Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Third Man

I don't usually get turned on to motion pictures by major rock stars (although Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden did teach me how to chop onions - true fact) but yesterday we Netflixed on demand The Third Man.

I liked it a lot. I'm not going to gush or explain it as it's been a classic since before I was born, so there's nothing at all I can add to the world's store of knowledge about it.

I will say one thing, though - it certainly improved my understanding of Blade Runner, one of my favorite films. I love the way Ridley Scott and crew designed the look and feel of Blade Runner, and it's startling to see how much evolved out of The Third Man. One haircut at least, one shoulder-padded costume, one building (although both the real and the CGI exterior of the Bradbury Building is no match for Lime's building in TTM) a little bit of chasing and dying, and a huge part of one scene (where the man seeking answers ends up in the showgirl's room). I'm sure there's more that I missed the first time round. I thought I knew a lot about Blade Runner, but I suppose I've only scratched the surface.

It's surprisingly easy to follow for a thriller, and the German (Austrian) is easy enough to follow that I could pick up the differences between what they were actually saying and what the English speakers said they were saying. Not essential for understanding the movie as you could tell when the English speakers were lying, but good nevertheless. Maybe I'm just out of touch with the genre but every plot twist took me by surprise and the actors were all up to the task of bringing it about.


Apparently Japan feels that it is Doomed.

Unemployment is near to postwar highs and people openly use the word “poor” to describe themselves; something that ordinary Japanese would never have admitted before. China is about to overtake Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy. South Korean electronics brands are conquering global markets. Foreign direct investment in Japan plunged 56 per cent last year. Fashion brands such as Versace and Hugo Boss have closed their flagship stores in Tokyo with the message that Japan is no longer worth bothering about.

And straddling it all is the global recall fiasco that has savaged the reputation of Toyota — a blow to national pride.

The Doomedness is being played out in the pages of Manga comics, which have now gone from chirpy Naruto to the dismal (and I dare say, Doomed) despair of The Lower Depths. The article is here at timesonline (article has now disappeared - edited 08.2017).

Frankly I thought only America felt Doomed, but maybe that's because I live here. Although there's a certain undercurrent of it (outside thne 2012 freakshow), I guess most people still think you can fight a three trillion dollar war without raising taxes or mortgaging the farm. In fact, you can't, and Doomed Japan is going to end up quite a lot less Doomed than the Good Ol' US of A.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Movie corner

So, what I asked Jack White was, "Who is the figure on your bass drum?" and he said, "harry lime". And indeed it is. I could have figured that out for myself. It is Jack's favorite film.

I've never seen The Third Man. I did, however, have a musical box that played about 8 bars of the Harry Lime Theme over and over and over and over again. I loved that thing but eventually, as kids do, overwound it. In those days, you might find this hard to believe, musical boxes didn't come with a color screen displaying the art, otherwise I might have figured out the drum thing quicker. I can still sing the Harry Lime Theme on command.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More internet surfing brings more results

Last night Jack kept us all entertained by posting on his blog a few negative comments from a fansite about himself, thus proving he reads the messageboards and setting off the nattering nabobs of negativity there who hang out and diss the person they are supposedly supporting. Now they are all sad because they no longer feel free to act themselves. I say the usual rule applies - if you want to say something you wouldn't say to somebody's face you really shouldn't ought to put it on the internet.

Having said that I might go back and shove a few of my own comments here down the memory hole.

It all started with this piece in gigwise, where the blogger felt it was incumbent upon him to order Jack to do things differently because "necessity calls for" it. You can see Jack paid him a visit too, in the comments section. No idea if it's really him but it has his style. The messageboards had a me-too! moment, posted the article and agreed with it. So Jack C&P'd it and put on his blog. It's gone now.

Then tonight as I was trawling the interwebs Jack himself popped up in a chatroom and chatted for an hour or so. He answered the question I asked him, which of course now means I won't wash my screen for a month. Suffice to say it probably wasn't what you'd think I'd ask. Someone asked him what brand of toothpaste he used and got a little bit of poetry in reply.

brushing with jack daniels my teeth on a rag
side car brush with death on a wooden plank for a bag
over and over wiping the bones

Then he talked about how weird bats were for a few minutes and left.

Luckily I happened to have a relevant picture to illustrate this strange moment.

Courtesy of Doc 40.

I'll try to think of someone else to talk about next time. For instance one of my local Borders books has a signing by Karl Rove. I wonder what would happen if I turned up and was as threatening as the right wingers are being to democratic congresspersons? Ans: I would be arrested.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


STB of Enhance fame sends me another video, which was labeled legit.

I believe it right up until the panorama demo in which it fills in the missing hills. I don't believe that that a program can come up with an esthetically pleasing downhill slope for the hills at the far right which don't match the uphill slant in the original photo the program has to work with. Esthetically pleasing, yes, but logically and algorithmically it makes no sense.

Original here.

I love photoshop, but I don't believe this. Is it April 1st?

Thrill of the chase

I spent most of yesterday evening chasing a Dead Weather video. It appeared online in the morning and was immediately taken down by Warner Bros. But video files are virtual and a copy went up elsewhere. I missed that too, missed the next one and eventually found it at fuckyeahalisonmosshart, home to many good things. They got the takedown notice eventually too. It's currently available on antiquiet, here. It will probably be gone by the time you read this, but it'll be back somewhere shortly.

Die by the Drop is a great song; I love it. It suggests good things about the new album, Sea of Cowards, due in May. It's taking me a bit longer to like the video, which has the production values of Ed Wood, minus the rubber octopus (despite being directed by Floria Sigismondi, of The Runaways fame). Everyone looks evil and sinister in it, which is cool, and Alison digs a grave with her bare hands, which is even cooler, and everybody is incredibly clean and well-behaved in that lovely American way. (It looks like they shower between every take and get new clothes as fast as tennis players get new balls.) I will work on willfully suspending my disbelief, because, friends, of course I saved the video. It was great fun chasing it down but I'm not going to spend all of tonight on it as well.

Alison and Jack look amazing in it, but due to time constraints (late for work again!) we have to make do with a screensnap of Dean and LJ. The latter appears to have grown a beard, which really doesn't work in real life, but looks suitably sinister in the video. Dean is a rock god. Oops, that just slipped out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Me, my haircut, horses and Die By The Drop

I got my hair done yesterday. My hair stylist is a JW fan so we spent the whole time talking about his bands. Since I turned her on to The Dead Weather last year she's dived into ye olde backe cataloggue and is now a Kills freak as well, with a serious crush on Alison Mosshart. (Actually I could tell that when I walked in by what she was wearing and how she'd styled her hair. True.) I think every woman I've met who sees AM ends up in love with her. (Oh, except one who wants to kick her ass, but I think she has Alison mixed up with Baby Ruthless.)

My haircut must be working. Afterwards I went to Ralphs and got carded when I tried to buy some liquor. I think the checkout lady was joking, but it made my day anyway.

She asked me what day I was born on - the computer must display it for her when she keys in the date of birth from the license. Apparently kids get caught when they have fake ID because they haven't calculated their day of birth - although as far as I know you're not legally obligated to remember your day of birth. Perhaps it just flummoxes them enough that they don't push their luck. Never having been underage in this country I didn't know that...if you are underage please forget I mentioned it as lord knows I'd never encourage anyone to drink of the Electric Soup. Nosirree.

It's quiet. Today is the Swallows Day Parade and so cars are not allowed in San Juan Capistrano. Makes an unbelievable difference to the ambient sound. My keystrokes sound like thunder.

At least one new Dead Weather song has surfaced from the Melbourne gig. It's Die By The Drop. I won't embed it because you know it's an unreleased song and everything. If like me you can't wait, it's here. Sounds great and I can't wait for next month and the Vegas show. Oh, I already said that.

My hairstylist yesterday was already wearing a holster with a pistol (and the others were wearing cowboy hats and leather vests), and I guess she'll be in the parade. Time to get off my blogger's ass and out to watch them all, I suppose.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Dead Weather in Auckland

The Dead Weather are touring again - in New Zealand and Australia. It's summer there. Perhaps they fancied a bit of sun? No, that can't be right - I have an interview with them at Glastonbury or somewhere blinking in the sunlight like naked mole rats and Jack White says, "Do we look like sun people to you?"

Videos are creeping in already, but so far I haven't seen anything on the new songs from the upcoming album Sea of Cowards, which is due out at the end of April. Please tape the new songs, Australian people! I'd love to see them. (I know Jack White doesn't want me to and would prefer me to wait, but hey, you go your way and I'll go mine.)

I see Alison is still wearing what a friend of mine calls The Amazing Disintegrating T Shirt. (I think she has a team of groupies who pick at it all night long while she sleeps; my friend thinks she does it herself. But where would she find the time?) Dean is looking good and Jack has a new picture on his drum head. Same backdrop, though. Can't actually see or hear what LJ is up to on this video but I'm sure he's his fierce self over there.

[Video link died]

Thanks, taper/uploader Pinksta who says, "This show is incredible and if you miss it you ll literally kick your self in the head!!!!"

Which I'd like to be able to do. Not actually do it, of course, but be flexible enough to do it.

Roll on April and Las Vegas.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Under Great White Northern Lights

Hey, after selling a pint of blood and waiting four months, the White Stripes box set has finally arived. And boy does it look great. The overall packet is sweet sweet sweet.

It remains to be seen/heard what it sounds like, but I've heard no complaints so far. I will be carefully peeling bits open and playing them over the next few months like Lord Carnavon during the Tutankhamun dig, and being just as careful in presenting my findings.

Meanwhile, White Stripes live! Woot!

More to come.

ETA: Since the question was asked in comments, here's the details. (Edit: now gone, resulting in some confusion between the boxed set and the vinyl-only LPs. Try Discogs for details. 08/2017)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I am here, I've been reading

Round up of teh internets:

Trellick Tower, for bees: here

Dean Fertita (of the Dead Weather and Queens of the Stone Age) had an album out a few months ago. I bought it and was wowed. It's like Brendan Benson with strange yet logical twists. It's still in the car, which might not sound great to you, but means that I never brought it back in to put on the rip for mp3 pile - because I keep playing it. It was released on a German label with zero promotion, but they must be getting their act together, as their Facebook page appeared a day or so ago here. Seriously, Hello=Fire, despite having a name that cannot be found by search engine and which wasn't even promoted by Dean himself (keeping manfully mum during Dead Weather interviews) is worth a listen.

The Nine Doctors as you've never seen them before.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Runaways

There's a movie coming out about the Runaways. (It's called, with typical Hollywood panache, The Runaways.) I have mixed feelings about them. They're the same age as me, and started playing rock music at 14, in LA, which is good, and probably had a chance to meet Jimmy Page when they were prime Jimmy Page-fodder, which makes me jealous and hate them.

I've been keeping an eye out for the film, even though it's about 30 years too late to be relevant (I guess like me in Jimmy Page-fodder terms) and apparently it's about to burst upon our screens shortly, directed by no other than Floria Sigismondi, with the under-age girls played by Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, among others. I don't know who plays Kim Fowley, but it's probably the Zombie Jonathan King. Their meteoric rise to mild buzz status and their equally rapid fall into drugs, infighting, confusion and disarray is chronicled by the movie, as movies are wont to do with rock.

But wait! What is this the producer is saying about why he chose Sigismondi to direct the film? Art Linson, of Fight Club and Fast Times at Ridgemont High says, "We felt from the beginning that this is really a tale of two young girls" — Cherie and Joan — "getting in way over their heads in a world they knew very little about, a man’s world, and there’s a price to pay for that," he said. "We thought: It’s got to come from the heart of another woman." (From the NYTimes article here.)

He thinks only 'another woman' can understand this premise.

It's like 1940 out here in Hollywood sometimes.

There are fourteen gazillion eight jillion and six biopics on male wannabee rock stars. (I counted.) In 96.375% of them, the boys want to be stars and get in over their heads, get abused by their managers, end up with a drug habit, in confusion and disarray, go through the Dark Night of the Soul and emerge as sober individuals. (In the remaining 3. 625%, they die at 28 from the drugs.)

Even It Might Get Loud has a Dark Night of the Soul section, for old time's sake, even though everyone in it is an established star who by definition pushed through and made it.

In pretty much all of those movies the boys got in over their heads in a world they knew little about. In not one of those movies (I checked very carefully) does anyone say that they "got into a man's world" and "there's a price to pay for that". Nor did the premise require the director to have a vagina, or for that matter any other variety of wedding tackle.

But now we know. Girls, don't ever attempt to break into any man's worlds. There's a price to pay for that!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Bull Doze Blues

I've been listening to Henry Thomas, a 1920s bluesman.

Bull Doze Blues. I was pointed to it by a reference to Canned Heat. Isn't Going Up Country oddly similar?

I'm classing it as an hommage rather than a rip-off, as Canned Heat's hearts always seemed to be in the right place.

You know what both of them remind me of?

Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime.

And that always reminds me of:

The Mixture's Pushbike Song.

From country blues progenitor to the lightest of throwaway summer pop. Guess which artist I spent a few minutes chasing down on teh interwebs last night?

Ans.: Henry Thomas.

Rule, Britannia

A review of England, by an Irish writer. It manages to be erudite, literary and oddly unconsciously racist in that smashing Irish way.

The language completely charmed me when I read it this morning.

He says:
Shakespeare might have lauded Englishness, but few English people do so today. The result is a kind of nameless, stunted plant which expresses itself through a dysfunctional culture of entitlement whenever the English are doing moderately well.
He's talking about a lack of nationalistic songs.
The English do not even write songs about themselves. The three most ‘English’ of wartime tunes — Berkeley Square, A Foggy Day in London Town and Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover — were, essentially, written by American Jews (though the lyrics of Berkeley Square were written by an Englishman of German-Jewish extraction). And to leap sporting codes for a moment, the tune most often chanted by English soccer fans, The Great Escape, was also written by an American Jew.

Read more here.

It's not a totally coherent piece - and it doesn't mention Jerusalem, Britain's adpopted national anthem, nor Rule Britannia, the actual national anthem. It also uses British and English as synonyms, having not quite worked out what a powerful force Scotland has been in British lfe. But I thought it was interesting.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sinuous siphonophore

CreatureCast - Footage From The Deep from Casey Dunn on Vimeo.

This is a video of a jellyfish - siphonophore - that is too fragile to be caught in nets, and can only be seen when swimming. Beautiful creature. Thanks to Oceangirl for finding for me.

Octopus break

Here is a video of an octopus that pretends to be a flounder.

Macrotritopus defilippi performing flounder mimicry.
Video courtesy of R. Hanlon

Yes, I know, but what other fun can you have on the ocean floor?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mixed metaphor corner

I love mixed metaphors. I might make this a regular feature.

"It jumped out of the gun," he says. "It got leaked inadvertently and it has spread like wildfire."

It's Joe Bonamassa talking about how his new band's name, Black Country, has already been attacked by lawyers, but that's not the important thing. It's the phrasing. Jumped. Gun. Leaked. Wildfire.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lou Reed, former transo

Here is Lou Reed in 1974 being not so much interviewed as being cross-examined, by journalists intent on getting themselves on reality TV. Except reality TV wasn't invented until 30 years later, and Lou didn't give a flying shit about their questions.

Nice seventies artefact, found via Doc 40.

The journalists' sense of entitlement is astonishing. What in the world made them think Reed was obliged to answer questions like these?

Luckily he was up to the job.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Eigenvalue is off

From STB (who is an imaging pioneer and knows this stuff) I learn how to take algorithms to the next level.

I think Blade Runner was the earliest of all of the "enhances", right? Always loved that one, possibly because Ridley Scott is so careful with his still images in that film. The famous snapshot that for a brief instant seems to breathe with life, the electron micrograph, the family photos the Replicants keep around, and a host of others, bolster the moving images. Most of the others here appear to be just saying "plot device!" but then something has to be the plot device today.

Thanks to an uploader called Dunk3d, this is a nice little montage.


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