Monday, December 21, 2009

Rage Against the Typography

Those who didn't die Those who didn't die Those who didn't
die Those who didn't die Those who didn't die Those who
didn't die Those who didn't die Those who didn't die Those
who didn't die Those who didn't die Those who didn't die
Those who didn't die Those who didn't die Those who didn't
die Those who didn't die Those who didn't die Those who didn't

Those who died Those who died Those who died Those who died
Those who died Those who died Those who died Those who died
Those who died Those who died Those who died Those who died
Those who died Those who died Those who died Those who died
Those who died Those who died Those who died Those who died
Those who died Those who died Those who died Those who died

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Suddenly, it's on barren land..."

Thinking of getting someone a goat this Christmas? Karl Pilkington has some thoughts (couldn't be bothered to read Virginia Ironside's Mail piece, but here it is):

Oh, look, I sort of blogged about the goat issue THREE YEARS AGO. Time: it flies.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Walking wounded

Fascinating stuff from David The Wire Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which I've been blazing through recently like the bookhound I once was (Wolf Hall, you tore apart my averages and gobbled up my confidence):

The distortion of television and popular culture is nowhere more apparent than in the intimate relationship of bullets and bodies. Hollywood tells us that a Saturday Night Special can put a man on the pavement, yet ballistics experts know that no bullet short of an artillery shell is capable of knocking a human being off his feet...

Although the popular belief that many people fall down upon being shot is generally accurate, experts have determined that this occurs not for physiological reasons, but as a learned response. People who have been shot believe they are supposed to fall immediately to the ground, so they do. Proof of the phenomenon is evident in its opposite: There are countless cases in which people - often people whose mental processes are impaired by drugs or alcohol - are shot repeatedly, sustaining lethal wounds; yet despite the severity of their injuries, they continue to flee or resist for long periods of time.

(Don't worry, mum, I'm not about to go and shoot up the high school.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What's in the lunchbox?

Apart from the time one of the entrepreneurs from Dragon's Den personally delivered a customisable voodoo doll to my office, I haven't really had that many nutty free promotional gifts (although a colleague did once receive these in the post). On Tuesday night, though, at a screening of the Sci Fi Channel's upcoming US import, V, I became one weird object richer.

V promotional lunchbox

The lunchboxes, lined up in shiny rows like Stormtroopers as a trio of grinning PR people looked on, were really light; I assumed they would just contain a two-page press releases banging on about how V was going to be the greatest TV event of early 2010, like, if you've got a decent satellite or cable bundle and can be bothered to spend an hour a week staring at Americans with the most distressingly perfect teeth ever (NB snarking aside, the show is actually pretty decent - I guess you could say it's V. good, hahaha). But I was wrong.

V promotional rat in a lunchbox

V promotional rat


Update: More on V this way

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Told You I Was Freaky - Flight of the Conchords

"Some people say that rappers don't have feelings. We have feelings," raps Brett McKenzie on the opening track of Flight of the Conchords' second album. Sounding vulnerable and miffed, he continues, "Some people say that we are not rappers," with colleague Jemaine Clement adding defiantly: "We're rappers. It hurts our feelings when you say we're not rappers." Read more...

Britain's Best Brain, Wednesday 8pm, Five

For viewers of a certain age, Britain's Best Brain will prove both exciting and depressing. Why? Because it reunites Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston, the duo who presented Saturday morning children's show Live & Kicking in the '90s and, slightly less memorably, Channel 4's The Priory.

Zoë and Jamie were presumably paired up in the first place because next to either of them, anyone else would look like they were kneeling down, and it's comforting to see they're both still very tall. But, like the rest of us, they do look older. Sigh.

Anyway, the show. "This is not a quiz show," Theako tells us, proudly. It sort of is, really, but the challenges are all geared to test different parts of the brain – so it's not something you can revise for beforehand, unless you count gorging on fish and blueberries.

The studio audience greet the five contestants like they're heroes returning from war, despite the fact that, as in every show like this, they're just normal people with ages, jobs, and one anecdote each.

The first round has contestants trying to answer fairly simple maths questions while heavy metal plays in their ears and disembodied voices shout numbers at them, while staring at a screen of swirling integers. It's that sort of thing.

The parts you at home can take part in – the memory tests, say – are reasonably fun, but the ones you can't – like the one where you have to watch someone wrestling with an egg timer while they're whirled around in a giant gyroscope – aren't so much.

Meanwhile, BBB's slightly clinical approach – the challenges are "each scientifically designed to test a primary brain function", we're told – means it's quite hard to root for anyone; it seems to be reducing the idea of human endeavour to something more random. In summary, then: when's the Trev and Simon revival due?

by Will Parkhouse, Tuesday 27 October 200

Originally published on

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Slits and pieces

The Slits: a scary interview prospect indeed, what with them being 1) the original all-grrrl '76 punk band an' all that 2) responsible for one of the best cover versions ever 3) fronted by a singer whose stepdad is none other than Johnny Rotten and 4) one of only three artists to make the Goose funeral songs playlist.

But, of course, they turned out to be completely charming. The finished interview is over on The Quietus - and here are the pics I took after Ari and Tessa got all excited about a graffitied wall we happened to wander past.

Ari Up from The Slits

Tessa Pollitt from The Slits

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Oops, first post this month. It's important, that's why: I've come out of retirement for YOU, Stornoway, even though you are the most nervous and awkward band ever to have a microphone thrust face-wards, because 'Zorbing' is one of the songs of the year and YESYESYES now we have Britain's answer to The Hidden Cameras. IN YOUR FACE, JOEL GIBB.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Official matters

I've become kind of addicted to The Office: An American Workplace of late, thanks to ITV2, Comedy Central and Comedy Central Extra repeats, and the joys of PVR technology. Since it ditched the Gervais/Merchant template, it's been hitting whole new heights. Oh, speaking of hitting...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Return to the End of the Road

Oh, it really is the best festival there is, and I've been to them all (NB: I haven't). Yes, End of the Road rolled around again and the weather was peachy, the cider appley and the company bananas.

Who did I see? These ones: David Thomas Broughton, Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, Dirty Projectors, Herman Dune, Sarah Benetto, James Dowdeswell, Robin Ince, Josie Long, Darren Hayman, This Frontier Needs Heroes, The Boy Least Likely To, The Acorn, The Broken Family Band, Okkeril River, Fleet Foxes, the Richard Hawley-Jarvis Cocker DJ set, Whispertown 2000, the Where Is My Mind? pub quiz, Dan Sartain, Neko Case and The Hold Steady. I saw a lot, missed a lot, danced a lot, drank a lot, forgot a lot, whamalot bamalot.

Here are the snapshots.

Baller at EOTR 2009

Dude with hat

Person in tent

Charlie at the cider bus

The Larmer Tree mural thing

What happened last year?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday night lights

It's a Friday night and although I felt like a drink, no one else did, or at least not with me, so, sensing that I'm set for at least one spell of boredom this evening, I thought I'd write about the view from my bedroom window. It's our bedroom window really, but Sarah's away touring the landmarks of Stockport, so for the moment it's mine (unless our landlady emails later to demand a retraction).

About five minutes ago, the sun was shining through the clouds and actually creating that Ascension into Heaven effect you see in old Italian paintings, but it's one of those fast-changing September sunsets and the black clouds have hustled in, as if to say, "Nothing to see here." They're doing a shoddy cover-up job, though; the sky is still dazzlingly bright, at least for my sensitive retinas.

It's a mess of a skyline, frankly – green-netted scaffolding seems to be growing over every other building – but there are some interesting details: you can see the switched-on floodlights of the Oval to the south-west (or "left", if we're being panoramic); the reflection of cars going past in the tall windows of the large office opposite, its roof perfect for a Hong Kong action flick's gun-pointing tableaux; a distant flag blowing in the wind, which could even hail from north of the Thames; and, closer by, one of Westminster's towers tantalisingly just visible behind the large lopsided Sycamore, which has recently been garlanded by small blue lights which apparently only come on between 9 and 10pm. We often stare out at them, wondering why.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

The wall guy

I took precisely zero photos of the picturesque views of Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside - not doing very well at the moment, am I? - because I kept leaving my camera in the B&B. Did get this nice one of a wall at Crewe Station, though. Wait, come back!

Crewe station

Sunday, August 30, 2009

DIY: How to write blurb

"A tragic/astonishing/rubbish meditation on love and loss/identity and selfhood/apples and pears, [book title] confirms [author's name] as one of [country in question]'s most promising/daring/pouting novelists/storytellers/blurb writers."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Insane in the Ukraine

Woah, check out the Ukraine's Got Talent winner. She's no Stavros Flatley, of course, but good stuff nonetheless. Outsanding, you could say, if you liked dreadful puns, which we don't.

(via Holy Moly)

The Goose honks elsewhere

A bit more extracurricular writing for The Quietus from me, by way of the new Brendan Benson album over here. By the way, did you ever read their fantastic interview with Sir Patrick Moore? I wish I had his reviewing skillz. "This song did make an impression on me. A negative one. Ha ha ha!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Well-chosen numberplate

We were up in Sandbach, Cheshire, for a wedding, and spotted this outside our hotel:


Pictures of the bride and groom never come out right anyway.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

All Quietus on the Richmond Font

I'm sure you're all dying to know what I thought of Richmond Fontaine's new album, We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River... Stop panicking: I reviewed it for The Quietus, so you can find out here. Ironic last line, given length of article.

PS Yikes, it's been over a month since I last posted here. Sorry, that's probably a new record. Um, I've been away on holiday, you know, cut me some slack. Well, since Saturday, anyway. The other three weeks were just really busy. Why? Tune in to find out. Maybe.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last orders at Borders

Had half an hour to kill on Thursday, so I dropped into the Borders closing down sale on Oxford Street to see if there was anything left. Unsurprisingly, it was pretty cleared out. But then I wandered over to the £1 shelves, which initially looked pretty scanty...

Borders ftw

...and snapped back to reality 10 minutes later to find myself holding a sizeable stack of books.

Borders books splurge

Not one of them's on the vague "to read" list that sits somewhere at the back of my mind - yes, Sales 8, Will 0 - but all good authors, and new hardbacks at £1 each are pretty hard to put back on the shelf. From another point of view: I saved £99!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Going round in circles

First, it was this.


Then, a few months later, this.

Green tea on red table

Now, it's time for a bit of this.

Lampshade from the floor

Look who just shook up the spherophile top 5. UPDATE:

1. The Coen Brothers
2. Me
3. The guy who invented basketball
4. Kim Kardashian's fan club
5. Everyone else

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BALE blog

Zigzagged home to my old ends a few weekends ago. Saw a field of hay bales; felt like I was in a Constable painting, sorta; sneezed heartily. Achoooooooo.

Wimborne hay bales 3

Wimborne hay bales 1

Wimborne hay bales 2

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's a popularity contest

We had my iPod's 20 most-played songs about three years ago on the Goose, but having just understood the beauty of scrobbling (I've just started here) and because I could be on the brink of doing an earth-shattering system-wide play count reset, it's clearly time for another list.

This one's completely different to its 2006 counterpart, since the listening game had to effectively begin afresh with the arrival of my new iPod about a year and four months ago. It's odd the songs you accidentally become obsessed with - rather embarrassingly, I've listened to the one at the top of this list 30 times.

1. You Let Your Heart Go Too Fast - Spin Doctors
2. Troublemaker - Weezer
3. Represent - Nas
4. Me in Honey - R.E.M.
5. Leave the Scene Behind - The Wave Pictures
6. Innocent When You Dream (Barroom) - Tom Waits
7. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
8. Mutha'uckas - Flight Of The Conchords
9. Yesterdays - Guns N' Roses
10. Takeover - Jay-Z
11. Way Down in the Hole - The Blind Boys Of Alabama
12. Devil Tricks For A Bitch - Lightspeed Champion
13. Timothy - Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer
14. Needle In A Haystack - The Velvelettes
15. Let Me Take You There - Betty Boo
16. I Wish That I Could See You Soon - Herman Düne
17. California Girls - The Magnetic Fields
18. 52 Girls - The B-52's
19. MJ - Mystery Jets
20. Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend

And, of course, here's that list Spotified for your listening pleasure (minus the Wave Pictures, Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer and Tom Waits tracks, which you'll find at the other end of the links featured earlier in this sentence).

Friday, July 10, 2009

I can't believe I'm not watching Big Brother this year

From the Channel 4's press release highlights of tonight's show:

Halfwit and Marcus are in the living room. Halfwit says: 'I think I might bust some reps today.' Marcus stares into space.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Steven Wells: 1960 - 2009

I'm probably at least the 5,000th person today to write the words, "Steven Wells was the writer who made me want to become a journalist," but hell, it's true.

For the uninitiated, Swells, who died from Hodgkin's lymphoma on Tuesday aged 49, was a spitting, ranting genius of a scribe, and, when I started reading the NME back in 1995, easily the best writer they had on their books. His pieces were characterised by balls-out irreverence, extreme sweary imagery, a disgust for all things twee and tame (Belle and Sebastian usually got a pasting) and, most memorably, SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS (today's report on The Quietus, which he wrote for more recently, had the excellent headline "Swells Dies: Caps Lock Buttons Sigh in Relief").

His final piece is published here and you can see from the comments how well loved and respected he was in the industry (amongst others, Kitty Empire, Everett True, Steve Sutherland, Mark Beaumont, Dominik Diamond, John Robb, Barbara Ellen, David Quantick and Attila the Stockbroker all weigh in. And Brian Wilson, but that may be a nom de plume).

Anyway, all nostalgic, like, I had a root under my bed and found an NME from October 1996. Lo, behold and phew, there was a piece by Mr Wells waiting for me. An extract, for you, then. It's from a wonderfully snarky interview with Power Station, a so-called supergroup consisting of self-confessed love addict Robert Palmer, Chic drummer Tony Thompson, and Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor.

They've just finished only their second album in more than ten years and during its recording, John Taylor, also ex-Duran Duran, had to quit because of a bit of a problem with the old proboscis-rotting showbiz sherbert. Then producer Bernard Edwards, also ex-Chic, caught flu while on tour in Japan and died in his sleep. Are you listening Noel Gallagher? You whining WIMP!

Yes indeed, they're called The Power Station and they're here to show you mewling, puking, zitpit-cratered, baggy-trousered, snot-sleeved, scabby-kneed, dope-addled no-hoper teenage slacker scum the POWER of ROCK created by MEN whose bollocks have dropped so far that they hang down by their kneeds like saddlebags.

That's one way of looking at it. That's certainly the way The Power Station see it, as they and your correspondent munch our way through exquisite Japanese food in an exclusive west London restaurant like the jet-setting, royalty-shagging, racehorse-owning bourgeois bastards we are.


Is it better to be a pop star or a rock star… Hang on, for some strange reason all three of them have burst out laughing.

"I'm a singer," says Robert, suddenly very serious. "He's a guitarist. He's a drummer. I really don't know what you're talking about."

Andy, you have, without a doubt, been a pop star.

"Well someone chooses to call you that, to pigeonhole you and plan your life out for you blah blah blah blah blah…"

FUCKING HELL! What THE STINKING HELL IS going on?!!? The guitarist of DURAN DURAN will not admit to once having been a pop star?!? I mean how many exclamation marks can NME print in one issue?!?!!!???!?!?!!!!!!!! The Power Station are not rock stars or pop stars, they are 'musicians' Why? In God's name, WHY?!?! People worship rock stars! They adore them! They are desperate – in their panting, turgid and drippingly moist millions – to have savage, uncomplicated and utterly mindblowing SEX with rock stars and they want it NOW! I mean, 'musicians', for crying out loud! Do you know anybody in their right mind who would even piss on a 'musician'? But we digress.

So, yep, RIP.

NME tribute: Rage in Peace
His Guardian Sport highlights
The Daphne and Celeste reunion campaign starts here

Monday, June 01, 2009

Hay fever

Perhaps this is a little strange, but within five minutes of arriving at Hay-on-Wye for the books festival, I was thinking, "I need to come back next year." The place emanated immediate good feeling.

Books - and copies of The Guardian - were everywhere, although the sponsorship and presence of Sony, who were attempting to flog their e-reader, provided a vague challenge to such paper-based gaity.

Browsing at Hay

Providing my brain with exercise were, in this order: James Marsh (director of one of 2008's films of the year, Man on Wire) and Adrian Chinn (producer of etc etc), Graham Swift, Chris Patten, David Simon, Kate Summerscale and Simon Schama. Hey, Swifty, can you sign my digitally downloaded copy of Last Orders, please? Just scratch your name onto the screen with this scalpel, it's fine.

When Macca, my companion for the weekend, wasn't snacking on sugary treats - the man's sweet tooth, I discovered, was insatiable - he was raving about The Field. The Field was not, as you might have thought, David Simon's idyllic follow-up to The Corner and The Wire, but an actual field next to the festival grounds, filled with a host of golden, um, buttercups, several easygoing cows, and much peacefulness.

Buttercup, Hay

[Checks for udders.]

Cow in field at Hay

In the evening a light pointed to at top of this tree, making it look eerily like an enormous piece of broccoli. I don't like broccoli, but I liked this tree.

Lit-up tree at Hay Book Festival 1

In summary, then: see you next year.