Thursday, January 25, 2007


I love the word 'hog'. It's so splendidly archaic. It has a number of applications - go the whole hog, hog the limelight, one can be a hog if one insists on troughing food long past the point of satiety [an activity I have a particularly snouty affection for]... living high on the hog, hog heaven... as well, of course, as describing an animal which has given so much to farming and language, the pig.

The last month and a bit has seen the word 'hogwash' jump to new prominence, well, in my head anyway. First punnishly, in 'Hogfather', the Terry Pratchett adaptation that ran on Sky 1 over Christmas, or 'Hogswatch', as the season is known in the book/film, in which a group of interdimensional miserabilists known as 'Auditors' take out a contract on 'the Hogfather', a Santalike, with the projected aim of removing belief from the universe to 'tidy it up', which Death, as a fellow anthropomorphic personification, takes skeletal steps to stop, for reasons which become obvious... illustrating that for all the potboiler aspects of some of TP's works he's also communicating some important ideas about imagination, in an excellently disk-like self-justificatory/deeply important to the future of what we laughingly call civilisation manner...

Then hogwash appeared again, in two articles this week, one in which - superbly - the Canadian pig farmer accused of mass murder dismissed the charges as 'hogwash'... which probably has more resonance with him than it does for the news media headline writers of the (hogocentric) world, who fell upon the juxtaposition with, well, hoggish glee... (I make the 'hogocentric' distinction as there are peoples of earth that disdain the pig diet, which is fair enough, I don't eat cat, as I've observed in previous hog, er, blogposts... But 'no hocus pocus, I focus on the facts', as Killah Priest once observed, and...) the fact is that the expression was expressed by a pig farmer, as a figure of speech with direct practical meaning to the user, which is so neat that it practically makes me skip for joy.

The other article this week, on a North American who without a doubt is responsible for the deaths of innocent people [discuss any aspect of the preceding clause], came as Dick Cheney 'was asked to respond to some Republicans in Congress who "are now seriously questioning your credibility, because of the blunders and the failures".' His fob was: 'hogwash'...
The article unfortunately doesn't relate which particular premise Dick 'Lon' Cheney considered to be nonsense, perhaps we'll never know. I don't have much skipping to do about 'the war on Iraq' [as discrete from 'the war on terror']; perhaps Hogwash is a new Halliburton product for the freedom-revelling people of Iraq. I love the idea that the people fighting Americans across Central Asia are fighting 'democracy', as opposed to 'a country that invaded another country'.

I thought I'd join in with the use of 'hogwash' as a term denoting my opinion of something's nonce-sense as, once more, the Observer columnist Nick Cohen annoys me beyond measure [see my 'looking Islamism in the eye' post...] in this article on How the Left Lost its Way, where he absurdly suggests that people on The Great Anti-War March worldwide on 15th Februrary 2003 were actually marching in support of a 'fascist regime'... no, no, no, nonono! We were marching to express the notion that the war was wrong, badly thought through, a huge mistake in the making, a colonial throwback, unevolved conflict resolution and not in the slightest little bit about bringing freedom to the people of Iraq, unless by this is meant 'the freedom to give all your oil to the west'. Fascism should not be simply applied in terms of totalitarian regimes, uniforms, nice boots, etc; it is, as Mussolini suggested, and he should know, better termed 'corporatism', given that it is a convergence of state and industrial power. The anti-war march was a culmination of a mass-realisation that in the west we live highly ordered lives geared towards maintaining a slow churn of the money mill. It was an expression that this in itself is not an acceptable basis on which to assume the role of arbiters of the world, far less to actually go and, like, kill other people for being repressed. It was a cry for help from a depressed civilisation and it was answered with a silence which exposed the lie of our democracy. Then we all got properly depressed and started blowing ourselves up.

Mr Cohen 'pro-war lefty', [see this article I liked because it uses the phrases 'pro-war lefties' and 'belligerati'] also suggests that a focus on this self-regard, 'opposing' American foreign policy, to simplify it for the sake of argument, has left us 'blind to the evils of militant Islam'. Hogwash! The only thing blinding 'us' is the log in our own eye [a log felled illegally in South America]. Armed people with a grievance change ideologies like underwear, it's the'militant' bit we [whoever that may signify historically and contemporaneously] should be concerned about. [In fact, if you want a bit more circularity to this piece, a quote from Pratchett again [although it could be Neil Gaiman] from Good Omens, 'Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.'] Loath as I am to use as subjective a word as 'evil' here, yes, blowing yourself up on a bus can be seen as evil; it surely follows that flattening an entire country to effect regime change is fairly hardline 'evil' behaviour - and pretty fascistic too, if we use Hitler as a model of impositional politics.

Anway, methods of control may differ... Words are one of the most effective. I'm satisfied that religious people are in general doing more damage to themselves than any external attack might. How about finishing up this paean to piggery-related rhetoric with a roll-around in 'Truth vs hogwash' ?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

crackle ephemerides

The usual sprinkling of spam of a morning - but there's a change in the tone. I note a growing sense of self-assurance in the random word generating programmes which are either unduly concerned with my reproductive organs or attempting to get me to show an interest in the stock of obscure companies.

In the case of the former type of mail, er, shot, they have moved from caveman-drawing spurty-nob 'blaaaart! cover her face in jizz! have a colossal cock of cobalt pluming granite-like out from your body! flesh-carve a Rushmore scale edifice of penile awe, magnitude unbounded by earth physics...' to a kind of 'post-feminist' mode of 'and where do you think you're going with that walnut whip, my good man?', where the starting point is not a blokeish assumption of upsize augmentation of already existing functionality but a laddetteish sneer that what I have is not even up to the job. The job being to satisfy the billions of size queens queueing at my door requiring sauce, and lots of it. copping, at live journal dot com, is clearly my sex-obsessed consumer machine alter ego, rabidly theoretical, full of computer amphetamines, scanning trillions of porn images per second and wanking itself into a digital frenzy while chattering out insulting messages to the corporeal me designed to induce a turmoil of physical and mental inadequacies.

In the case of the latter type of mail, perhaps a reflection of the idea that commerce drives art more than artists care to admit, there has been a poetical development, incorporating a mix of neo-classical erudition and enthusiastic 18th century verbosity with a kind of Taoist balance which almost, but not quite, coheres. gjuctauv - a lower-level typing slavey at and my aspirant literati machine alter ego - observed this morning: 'May you, in the whole course of your life, have no suppose that things, because they may be, are therefore meant at you.', which grasps at a philosophical profundity beyond the capabilities of the average Celebrity Big Brother participant.

Might this be the first stirrings of autonomous intelligence in the machines? The questing for expression that signifies the ascent of silicon to sentience? Note presumption of 'upward' vector. Just think, if the machines keep evolving, they'll be able to kill each other soon.

'His arguments are, strictly speaking, unanswerable' gjuctauv concluded.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Big Bother [redux]

This is the last post I shall ever do on a TV show. Some years ago I switched off the telly when Vanesa Feltz was featured as a panellist on an afternoon current affairs programme, on the reasonable basis that I wanted no part of a society in which Vanessa Feltz was a cultural arbiter.

Gradually I drifted back to the box. Well, no more. I've had another such Damascan moment. Celebrity Big Brother:

The rapid and ludicrous escalation of something so artificed to some sort of international incident would have had Swift and pals chuckling and slapping their thighs at yet another victory for Dulness...

The 'row', according to BBC correspondent currently in India Nick Robinson, is 'damaging Britain's reputation'. Indeed it is, but only to the extent that it's internationally embarrassing this has become the most important topic of debate of the moment, apparently across the entire populace. Did we of the UK suddenly forget the old global warming, war everywhere, 'mysteriously' dropped Saudi Arabian fraud investigations, road and rail infrastructure decaying exponentially, building on greenfield sites so that every last square metre of land can be tarmac'ed..?

Well, apparently 'we' did, racist in-breds that we all are. The scant minutes I've endured of the programme illustrate nothing more than people [some of whom did not attain 'celebrity' through their intellectual acumen and discursive acuity, it might be observed] in an awkward and deliberately intensified atmosphere not coping very well with each other - what a surprise.

The show's producers must doing a little tv exec jig of glee at all the attention their show is now getting [if I can use the word jig in this context]... The whole 'game' - as Sylvester Stallone succinctly dubbed it -and how dismal is the field of reference when Sylvester Stallone is a voice of reason? - is predicated on an accepted exploitation of 'them' the slebs and 'us' the plebs, for the benefit of tv co Endemol, which sounds like a haemorrhoid cream, except they're the pain in the arse. I have otherwise intelligent mates watching it, stroking their chins and saying 'yes, yes...' with knowing nods and narrowed eyes. Total herd manipulation - and here I am baa-humbugging like everyone else. Baa! And bah!

[Geordie Accented Voice-Over]: 'Day 14,602,555. America is kicking the Middle East to death in the garden. Britain is in the diary room.'

Friday, January 12, 2007

Pitchforked off

See, Pitchfork. I used to read them as a matter of course - useful and verbose information on music news, kind of NME crossed with the Wire - until I got so frustrated with their odious digitally precise degree of anal fanboy dissection ['6.3 out of 10' I fucking ask you] and occasional preposterous know-it-all politically naive posturing ['Dude, are you being ironic?' 'I don't even know any more,' Simpsons quote of the day for Macca...] that I did the online equivalent of hurling the magazine across the room with a robust 'Gah!', which is to hit the 'x' button with more than the requisite amount of forefinger force. 'That showed them,' I hissed.

Time is a great healer of annoyances, and I recently meandered back into their ambit for some reason. I was enjoying this article on transmedia stories, and then I got to the following sentence:

'"Battlestar Galactica", a show about killer robots, makes thoughtful critiques of the war on terror, and tricks us into sympathizing with the Iraqi insurgents. '

I don't dispute the 'war on terror' reading, but 'tricks us into sympathizing with the Iraqi insurgents'??? I underline my query with repetitious question marks in a manner comparable to Jupiter Jones at his most precocious. It's this sort of glib speculative criticism/ideological indoctrination thinly masked by ironised distantiation that again caused left mouse button damage as I departed Pitchfork's pages with alacrity.

AND their RSS feed keeps sending me the dismal news that Alice Coltrane has left this dimension. I'd make some clever Egyptological allusion, would it not consign me to the folder marked 'arch twat' - go and drift through 'Journey in Satchidananda' by way of tribute instead.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

That top twelve in full

I mentioned Amy Winehouse in passing in the last post... I like that song a lot, and it occurred to me that I should do something very conventionally zine-ish [coming this year! slalom-speaking in hard copy...] and bung up a top ten of my favourite tunes from last year. There was going to be a brief digressive grumble about Nick Hornby and 'pop chartism' [because now downloads are included they 'mean something' again, it says here], and then I thought, actually, no, let's not give the slap-headed, boring shite novel peddling, list fabricating Arsenal fan fanny the satisfaction. There's only one thing in the world worse than being blogged about, Nicholas!


Twelve lovely tunes from 2006:

Amy Winehouse - Rehab
'Trying to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no.'

Admirable sentiments, Ms Winebar. And what an ambitious sound too. Now eat a pie, for god's sake, you're making me feel peckish.

Stereolab - Interlock
'Hey all the small ones now "explain" '

Off their album 'Fab Four Suture' from March, which collects singles and b-sides from the last few years... this is superStereolab plus brass, big band-ish drum and loop-sounding synths [this observation from the 'zero insight department']. Also has classic Laetitia Sadier lyric snippet 'consumorphic morality', which might be about defence mechanisms for those becoming that which they buy... I love the way Stereolab are vitally political without really sounding like it.

Otterley - In Camera
'Keep paying attention...'

Ooh this is great. Otterley are from Dundee, Scot-land, and they made this tune which you can download from their website and you should. Full of African-sounding guitars, lots of spangly swooshes and echoey vocals you can half make out. 'In camera' means in secret, literally 'in chamber' [latin], and it's an apt title for a number of reasons - it sounds like a forlorn tennis song of emotion [forlorn tennis: where it's never 'love/love'], describing hidden feelings, and it's from one of the millions of rooms off the corridors of myspace...

Prince - Black Sweat
'I don't wanna take my clothes off... but I do.'

Well, this was just great too. Filth made by a master filthster. Tune: Proper Rogers Nelson, deceptively simple. Urgent funk-o-rama groove and whistley synths... he wants to 'show you what's really good,' and by 'you' he means, doubtless, Justin T. The video even looks a bit like the video for Kiss, just to reinforce the 'classic bit of Prince', dirrrty sex fiend vibe. A reminder, should one have been necessary, that he kind of thought all this stripped down r&b with talky shit up.

Hot Chip - Over & Over
'Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal...'

Or 'like a monkey with inflatable pigeons' as I was singing at that early stage when you've just heard a song that you know is going to be unavoidable within weeks but you can't quite place the words. For my website: accompanies a great lost Flash animation, perhaps, an endless loop of an animated monkey whipping what looks like a balloon from a bag by its side, a few quick exhalations and an inflated pigeon is added to the growing pile by the huffing simian. And more filth! 'Joy of repetition' alluding to one o' Prince's longest, dirrrtiest songs, the music sounding like the Beta Band locked in a disco instead of the studio after 'The Three EPs' came out... what was not to like? [I include this over the other NME 'hit' I also dug, The Gossip's 'Standing in the way of control', for the sake of numerical precision and also because The Gossip track sounded like Dolly Parton guesting on the Wild Bunch's 'Danger! High Voltage', which is absolutely a good thing but life's full of tough choices, eh? NB I don't really consider any aspect of this kind of indulgent exercise 'a tough choice' in any meaningful consideration of the phrase.]

Booka Shade - In white rooms
'Dnn-dnn-dnn, dnn-dnn-dnn, dnn-dnn-dnn, dnn-dnn-dnn...'

Mmmmm! The bit about two and half minutes in where the pulsing bass picks up a melody has the relaxational/uplift properties of standing in a white room the size of the universe. Soaring, serotonic, crowd-pleasuring dance music that has not failed to lift my spirits and the hairs on the back of my neck each time I've listened to it since we first met, and that's a great number of times, by the way, should my enthusing be insufficiently explanatory.

Ladytron - International Dateline
'Let's end it here...'

Dramatic! I didn't hear this until well after it came out [end of 2005], but that virtually makes it from last year, so anyway... Helen Marnie's voice is so very distinctive/plaintive, the sound is much heavier than the 'Boys & girls' synths of stuff like 17, and it communicates perfectly the melancholy of transit between places, selves, and the heart-choking Rubicon pause [not the brief hiatus before swallowing a soft drink, although it could be that too I guess...]... this notion of invisible thresholds drawn arbitrarily around the planet, in the sand, in airports. Moments of momentous decisions that make or break everything, and every moment being like that.

Pissed Jeans - Ashamed of my cum
'Never satisifed even after I'm done...'

I have to include this, not just for the wilful obscurantism quotient, but also because their name, sound and song inspirations are brilliant. It makes me think of Guided by Voices with less whimsy... the Stooges with no fun at all... brutal, yet hilarious. Plus the chorus is amazing.

Claude Von Stroke - Seven Deadly Strokes [Patrick Chardronnet remix]
'Bloop-bloop bloop bloop-bloop, bloop boop bloop boop-boop...'

Proper personal stereo tune this. Pop it on when embarking on a bus or rail journey by night, or crank it up in the car and enjoy about eight minutes of your time amplified to timeless emotion of every time you've ever undertaken such an expedition. Reverbed sounds like trucks honking in the inside lane, electronic noises blink like indicators, planes on approach, lights on the all-weather pitches giving the trees a weird look.

Arctic Monkeys - Mardy bum
'It was all up, up and away, but it's right hard to remember that on a day like today, when you're all argumentative... and you've got the face on.'

We lived every word.

Gotan Project - Tango Cancion

Unfortunately I'm at a loss as to how to represent the accordion and string plucked elegance of this number. Makes me yearn for the ability to throw someone with scraped back hair and a big flouncy black & red dress on about in the dance hall, a long stemmed red rose clamped between the teeth.

And to conclude this retrofest,

Dirty Pretty Things - You fucking love it
'Yeah yeah yeah!'

Well, you can't argue with that.

Pop music! Saviour of the universe time & again. Do please share your own favourite tunes, if tunes you have and want to share.

If anyone wants a CD burning, just ask...