rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

24-3-2003 (archived)

Last week I went to see several bands on what was largely a Devin Townsend bill: Devin-produced Zimmer's Hole, which also has large membership overlap with SYL; the Devin Townsend Band; and Strapping Young Lad, the most commercially succesful of Devin's projects.

Zimmer's Hole were quite the funniest act I've ever seen on a stage, as well as really musically impressive. Not only is the singer possessed of enormous range and power, but he's also an overweight bloke in a devil mask, painted bright red all over and wearing little more than a leather apron and a thong. And carrying a large sword. Mock-metal genius.

SYL are incredibly heavy, and with the lighting rig they are using they were quite the most disorienting thing I've ever seen live, total sensory overload. There are a few SYL tracks I really love, and recognised, but a lot of the set was not really for me.

The Devin Townsend Band, on the other hand, played one of the best gigs I have ever heard. Devin's music, intense, melodic, and surprising, was reproduced amazingly well (especially given the limitations of live work: only one vocal, as opposed to the massive stacked vocals on his albums) and his unaccompanied solo filled my craving for virtuosity; it was a truly beautiful, ludicrously difficult piece. Also, they soundchecked (I had passes... thanks, Vinny!) with my very favourite song, and then played it in the main set, so I got to hear “Regulator” three times or so! Yay!

And, good grief, how does Devin survive fronting both his own band and SYL night in, night out? I'd lose my voice by the third date, even without singing as hard as he does.

Music is the best.

25-3-2003 (archived)

I've been avoiding warblogging, though I can't help wondering if I would get the same sort of mindless (and occasionally mindful, to be fair) idiocy from aggressive Americans that Adrian Clark seems to be suffering in his comments system. Of course, I don't have a comments system, and so far people have refrained from emailing me vitriol. In any case, I'll restrict this to just two links; Get Your War On 22, and A Warmonger explains to a Peacenik.

26-3-2003 (archived)

The story of the cheeseburger begins under the chapped ass of some fierce thirteenth century Mongol warrior, riding hard across Eurasia on the back of his foaming steed. You see, the Tartars felt that the tough ribbons of gamey beef to which they had access on the Russian Steppe should best be tenderised by using them as saddles. This delicacy would, with some modification, eventually find its way to the West as le steak tartare.

Nineteenth century German emigrants brought a taste for the dish to the New World in a variation known as Hamburg Steak which was often served lightly broiled and topped with a raw egg. By this time sweaty Mongolian ass had been replaced with more conventional forms of pounding the meat tender, leading to a wider adoption than would previously have been possible.

Massively entertaining kuro5hin article/linkfest about the history and present of the cheeseburger. I, personally, am flushed with my recent success with (Ade Foden-inspired) shish kebab burgers, which I did not top with cheese (or surround with buns, as this week I have mostly not been eating carbs). I shall be experimenting with more burger-like substances in the coming weeks, oh yes.

(warblogging again) It's not very often George Monbiot says something I really agree with, but this article summed up my reaction to the US complaining about breaches of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs pretty accurately.

27-3-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “Just Married”, a film that even if dreadful would have been watchable, starring remarkable eyecandy in the thoroughly distracting forms of Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. Yum.

It's not dreadful, though; even discounting lust-induced tolerance of its weaknesses, it's a pretty fun movie (and, indeed, a pretty, fun movie). Good physical comedy, some reasonable lines, a completely predictable plot, a character arc where they all learn and grow... it's fill-in-the-blanks Hollywood trash, but it's entertaining enough. If you're in the mood for a romantic comedy done by the numbers but done well, this will give you what you need.

And once again, yum.

1-4-2003 (archived)

Today is a day of random linkage, since I seem to have lost the power of thought.

What sort of Food Eating Battle Monkey are you? Sadly, I'm a Man-Eating Surrender Monkey, and as such am unlikely ever to win anything. (Via Neil Gaiman.)

I have not, to date, been reading Neal Pollock. I'm damned if I know why; he's on my daily reading list now.

2-4-2003 (archived)

This week's first film review is “Rules of Attraction”. This is one of those films that has polarised reviewers; some have found it stylish, funny, and hard-hitting, others irritating, clichéd and boring.

I'm certainly closer to the former camp; I thought this was, while a very 90s film, witty, cynical, occasionally very funny, and genuinely disturbing in places. It reeks of Brett Easton Ellis, as an adaptation of one of his novels should. James “Dawson” Van Der Beek, cast utterly against type as the deeply unpleasant Sean Bateman, is remarkably good, dangerous and unpredictable. The other leads are as photogenic, self-absorbed and worthless as they need to be.

The backwards-film sequences used extensively in the early stages to indicate rewinding to see an earlier scene, or the same scene from another perspective, were phenomenally annoying, but fortunately they're largely abandoned after the first few minutes. There is some gratuitous camera trickery, but fortunately it ends up being more cool than distracting, and the film as a whole captures the sort of amoral, naively cynical, self-absorbed Generation X style that is Ellis's territory with some aplomb.

It's not at all the sort of American Pie-style college rampage that the trailers would lead you to believe, although the setting is exactly the same; the focus here is on futility and unpleasantness, and often all the funnier for it. If you enjoy stylish cynicism, this is for you.

4-4-2003 (archived)

This week's second film review is “The Recruit”. Colin Farrell is a young genius hacker, who's just graduated top of his class at MIT. (He's so good that he can write ludicrously impossible computer exploits; but don't worry, he's not the only one!) Al Pacino is, well, Al Pacino, charismatic and gripping as the CIA recruiter and trainer who persuades him into the pretty awful experience that training at the Farm is portrayed as.

Of course, the beautiful girl Farrell falls for is, Pacino tells him, a traitor who's smuggling a (yes, ridiculously impossible) computer virus the CIA have cooked up out of their high-security headquarters. I'll not give away the obligatory plot twists, though I probably might as well; the trailers took all of the surprise out of them anyway.

This is an pacey, enjoyable, slick movie, dominated by Farrell's uncertain, ultra-smart, self-doubting youngster and Pacino's confident, cynical, overwhelmingly charismatic old guy. If you have any patience for this kind of high-tech nonsense thriller, you'll like this a lot.

7-4-2003 (archived)

Last night we had a rehearsal. This, in itself, is cause for some celebration, since it means we're working on new material, but the interesting thing was that we rehearsed in my flat, without pissing off the neighbours.

I recently bought a secondhand Yamaha DTXpress electronic drumkit from the Sound on Sound readers' ads, and have been getting a lot of fun out of it; hopefully, I'll be using it for drum programming on my recordings when I next do some. Encouragingly, our drummer adapted to the unfamiliar feel and layout very quickly, and along with my normal rig running at minimum and everything else through modellers and compressors into my mixer, we had a full-on rehearsal quietly enough that we didn't need to amplify vocals.

Once you get past the slightly spooky fact that you're a full-on rock band playing more quietly than many acoustic folk outfits, this is a great way to rehearse; you can make comments and suggestions to one another really easily, it's always easier to pick out parts at low volume (another advantage of gigging with earplugs), there's plenty of tea, it doesn't cost anything and you don't have to book ahead, and nobody had to bring more than a little gear. Loading out in a single trip, and both the Liverpool contingent being able to car-share over, is a definite bonus.

My travel time was pretty minimal, too <g>.

9-4-2003 (archived)

Takoma is one of the U.S. Navy's five mine-sweeping dolphins currently deployed under Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Morning News spoke with Takoma on 31 March 2002, at 3:00AM Iraqi time, after the dolphin came off a 19-hour mine removal shift.

Paul Ford writing in The Morning News.

10-4-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “The Core”.

Which one, I wondered? Andrea, Caroline, Sharon, or even Jim? Which of the gorgeous, raven-haired Irish pop-rockers could be going solo to save the world in this kick-ass adventure movie?

I couldn't resist quoting the opening of the Guardian's review, and the rest of it is pretty close to the mark too.

This is quite the most preposterous film, scientifically speaking, that I have ever seen, but frankly I don't care. Anyone aware of the premise (the Earth's core stops spinning, the EM field ceases to be as a result, so the solar wind and cosmic rays are going to cook us like a welding torch) who comes to see this expecting hard SF deserves all the anguish they'll get. It actually adds to the fun; whenever something particularly ludicrous is seen to occur, you get to play guess-the-doubletalk-explanation.

It's also amazingly cliche-ridden; you've seen every scene of this movie before, mostly in B movies with far inferior production values, apart from a couple of pieces so absurd that no previous director has dared to commit them to film. It gets pretty slow towards the end, too.

So, why did I like it? Well, it's funny. Everyone involved clearly realised that they were making the biggest pile of wet, fresh, steaming bullshit in the history of cinema, and played it appropriately. The dialogue is mostly snappy and often genuinely funny, with several laugh-out-loud lines. And, refreshingly in these days, here's an American film with a Frenchman as one of its heroes, scientists as most of them, and the scheming military as the closest it gets to bad guys. Huzzah.

It's very, very silly, but you might enjoy it. I certainly did.