4/30/2006 02:02:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|After last year's mystifyingly well received but dreary Prairie Wind album, Neil Young's woken up. His new album Living With War sees the electric guitars back, and the same kind of anger that powered songs like Ohio or Rocking In The Free World. It's blatantly and powerfully anti Bush and his war - one track is simply called "Impeach The President", and another sees him repeatedly singing "Don't need any more lies" over a great Crazy Horse-esque groove (compare and contrast with Bruce Springsteen's new record, a collection of protest and folk songs from the nineteenth and early twentieth century). Or how about:
"Back in the days of shock and awe,
we came to liberate them all,
history was a cruel judge of overconfidence,
back in the days of mission accomplished,
our chief was landing on the deck,
the sun was going down on a great photo opportunity,
thousands of bodies in the ground"?
Neil recorded the whole record at the beginning of April. It's being streamed now at www.neilyoung.com, and available to buy from digital retailers on Tuesday, with CDs in the shops mid May, as soon as they are pressed. That's working fast.
Here's the man himself:
Good to say that America's fine journalistic traditions are being upheld - Interviewer: There's a song called "Impeach The President". What's that about?|W|P|114637490500697443|W|P|Neil Young Doesn't Like War|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/24/2006 09:22:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|New Earth...
....hmmm. Not brilliant.
There was almost too much stuff jammed in, and I thought it could have been better served as an old school four parter. Nothing was really fleshed out enough, what with strange cat ladies (were there any cat men? where do little cat boys and girls come from?), Cassandra, the Face of Boe, a plague of really ill people (well enough to walk though, weren't they?) and so on. The whole mindswap thing was frankly bobbins. How come Cassandra needed a machine to jump into Rose the first time, but was able to hop about at will later on? The whole thing was a poorly contrived excuse for some bad comedy acting from the leads. If I wanted that I'd be watching Are You Being Served?. And that kiss was rubbish too. Of all the things I watch Doctor Who for, some artificially generated "smouldering" sexual tension is not near the top of the list. Or even on the list at all. The whole sickness plot only echoed old movies. I've seen The Matrix and Dawn of The Dead, and they were better (do you think the sequence in on the ladder was a deliberate nod to Day Of The Dead's escape through a missile silo?). As for the "cure", well I'm not sure that throwing medicine at someone can make them instantly better, and I am downright certain that medicine is not contagious, even though everyone's cough seemed to clear up as soon as the Doctor chucked some Listerine about.
I did like the payoff with the Face of Boe at the end, could be a nice set up for some later events. Maybe a Cyberman invasion, although I'm a bit worried about this one off episode and two part season climax structure - smacks a bit too much of what happened with the Daleks last year.
Next week's looks good though. Warrior monks, Queen Vic and a werewolf? Can't go wrong, can they?
Tooth And Claw
Well, that was better, wasn't it?
They scored an ealy own goal with the comedy. The Balamory joke was a poor reverse anachronism. It could only be understood by an audience at home and not the audience in the narrative. Tennant could have turned to the camera, winked and given a big thumbs up and it wouldn't have been any less jarring. Also it was a rubbish gag. Rose's attempts to get Queen Victoria to say "We are not amused" were indeed not amusing. Once those shenanigans were over, it got better. Good hammy nonsense, and dare I say it, a romp. Like last weeks it might have been better as a two parter. A few more shots of a werewolf skulking around and eating the occasional hapless servant could have worked wonders, and a bit more on the supposed alien origin wouldn't have gone amiss. It seemed a bit pointless to make the monster an alien when all they were going to do is say "oh, it probably landed with that meteor a few hundred years ago". Why not just make it a good honest werewolf and be done with it? Maybe because the whole Death By Moonlight thing would have made even less sense...The effects were OK though. I was braced for a really ropy werewolf, but it was actually pretty good in the end.
After last weeks Romero lite, this was like Doctor Who does Dog Soldiers. When you're up against The Best Film In Cinema History, you're always going to come off worse but this was probably an away draw, and a big improvement on last week's effort. But where did those monks get to in the end?
Next: will they balls up K-9?
I am blogging to: Afghan Whigs|W|P|114588276858548355|W|P|On The New Season Of Doctor Who|W|Pemail@example.com/25/2006 11:50:00 PM|W|P|Marcus|W|P|Yep but the wolf's comment to Rose about her having some wolf in her ws a nice touch.
And the origins of Touchstone was cool.
Generally agree about would be better if they were two parters4/29/2006 06:04:00 PM|W|P|andrew|W|P|hey Dude, I'm writing this as i'm the proud owner of a new mac mini, however i m also a numb nut as i forgot to save my inbox/address book. I'll ry to remember yor gmail address but i don't have much faith....so just in case. Happy Birthday ou old git. big love team pawley (corfe mullen branch). big love4/22/2006 12:14:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|Yabusame is an old archery competition performed by mounted samurai. There was a reenactment last weekend in Asakusa to mark the coming of spring at the local temple. I took a bit of film on our new camera.
I am blogging to: Grant Green|W|P|114567587736749370|W|P|Yabusame|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/22/2006 04:23:00 PM|W|P|Scott and Christine|W|P|Great film! Reminds me of the start of Princess Mononoke - without the blood an limbs flying!4/18/2006 07:33:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|I didn't really know what to expect from the Nick Hornby & Marah spoken word / rock n roll show in Dingwalls last week. The idea is Hornby reads an essay about a song or a band, and then Marah play the relevant tune. I'd read about these gigs and thought it sounded like a brilliant concept, but had no idea how it was going to work in practice. I'd pestered my friend Marcus into coming over from Woking for the show. Was he going to like it? Was it going to work, or would it be an embarrassing debacle? Was there even going to be anyone there? Thanks to an international flight I'd been awake for 27 hours before anyone set foot on stage, and was pretty strung out even before a couple of pre-show beers in the World's End, but after a surprise introduction from Phill Jupitus I realized everything was going to be OK. Nick Hornby is in full 31 Songs/High Fidelity mode tonight. His essays aren't the traditional sonic cathedral rock journalism, but something much more personal. They're not so much about the music as his reaction to it. Marah are there on stage with him, slouching around and smoking as he talks, ready to play at a moment's notice. It doesn't matter that his musical choices aren't especially relevant to me (The Clash being an honourable exception - can you imagine how exciting it is to hear a song by your Favourite Band Ever performed by your Favourite Band Of Right Now?). Most of the passages strike a chord with this thirtysomething music junky, and even more worryingly with Esther who turns around every so often after some particularly keen observation as if to say "that's you, that is". And she's right. Hornby has nailed my relationship with music, from the enthusiastic championing of unknown bands to my vague dissatisfaction with friend's reactions to a mixtape I've made them, even if (and maybe especially if) they liked it. "They didn't like it enough, or they didn't like it in the right way"...you see? This man feels my pain! Every time I have to tell some kid that I saw Nirvana several times, and they weren't actually that great live, I'll remember his Bob Marley story. Fittingly, his last essay is about his co performers tonight. He talks about how he first encountered them, the highs and lows of their career (more lows than highs, sadly), remembers a particularly memorable show in a pub to about forty people, played for beer money after the band found themselves stranded in London after some "bad decisions about women".
There are a lot more than forty people here tonight, but I was worried that a good proportion of them would disappear once Hornby's part of the night was over. Most of them stay however, and they should be thankful for it, because tonight Marah are scorching. They know that Hornby's been the main draw for most of the crowd, and that they've been given a chance to win over a lot of new fans, and they go for it. There's been a line up change since I last saw them in Dublin; Slo-Mo's pedal steel has gone, replaced by Adam playing another electric guitar. The key thing about this three guitar line up is that they are LOUD. This is Marah as a full on rock n roll band (and the roll is really important - rock without roll is a terrible thing). When they play a blistering version of "Demon Of White Sadness" and throw what most bands would have saved for a set closer away as the second song, and then follow it with a mad sprint through "Point Breeze", I know I'm in for a great time. Watching them in a small dark venue with a beer in my hand, I cannot understand why Marah aren't ten times bigger than they are. For two hours tonight they are the best band in the world. Not that I would begrudge them huge success, but maybe they like it this way, and maybe it's better like this. That's not the kind of elitism Hornby so entertainingly skewered earlier in the night - at least, I don't think it is. What seems in a small place to be sheer unfettered joy in playing - Dave playing his guitar on top of the speaker stacks in "Round Eye Blues", or Serge plunging into the crowd - would come across as fake and hammy in an arena. If Axl Rose was doing it, I'd be recoiling in disgust, but tonight it just seems so right. Marah are playing because they love it, and maybe because they can't do anything else. After a particularly explosive "Reservation Girl" supposedly finishes the encores, Dave grabs an acoustic and more or less forces the rest of the band back out for a quick run through "Walt Whitman Bridge", with one N. Hornby on backing vocals and maracas. It looks like they could go on all night, but the curfew comes, the lights go up, and we're left and leaving, hot, sweaty and dazed.
Marcus? He loved it.
There's an edited podcast here, that'll give you a flavour of the night.
I am blogging to: Seth Lakeman|W|P|114535667618108051|W|P|When Rock'n'Roll and Literature Drive Into Each Other Really Fast|W|Pemail@example.com/11/2006 05:07:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|That last design was horrible, wasn't it?
I've just reverted to a standard blogger one for the minute, while I investigate some hosting services. Time to do this properly.
Watch this space.|W|P|114474294139396757|W|P|Sorry about that|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/02/2006 08:35:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|Things might look a bit weird around here for a day or so. I've got the decorators in.
I am blogging to: This Bike Is A Pipebomb|W|P|114397782999092855|W|P|Try It On, See If It Works, Chuck It Away|W|Pemail@example.com/11/2006 05:16:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous|W|P|Hi Dan - Vince. Caught up with your photos and words of wisdom. And yes, the Beer Robot does look like it could be the best thing ever invented. Need to upgrade capacity though as three seems a trifle on the "I'd rather have a cup of tea than run stark naked at Jerry" side...
Anyway, everyone looking well. Spring has sprung here: 68F today and over 70F forecast. Heading to Houston, Texas to see one of my old house-mates, James, who lives there with his Yankee wife. Hoping for large Tex-Mex and magarita frolics there I can tell you, plus possibly a trip out to prarie to see something green; not a lot in evidence in Chicago between Nov and early May.