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Crap Films II: The Return Of…

April 15, 2009

Top Of The World, Ma…

I can’t remember when I first saw
Jimmy Cagney breaking the law;
perhaps The Public Enemy;
Cagney pushing a grapefruit into Mae Clarkes face;
but even a small boy
knew electric grace.

It was no surprise to learn later still
he’d begun as a hoofer, dancing Vaudeville;
he moved with a balletic ease:
it made the blood freeze,
whether slapping some sap,
or gliding in for the kill.

Dying in The Public Enemy or giving
Mae Clarke the boot in Lady Killer
snarling like a panther in The Roaring Twenties
or being a bad boy who comes good in
Angels With Dirty Faces or cackling insane
malevolence in White Heat, a crazed Oedipal loon
Before blowing himself to the moon
“Top of the world, Ma…”.

He was compelling: I couldn’t take my eyes off him;
unlike modern stars, who send my eyes straying
over set and scenery, sky and greenery, the script;
whenever Cagney spoke, whatever he was saying
I was totally focused, completely gripped:
I always felt Cagney was never playing.


By the way, all the comments that appear on the poster are genuine. The various reviews can be read here

  1. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2009 5:06 PM

    Don’t get drunk in the afternoon, kids. It’s a mugs game. I hadn’t actually intended to but it kind of crept up on me. A good bibulous lunch in Paris, drinks on the train-that was fine.

    However, when we got home I foolishly cracked a bottle of Calvados that my father-in-law had procured from a Norman friend and passed to me. Big mistake.

    I know only too well that my chaste, abstemious, ascetic life of self-denial has been a shining example to the less elelvated amongst you and I assure you: normal service has resumed. Canonization isn’t far away.

    I thought I’d stick up a new picture. With this hangover, the sight of Vanilla Ice was making me very ill indeed…

  2. freep permalink
    April 15, 2009 5:48 PM

    No, you’re right, mish, and I admire your sober penitence. Afternoons are for prayer and calm reflection. But lunchtimes are ok for tippling, and if lunch goes on until 8 pm, that is excusable, if the business requires it. It is pemissible to abolish afternoons when there is a social need.
    Breakfasts are also allowed to be bibulous, and calvados is an acceptable waking-draught, to be had with lampreys and dried stockfish, if you are of a Dutch persuasion. It would have been good to take a wild drunken breakfast with Cagney, and perhaps George Sanders, almost his equal in screen villainy and who starred, by the way, in Hangover Square (1944)

    I have just looked at Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, which has many good anecdotes about drinking.
    ‘From Berkshire (in May 1650): Five drunkards agreed to drink the King’s health in their blood, and that each of them should cut off a piece of their buttock, and fry it upon the gridiron, which was done by four of them, of whom one did bleed so exceedingly, that they were fain to send for a chirurgeon, and so were discovered. The wife of one of them, hearing that her husband was among them, came to the room, and taking up a pair of tongs laid about her, and so saved the cutting of her husband’s flesh…’
    Most bad drinking habits of history are laid at the door of the Dutch.

  3. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2009 6:45 PM

    Fried arse…what monarch could fail to be impressed by such devotion?

    Another useful volume for all things toping-related is The Faber Book Of Drinking (or is it Drinks and Drinking?) I’ll dig it out. There’s some cracking stuff in it.

    George Sanders was wonderful. He committed suicide, leaving a note in which he stated that he’d done it because he was ‘bored’.
    That’s what I call acting on your principles…wholly admirable.

  4. Captain Ned permalink
    April 15, 2009 7:00 PM

    Thomas Nashe would agree with you, freep.

    ‘… let me descend to superfluity in drink: a sin that, ever since we have mixed ourselves with the Low Countries, is counted honourable, but, before we knew their lingering wars, was held in the highest degree of hatred that might be.’

    ‘The Germans and Low Dutch, methinks, should be continually kept moist with the foggy air and stinking mists that arise out of their fenny soil; but as their country is over-flown with water, so are their heads always overflown with wine, and in their bellies they have standing quagmires and bogs of English beer.’

    He has some stern advice on drunkenness in general, too:

    ‘Gentlemen, all you that will have your brains twice sodden, your flesh rotten with the dropsy, that love not to go in greasy doublets, stockings out at the heels, and wear alehouse daggers at your backs: forswear this slavering bravery, that will make you have stinking breaths, and your bodies smell like brewers’ aprons; rather keep a snuff in the bottom of the glass to light you to bed withal, than never leave an eye in your head to lead you over the threshold. It will bring you in your old age to be companions with none but porters and car-men, to talk out of a cage, railing as drunken men are wont, a hundred boys wandering about them; and to die suddenly, as Fol Long the fencer did, drinking aqua vitae.’

  5. Captain Ned permalink
    April 15, 2009 7:02 PM

    My favourite toping-related quote comes from (who else?) W.C. Fields: ‘A woman drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy to thank her for it.’

  6. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2009 7:42 PM

    On the other hand, Cap’n:

    Come, come, my old crones and gay fellows
    That love to drink ale in a horn,
    We’ll sing racy songs now we’re mellow
    Which topers sung ere we were born.
    For our bottle kind fate shall be thanked,
    And line but our pockets with brass,
    We’ll sooner suck ale through a blanket
    Than thimbles of wine from a glass.

    Away with your proud thimble glasses
    Of wine foreign nations supply,
    We topers ne’er drink to the lasses
    Over draughts scarce enough for a fly.
    Club us with the hedger and ditcher
    Or beggar that makes his own horn,
    To join us o’er bottle or pitcher
    Foaming o’er with the essence of corn.

    We care not with whom we get tipsy
    Or where with brown stout we regale,
    We’ll weather the storm with a gipsy
    If he be a lover of ale.
    We’ll weather the toughest storm weary
    Although we get wet to the skin,
    If outside our cottage looks dreary
    We’re warm and right happy within.

    –from The Toper’s Rant by John Clare

  7. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2009 8:06 PM

    Here’s Belloc:

    They sell good Beer at Haslemere
    And under Guildford Hill.
    At Little Cowfold, as I’ve been told,
    A beggar may drink his fill:
    There is a good brew in Amberley too,
    And by the bridge also;
    But the swipes they take in at Washington Inn
    Is the very best Beer I know, the very best Beer I know.

    With my here it goes, there it goes,
    All the fun’s before us;
    The tipple’s aboard and the night is young,
    The door’s ajar and the Barrel is sprung,
    I am singing the best song ever was sung
    And it has a rousng chorus.

    If I were what I never could be,
    The master or the squire:
    If you gave me the hundred from here to the sea,
    Which is more than I desire:
    Then all my crops should be barley and hops,
    And should my harvest fail
    I’d sell every rood of mine acres, I would,
    For a bellyful of good Ale, a bellyful of good Ale.

    With my here etc.

    … and this:

    On Sussex Downs, where I was bred,
    In rains where autumn lanes are red,
    Where Aran tumbles in his bed
    And dusty gales go by.

    Where branches, bare on vert and glen
    And merry hills are whitening then;
    I drink strong ale with gentle-men,
    Which no one can deny, deny,
    Which no one can deny, deny.

    In cold November off I go,
    And turn my face against the snow;
    And watch the wind where ere it blow,
    Because my heart is high.

    ‘Till I settle me down in Steyning to sing
    Of the girls I’ve met in my wandering;
    And all I mean to do in Spring
    Which no one can deny, deny,
    Which no one can deny, deny.

    ‘Tho times be hard and fortunes tough,
    The ways be foul and the weather rough;
    We are of stout south country stock
    Who cannot have strong ale enough

    From Crowborough Top to Ditchling Down,
    From Hustpierpont to Arundel town,
    The girls are fine, the ale is brown;
    Which no one can deny, deny,
    Which no one can deny, deny.


    A Drunken Man’s Praise Of Sobriety

    Come swish around, my pretty punk,
    And keep me dancing still
    That I may stay a sober man
    Although I drink my fill.

    Sobriety is a jewel
    That I do much adore;
    And therefore keep me dancing
    Though drunkards lie and snore.
    O mind your feet, O mind your feet,
    Keep dancing like a wave,
    And under every dancer
    A dead man in his grave.
    No ups and downs, my pretty,
    A mermaid, not a punk;
    A drunkard is a dead man,
    And all dead men are drunk.



    Do You Want To Live Forever, Pig?

    Drink and fuck, my little chuck,
    Do it till we’re out of luck,
    Screw and booze and booze and screw,
    Lose a few and draw a few,
    Excercising arms and cocks
    Till they screw us in the box,
    Alcohol and tit and bum
    To the crematorium.

    –Feargus Pickering


    Upon His Drinking Bowl

    Vulcan, contrive me such a cup
    As Nestor used of old;
    Show all thy skill to trim it up,
    Damask it round with gold.

    Make it so large that, filled with sack
    Up to the swelling brim,
    Vast toasts on the delicious lake
    Like ships at sea may swim.

    Engrave not battle on its cheek:
    With war I’ve nought to do;
    I’m none of those that took Maastricht,
    Nor Yarmouth leaguer knew.

    Let it no name of planets tell,
    Fixed stars, or constellations;
    For I am no Sir Sidrophel,
    Nor none of his relations.

    But carve theron a spreading vine,
    Then add two lovely boys;
    Their limbs in amorous folds intwine,
    The type of future joys.

    Cupid and Bacchus my saints are,
    May drink and love still reign,
    With wine I wash away my cares,
    And then to cunt again.

    –John Wilmot


    The Expense Of Spirits

    The expense of spirits is a crying shame,
    So is the cost of wine. What bard today
    Can live like old Khayyam? It’s not the same–
    A loaf and Thou and Tesco’s Beaujolais.
    I had this bird called Sharon. Fond of gin–
    Could knock back six or seven. At the price
    I paid a high wage for each hour of sin
    And that was why I only had her twice.
    Then there was Tracy, who drank rum and Coke.
    So beautiful I didn’t mind at first
    But love grows colder. Now some other bloke
    Is subsidizing Tracy and her thirst.
    I need a woman, honest and sincere,
    Who’ll come across on half a pint of beer.

    –Wendy Cope


    Motorway Drinking Song

    You can’t get a drink on the motorway
    ‘I’m sorry, Sir,’ they always say,
    ‘We’d like to serve you with a drink,
    But if we did, there’d be a stink;
    It is against the law, you see . . .’
    Well, no, I don’t, for the life of me
    I do not see why we are banned
    From standing up there, glass in hand,
    In our local motorway bar,
    Toasting every passing car
    They’ll serve you bloody apple juice,
    But apple juice is no bloody use
    And they’ll sell you water in a bottle
    Which won’t do a hell of a lot for your throttle.
    They’ll serve you tea as black as ink
    But what you can’t get is a bloody drink

    Why must the bloody nanny state
    Always think it can dictate
    Just when we drink, and where and what?
    And why the hell can’t I have a tot
    At the Scratchwood stop as I go home
    Or en route to Luton aerodrome?
    If you can have pubs on roads called ‘A’
    Why can’t we drink on the motorway?
    All right, so drunken driving’s sinful
    But why can’t the passenger have a skinful?

    –by Anon

  8. freep permalink
    April 15, 2009 8:15 PM

    And again, Cap’n Ned, to add to Nashe, this …

    ‘… Drunkennesse besots a Nation, and bestiates even the bravest spirits. There is nothing which a man that is soaked in drinke, is fit for; no, not for sleepe. When the Sword and Fire rages, ’tis but man warring against man: when Drunkennesse reigns, the devill is at warre with man, and the Epotations of dumbe liquor damnes him …
    …What a Monster Man is, in his inebriations! a swimming Eye; a Face, both roast and sod; a temulentive tongue, clammed to the roofe and gummes; a drumming Eare; a feavered Bodie; a boyling Stomacke; a Mouth nastie with offensive fumes, till it sicken the Braine with giddie verminations; a palsied hand; and Legges tottering up and downe their moistened Burthen …’
    [Owen Felltham, Resolves, 1623]
    Nashe was a wonderful vivid writer; but there were dozens of fine prose stylists early in the C17, and they knew about gusto, even the teetotallers among them. They didn’t piss about reading silly novels; sermons and hell were what they were brought up on.

  9. mishari permalink*
    April 15, 2009 9:20 PM

    ‘…What a Monster Man is, in his inebriations! a swimming Eye; a Face, both roast and sod; a temulentive tongue, clammed to the roofe and gummes; a drumming Eare; a feavered Bodie; a boyling Stomacke; a Mouth nastie with offensive fumes, till it sicken the Braine with giddie verminations; a palsied hand; and Legges tottering up and downe their moistened Burthen …’

    He’s not kidding, brother. I can vouch for it (reaches for glass of medicinal wine with palsied hand, brain reeling with giddie verminations…)

    It’s hardly a crime to assault a
    Crass fathead like John Travolta
    In fact, we should spend time assaulting
    All actors who are that travolting.

  10. April 16, 2009 3:39 AM

    I don’t understand how you can think that evil John Travolta, looking like the master from old Dr Who having been severely irradiated, is any better an option than Vanilla Ice. Hobson’s choice perhaps…

  11. April 17, 2009 8:08 AM

    I saw that film Misha. Was it the worst?

    I think the Deer Hunter was the worst.

    It set off that chain of films where the US public was asked to sympathise for a state that had intervened militarily half way round the world. Bombed that state to shit. Dropped poison on it and destoryed its vegetation and caused birth defencts in many children. Massacred its people face to face, with bombs and by proxy until 2000000 had died.

    And the Deer Hunter put Robert Deniro up to looking to camera weeping with a gun to his head and asking the world/American public to feel outrage at the terrible treatment of US POWs. At the fact that the murdering US was the “victim”.

    And the hilarity of watching John Mcain insist that he, a napalming son of a bitch, had been mistreated as a POW (when he hadn’t despite the fact that he was a mass murdering sob) as part of his election narrative.

    The line between “The Deer Hunter” and “Platoon” is direct. The whole genre stank.

    Rome would have made movies like this about its wars.

    “Yes we went to Carthage and levelled it and killed everyone in it and sewed salt into the Earth. But it was hell. Some people were temporarily blinded by the salt and quite a few soldiers got carpal tunnel syndrome massacring all the civillians.”

    There is still a movie about the Vietnam war that the Vietnames make waiting to come out in the “Sundance” festival or Cannes. But don’t hold your breath.

  12. April 17, 2009 12:44 PM

    ISA a much more articulate version of my own views that Vietnam films are mostly to be avoided. I’m usually in a heavy minority with this one, but this old stick it up the enemy heroism is also why I can’t stand to watch Zulu either.

  13. April 17, 2009 12:45 PM

    Check this out:

    Much more preferable viewing…

  14. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2009 1:22 PM

    Those Zulus were asking for it.

  15. mishari permalink*
    April 17, 2009 1:43 PM

    They were clearly loitering with intent, they were heavily armed and they were suspiciously un-English looking.

  16. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2009 1:50 PM

    Anyone would think it was their country. The nerve of those people.

  17. mishari permalink*
    April 17, 2009 2:02 PM

    Frankly, if the Zulus didn’t like it, they should have gone back where they came from…

  18. ISA permalink
    April 17, 2009 2:29 PM


    Yes. But remember the glorious battle of Isandlawana

    The Zulu’s kicked those British colonial arses.

  19. mishari permalink*
    April 17, 2009 3:01 PM

    Isa, you’re looking at ‘bad’ films more in the sense of morally reprehensible or historically bogus or politically repellent…and while I don’t disagree with you about all those rotten Vietnam War films, I’ve been thinking more in purely aesthetic terms. However, I’m having some second thoughts.

    Last week in Paris, I went to a screening of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of The Will. The screening was preceded by a talk on Riefenstahl’s ‘genius’. What a joke. I’d never seen it on the big screen and in fact it had been over 20 years since I’d last seen it on video.

    I was shocked by how rotten it was. I don’t just mean morally and politically repugnant, which it was, but how aesthetically inept it was. An appallingly bad film. I’m going to write a post about it.

  20. April 17, 2009 3:20 PM

    I thought Mike Figgis’ “Hotel” was pretty dire, but I’ve found rave reviews about it since. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the split-screen kind of mood when I watched it. Has anyone else seen it?

    I did see part of a very good split screen film, which might have been made in the 60s – I’m not sure – they all had trilbies and trenchcoats. Anyway it was the unfurling of a murder, it might have even been a serial killer kind of thing. Maybe about the Boston Strangler…

  21. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2009 3:51 PM

    I think The Thomas Crown Affair (the original one) had a lot of split-screening, but no serial killers that I recall.

    Triumph of the Will (I’ve only seen it on TV) was a bit of a shock when I first saw it. What I mainly remember is the close-ups of the Party leaders’ faces when they spoke (connecting names with faces for the first time in most cases) and the ranks of Pioneers drilling with shiny spades.

  22. April 17, 2009 7:32 PM

    Lot of shit Chinese and Hindi films churned out. American comedies with people with funny accents that make you cringe. I can’t watch any US major series. I don’t find the characters believable. The slicked back hair the false earnestness. New Dr Who is shit. It’s just a vaunting of the current zeitgeist as if it were the end of morality. Dr Who has lived for 900 years and is very bright and has travelled a lot and so he votes for Tony Blair.

    So take all those vectors and you’ll get Lethal Weapon 3 or Some US rip off. My avourite film when I was a teenager was Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris and so in comparison the vacuous and ridiculous Solaris with whatsisface Cloony in it. My God that was awful. And then retrospectively anything with the Dances with Wolves c***. Cosner/ Soster/Cozner.

    That self regaurd sucking you in as he looks to camera. Harrison Ford grimacing to Camera – male narcissim. Retrospectively quite revolting. Polanski had him to a T when he wept at the end of Frantic.

    Time has rotted those two. Cosner and Ford.

  23. April 17, 2009 7:39 PM

    I think some of Tarantino is great because the corruption he shows is well reflected in the corruption of the people who play those roles. If you got close to it Hollywood Babylon of course. Anyone read that? Stinks.

    I can’t stand posh Mexicans making film about tough districts of Mexico. The fucker who wrote the book about Mexico. Remind me of my rich students at university in Mexico City and Guadalajra – some of them. Who preyed on the poor and whored and killed and ran people over with impunity. Scum.

    I hate poverty porn and Danny Boyle with a passion. If there is a hell then they should go there. Evil bastards.

  24. April 17, 2009 7:41 PM

    Hollywood Babylon

  25. April 17, 2009 10:51 PM


    “Last week in Paris, I went to a screening of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of The Will. The screening was preceded by a talk on Riefenstahl’s ‘genius’. What a joke.”

    Well, that’s the insidious thing about the WW2/Holocaust films: they’ve sold us this ridiculous meme of the Nazis as *superior* by sugar coating the message with their regrettable Evil. You think “Nazi” and the first image that pops to mind is a square-jawed, Art-loving, blue-eyed devil with an impeccable dress sense and a will of iron. Obviously, anything Leni made was a *masterpiece* (with only a flawed moral framework to make it problematic). Now *that’s* professional propaganda, folks. It’s still going strong half a century later! (Even one of *our* favorite Super Men, Roy Batty, in Blade Runner, looks like an effing Nazi).

    • mishari permalink*
      April 17, 2009 11:45 PM

      Although I’d never considered it, you’re right- Roy Batty was the very picture of an Aryan Uberman.

      I’m frankly astonished that Riefanstahl’s managed to retain this arura of artistic ‘genius’. Triumph of The Will is the most dreadful cack. Cliche follows cliche, contrived melodrama that would make Cecil B. DeMille blush (Hitler’s plane descending from the clouds to decant the new Messiah before adoring acolytes is especially laughable/nauseating).

      Compare it with another piece of filmic propaganda for another catastrophic -ism, Eisenstein’s October and Riefenstahl’s pitiful lack of skill or talent becomes evident.

      This ‘Riefenstahl The Genius’ drivel has so infuriated me that I’m going to have to give it a proper full-dress evisceration…

  26. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 17, 2009 11:45 PM

    ‘You think “Nazi” and the first image that pops to mind is a square-jawed, Art-loving, blue-eyed devil with an impeccable dress sense’

    What struck me about the faces (of the leading Nazis) in the Riefenstahl film was how unlike the Aryan ideal they were. Himmler, Goering, Hess, Streicher, Goebbels, Hitler himself, all well-fed dark-haired unattractive middle-aged men looking similar to, say, the members of a NewLabour government. It set me wondering once again about the capacity for delusion of the German people. It’s hard to believe that a regime which depended so much on show was led by such unprepossesing individuals.

    • mishari permalink*
      April 17, 2009 11:55 PM

      Between the idea
      And the reality
      Between the motion
      And the act
      Falls the Shadow —Eliot, The Hollow Men

  27. April 17, 2009 11:56 PM

    Reinhard Heydrich was the only senior Nazi to fit the Aryan image, though looking at his picture on Wikipedia, now I’m not so sure.

  28. April 18, 2009 12:07 AM

    The BBC remake of Reggie Perrin is going to be ghastly. I don’t even need to watch it. It will be worse than any Nazi propaganda.

    • mishari permalink*
      April 18, 2009 12:12 AM

      Without Leonard Rossiter, how it could it be anything but a travesty?
      These people are imbeciles…

  29. April 18, 2009 12:25 AM

    “It set me wondering once again about the capacity for delusion of the German people.”


    “It is not known why the woman pulled the dangerous stunt but she initially appeared to be elated as she swam towards a bear in the enclosure.”

  30. April 18, 2009 10:59 AM

    Ah yes the advert for the Reggie Perrin remake ends with the tagline “It’s time for a new Reggie”… Is it? Who says? What the hell was wrong with the old one? Where can we vote on this preposterous notion?

    And whilst we’re at it, why did we need a new Inspector Clouseau?


  31. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 18, 2009 7:41 PM

    So the Pirate Bay is silted up. Can you still acquire crap films? I noticed the Baader-Meinhof thing in the G today and told Mrs M to get it for my birthday. It’s shameful to admit but I had a certain admiration for them in my youth- there’s a nihilistic strain in every provincial English teenager. Later on I read the book by Stefan Aust and saw my mistake.

  32. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2009 8:47 PM

    No, MM, The Pirate Bay is most certainly not silted up. In fact, nothing at all has changed. The trouble with these corporate nitwits is that, as usual, they just don’t get it.

    They didn’t get home-taping, they didn’t get home-video recording and they don’t get the interwebs and digital technology.

    Instead of realizing that they’re going to have to change the old model, they think they can put the genie back in the bottle. The saps. Fuck ’em. Crap movies will increase in availability and that’s got to be a…erm…uh…good thing (not sure about that last bit–Ed.)

  33. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 18, 2009 10:02 PM

    Pete Waterman (he should avoid being filmed against a light background- you get what I call the George Aligiah effect, naked scalpshape surrounded by diminishing aureole of hair) was very persuasive in his interview with K Guru-Murthy about net piracy, I thought. Apparently Duffy is going to suffer very badly from her music being copied across the web.

    I knew a chap who worked for Polydor in the 70s who estimated that the artist took 1% (if they were lucky) of a record’s net takings, artist’s agent 15%, production costs 5%, record company the rest. I doubt things have changed much. Pete should start his campaign against piracy in his own ship.

  34. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2009 10:24 PM

    I saw that PW interview. I laughed so hard, my wife came in to see what was so funny. Waterman’s barely contained rage was a delight. I was praying that the prick who gave us Rick Astley would blow a fucking blood vessel and expire on-screen. Oh, joy…

    As I watched, I wondered why he was so exercised. Surely he’s not suggesting that vast numbers of people are downloading Rick Astley’s numbskull bleatings? Then he was asked how much money he had actually lost…looooonnnggg pause before he answered..”Me…er…none.”

    Aha. No wonder wonder that ghastly pinhead’s so furious. Crawl back into the dustbin of musical history, Pete. You just look so fucking out of place anywhere else…

  35. April 18, 2009 11:00 PM

    Pop revenues are down because the product is shyt. Period. The labels and studios will demonize the web until they secure a stable model for monetizing it. They complained, at various times, that *radio* play, and VCRs, were piracy, too.

    I earn all of my living from either royalties or flat fees relating to compositional work and I don’t resent kids pirating stuff, I “resent” the fact that the stuff I’m involved in the production of is not nearly good enough for millions of music lovers to love it for decades (a la, dunno, Revolver or Talking Book or Thriller) and pass this love on to their children. Instead, the Toppermost of the Poppermost, now, is *all* utterly disposable, criminally mediocre plastic that makes the dubious oeuvre of the Monkees seem worthy of Bayreuth in comparison.

    Who/what the hell is Duffy? A shill. There’s nothing behind the image and the songs are just catchy pastiches; if she suffers from web piracy it’s because most of her sales are driven by the novelty curve, ie, get ’em while the 60s fad is on (again) this week. If there were depth there, the fans would support it. Dusty Springfield wasn’t pastiching anyone, she had a bonafide career (tragic as it was); the Majors don’t want to pay for those any more. All the money is in cell phones anyway.

    From the top down, everyone in the food chain, since some time in the 80s, has been trying to score the maximum return on the minimum investment… it only took about 10 years for this short-term stupidity (steaks for a week vs milk for a decade) to ruin the industry. But there they go, chasing ringtone downloads (zero overhead there, babe!)… you can’t build a generational musical career with ringtone downloads! But you can build short-term consumer avidity for the cell phone stuff the parent company throws the bulk of its R&D budget behind.

  36. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2009 11:40 PM

    To some extent, Steven, isn’t that the history of Art, especially in the 20th century? The artist is always at the bottom an inverted pyramid, with ever expanding levels of what I like to think of as art fuckers— dealers, agents, managers, gallery owners, record companies, curators, promoters, radio stations, etc, etc–forever, with a few exceptions, feeding on the artist’s talent?

    The web might offer the first glimmering of hope that this pernicious model can change–always assuming the swine don’t manage to bend it to their will. I’m cautiously optimistic…

  37. mishari permalink*
    April 18, 2009 11:49 PM

    …but, of course, as you rightly point out, it’s in the interests of the art fuckers to promote shite, popularize shite and peddle shite. After all, shite is far easier to come by (check the bottom of your shoe or the nearest toilet bowl) than good art…

  38. April 19, 2009 7:50 AM

    “I’m cautiously optimistic…”

    The web is the biggest revolution in communication since papyrus, imo. If there’s any hope re: the liberation of worthy Art, it’s in the web

  39. April 19, 2009 9:11 AM

    for example…

  40. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 19, 2009 10:56 AM


    me, nude, descending
    a staircase to the crapper,
    by marcel duchamp

  41. parallax permalink
    April 19, 2009 11:47 AM

    Hey StevenA, thanks for the recent u tube links – yep, all there, really enjoyed them, cheers.

  42. parallax permalink
    April 19, 2009 11:57 AM

    shouldn’t there be a blurry-action bit HML?

    HML nude in duchamp descent:


  43. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    April 19, 2009 12:19 PM

    Actually the stairs to our bedroom are so steep I have to descend backwards or risk broken limbs. But I appreciate the graphic similarity as translated by Hypertext Markup Language. If you squint you can see both my overhanging gut and the turtle’s head.

  44. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2009 12:52 PM

    Homage To Malevich


  45. April 19, 2009 1:36 PM

    HLM and Para I don’t understand the stairs thing, although I think it might be a bit rude!

  46. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 19, 2009 2:42 PM

    The Triumph Of The Bill

    Now that The Wire has corroded away,
    and the final episodes of The Shield
    have been discarded on the battlefield
    the policier seems to have had its day.

    For lovers of the Blue a bitter pill,
    but hold on a sec, guv, scuffer addicts
    have still got somewhere they can get their fix:
    a bi-weekly injection of The Bill.

    Though Boulton was murdered and Skase got the sack,
    And Reg Hollis spots trains on the other side
    Tony Stamp still takes two sugars in his brew,
    Jack Meadows is puffed up with Yorkshire pride
    and you know one day Don Beech will be back:
    the sun never sets on the Sun Hill crew.

  47. mishari permalink*
    April 19, 2009 5:08 PM

    Here’s an excellent and highly entertaining talk on digital technology, creativity and the law by Stanford law professor and regular Wired columnist Lawrence Lessig. 18 minutes of lucidity and common sense.

  48. April 19, 2009 10:45 PM


    I swear to whichever-pagan-gods-we-can-all-agree-to-honor, I can’t tell if you’re taking the piss by thanking me for posting the recent YouTube links (laugh)… if you *are*: direct hit, as I’m biting the hook, man, and will now play the part of the utterly clueless tool. If you mean it sincerely (stop me if I’ve posted this already), here’s a link for a handy tool that downloads YouTubes:



  49. April 19, 2009 10:48 PM

    St Pol:

    CD in the mail soon! Our 3-year-old has taken to waking up at 4am and marching around the place as though it were noon and this minor change in our carefully-crafted routine has thrown *everything* off! Laugh

  50. April 20, 2009 12:11 AM

    Ok Steven – I’m very much looking forward to getting the CD – thanks. Do you tend to all march around the place at noon then? Some trooping of the family colour?

  51. parallax permalink
    April 20, 2009 3:58 AM

    no, it was a genuine thanks SA – I enjoyed them.

  52. April 20, 2009 8:44 AM

    I think the download thing is tricky. I know many session musicians who are already being ripped off by those producing the music and although they don’t mind people downloading stuff, have such precarious incomes from this work that any extra chance for companies to withold payments ( by puffing up the problem ) hits hard.

    The work I do is free at source but we get paid by festivals and events to do it and although most promoters treat us properly ( there really is NO huge amounts of money to be made by anyone in the work I do ) you do have to stand your ground in financial negotiations. The spectre of under-cutting is never far away.

    It works because the promoters understand that you can’t actually do it for nothing. Whereas the music biz with its attendant glamour and fantasy lifestyles actually believes that is possible for everyone except those at the top.

  53. April 20, 2009 8:47 AM

    “There really is NO huge amounts…..” I haven’t lived in Somerset for 30 years but you wouldn’t think so would you? Dearie me.

  54. April 20, 2009 12:05 PM

    As far people getting musical works for free. It started with the cassette tape didn’t it? I had nearly the entire Beatles collection when I was young, dligently recorded off the radio by my sister, and about 80 per cent of my tapes were copies. But I suppose at least the artists were getting royalties from the radio stations. It was something classed as “a tolerated illegality” when I studied law. Something which was so difficult to police and which ordinarily law-abiding citizens didn’t see anything wrong in doing, because it was perceived as a victimless crime, that in the end it’s tolerated because there is nothing else to be done. The internet has just made it easier to do and enabled people to get entire tracks without some daft DJ talking over them. The other problem was that the bona-fide real product has become more and more expensive in comparison to how much it costs to produce. I suppose some costs are chalked up in the promotion of artists, but that’s the not the consumer’s fault. It seemed obvious with the difference between your standard price of a classical CD (around £5) and the pop cds costing upwards of £15. People are voting with their feet (and their mouse) by downloading for free with the conviction that the music companies are charging too much and they deserve a better service. It’s such a shame for the struggling artist though who are rather caught in the middle of this war. I know they didn’t really need the money so could take the risk, but it was an interesting exercise of Radiohead’s to offer their last album at whatever price the punter wanted to pay. I bet most people paid a lot less than they would in the shops, but I bet the band made more money as people paid a nominal amount rather than nothing. A lot of it is down to being respected as a punter.

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2009 2:25 PM

    Triumph Of The Shill

    Aimee Duffy, born in distant Bangor,
    I compliment you on your rise to fame,
    you may be a purely corporate singer,
    but you are an exemplar all the same.

    A child of Snowdonia, you were bred
    speaking the primitive language of hwyl,
    that alveolar incantation spread
    from The Mumbles to the beaches of Rhyl.

    How clever of you to drop that lingo
    to warble in your near-perfect English
    and secure the prize in popworld bingo!
    England may be locked in fiscal anguish,
    her leaders sodomised by financial bungs,
    our English language is still the queen of tongues!

  56. April 20, 2009 3:48 PM


    FedEx that to Duffy’s PR team posthaste, man! (Might have to remove the Take That reference in the penultimate line, though)

  57. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2009 7:58 PM

    The Triumph Of The Pill

    Of Duffy, I’ve no opinion;
    One of MM’s recent enthusiasms, no doubt;
    Like exposing himself to women
    And waggling his member about:
    Thank God the medication sorted that out.

    (Clearly written by a man embittered by the excellence of MM’s verse–Ed.)

  58. April 20, 2009 9:55 PM

    The Triumph of the Shrill

    Oh Duffy you’re no Dusty
    Who lies near Henley Church
    You’re not even Kathy Kirby
    Their memory you besmirch.

    Kathy went a bit mental,
    Dusty just faded away
    The only thing that’ll happen to you:
    A yearly adjustment to your pay.

    Duffy you can do better
    Give it up but don’t give in
    Indulge in 3 failed marriages
    Develop an addiction to heroin.

    Sorry for that last verse
    It went much too far I feel,
    Any more of that
    You can call me Tony O’Neill

    Duffy: give it up but don’t give in
    Better posterity than the bargain bin.

  59. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2009 10:07 PM

    It was the unkind sniggering which sorted it out. Perhaps I’ll send the verse to my kid: she’s keen on Duffy. Or is it Buffy?

  60. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 20, 2009 10:12 PM

    Nice one, Alarming!

  61. mishari permalink*
    April 20, 2009 10:14 PM

    The Harrumph Of The Ill

    At the risk of sounding stuffy
    And middle-aged obtuse:
    Just who the hell is Duffy?
    Some vapid pop chanteuse?

    Agree with MM…good one, Al.

  62. April 20, 2009 10:36 PM

    MM – Duffy is pretty much a non-entity, whereas Buffy is brilliant. Easy.

  63. Captain Ned permalink
    April 20, 2009 11:27 PM

    Duffy is bland bland bland… why the Hell would anyone want to listen to her when one can listen to Dusty Springfield? There are, however, many worse and more shamefully bad representatives of my country’s musical heritage. Katherine Jenkins springs to mind. Charlotte Church. The Manic Street Preachers. Goldie Lookin Chain (Guns don’t kill people, vrappers doo/I saw it on a docewmennary on BBC two). And, God save us all, The Stereofuckingphonics.

    Still, at least there’s the consolation of the Super Furry Animals. And Bryn Terfel when he’s not doing Celine Dion covers.

  64. MeltonMowbray permalink
    April 21, 2009 12:14 AM

    Unaccountably you have left out the great John Cale, Captain, whose fab album Gun I was listening to just yesterday. Man were bearable, and Deke Leonard made a couple of decent, if whiny, solo albums.

    It will take several centuries for Wales to live down Max Boyce.

  65. mishari permalink*
    April 21, 2009 12:18 AM

    …and leave us not forget the Cap’n’s namesake, Ned Seagoon, whose capture of Napoleon’s piano was surely a great Welsh musical moment…

    [Piano mood-setting music]

    Napoleon’s piano. The story starts in the bad old days, back in April 1955. It was early one morning, and breakfast had just been served at Beaulieu Manor, and I was standing at the window, looking in. With the aid of a telescope I was reading the paper on the breakfast table, when… when suddenly an advertisement caught my eye. It said:

    [bassy, echoey] Will pay anybody five pounds to remove piano from one room to another. Apply: The Bladders, Harpiapipe, Quants.

    In needle nardle noo time I was at the address, and with the aid of a piece of iron and a lump of wood, I made this sound:

    [Knocks five times on door]

    Sapristi knockos! When I heard that sound I ran downstairs, and with the aid of a doorknob and two hinges I made this sound:

    [Door handle turns, door creaks open]

    Ah! Good morning!

    Good morning? Just a moment…

    [Telephone picked up, dialling]

    Hello? Air Ministry roof? Report… yes? yes? Thank you.

    [Telephone hung up]

    You’re perfectly right: it is a good morning.

  66. Captain Ned permalink
    April 21, 2009 8:31 AM

    Yes, I forgot about Cale. Not heard of Man or Deke Leonard, alas.

    Wasn’t there an episode where Seagoon and Bloodnok are felled by grand piano that falls from the sky? The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal, as I recall. Anyway, the real moment of musical glory from the Goons was surely ‘I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas’:

    I’ve tried walking sideways, and walking to the front
    But people just look at me and say it’s a publicity stunt.

  67. April 21, 2009 11:10 AM

    And one of the great set-ups for a running gag:

    Willium: Then I heards an hissing sound, and a voice say, ‘minardor.’

    Quatermass: ‘Minardor?’ We must keep our ears, nose, and throats open for anything that goes ‘minardor.’

    Bannister: Yes.

    Crun: Be forewarned, sir, the minardor is an ancient word that can be read in the West of Minster’s library, you know.

    Quatermass: Well, it so happens that I have a Westminster Library on me. And gad, look! There I am inside, examining an occult dictionary.

    Bannister: Oh, yes.

    FX: [Pages flipping]

    Quatermass: Minardor… Minardor… Hmm, hmm, hmm… Min min min min min…

    Bannister: Yes yes yes yes yes?

  68. April 22, 2009 9:03 AM

    Hey Steven. I’ve just listened to the hip hop violin link you posted here. Brilliant. He’s a stunning violin player anyway, but it actually works really well with the hip hop beat – I love to see these sorts of musical cross-overs, like Vienna Boys choir singing Metallica still cracks me up!

    And the Flying Pickets doing Nirvana is making me cry with laughter right now:

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