Monday, 29 October 2012

Damien Hirst's Verity statue, Ilfracombe harbour

 See previous on this subject

I was very impressed with this, and thought it surprisingly restrained and tasteful in what is as you can see a beautiful  setting. The exposed insides of the figure are facing the sea and you would struggle to see them from the other side of the bay without a telescope (I imagine the kind of busybody objecting to the statue is well equipped with telescopes)
Approaching the statue from the other side of the harbour

There is definitely a touch of Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts's (the statue of Talos) about it 

I was thinking of Hurricane Sandy on the other side of the pond when taking this

It is obviously very popular. The pier was busier than I've ever seen it and  from talking to others I've heard hotel bookings in Ilfracombe have jumped since Verity has appeared

The dual nature of the statue fits Ilfracombe and  North Devon generally, an uneasy  mixture of  the  twee and the  primal.

Ridley Scott's Prometheus explained for morons

A bit peeved.
Finally caught up with that big movie of the summer, the one that allegedly made no sense, left a million loose ends, and requires half an hour of extras on the blu-ray to explain. I was expecting something like Peter Greenaway's Prosperos Books or some Terence Malik art  film. Instead I saw the best Alien movie since James Cameron's, leaving me with a level of stupefied disbelief at the people who struggled to deal with the plot.

What bits honestly didn't you understand? Can I dumb it down enough for you?

- It's  a remake of Aliens vs Predator with less Predators and more pretty pictures

Is that dumb enough?

How about

- it's a spooky mysterious space monster movie

It's got 'loose ends'? Hello? Blade Runner anyone? I guess these people are completely unfamiliar with anything ever written by Phiilp K Dick?
Unexplained plot elements? Does someone want to to explain to me how Daniel Craig acquired Sean Connery's gadget equipped Aston Martin in the "the best bond film of all time"*
(*all British newspapers)

Is it not enough that, aside from the Alien stuff, Prometheus is obviously the best Ridley Scott film since 2007, arguably since Gladiator (If you want to gauge the level of improvement, Ridley Scott's last movie featured 13th century landing craft in the most flat out ridiculous beach scene I've ever seen in a movie).

One of the benefits of being a middle aged movie fan is that you can remember the drubbing that classic movies got upon their original release. It is recognised today that classics like Blade Runner and John Carpenter's The Thing were somewhat - ahem - under appreciated on their release; but people forget Ridley Scott's Alien got a similar rough ride. "Nonsensical" is a word I remember. "Good horror movie terrible scifi movie" is another. "Captain Kirk wouldn't blow his ship up by accident" was maybe the most flat out stupid.

The lapses in logic in Alien, AND The Thing AND Prometheus are, for me, a bonus. These are nightmares. I don't want everything fully explained. I like that I don't know WTF Pyramid Head is in Silent Hill. I want my terror to come with a hefty dose of disorientation.

Loose ends? You should try some Italian horror movies.. it would take a week of DVD extras to explain the haunted underwater basement in Dario Argento's Inferno. Honestly,  these people would need a 5000 word backstory to view Fuseli's Nightmare.

The Alien films all generally make narrative sense but the horror of disorientation is a theme running through them, not so much in nightmare imagery like heads growing spider legs and running across the floor, but just in the loss of trusted authority figures. From the death of Captain Dallas on-wards the authority figure in each of the Alien movies dies or is lost and the collapse of the group dynamic (in contrast to the united front of 50s monster movies) is all part of the nightmare.

Compared to some of those re-valuated 80s classics Prometheus actually got an easy ride from critics this summer and made enough money for Ridley and Co to consider a sequel.What I think really irritates me is that I was lead to expect some Giger drenched version of The Shining and actually got something fast paced and straightforward, that was nevertheless beguiling, mysterious, thought provoking, funny and really scary in places. Frankly, for me, it could have been a whole lot more vague and mysterious, but I loved it as it was.

I highly recommend Prometheus for your Halloween viewing.

Mysterious inexplicable fish loose ends from the trip to see Damien Hirst's Verity statue in Ilfracome harbour

Y'know.. just because I know there are people who respond to this blog who genuinely, no kidding, ARE morons.. the plot of Prometheus is explained here

Friday, 26 October 2012

Elementary - Holmes - House

Just saw first episode of Elementary - loved it

It's not as good as the majority of the BBC SHERLOCK episodes and nowhere near the best of them but still well worth watching if you are prepared for it with an open mind. For me the definitive American Holmes will always be HOUSE, and the Johnny Lee Miller Holmes does have a bit of Hugh Laurie's drug addled Dr Gregory House but this is a far more passive character. Far more passive in fact than any previous Holmes I can think of. Somehow Lucy Liu creates a Watson that is nothing like a previous Watson yet is still  Watson.

Plots seem to be avoiding direct adaptations of Conan Doyle stories and much of the background around the characters is meant to be a departure.. which leads me to what I most like about Elementary.. It knows the real Holmes fans are sitting with their arms crossed outraged at the New York setting, and the female Watson, and right from the off it is deliberately tweaking their noses with a smile. It's smart, and it's cheaky, in much the same was as the Robert Downey Jnr film series is (at it's best)

HOUSE was brilliantly innovative in the way it transposed the cases to be solved into a medical, team format

BBC's SHERLOCK is innovative in the way it completely updates the Victorian concept into a modern environment and takes the method of storytelling (txts etc) along with it.

ELEMENTARY is really going to the bottom of those characters in a completely new way. Who knows if the standard of episodes will remains high (lets not forget BBC's Sherlock episode 2 is pretty crap) but I got to the end of Elementary episode 1 not wondering why they have a female Watson but why they didn't have a female Holmes as well (Tilda Swinton?)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Reality : "that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away"

Philip K Dick - Reality - Ilfracombe sea front

Thanks to This Is North Devon
Up here in Su's sunny attic room I have the GQ magazine Bond* special to cheer me up in my illness (terrible cold, missed work). Even when  listening to the new Muse album in the background GQ is 90% garbage ....but this one has a really great article on Philip K Dick by music critic Charles Shaar Murray. Very inspirational stuff.

Among the stuff in the article I didn't know:

  • PKD was a classical music buff and actually wrote some music
  • The schizophrenia in his later life he described to friends as the mind of an early Christian transported into his mind by a time travelling artificial intelligence
  • Terry Gilliam said of him "For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplacating realities of the modern world remember: Philip K Dick got there first"
  • The K in Phillip K stood for Kindred
  • Dick himself described reality as "that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away"
It is vaguely dreamy here,contemplating the unlikely clear sky blue of reality through Su's velux windows (while overdosing on Lemsip), but when you are ill and on your own the only empty place you want to be in is your own place. After six weeks in London, I'm feeling a bit homesick. It's usually about this time that something happens in the sleepy perpetual twee of Englands Westcountry that makes you wonder what reality you are living in. Sometimes it's Great White Sharks being seen in the Bristol channel, sometimes it's the village you live in popping up in classic psychedelia.

After the incredible live Felix Baumgartner jump at the weekend we now have North Devon's follow up - Damien Hurst's 65 foot bronze statue of a woman with big boobies and her guts hanging out is lifted into place into place in sleepy Ilfracombe harbour. It's being shown live on the BBC as I type this.
What music could be appropriate? Also Sprach Zarathustra? Fanfare For The Common Man? Space Dementia? Drink Up Thy Zider?

Thanks to Belfast Telegraph
The boobie statue is called Verity* apparently and it'll be there for 20 years at least. Full report with my own pics and hopefully some gurning locals when I get back.

Reaction in the London press is not so positive

"Damien Hirst's new statue is a dangerous monstrosity  The giant bronze woman holding up a sword in Devon not only resembles the art of totalitarian dictators, it is helping Hirst destroy British art"

Of course it's hideous and I hope it's dangerous. Those are two words sadly lacking from the endless open air retirement home created West of Bristol. I live nearby (most of the time) and Ilfracombe needs all the attention it can get from people who are still interested in this reality (not the next one). Real Exmoor locals, who are a lot more lively and iconoclastic than you might think, will be loving it and good luck to them.

As for reality, Ilfracombe was the Monaco of the Victorian age, and has been sadly neglected for too long (I've seen more lust for life in Whitby). I expect Verity will at least make Ilfracombes next subjective 20 years move faster than the previous 50. Disbelieve her all you want, but she isn't going away.

*It's just occurred to me that VERITY is the name of the Madonna's character in the Bond film Die Another Day.. so perhaps this is all very strange Bond film hype

Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire : Port vs Absinthe

Downton Empire Final Episode

God Lady Mary is such a miserable sod isn't she? She belongs in the House of Usher not Downton Abbey

I've started watching the new Downton proper now, in order, and watched first of series 3 Boardwalk Empire at the same time. As Downton has caught up it is now contemporary with Boardwalk, roughly 1923 and the discovery of King Tuts tomb has ushered in egypt mania and art deco and everything its all starting to look like the real roaring 20s at last

I'm not sure Tom Bransons Irish Republicanism would have gone down that sympathetically in reality. Shirley McClain is holding back I think, so far anyway

Downton is a bit too sugary on its own and Boardwalk is way too bitter. (Boardwalk ended its last season darker than just about any US serious cable show I've ever seen - and that would include The Wire, Breaking Bad and Deadwood)

In order of female hotness
  • Lady Sybil
  • Anna Smith
  • Lady Edith
  • The miserable moaning cadaver that is Lady Mary

Coming soon, 1926 and the General Strike, apparently one of the highlights of Upstairs Downstairs. Probably won't split Downton that much I'd have thought but will be interesting to see what happens. Ten years after that, the abdication crisis, should really split the house down the middle.. how are the Americans going to handle the prospect of Wallace "gets a bouquet of flowers from german ambassador every week" Simpson as Queen? 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Best pic from Devon to Gibraltar Road Trip

I've banged on about the Gibraltar to Narvik road trip enough to almost forget what came before it,
Feb 2011

Just got into work in Gibraltar after driving the TT from Devon. 2066 miles

Took a lot of photos but this is probably the best of them. It's -8.C
below at this point, the top of the Pyrenees (24 hours later I'd be in
Malaga, temp 22.3.C )

Tottenham Tourism

It would be easy to wander around Tottenham (where I'm currently staying) and highlight the damage from last years riots. There are however a few sights and a few buildings which would be big highlights anywhere West of Bristol.

I'll grant you soon to be redeveloped White Hart Lane Stadium looks a bit shabby right now but it  must have looked spectacular in the 80s in its prime

Bo Ningen perhaps the last thing I ever hear

Shoreditch Bar and Grill Thursday evening

Hot damn my ears are ringing this (Friday) morning.

Actually found a lot of Bo Ningen quite featureless ,,,

(I had been drinking on and off since lunchtime - it included some Brazilian liquid at the Deluxe MediaCloud social which tasted like cherry brandy and smelt like amyl nitrate)

anyway....the other J-Rock band I saw back at Landmark Brixtin (Sekaiteki Na Band) is obviously the one I prefer

Bo Ningen were pretty interesting in places through (bass-led, like a Prog guitar noise PiL) and really let rip at the end.

Support band Race Horses were suprisingly poppy and actually very
good, won the crowd over after one song and deserved their great

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ayn Rand Would Disapprove Of This Cat's Lifestyle

I'm currently house sitting for some friends of mine (Su and Ali) who are off on their honeymoon drinking their walk across some of the most beautiful scenery in South East Asia.

One of my major tasks right now is taking care of their cat, Charlie. It's not like Charlie hangs about like a bad smell, she hangs about like a fairly musty over familiar smell (a non-offensive fart say).

You might think Charlie and I quite literally got off on a bad foot when on my first morning, emerging from my den in Su and Ali's loft, I fell down the stairs and broke my toe. (see below)
While deciding whether to take the trip to A&E Charlie decided to jump on on it (see below)

It's not that, it's more that I'm just generally not impressed with her attitude.

It's not that she's particularly physically incapable or even incredibly lazy, she's just not motivated. She's a moocher, who appears just to run around my feet looking for food all the time. And when she's been fed she just sits on a chair nearby and that's about it really. She won't kill anything and barely ever actually goes outside.

She definately needs some sort of hobby, or definitely a job. She really isn't pulling her weight in the kind of society we live in these days, where there are tax payers like myself paying an absolute fortune to keep the country running and there are quite a lot of people who are just mooching off society - like her. I love her to bits and.. I'm not sure how to make this obvious to her .. but sitting on a chair watching me all the time is not good enough, and she needs to find some self respect.

I don't like to see people living like this, because I've been through it myself.  I've been on the dole for some time, become long term unemployed, and your self respect slowly dissipates  You slowly lose it. You lose your ability to GET a job. You become long term unemployed and that's what she looks like now - long term unemployed.

She looks like she's going to have real trouble adjusting to society. She's become reliant on Su and Ali to get her through life. and she's now completely dependent on them. If she had to go out and catch a mouse I honestly think she'd struggle.

So - I'm going to download some of Ayn Rand's objectivist material, find some choice passages in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and read them out to her. I'll report here on the results.


Every four years Halloween (31st October) and the U.S. presidential election (November 6th) go together like Christmas and New Year.

Dr Hannity tapped the writing pad with his pencil as the next patient
entered. The white paper was pure and unmarked. Nearby The Missouri state
flag hung in the corner of his office, occasionally disturbed by a warm breeze
from outside. Birds sang in the Fall sunshine.

Lindsey Wenland sat across from him. A tragic case. She was staring up at
the wall, probably at the crucifix that hung between the framed academic
blessings afforded him in his long career. A rewarding career, as a small
town doctor in a close knit town.

Colourless cheap clothing hung off her like a shroud, and her face had a
permanent sneer that had grown around a cigarette. At 19 she already
looking like human road kill.

"Is this about your mother again Lindsey"?

"No doctor.... she is not a problem anymore"

"She is a good devout woman, she only wants the best for you"

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"So how are you Lindsey? You seem well, considering"

"Well, I ain't doctor. I'm confused"

"After your ordeal anyone would be be traumatised.. confused for a time.
Luckily you didn't panic, you stayed true to yourself, your faith"

She stared out of the window at the birds for nearly half a minute, then
answered with an unnerving calm.

"Doctor, you remember what Senator Akin said? In that interview ? With the
Liberals? He said If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to
try to shut that whole thing down"

Dr Hannity adjusted his glasses. "I've met him Todd Akin myself and I can
tell you the Senator is man of conscience as well as wisdom"

"Say what you like Doctor, but I looked at what the Senator said, I looked
all around, in books as well, and there didn't seem no science in it"

"Well Lindsey the human mind is a powerful mystery, even scientists admit
that. And those of us blessed with Faith perhaps can make even more of it"

"Miracles? Is that what it is?"

"If it appears as a miracle to you Lindsey, we can certainly call it your
miracle. 'Lindsey's Miracle'"
he smiled.

"That's ok then"

She returned to staring out of the window.

"What is?"

"Doctor, I was in the Mall on Saturday"

"On Saturday? You mean the man who died in the Mall at the weekend? Where
you there?"

"Yeah. It was gross. Screamin... blood....After, they said it was the flesh
eatin' virus..."

"Necrotizing fasciitis"

"Yeah,, well.... sure I can't smoke in here doctor?"

He shook his head. He was dying for one himself

"Yeah,,, ok....On Saturday that weren't no..... Necrotizing fasciitis. That
man was the sonofabitch who raped me"

He sighed. "I'm not sure what your are saying Lindsey"

"My body shut him down doctor. In the same way it shut my baby down"

The doctor carefully placed his pencil on he table on front of him.

She carried on calmly, her previous nerves gone. "When I heard what the
Senator said it was kinda inspirational.. and I started listnin to ma body..
and I realised I could do it. With the help of the Lord. Jus what you and
Ma' had said. I shut it down. I shut my baby down." She placed her hands
together calmly in her lap. For a moment she looked almost saintly. "And
then after, I realized.. my body realised.. I could do more.."

Doctor Hannity rubbed his eyes and sighed, suddenly fatigued. "The incident
in the Mall must have been a shocking thing for you to see Lindsey, perhaps
you need someone to take care of you at this time.."

"Well that's it doctor, because you and the Senator showed such an interest
in it, it wants to shut you to down too"

A blob of dark red liquid dropped from Hannity's nose, staining the notepad
in front of him a rich scarlet.

Copyright Chris Hodgson 2012

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Blast From The Past : THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, Glastonbury 2008

Contemporary note : These days the BJM are better known as the band who provide the opening music to the ever improving BOARDWALK EMPIRE. If you want a great tip on how to make Boardwalk even more watchable, and Downton Abbey actually quite bearable go here

Thanks to Beeb for pic

7 out of 10 (music)

8 out of ten (vaudeville)

Sunday 2.30pm
Very much in the shadow of Ondi Timoner's classic music film DIG!, the Brain
Jonestown Massacre set on Sunday afternoon on the Pyramid stage did not
disappoint on any level. In the film the BJM and its main artistic
centerpoint Anton Newcombe are the crazy, tragic and amazingly prolific
counterparts to their early friends and rivals The Dandy Warhols. Newcombe,
a living self destruct mechanism, blows every chance at the big time by
rowing and sacking band mates (often on stage) while producing a hypnotic
1990s Indie drone that ultimately stands up next to the far more successful
and settled Dandies.

The band sidled onto the stage below a languid sunny afternoon amid cheers
with a minimum of fuss in from of the smallest crowd I have ever been part
of on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury – something I'm sure the definitely
Indie BJMs will appreciate. When the instantly recognisable Newcombe
appeared he already seemed to be in some problem with a photographer
off-stage, snatching her camera to 'take a picture of the BBC' When he
slouched backstage to return it three very large Somerset policemen appeared
from nowhere to joke with him.. Throughout the set Anton played with his
back to the nearest BBC camera and responded to one taunt by suggesting that
the BBC was only covering the band to catch 'rock star shit' to be shown
presumably at some future date on BBC4 after Timoners's documentary

 What band line up was this? It included Joel Gion (perhaps also the long
missing Matt Hollywood, difficult to see through all the hair) and was
presumably the one which has been recently touring the UK but such is the
fluid nature of the bands personnel and influence it is the work of a
cultist to keep track. Despite beginning with typically arcane new material,
the set did not include anything from the recent new album and relied on old
favourites from their prolific year of 1996. They knocked the tunes out with
unexpected care and professionalism, as if knowing this would be a career
highlight captured on for posterity by the BBC media of which Anton seemed
so wary.

 Mostly, they would not listen to hecklers, except to provoke occasional
ranting from Mr Newcombe very much in the mode of the film. One rant
beginning with an attack on Jay-Z AND Noel Gallagher ('Noel can kiss my
crumpet") was particularly poignant, going from the old arrogance of the
band that would antagonise and revolutionise the old order in the early
1990s to the modern band which Anton admitted quietly 'probably does not
deserve' to be here and who considered the Glastonbury slot 'a real honour'

 A genuine speech about Glastonbury's hippie ideals provoked real cheers
from the crowd and his tactic of attacking both Jay-Z and the Gallagher's
certainly disorientated the hecklers for a while giving us a chance to study
the hecklers instead. This is the first time such a massive fan of the DIG!
Film such as myself has seen the BJM and it came as a shock to realise that
the hecklers seeking to provoke Anton into one of his band splitting rages
actually seemed to be the biggest fans in the crowd, otherwise singing along
and dancing to all of the tunes.

Does Anton realise this? Is this how the fans are supposed to behave? Is that
perhaps the secret to enjoying them?

The chaos, the creativity.. is the Brian Jonestown Massacre less a rock back
and just a crazy mixed up cult that feeds on itself?

 Whatever reservations you may have about the music (it at the very least
added a touch of genuine Indie to Glasto 2008) they are a uniquely scary and
amusing experience as a live music act. I cannot say I want to meet them,
but as they say across the pond, I will drink the cool-aid.