giovedì, giugno 26, 2008

Wagon tumbling

So, as I mentioned, fell off the wagon a little while ago. I'm a cheap, cheap person and I'm quite resistant to blowing my money on anything, but I have a fucking hard time logging on to Amazon to buy someone else presents without deciding that I deserve a thing or two from my reserve lists, and if I do, well, so does the F-word, because he's such a great boyfriend, and then - well. Here we are.

1. Barcelona, Robert Hughes. I don't think I've ever had the love/hate thing going for any writer I have going for him. His autobiography was so fucking shitty, I mean, just monumentally shit. I may never have been more annoyed by a book than by that. And then, on about equal measure I enjoyed The Shock of the New and Goya. And then The Fatal Shore bored me so bad that I actually gave it up at the 3/4 mark - something I never do.

So I decided to work on the assumption that he's only good when he's writing about things he loves, which doesn't include himself or Australia. And so I plunged for Barcelona, as his shitty, shitty memoirs indicated he loves Barcelona. We're heading there for a week for our vacation this summer, and the F-word really wanted to read it, so it won't be wasted cash in any case. And I don't know a goddamn thing about the place, outside of all that Gaudi and the fact they speak some language that sounds a bit more like Italian than normal Spanish. And the first 20 pages have made me want to keep reading. He has an encyclopaedic sort of brain, or at least a great skill for regurgitating research.

2. The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, ed. Richard Dawkins. I've been explicit in very much disliking The God Delusion, for what I think are terrific reasons. Frankly I'm worried I may have blown £10 on a compilation put together by a man whose writing I've found dishonest and self-serving, in the sense of allowing crap to hide behind controversy. If he's willing to do that with his own writing, who knows what he'll cherry-pick from his colleagues?

But I couldn't resist the table of contents and the introduction it could give me to a wide range of possible new reads. It's like that point in networking where you find yourself being really nice to some guy, even to the point of not mocking him when he has a ten-minute tête-à-têtons with your chest instead of your face, who ordinarily you wouldn't even ask the time of day from, because maybe someday he can help get you a job in a much better country than Belgium.

3. The Great War for Civilization/The Conquest of the Middle East, Robert Fisk. This one was very much for the F-word, who enjoys Robert Fisk a lot. Me, sure. He's the Middle East correspondent for the Independent, my favourite British daily outside of its shitty 'science' editor, and writes in a very opinionated, angry, sarcastic way. So now we've got 1300 pages of sarcastic, angry, opinionation about the Middle East on our kitchen table. Slightly intimidated.

mercoledì, giugno 25, 2008

I'd build a million of you baby

I've written about this before, but I must again: I love Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!. And okay - fine - I haven't come across a Bad Seeds album I didn't love. Some individual songs, sure. Most of the slow ones, to be honest with you. 'The Ship Song' and 'Love Letter' and a bunch of other twee little songs with lazy rhymes. For God's sake, stop trying to horn in on Leonard Cohen's market - he writes better lyrics for slow songs and he needs the money. But there are no slow songs on Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!. Some creepy songs, which I like, and the final song is a wee bit lazy, but that's all fine, even great - I really like 'Jesus of the Moon', which isn't quite creepy - don't have the adjectives this morning.

And then the rest of the album just rocks out. Music and lyrics. I love the title track and love that little AC/DCish guitar that slaps you awake at the beginning, and nonetheless it's probably my least favourite track on the album.

Anyways, the whole album is really good, it makes me want to fuck. I wish I could just stay home and do that all day, but no. Today is a big day. I have to interview an important person this morning. I usually do my interviews by phone or by email and I couldn't get to sleep last night, thinking that the recorder wasn't going to work today. Luckily I have enough questions that he could just answer yes or no to each, and I'd still make regulation length. No problems. If the cunt of a recorder works.

Got a shipment of exciting books yesterday - fell off the wagon and bought the F-word 'presents' that I also wanted to read - more on that tomorrow.

martedì, giugno 24, 2008


Not much news, I'm preoccupied with pleasant things. Just a quick warning: Clive James's memoirs are crap and will make you want to hit him. Memoirs are difficult. Something like Robert Hughes, who has a style I like when he's writing about things that aren't him, and once he writes about him it's so fucking lame it can hardly make it across the room when I throw it. With Clive James, I like the essays and whatnot he does for the BBC or whatever from time to time - but his memoirs = crap. Also, Clive is a retarded name.

In other book news, Ulysses is indeed proving too boy for me at the moment - may have to wait to plug on until I have a hormonal shift.

lunedì, giugno 23, 2008

Tits? Seriously, America?

I'm sorry George Carlin died, even if the only thing I ever saw him in was Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which I suppose I'll never watch again, since as an eleven year old it was the best movie ever and by now might not be.

But really . . . tits? You couldn't say tits?

Anyhoo . . . Mum is over to see her Mum and I'm heading back to work. Good visit. Learnt how to bake bread with the family's recipe - why didn't I before? And looking forward to my own trip home come October.

domenica, giugno 22, 2008


Living in Europe is great in a lot of ways. Even living in Belgium is great in a lot of ways. But you may have noticed by this point that Belgium also drives me apeshit. One way it drives me apeshit - a whole new way I discovered yesterday, during a trip to Oostende with Mum to get some fresh air - is its lack of appreciation for one of my favourites among its sons, James Ensor.

Oh sure. There's a bust up of him in the town there, and a twee little 'Ensorhuis' with reproductions of his work, and some of his paintings have been stuck into the Royal Gallery here in Brussels. But Oostende has not yet managed to pull its thumb out and re-establish its own modern art gallery - an idiocy that left us gawping at a post office in the downtown central square that my Crappy Planet had insisted was its new location as of 2007, and then gawping at a Tourist Information lady who said that since the plans for the new location had fell through there was no timetable or information about when those Ensors would be viewable again. They've been sold off to Russian oligarchs, I fucking know it. Bloody Belgians.

Anyways, here's 'Christ's Entry into Brussels', which the bloody Belgians sold off to some American twat who at least is showing it: