Monday, July 21, 2008

Playlist #4: July 2008

Sorry it's late, the dog ate my HTML. Worth the wait though, featuring, as it does, a couple of awesome bootlegs by mash king Mark Vidler (aka Go Home Productions), some retro ballading from Mssrs Pumpkins and Roses, a Tom Waits cover that's also a TV theme tune, the first Tom Waits song I ever heard (the insanity of his voice confused me, so I hated it; now I love it), the lovely new Annie single and two walls of sound (count 'em!). And more, natch.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tonight on ITV1: Harley Street

"Do we really need another medical drama?" wondered my other half as the credits to Harley Street kicked in. Don't worry, she doesn't normally talk like a TV critic - but with Casualty/ER clones continuing to spread through the schedules like meningococcal meningitis, she does have a point. Read more...

Pun of the week

Well done to the Daily Mirror's sub-editors, whose headline for a story about an artist who has created a 17ft cardboard statue of Gandhi was...

Flatpack-ma Gandhi

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tonight on Living: Diet on the Dancefloor

Oh, bravo – now that's what we call reality TV brainstorming. Combining Celebrity Fit Club and Strictly Come Dancing but without the celebrities, Diet on the Dancefloor gathers up a group of 10 overweight people – presumably by leaving a trail of Mars Bars leading to a cage – and challenges them to both lose weight and ballroom dance. Read more...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Magnetic Dogg

Went to see the marvellous Magnetic Fields last night in Chelsea. It's quite an odd set-up they've got – though clearly deep-voiced singer Stephin Merritt's band, it's Claudia Gonson, who sings of a number of the songs, counts the band in and chats to the crowd throughout, who seems to be the onstage leader. Chanteuse Shirley Simms, meanwhile, is silent stage left, except when called upon to deliver her vocals, both wondrously clear and peculiarly strangulated.

'California Girls', led by Simms, has been in my head all day. Here's the band doing it live in LA earlier this year. It seems oddly appropriate that the Simms is off-camera for most of the song (though she drifts into view towards the end).


For those who think that's all a bit folky, the other tune I've been hitting today is the cracker below, which brings back all sorts of memories of growing up in East Dorset's Colehill projects. Compton Acres, where it's at, yo. Anyway: it's officially impossible to beat the coolness of "Freeze. At ease. Now let me drop some more of them keys." Greatest hip hop riff ever?

The latter contains a ton of swearing, by the way. Oops, too late.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tonight on BBC1: Bonekickers

Once upon a time, way back in the mists of pre-production, Bonekickers probably seemed like a good idea. Centred around four kick-bone archaeologists who talk fast and excavate faster, it's Time Team crossed with Spooks with sprinkles on top. You dig? 

Our quartet of protagonists consists of: Professor Gregory Parton (Hugh Bonneville), who likes going to the pub and being charmingly lewd; Professor Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham), all annoying no-nonsense bustle; Dr Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester) whose job is to make cringeworthy comments with a twinkle in his eye but is a bit boring despite the aforementioned twinkle; and intern Viv Davis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, so good in last week's Fallout) – she makes the tea and massages the others' egos with her big admiring eyes.

This opening episode sees the gang called in to do some digging after a Middle Eastern coin is found, mysteriously, in a park in Somerset. A bit later they're digging up the cross of Christ and being chased by a pair of highly unconvincing latter-day Knights Templar, one of which looks eerily like ex-EastEnder Paul Nicholls in fancy dress.

It's all as unflinchingly silly as its title suggests, with the scriptwriters hilariously trying to make history hip by having their characters say things like, "They couldn't have been fighting Saracens here – that's just nuts" and, "The crusades went TITS UP".

Everything makes a bit more sense when you realise the writers of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes are responsible – and the dialogue has its moments – but the premises of those programmes made suspension of disbelief necessary from the start. This just seems laughably silly. Did we learn nothing from the Da Vinci Code movie?

by Will Parkhouse, Tuesday 8 July 2008 

Originally published on

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday frivolity

Who remembers The Saturday Night Armistice? The Friday Night Armistice, then? God, those shows were good. Are they out on DVD? [checks] Apparently not. What's that, you say? YouTube? Oh go on then. It is Friday, after all.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Gets advice

During our trip to Japan way back in February, Birdy explained to Dan and I that during his teaching experiences in Tokyo, one of our friends had noticed the children he taught had an unusual classroom catchphrase.

The phrase and accompanying gesture were simple – the move just involved putting each hand into a gun shape, pointing them at your friend and exclaiming "Gets!" This spread around the whole school and variations began to emerge. For example, one group of children would perform a Gets then say (in Japanese, presumably) "turn and reverse" and point towards themselves.

Inevitably, as a result of this conversation, the three of us spent a lot of our trip Getsing each other. The eagled-eyed obsessive psychopathic Facebook stalkers among you may have noticed that a number of my pictures from that trip feature each of us doing a Gets at the camera in place of the thumbs-up or embarrassed grin.

Thinking this was a very localised phenomenon, I was surprised, nay stunned, to discover recently that the Gets was in fact invented in 2003 by a small-time Japanese comedian called Dandy Sakano.

"One night, God came down to me, by my bed and told me to say, 'Gets!'," explains Sakano. "Next day, I went on stage and said, 'Gets!'"

The catchphrase swept the country and catapulted Sakano to fame. He quickly became, according to Wikipedia, "a fixture on variety shows, commercials, and children's programmes". He's also had a hit single called 'Oh, nice Get's'.

An extraordinary business. Here's Adam and Joe meeting Sakano. GETS!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hit and misc

I'd recommend Nick Kent's retrospective profile of Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson to anyone with ears to hear. In its 60-odd pages, it doesn't try to attract attention using clever metaphors or florid prose, but seems to arrive at a special kind of truth through – and ack, how dull this sounds! – thoroughness and a penetrating acuity. I read it on the train to the West Midlands earlier in the year and was surprised to find the tales of abuse, insanity, greed and waste that surround Brian Wilson and his family do not mar the music one bit. That it was created in spite of these things make the songs more beautiful - even more so in the case of Wilson's 2004 rerecording of his original unfinished classic, Smile. The fresh knowledge of it all made me misty-eyed as I listened to 'Heroes and Villains', standing in the cold outside Tame Bridge station.


The genius of the Xbox 360 – apart from the obvious stuff, natch – is those damn achievement points. Available in all games, they're usually awarded upon completing a stage or mission – but to win them all, players need to master more arcane skills and explore more obscure crannies, whether that means defeating someone at pool in GTA IV, beating a time challenge in The Simpsons Game, or killing a billion enemies in four seconds in the stupidly difficult Ninja Gaiden II. It's an extremely cunning way of getting gamers to squeeze every drop out of value of their purchases, but, because they're universal and added to each individuals' grand Xbox total, they're also an incentive to get hold of as many different games as possible. How sweet life would be if we were all awarded achievement points for our daily accomplishments! Only yesterday I was smiling with happiness at having worked the phrase "proves his acting chops" into a preview of a television programme, and reflected that I should certainly have been awarded some life achievement points for doing so.


A gig that begins at 3am sounds like a tricky proposition, but time your adventures carefully and it's a cinch. A couple of Saturdays back, I attended a house party during which which my attorney found himself being straddled by a bulky man in drag and being smothered rigorously in outlandish make-up. Shortly afterwards, the party was curtailed as enormous chunks of plaster fell from the ceiling of the room below, as if we had angered the Gods. But we made it to the gig with minutes to spare and had a jolly old time.


Hahahahaha, always finish with a joke. Here's my favourite; it's Bob Monkhouse, of course. "When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they're not laughing now."