Friday, October 28, 2005

Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off

It does annoy me sometimes when people say ‘I don’t watch TV, it’s all crap’. I have an instinctive sympathy, but really that statement is a badge of laziness at best, or snobbery at worst. In reality the comments isn’t much different to saying ‘I don’t read books because Jeffrey Archer’s crap’ or ‘I don’t eat food because Turkey Twizzlers taste like donkey fat’.

I say all this now because of The Thick Of It; (hyperbolic suffix alert) without a doubt the greatest ‘piece’ of television since The Office. Here is a show greater in characterisation, dramatic dynamics, dialogue, delivery, and staging than any play I have ever seen (and that includes ‘Guys and Dolls’. Twice.). I’ve never been comfortable using the phrase ‘Pinteresque’ but I’d like to think that’s the right term for large chunks of last night’s episode – the fifth of six in this first series on BBC4 – the silences, the macho head-games, the sheer passive-agressive brutality of the political world the characters inhabit is at once utterly believable and entirely shocking.

The premise, in case you’re like, some kind of idiot who hasn’t even bought a freeview box yet even though they only cost £20, is ‘Yes Minister meets The Office’ only about a million times more original than that, with the bonus of the greatest swearing you have ever heard. ‘Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off’ was just one of many inspired lines in last night’s episode.

I am fast coming round to the idea that Armando Iannucci might be the really talented one out of Mssrs Iannucci and Chris 'Nathan Barley' Morris. Iannucci is the show’s writer/creator, and his plotting and ‘message’ (politicians are corrupt wankers, but not nearly as corrupt or unpleasant as their advisors) are impeccable, but it’s really all about the detail – an askance look here, a stunning neologism there, and a talent for creative use of profanities that is only matched by Shakespeare’s for killing off his protagonists.

...and the acting, my god the acting. I could go on. But I won’t anymore. Just click the link up top and watch the goddamn thing will you?

Monday, October 17, 2005

NME Band in Hype-Sort-of-Justified Shocker

Namely the Arctic Monkeys, who you've probably heard of by now. "The biggest band this country will produce since Oasis" said Conor McTwat of the NME, at once outdoing himself through the sheer, insane quantity of his own hyperbole, and also burdening the four young lads from Sheffield with a target they could never hope to reach.

They will be huge, which is a shame, because - call me cynical - there is no way they can possibly retain the raw urgency and base rock n' roll energy they have at the moment once the hype bandwagon gets into fifth gear. Watch the video for I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and tell me this isn't the most thrillingly un-affected rock song you've heard in years.

Don't Panic

Bird flu could kill up to 50,000 people in the UK

Which brings to mind my favourite newsreader Kent Brockman talking to the science expert dude in The Simpsons:

"Mr Science Expert, do you think it would be fair to say that now is the time to panic?"

"Yes Kent, yes I would."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Funky Monkey

Who wants to come and see Chris Ofili's 'The Upper Room' at the Tate Britain with me? It's been laid out in an extraordinary way: chapel-like, with dim, church-y lighting, and I think it's the same exhibition I saw a few years back in Primrose Hill (Jarvis Cocker was there, excitingly). There are thirteen paintings of Rhesus monkeys in different colours - all dazzling, sparkling, fantastically vibrant - laid out in homage to Jesus and the twelve disciples, with one at the end and six on either side.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Art of Sports Journalism

Who says it's a lesser form?

"Eriksson's problem is that when he predicts great things for this England team he usually does it with the gusto of a man asking a question in a library."

I haven't seen many 'critics' who write with this kind of verve in a long time. Big up yerself Daniel Taylor at The Guardian.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Meet The Next Prime Minister

...his name is David, he went to Eton, and his wife hangs out with Tricky. get used to his preening face, and thank god that you won't have to watch him and that other party leader with great hair leaning across the dispatch box at each other for too long; all of a sudden Labour will be in the unusual position of having the party leader who most prizes substance over style.

in other news a report today revealed that in the top 200 state schools - based on GCSE results - 3% of students receive free school meals - the best indicator of affluence/social class in a school environment. nationwide, the proportion of school pupils receiving free school meals is 14%. so in short, the best education the state can provide is still going to students from more affluent backgrounds. i don't pretend to know what can be done to change this, but i do know that it sucks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"I saw the best minds of my generation...

destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz..."

Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl' is 50 years old on Friday. Does anyone wish to commemorate this event in the appropriate way: with a(n extremely) drunken reading?