tag : bright yellow-green apples: December 2005

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

loose ends

figure 75.8. As featured on my door, on the 25th

In a truly chop and change style, this is a clear out of all the important bits that demand it before the new year hits - which I intend to see out with Mary in Edinburgh.

(1) I've been honoured by managing to elbow my way into having an accompanying picture with one of Martin's songs. If you don't like it, graffiti is still an option.
(2) I forgot to include Welcome to Jam Rock (by the son Damien Marley), Demon Days (by Damen's pet Gorillaz), and Aerial (by Kate Bush, ironically writing a song about her washing machine) in my musical review of the past year. They shouldn't have been missed out, and I'm quite sorry for such a lapse!
(3) The Hopeful Imagination advent journey drew up to Christmas after a fascinating four weeks spent together. I suggest looking through the archives, cos there are some corking reflections to be found.

Which simply leaves me to wish you all a happy transition to the new year. Or, better still, a most fulfilling and appropriate arrival of 2006. See you all on the other side.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


What am I even doing online right now?

HAPPY CHRISTMAS anyway, to you and all your kith and kin.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

of a year

As part of the usual fare, here's my music of the two thousand and five. I was going to do an art one as well, but since it's all a bit piecemeal I've gone for album art as a substitute. It's been a great year for creative stuff, perhaps the best since 1997. Ooooh.

Get your hands off my creaking windowsill - the 12 albums

Low - The Great Destroyer
Kid Carpet - Ideas and Oh Dears
Slaeter Kinny - The Woods
The Dresdon Dolls
Arcade Fire - Funeral
Soulwax - Nite Versions
MIA - Arula
Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep
Teenage Fanclub - Man Made
Tom Waits - Real Gone
AFX - Hangable Auto Bulb
The Go! Team - Thunder Lightning Strike

Ragged pockets hold only a few singles, still 11

Antony and the Johnsons - Hope There's Someone
Pharell Williams - Can I have it Like That?
System of a Down - B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bombs)
Pendulum - Slam
Benjamen Zephania - Wrong Radio Station
Royksopp - What Else is There?
Soulwax - NY Excuse/NY Lips
Sigur Ros - Glosoli
Hole - Retreat, Retreat
The Knife/Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats
Maximo Park - Graffitti

Some suprises in the 8 things spotted

Thursday, December 15, 2005

suprised by Lewis

Figure 45.7. the old classics

I was dragged along to see that Narnia film lastnight by my old friend Tim, thus foiling my plan to wait until it came out on video!

But it was rather good fun in the end, despite some slightly laughable moments – such as the ludicrous dark ugliness of the baddy horde. What appealed most to me about this film was that it’s a good romp – where The Lord of the Rings was so portentous and self consciously po-faced, as His Dark Materials looks likely to be, this has a wonderfully anarchic feel about it. There are fauns and talking beavers fighting alongside griffins, Santa Claus rides up on his sleigh to give out weapons to the kids.

This freedom in mucking around with every mythological element under the sun makes up a lot for the impossibly flaky characters - the kids were really annoying and bland. You could say this was simply their age and novelty in a film, but most of the Narnia inhabitants only opened their mouths to say summit morose like “I will stand by you no matter what, we have a bond beyond death” etc etc. without a shred of real involvement. I couldn’t really feel any empathy for them, they were all simply there as moving props, shadow puppets against a thrilling stage.

Cos the story is a pretty good one, precisely because it’s a biblical allegory. Some people seem to object to the very notion of this particular story that playing with metaphorical religious stories. But that’s absurd, as this article points out, since so much of our European culture is steeped in the narratives. They make for some of our most deeply resonating themes. I was ummming and arrring for ages, knowing the book, about all my objections to its portrayal – particularly the stated need to appease ‘deep magic’ with death. But then I realised you might as well switch off from such concerns about philosophical consistency - and recognise that the best stories are pretty rich, in all their spiky awkwardness, and will explore beyond what we find comfortable.

So despite myself, and despite aparently disagreeing with Ash on some of the actual content, I must say this is a top-notch film.

Monday, December 12, 2005

getting down with the beasties

figure 30.2. boo!

This hardly counts as festival cheer, but I still strongly suggest you take a look at Perry Bible Fellowship. It’s very very funny, and just a little bit distracting. I’d like to know where the creator’s imagination sits!

No less depraved and cruel, are the stars of Life in the Undergrowth. But beautiful, too – if you haven’t been watching it yet, you’d best cotton on and enjoy the spectacular filming that captures such intricate delights. I guess Andy's been watching it, certainly. Who would’ve thought slug sex and dragonfly moulting could be quite so wonderful.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

take a peek 2

Partly inspired by the Edvard Munch painting Ashes, and partly by Radiohead’s Byzantine Ziggurat, this is a series of pictures I’ve come up with over the past few weeks. Variations on the same motif.


winners and winners

figure 79.7. the legacy of the handbag

Yesterday saw Simon Starling win the Turner Prize, as someone who apparently represents ’research-based’ art. It’s interesting as summit close to a museum piece or community project, or perhaps a requisite headline grabber (for shedboat), but Jim Lambie’s instillation pressed all my art buttons. It’s a bit crazy, very attractive, and has some rather searing motifs that bear relation to everyday town life.

And today it was the turn of David Cameron to win the Conservative leadership contest. Kudos to him for racing from outranker to favourite, but I’m really not very keen. True I’m instinctively opposed to seeing the Tories in power, but they could at least have chosen someone who’d get them back into meaningful engagement. Instead there’s tons of empty rhetoric and hot air about change change change, with little to offer us but summit akin to the New Labour Project with a blue skin.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

sounds on undergrounds

figure 78.0. matters of taste and decency

Martin asked me a rather tricksy question the other night, which ran as follows:

"I recall that you took a very principled stand against Beenie Man when he was accused, rightly, of writing homophobic lyrics. Yet when hip-hop artists, including those you like, are accused, rightly, of writing misogynistic lyrics you seem to treat it as merely 'unfortunate'. How do you reconcile these two positions?"

I guess this revolves around my very public enjoyment of the single 99 Problems by Jay Z, which goes through the irritations of his life but then proclaims it alright with the chorus: "If you're havin' girl problems I feel bad for you son/I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one."

I had my original concerns about dancehall singers primarily because the music they made, brilliant as it was in musical terms, included lyrics that played up to a violent subculture in Jamaica – where homosexual people are regularly threatened, abused, or killed. In such a context, it’s wholly disturbing to find artists backing up prejudices with conviction (exhorting audiences to kill ‘battyman’) rather than challenging them. Beenie Man, Bounty Killa, et al have made no public contrition, and shame on them.

Now Jay Z’s song, in the context of his other material, is a lot less obviously regressive. He regularly makes tracks about how he’s into girls of all sorts (and lately his partner Byonce), and in the light of that I think it’s fair to say that 99 Problems is a teensy bit playful – trying to make light of those females who’ve done him wrong. The full lyrics bear that out. Indeed I think we can throw the greater charge at him of washing out any really sharp social comment (unlike Public Enemy et al) to sell more records, rather than bad vibes, in this instance. Not that we should assume anything like consistency, since he sings about not advertising clothes a few times then...lo and behold, he’s on adverts for trainers and suits! Reminds me of the disappointment I felt when I found John Peel had done a voiceover for a toothpaste advert. God bless him, but what a silly thing to do.

While I’m on music, there are some great singles out at the moment. Walk Away by Franz Ferdinand, Heard e’m Say by Kanye West, and Denial Twist by the White Stripes.