Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Noises Off...

...on NaPlWriMo.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Awesome!

I'm totally getting ripped apart by the Reason "Hit & Run" blog. Fun! My favourite is this comment from "Paul":
Lemme hit this "music critic" with a tidbit of information: No one cares about Bob Dylan. Let the man alone. If there's one thing that can probably make Mr. Dylan's eyes roll like a badly thrown bowling ball is for some brain-fried octagenarian (who was "there" in the sixties, natch) with the grey ponytail, trying to chew Dylan's ear off about how he never should have gone electric.
That's the perfect description of me! Except that, as anyone can see from my Guardian blog photo, I am actually twelve years old.

PS. Apparently that's music by Smog aka Bill Callahan aka Joanna Newsom's boyfriend in the SUV ad! Next it's going to turn out that Al Gore was the cameraman!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Amusing Facebook News Feed line of the day

"Warren Kinsella left the group The Andrew Coyne Fan Club."
Logical, no?

Bob Dylan is doing ads for the new Cadillac Escalade. In the past, the Escalade has been named the SUV that is the worst in terms of fuel economy. That's like being named the most antisemitic Nazi. So, the Escalade is like Hitler. Ergo, Dylan is the new Goebbels.


I can't imagine why my editor took that bit of Reductio ad hitlerum out of my blog post about Bob's odious Escalade ads...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Off the Fence TV




Location: Tate Modern, Turbine Hall
Date: October 12, 2007
Time: 7:01pm
What: Silly young folk dance to their iPods over Shibboleth by the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. Or, as it has come to be known, "Doris's crack".

To me, the crack symbolises all the disasters we are afraid will happen. (Climate change! Nuclear war! Housing bubble burst!) And so dancing over it was especially joyous.

Take that, pessimism! Even if we're cracking open like an egg, we're going to dance as the yolk comes dribbling out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm afraid of Nancy Drew


Nancy Drew
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
My latest Guardian blog post: Why can't Hollywood get allergies right? Yes, that old hobby horse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Noises Off: All the latest seat reviews and toilet news

My weekly theatre blogosphere round-up is up over at the Grauniad.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The joys of St Vincent


St Vincent
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
I'm a tentative fan of Annie Clark, the Polyphonic Spree-er who has gone solo under the name of St Vincent. I loved the first show I saw her do, fell for (some) of her album Marry Me, then was a tad disappointed when I next saw her live (muddy sound, my favourite tune not on the setlist).

When last she came to London, I interviewed her in her tour van outside the Slaughtered Lamb for a little feature we call The Playlist. She told me about songs that influenced her album and I pretended like I knew them all. Here's the result.

PS. I don't think she is named after a certain NFB docudrama.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Catching up on the Canuck media...

Well, it is Sunday. First of all, a passage from Colby Cosh's recent column on the latest bit of "reasonable accommodation" hysteria in Quebec - Jean Charest's idea to retool the Quebec charter of human rights to explicitly prioritize gender equality over religious freedom:
The ideal of religious toleration is much older, and one would have thought it was much closer to the core doctrine upon which our society is founded. It's a pretty major reason there is such a place as Quebec, and why Jean Charest is serving as its political leader as opposed to, say, captain of a Louisiana shrimp boat. " Je me souviens," they say in Quebec -- but have Quebecers forgotten what it is like to be a member of a religious minority surrounded and politically dominated by an openly hostile majority?
Captain of a Louisiana shrimp boat! Brilliant...

Moving on... I have to say I am, well, not terribly saddened to read about the demise of the Western Standard. Generally speaking, I am in favour of more voices in the Canadian media than fewer, but it's hard not to be slightly amused by the irony in an arch-capitalist mag dying because the laws of supply and demand did not make it profitable.

My lack of sympathy for the Western Standard really stems, however, from my real irritation with the shameful way Ezra Levant ran its Shotgun blog. (I can't say "runs", because I dropped its RSS feed in a disgust a year or so ago.) On it, he allowed all sorts of odious opinions that bordered on hate, or sometimes crossed the line right into the Land O' Hate (this post calling for a ban on Islam comes to mind), supposedly because of his high-minded ideas about free speech and the "marketplace of ideas" - the same marketplace, I note once more, that just kicked him in the ass.

To quote The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard: "I can't help somebody who thinks, or thinks he thinks, that editing a newspaper [magazine, blog, publication] is censorship.... Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey."

But then, Levant only thought, or thought he thought, that when it came to certain issues; sometimes, when something embarrassed his conservative friends, he'd quietly censor the blog. So, he wasn't a free-speech idealist really, just your garden-variety hypocrite.

The WS magazine, when I read it, was much saner, of course... Sadly, it seems the Shotgun will probably continue while the magazine - occasionally home to excellent, sometimes courageous journalism - is dead. What a lose-lose situation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More music and me.

Hey! I was yanked into the Music Weekly podcast as a last-minute studio guest yesterday, and what a show it turned out to be. We have Paul McCartney being interviewed by Pete Doherty (!?!), as well as much chatter about Radiohead's In Rainbows and the latest singles by Common and the Wombats. Check it out.

Radiohead have long been my favourite band, but sometimes I forget that they're everybody else's favourite band, too. See my review of the reviews of In Rainbows for proof of that fact.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Radiohead Day!

Finally, my obsession with Thom Yorke and Co. and my desire to earn a paycheque have collided. I've put together a couple of Radiohead galleries over at the Guardian site:

- 15 years of Radiohead in pics; and
- The (cover) art of Radiohead.

Have you downloaded In Rainbows yet? It's the first Radiohead album you can imagine yourself having sex to. Well, I mean, I would have sex to any Radiohead album - yes, even Pablo Honey - but I haven't really ever found any partners eager to join me. Maybe now my ultimate fantasy will come true. ("Please, can you just keep that one eye really still? Yes, just the one…")

Er... Moving on from that creepy bit of TMI, I have a new weekly feature on the Guardian arts blog. It's called Noises Off and it's a round-up of the theatre blogs. Here is the first installment. It is probably mostly notable for the fact that FT critic Ian Shuttleworth pops by in the comments to demonstrate that he doesn't understand the internet.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I love you, you eat me, we're the man-shrimp family...


Drawing Restraint 9
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
Given that my art-world obsession Matthew Barney is exhibiting his Drawing Restraint series at the Serpentine Gallery at the mo', I thought it would be a good time to postmy interview with him about DR 9, the fascinating/irritating "filmed sculpture" that is the centrepiece of the multimedia series.
Watching ship workers create the [giant, Vaseline] field sculpture is interesting if you enjoy watching cranes slowly lifting and lowering objects at construction sites. For everybody else, the more intriguing part of Drawing Restraint 9 takes place inside the ship, where Bjork and Barney as "The Occidental Guests" undergo a bizarre mating ritual. After having their eyebrows shaved and swimming in a bathtub with lemons floating in it, the two participate in a skewed Shinto tea ceremony in a tiny compartment hidden behind a water fountain. As the compartment fills with fluid, the two real-life lovers slice pieces of each others' legs off, feed them to each other, and metamorphose into ... well, the artist is right here, so I won't take a wild guess.

"I was trying to explain it to someone last night and said you turn into men shrimp," I confess.

Barney laughs at this. "They're sea monkeys," he jokes, before explaining that he and Bjork, in fact, turn into embryonic whales.
Man, I love-hate that guy!

And if you can't get enough Barney (I can't!), here's my review of his entire Cremaster Cycle.
The most visually imaginative of the five in the cycle is Cremaster 3, which unfortunately is also the most difficult to sit through, clocking in at an inexorable three hours and featuring a score composed by Jonathan Bepler that literally had me sticking my fingers in my ears.

The first half of it goes a little like this: A female corpse digs her way out of the basement of the Chrysler Building and is placed in the back seat of a Chrysler Imperial New Yorker in the lobby. Five Chrysler Crown Imperials begin battering the makeshift hearse, until is is reduced to the size of a large potato. Then, the condensed car is brought up to a dentist's office on the top floor and fitted into the Apprentice's mouth. This causes the Apprentice's intestines to fall out of his rectum. He then excretes his teeth, which melt and resolve into an ivory rod.

While this is jaw-droppingly inventive, it is also pretty darn well meaningless. Nancy Spector, who curated Barney's big Guggenheim exhibition, writes that, "In his work, Barney is transcribing a new post-Oedipal myth for our contemporary culture." But, frankly, that don't wash with me: I just watched a man put a car in his mouth and shit out his teeth.
Oh, I give up... It's not a love-hate relationship anymore. I just plain love Barney! I've recounted watching him scarf down a car and poop out his teeth more than any other art/theatre/film experience of the past five years, so he must be a genius, like Einstein or something.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sex and the CBC.

Book of Don (called Damaged Goods until he realised people were reading it) is the best, most brutally honest blog I've read in a while. TV writer/producer Don Young posts entries from his 1979 diary of working at the CBC and juxtaposes them with his mildly depressive thoughts working in the industry today. Occasionally his unrepentant, unreconstructed Seventies sexism can be a bit much, but it's worth wading through it for the tidbits like a young Pamela Wallin (then working at As It Happens) screaming the c-word at Young and the rest of the Morningside crew after Young and his coworkers (including Gary Michael Dault) raided the AIH's beer fridge and stole all their contact numbers. Or this bit about having beers with Peter Gzowski one night: "He's writing a book about cannibalism - says it's a metaphor for the CBC, except cannibals eat the dead ... to survive at the CBC you eat the dying."

Catch Book of Don now before the libel suits!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bolivarian revolution Number 9

My latest on the arts blog is about Hugo Chavez's new CD of Venezuelan folk music: Rock'n'poll stars: should politicians ever sing?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Black Adder.

Some bits and bobs:

- Conrad Black's celebrity tip segment on The Mercer Report was quite funny. I had forgotten the joys of waxing leaves... Is it just me or do Canadians like Conrad better now that he's been knocked down a peg or twelve?

- To wit: they're exhibiting pictures of him in Winnipeg. Who knew Andy Warhol did a silk-screen portrait of Conrad Black!?! Surely the Canadian National Portrait Gallery should own this. That is, if such a thing existed. In which case, they should buy this Black painting, too.

- What's this? More weird Conrad Black news? He's using Margaret Atwood's bizarre LongPen device to sign copies of his Nixon book at a Toronto event. Is this what Atwood had in mind when she invented the LongPen? Kind of a niche market - authors who are unable to attend books signings because of their bail conditions.

- I had a piece in the National Post - which for thematic continuity I will remind you was started by Conrad Black - yesterday about how most museums and galleries in the UK are entrance-fee free. Giving me an excellent excuse to head down to the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern this weekend, the article is part of the Post's campaign to abolish admission charges to museums across Canada. It started with Robert Fulford impassioned plea on Tuesday and continued today with Adam McDowell.

- Have a mentioned that Bob Saget is going to be the new Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway? Of course not, because it has nothing to do with Lord Black of Crossharbour.