notion of euthanasia (for similar reasons as to why I oppose capital punishment), but I sometimes get the feeling that the pro-euthanasia movement's most prominent advocate is a detriment to the cause. We need to be underlining the compassionate side of the argument, and trying to reduce the State's control over the most important decisions of our lives, not inventing cheap death-machines just to rile up the Pro-Life movement. Nitschke's sometimes like the clown who enters the room and spoils the mood, especially after such a sober victory as the BWV tube-feeding decision. Sydney buys faulty nuclear reactor, and continues to use it! In a display of complete naivety and insensitivity, Rene Rivkin believes it's possible to "learn to enjoy" rape. The interplay between Blissblog and K-Punk (with occasional adjudication from Pillbox) is making for some of the most interesting music theory and debate you'll read anywhere.

5/30/2003

Intertextuality is a nasty postmodern marketing ploy Why isn't the concept of intertextuality used as a critique? Why is it always used to uphold the greatness of The Simpsons or Buffy, while never being used to highlight the deceptive tricks of marketing. I've spoken before on the The Secret Life Of Us (and if BlogSpot worked properly, I'd be able to link to it) and the way it's perceived as being a fresh, hip drama breaking barriers on Australian television, when in actual fact it's merely a way to peddle merchandise to a particular niche with high disposable incomes. Samuel Johnson's dual role of narrating Secret Life (ironically playing a disillusioned advertising industry employee) and narrating hamburger ads during the commercial breaks, is the most obvious example of this. But more recently, I've seen Doritos ads depicting a 'cruisy' gang of late 20s / early 30s friends, enjoying some laughs in their rooftop innercity garden, munching Doritos. The rooftop garden is definitely a reference to Secret Life, and now we've got something else to ad to our lifestyle, besides Barinas, MacLeans toothpaste, Hungry Jacks Burgers, and Crown Lager (oh, and marijuana). So I'm generally of the opinion, especially of late, that intertextuality is nothing more than a marketing tool, a way to cross-promote products to niche audiences, under the guide that it's a neat postmodern party trick.
Claims of ABC bias The ABC's role as independent, non-commercial media voice is under threat, because they dared to express an independent, non-commercial outlook on the war against Iraq. They dared to question the US Military propaganda and maintain a sceptical approach, and now they're under fire for doing so. Communications Minister Richard Alston weighs in. Director of News & Current Affairs, Max Uechtritz, responds, making some excellent points on the role of the media during war. Compare this with the way the Murdoch press (a much more powerful and influential outlet) covered the war (and the rewards they received for it), and we see not only the dangers of concentrated media ownership, but also the importance of an independent, critical view.


5/27/2003

Annotated iTunes Top Five 19-25 May 2003 What's been heavily played on iTunes this week... 1. The Stooges : Dirt : Perhaps the only track from 1970's Funhouse that doesn't begin with Iggy Pop's distorted scream (a motif which seems to be firmly embedded into the sound of any contemporary 'incendiary' faux-protopunk band). Instead, 'Dirt' begins with Scott Asheton's metric yet somehow time-warping drumming, following closely by the loping bassline, Ron Asheton's pure-rock licks, and finally Iggy's sly yet bitter vocals rise surface. This is such a perfect slow-burning protopunk monster, all bitterness and spite, and as heavy as good gravy. Absolutely seething. 2. The Specials : Ghost Town : The erie dubbed-out ska conjures such vivid imagery of deserted city streets at night, like Kurosawa's Yojimbo, all dark and rainy, the people driven away by outlaws. The glistening streets carry a lonely romanticism, yet an undertone of unspoken threat and fear exists. There's even an almost Vaudeville-like drama to it, of spooky faces caked with make-up and implied horrors. The Specials aren't content with taking a simplistic stance on the issue at hand, the finger is pointed at the superstructure; "Why must the youth fight against themselves / Government leaving youths on the shelf". 3. Electrelane : This Deed : English quartet seemingly in defiance of finger-placing; every track of theirs I hear is strikingly different. This Deed builds on a slumbering rhythmic base, infused with warm yet crystalline vocals, before awakening with some great yelled-from-afar indecipherable rantings two thirds of the way through, reminiscent of Lilliput / Kleenex style shambles. 4. Mondo Rock : Cool World : A nasty piece of lyrical work, seemingly about a psychopathic obsession to destroy the life of someone who 'has it all'. Musically, this is a lot better than I remembered it, which is always a pleasant surprise, cold tingly synthlines emerging from the chug-lite 80s rock. 5. Kaada : Burden : Downloaded from The Rub last week, on a purely random basis, this is the most intriguing piece of music I've heard in ages. It's the moment in the un-realised David Lynch film where the lady with an eggplant-shaped head finally gets to dance with the intersexed giant, who's awkwardly crouching over to embrace her, and the lights have dimmed in the abandoned diner they've found themselves in, and this track is playing on the jukebox. That crackly collage-warmth that the Norwegians seem to excel at (well, my only reference point is Kim Hiorthøy ).

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