Monday, April 28, 2008

Hard Candy with a soft centre

Maybe it's because I was not expecting it to be any good at all, but the 900th new album from 1000 year old Madonna is really fucking good. I have only listened to it once and I still really don't like the lead single "4 Minutes" (and it doesn't really seem to gel with the rest of the album) but for now I'm really surprised at how good the album is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

iPod sadness into iPod joy

Not long after I bought my 60Gb iPod, Apple announced the new iPod Touch and the revamped "Classic" iPod, discontinuing the model I had just bought. Brilliant. They also slashed the price of the Classic almost in half, whilst more than doubling the lowest gigabyte amount you buy (80, up from 30). I was annoyed but I still loved my iPod and when my friend Eric bought a Classic while I was visiting him in NYC, I was jealous, but I still loved my iPod.

But lately I have been thinking bad, unfair thoughts about my iPod and how I really really wanted an 80Gb Classic. I think it heard me and one day last week I put my headphones in as I was leaving the house for my daily 30 minute walk to work and the sound came out of just the one channel. I was PISSED and looked into getting it fixed. Not cheap. Not massively costly or anything, but not cheap. However, due to my own idiocy when doing the initial charge on the iPod's battery when first purchased, I never got more than about 8 hours out of it, and sooner rather than later, that fucker would need to be replaced too. More cost. But, I have an iPod stereo at home which charges the battery when the iPod is connected and has no use for the headphone jack. So I rationalised it to myself and became a 2 iPod person. I have the 80Gb Classic for being out and about, the old 60Gb at home as my stereo.

I do love the new Classic. Having spent the better part of a weekend transferring all the music across and then the better part of a morning fixing the issues with the Cover Flow feature, it is now officially a thing of beauty. I also, as you can see from the widget at the top of the blog, got myself an iTunes account. Frankly, I don't know what took me so long. However, it could also be the undoing of me as something about it doesn't seem like spending real money, you know? It's like the one click purchase feature on Amazon, only so much worse. Anyway, the widget is there for any and all of you to cast your critical gaze over my musical tastes.

One last thing, I haven't forgotten about spilling the rest of the beans about my B plan. That entry is coming, I promise.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The UK's TV schedules have been all over the place for the 2007-2008 season. Usually, imported US drama begins here in January and as we don't have hiatuses, they finish airing only a couple of weeks or so after their US run has ended. But with "no delay" deals on some show and then the writers strike coming along, it's all been a little bit all over the place of late.

Pushing Daisies is one of the few hit US shows to have been snaffled up by ITV and shown on their flagship channel, ITV1. The two other US imports they have that I can think of (Bionic Woman and Supernatural, both air on their cable channel, ITV2). After a lengthy ad campaign for Pushing Daisies on TV and in the cinema, it finally began this past Saturday evening and scored very high ratings for its timeslot. So how does ITV reward all the people in the UK who didn't grow tired of waiting and illegally download the show? They skip episode 2, jumping straight from the pilot to episode 3.

Their reasoning? Having purchased all nine episodes of the strike shortened first season months and months ago, they then dicked around with the scheduling until, too late, realising there are but 8 weeks to go until Euro 2008 means there is nothing but football on the TV for weeks on end. Their solution is to dump the episode rather than show a double bill at any point in the 8 weeks, which is obviously the most sensible thing, isn't it? Right after its premiere last weekend, they showed American Pie. That couldn't have been bumped by an hour or not shown at all in favour of a double bill opening? Come on! And for ITV to blame the writers strike is really disingenuous too. Within days of the strike's resolution back in February, it was announced that start up costs of Pushing Daisies (along with Heroes, Dirty Sexy Money and Chuck) and it would return for a full second season. So for two months now they've known that nine episodes is all they're getting. Fuck you ITV. Fuck you right in the ear.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Until someone loses an eye

So I have a question. When we were all watching Dawson's Creek, who out there thought that Michael Pitt would be the one to have the most interesting career? Who thought that moon faced infant Henry Parker had the chops for it? I know I didn't, my money was on Michelle Willams. But with projects like Hedwig & The Angry Inch, The Dreamers and Last Days, Pitt has emerged as a fearless and very talented actor. Go figure.

His latest tour de force performance comes in Funny Games, Michael Haneke's remake of his own 1997 Austrian original. I don't quite know why Haneke chose to remake and chose to remake it shot for shot as all that happens is the remake ends up being hamstrung by the same issues as the original, but there you go. The film focuses on a family who fall prey to two young pyschopaths who toy with them, torture them a little before eventually killing them. However, the film is peppered with ridiculous plot contrivances to remind the viewer that this is only a film and Pitt's character addresses the audience on a few occasions, making them (us) complicit in the film's plot. The film ends with Pitt staring down the camera and frankly, for me, that would have been enough. I didn't need the constant badgering throughout to remind me that a)it's a film, b)it's a film centering on the torture and murder of a family who have done nothing to deserve it and c) it's a film I have chosen to watch.

One level the film IS worth watching on is the performance level. The quartet of central performances are all outstanding. As the tortured couple, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth really go for broke and Brady Corbet, so sweet and innocent three years ago in Mysterious Skin, really proves he can act as Pitt's less intelligent sidekick. However, the film belongs to Michael Pitt, who is simply incredible as the chilly charming madman, getting the balance between creepy and camp just right so that he never lapses into parody and is never less than wholly convincing. In your FACE, Katie Holmes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Broke my heart at the Funplex (yes you did, yes you did)

Dear God I love them so much. I have been really really looking forward to this album and it really doesn't disappoint. Every track is a sunshine filled poptastic joy, from the exuberant opener "Pump" (best opening line of an album in a long time - "I look at you and I'm ready to pump") to the closing bars of "Keep This Party Going", if you don't have a smile on your face and a bounce in your step with this album, then check your pulse as you could be dead. The bonus live track of "Private Idaho" made me shed tears of joy as I supressed the urge to dance down the street. Sixteen years since their last studio album, this is a long awaited and frankly joyous return, so welcome back, B-52's. It's been a dull place without you.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spring Forward

The clocks changed in the UK last weekend and by this Thursday it was warm and sunny, so much so you could walk around in just a t-shirt without any problem. And then I woke up on Sunday morning to this:

Where I live in the UK, for some reason, doesn't really do snow. On the occasions that it can muster up the wherewithal for a snowstorm, there's rarely any coverage and if there is, it melts pretty quickly. So when I saw that out my bedroom window yesterday, I just thought "well it won't last". Then, three hours later:

Craziness. There's still some snow around this morning. According to my crazy roommate who has lived here for a decade, this is the first time it's snowed like this since she's lived here. I'm so glad there's no such thing as global warming.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April's Naked Farmer

See? Something of a come down from March's guy isn't it?