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tl, tl, tl, iwbriiwy

I am taking a break from applying for my boss's job. He's off to a really swanky new job at a very posh place indeed, (woe!) so I thought I would apply for his job in an attempt to show that I am not dead and do in fact still have some ambition. Won't get it. What was it they said in Beyond The Fringe? "We need a futile gesture at this stage of the war"

They make you go through the electronic application process, which is just diabolical. I want to scrawl all over it "I've been *doing* most of the effing job for three years, what more do you people want?" However, that might be seen as career seppuku. I've already been stupidly lairy on the staff questionnaire this week then had serious second thoughts of the "what if they know who filled this in" kind.

Sarcasm is no good to your employers, only to your colleagues. I never learn.

So, because I am a very good daughter (not to mention a spoilt bastard only child) I listen when my mum feels fed up and act accordingly. She was mighty with the pissed off last month and I can't bear it so I bought her a ticket to see La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory last Wednesday. She once saw an amateur production of it and had vowed that if it was ever on in the West End she would go. This version had Philip Quast and Douglas Hodge. The last time I saw Douglas Hodge he was playing Nathan Detroit opposite Ewan MacGregor in Guys and Dolls, so it was demonstrative of his versatility if nothing else.

It was in a tiny space, only slightly more than a studio, with the front row comprised of tables and chairs as though you really were in a slightly down-at-heel nightclub. I was worried that it might shade into the camp panto arena and turn into a festival of cheesy nods and winks to the audience but it was actually more mildly filthy than camp. It was also one of the tenderest portrayals of a long-term relationship I've ever seen. They had six dancers, five of whom were among the most beautiful men I have ever seen. There's something tremendously erotic about beautiful men, moving beautifully) in make-up and tutus.

(Oh all right, it's just me then. I don't care. I'll be the one in the corner of the pub, enticing the slightly pervy dandyish men with the promise that they can have a borrow of my massacre and eyeliner.)

Anyway, the point of this is that I bought ma dinner at the Chocolate Factory and then we had to wait in the bar for the doors to open. There's a scrum in there and I look over to my left, and about three feet away, there's a small figure dressed in black with a bloody stupid black hat on. Indoors. "Look at that silly bugger with a hat on indoors," I think to myself. Then something goes ::ping:: in my head and I look away sharpish.

I went all 1930s spy and whispered in my mum's ear through gritted teeth: "Eight o'clock from you, there's Helen Mirren".

"Who?" she delicately shrieks.

"Helen Mirren" I say, not moving my mouth like some kind of mad ventriloquist, trying to give off 'under no circumstances should you turn around and stare, then say something very loud' vibes


Mum looks around in a way which is the opposite of subtle and says: "It never is"

So I am all googly eyed at mum, doing the mime version of "Sssssh, be cool!"

"It bloody *is* Helen Mirren," I say

My mum looks around *again* and says "Nah, she's too young"

May I remind you, Helen Mirren is within touching distance at that point but was probably quite pleased to find out that a Yorkshirewoman thinks she's too young to be herself. And it was Helen Mirren. She's shorter than I had thought and very beautiful but in an ordinary sort of way. It's the camera that makes her look exceptional I think. She looks about 40ish. And keeps her hat on until the lights go down but who can blame her? She was on her own. There were also a couple of actresses from the telly but I don't know what they're called except one of them played Connie on Spooks last season.

The run of the musical is sold out but if anyone offers you tickets, go. It's tremendous. It could have been horrible but it avoids all the pitfalls.

* * *

I've been listening to a lot of King Creosote lately, which is the name of a Fife fellow who is a bit like Badly Drawn Boy, only better IMO. You can listen to a podcast of him here, if you can bear the other yattering.

He compares being part of a well-functioning band to conjuring a patronus! I draw wee sparkly hearts around his name!

Anyway, I've only got two of his zillions of albums but I do love them. This is my favourite track of his, a poem set as a lament: The Racket They Made
And your words chased round and round in my head
Last night
They chased their own tales
And your words jigged round my mind all night
To look at me now, I’m quiet as sand
And the tide shrinks back into its womb
And I hope the empty shells and bones of your stories
Will litter and clutter the shores
And I hope that when I find them
I’ll remember how they danced
And the racket they made
When they were alive

Bloody gorgeous And because one King Creosote track is not enough:
Jump At The Cats About the joys of leaping naked at domestic pets.
You've No Clue Do You An angry rocker
Admiral An extended sea-faring metaphor but in a good way

If you get the chance, buy some of his stuff, please. He's glorious and obscure and probably needs the money.

* * *

I didn't really want to talk about Ashes to Ashes the first few episodes. Part of it was because I wasn't too sure it was wise to try to continue the Life on Mars conceit and partly because I didn't much like it.

I've seen Keeley Hawes in other things, notably "Spooks" but it was hard to shake off the sense that she was the Poundstretcher Keira Knightley in the first few, exposition-heavy episodes. They gave her such a huge freight of backstory to carry that she staggered under the weight of it. In contrast, John Simm, whose Sam Tyler was initially an everyman, was an run of the mill, slightly stuffed shirt copper, brought up by his mum after his dad ran off. All very ordinary.

Alex Drake is not just an ordinary copper: she's a forensic psychologist; she's a single mother; her parents were murdered when she was at school, in the year she has ended up in; she was shot; she knows about Gene Hunt from interviewing Sam (let's leave aside the question of what a Met plod was doing interviewing Greater Manchester's finest). She's got layers and layers of story gubbins, and meta gubbins and a tough act to follow in John Simm. It's all too much to pile onto one actor and expect her to carry it with total success.

When you add in the fact that very few Britons my age +/– 10 years have much affection for the Thatcher-blighted, greed-is-good, "loadsamoney" 80s and it's an unappealing package. There's not the distance nor so much of the Kia-Ora hued glow of nostalgia that attends the 70s. In fact the 70s were just as shite, it's just that we don't remember it so well. Instead of being an expose of 70s sexism, racism and homophobia that allows you to retain affection for the central figures, it's more about the horrible sexism, racism and homophobia and the way that the police were turned into the instruments of state brutality that I remember from my early-mid teens. It's hard to feel affection for police officers in that period. There's a bitterness for me about the 80s that there isn't when it's about the 70s. It also sometimes feels like they're enjoying writing the monsters too much.

However, Ashes to Ashes is starting to grow on me. The love-hate chemistry between Hunt and Drake that made me sigh when I read about it in the papers does actually work. The fabulous title sequence is ripped off wholesale from that of Cat's Eyes, if memory serves. The 80s jokes are excellent, such as the visit to Blitz in 1981 in which Steve Strange was an extra and Alex left her coat with Boy George. Gene Hunt seems wearier but funnier -- and as others have noted, he's appearing in scenes independently of Alex, so either (a) there's some reason behind that, maybe this is Gene's brain or (b) they're not as smart as they were in Life On Mars.

Also, I've read one too many protesting review which sounded too much like "Ugh, Keeley Hawes is getting her terrible *girl parts* into my slashy, slashy show", which made me think right then, I am going to watch this bloody thing even if it sucks just out of solidarity with the producers for putting a woman at the centre of the show.

I am going to write Gene Hunt/Alex Drake PWP and post it in the LJs of anyone who posts the merest hint of "ugh, girls are ruining my show" and then I am going to laugh and dance around my room in the all together, save for a few strategically placed slices of tomato, playing the spoons!

Or something (not much) like that anyway.

As expected, the soundtrack is completely fabulous. Very reliant on Roxy Music so far. One choice was genius, they played out the end of the first episode, as comment on the main characters' feelings, on the start of the new series, on the time period and on a meta level.

It's The Same Old Scene, by Roxy Music, which I have provided for your aural delectation. Reasons it is brilliant, aside from purely musical ones:

(a) Lyrically, it's a message to watchers, just as much as the testcard girl in LoM "Nothing lasts forever/of that I am sure ... Maybe you should try the same old scene" It's the makers saying "the old days are gone, here's something new but old"
(b) It's from 1980 but it harks back to the 1970s, as well as presaging what would come in 1982-83. Roxy Music were of course big in the early 70s but this song is clearly heavily disco influenced, with that Chic-like bassline and the shimmering strings and chittering guitar. In the next couple of years Duran Duran are going to be using the same template to create their best music -- Chic bassline, extravagant yet synth-laden production, rather louche lyrics (when they were comprehensible, that is; I haven't forgotten "Union of The Snake", Mr Le Bon)
(c) It makes sense for the characters, back in the wine bar at the end of the case, lines of truce temporarily drawn.

God, I love this song
* * *

This is a live cover of Snow Patrol's Run, done by Leona Lewis, who won The X Factor by dint of actual talent rather than a cute bottom and a cheeky chappy smile. I tend to think it exposes the limitations of Gary Lightbody's songwriting rather more than makes me happy. Cunning production and lots of guitars usually hides that pretty well (see also Chasing Cars, which only has four bloody notes in it).

Even if you never listen to it again, it's worth sticking it on and listening until 3:48 when she goes all proper diva over the chorus. That bit made the hairs on my arms stand up the first time I heard it.
* * *

My favourite album of last year I heard by accident. Soulwax's remixes album is terrific, and among its best tracks is this one, a six-minute version of Gravity's Rainbow by Klaxons.

The original is horrible, messy, clanky, pretentious, wikipedia-driven bollocks and if you can explain to me how Klaxons won the Mercury music prize I will buy you a pint because they are hideous indiekid emperor's new clothes shite. Why this is not shite:

Gravity's Rainbow

(a) No song which begins with electronic cowbells is shite. Fact.
(b) Listen to that inexorable beat, and then it gets better with that twangy topline that comes in at 0:44 which is so artificial it is MADE OF E NUMBERS. MIGHTY AND AWESOME E NUMBERS
(c) Then at one minute in, they introduce the synth figure from the original song
(e) At 1:40 a brief snatch of the low duhrduhduhr sound -- beloved of early 90s Belgian rave, of which I am a sort-of fan -- this will be important later. Just enough to make you smell the Vicks and want to give a complete stranger a hug.
(f) 2:40 -- second iteration of the chorus which has that terrific slamming bassline that's so reminiscent of Higher State of Consciousness by Josh Wink
(g) WE REACH AWESOMENESS CENTRAL RIGHT AT 3:30 - the duhrduduhr synth sound mentioned above slides out of sync with the drums and then SLIDES BACK INTO SYNC in a way which is wondrous and it heralds a moment of SHEER MAGNIFICENCE at 4:04 where it just goes SWOOOOOSH! and you're back into the driving dance track, all euphoric
(h) and then, when you think it cannot get any better, when it has reached the apogee of awesome, the zenith of fabulousness, AT 4.20, IT GETS BETTER. THEY DO THE PRETENDY CAR-ZOOMING-BY THING. AND IT IS NOT CHEESY!
(i) Then, just to put the cherries on top of the ravey ravey gateau, THE COWBELL IS BACK.
(j) At 5.20, fresh awesomesauce, when they introduce a lovely plinky-plonky chittering synth figure, along with a Close Encounters style six-note figure, and then repeat the words of the chorus (which are not that good to be honest but they work with this track)

If it does not make you want to dance, you are probably clinically dead. (Or, you know, not a fan of European dance music. We all have our blind spots)

And finally, for cazling, if she doesn't have it already, an excellent version of Hot Chip's Ready for the Floor (Soulwax remix) From the same completely fan-tas-tic album.


( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
I've been reading so much meta about misogyny in slash and in the media generally that I can't un-see it now. It's like when the unpleasant pattern of Martha and Mickey was pointed out and I couldn't un-see that either, no matter how much I want to love the show or whether I thought it was unintentional or not.

I do wish they could make Edge of Darkness parallels too but that's very much not a Kudos thing to do. They're too populist, which is a shame because EoD is one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. The last thing I saw with that kind of ambition was State of Play, I think
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
-I am stealing all your musics.
-You make some very solid points about Ashes to Ashes
-I am glad you are enjoying it, as I am as well.
-Hunt/Drake PWP terrorism has had me chuckling for five minutes now. OH NOES WHO WILL SAVE THEM.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)
I am glad I am not on my own in quite enjoying Ashes to Ashes. It's far from perfect but it's improving every week and I am hoping its slight sledgehammeriness will disappear with time.
Feb. 26th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
And it was Helen Mirren.

I am completely and utterly jealous that you were in the nearby presence of such greatness. Very cool.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)
It was tremendous. Best celeb spot I have ever had.
Feb. 26th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
I am going to write Gene Hunt/Alex Drake PWP and post it in the LJs of anyone who posts the merest hint of "ugh, girls are ruining my show" and then I am going to laugh and dance around my room in the all together, save for a few strategically placed slices of tomato, playing the spoons!

But not wooden spoons, because those are dangerous, dontchya know. (Also, you may well get metaquoted or something for that...)

Also, Connie and Helen Mirren both at a production of La Cage Aux Folles? I suspect closet slashers! *g*

You are indeed a very good daughter. And friend, as I am dling madly.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Heh. There was a weird upspike of people going to my LJ the day after the wooden spoons. All hail LJToys for providing me with stat-fun.

I hope you like the music. I think you would like a lot of King Creosote. He is folky and strange, running from straight lament to rocker, all with strange and fun lyrics.

You are *so* right about Connie and Helen Mirren. You could totally write Jane Tennison/Connie offa Spooks slash and it would COMPLETELY work. In fact it would be fantastic. I am tempted.
(no subject) - cofax7 - Feb. 27th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
Re: Seeing Helen Mirren
How very cool indeed. And you are indeed a good daughter. I'm sure your mother appreciated the outing and show.

I hope you get your boss' job, if you want it. My boss is in the middle of applying for a job and I have told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he gets it, he may not tell the Board that I would be interested in being his successor. I seriously do not want those headaches. All online applications are inherently evil. Best of luck with it all.

Thanks for all the music! Now that I finally have hard drive space again, I am so enjoying building up my iTunes library again.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
You wouldn't want your boss's job, even if it meant you had minions and such?

I don't want minions or responsibility, I just don't want some clueless person ordering me about. Present boss is lovely and very hands off. New boss will be ordered to be the opposite by Uber-boss who has spoken to us all of five times and has all the communication skills of a pancake.

Hope you like the music. If there's anything you've particularly been looking for while building your library, feel free to ask. I am always happy to share any songs I have
(no subject) - vivwiley - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 26th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
You saw Helen Mirren! ::fangirls::

I wish I was surprised that people are all annoyed about the female intrusion into the slash. Sigh. I just watched ep three (? I think) and for the first time I didn't want to throw Drake through a window. Not because she's a women and she's infringing on my slash-o-rama, but because she was annoying the crap out of me. In episode three, she didn't, and I'm relieved.

I'm not asking anything of this show other than entertainment that doesn't annoy me, and I think it may be hitting that groove. LoM is over for me, and ended absolutely where I wanted it to end, which I didn't even know I wanted. If AtA can pull even half of that off, I'm fine.

they're not as smart as they were in Life On Mars.

I'm betting on this explanation.

And the music IS tremendous.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly it. They wrote her as annoying, and I think she was meant to be partly, but they made it difficult to feel sympathy for her. It only really crept in in ep2 when she met her mum, and then last week, she was much more understated, yet forceful where she needed to be and I liked that. I hope the plotting can get more subtle than "hey kids, misogyny = bad (except where we're sniggering at it)" but if it doesn't, that's okay too.
Feb. 26th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
Helen Mirren! How fun!
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
It was aces.

(psst. Your move)
(no subject) - ropo - Feb. 27th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 26th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for all the music! And especially thank you for this line of description: No song which begins with electronic cowbells is shite. Fact. LOL!

It's been too long since I recklessly hunted down a ticket to a play in another country. Between the good review, the Helen Mirran approval factor, and the part about finding tickets being a challenge, I'm almost tempted again. *g*
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
A pleasure. I think you might like King Creosote.

More on Paris as I get it, btw. Michael is a really good source of Parisian suggestions but they do occasionally veer into louche territory. I am assuming you would take a pass on the leather bar *g*
Feb. 26th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
Helen Mirren - that's so cool!

I'm dying to download the remake of "Run" but can't do it here at the BMC. Will be doing it the minute I get home.

Nice to hear from you - good luck on the job front!

Take Care
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for the good wishes. I've mixed feelings on the job -- I don't so much want it as not want someone outside our small dept to get it.

I hope you like "Run". I think she does a great job with it.
Feb. 26th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Poundstretcher Keira Knightley

Heh. Yes. That. I've only seen the first one yet, mind.

Thank you for the musics! I think that version of Gravity's Rainbow is the one I have already, but I can always use more Roxy.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)
Oh, there will be more Roxy Music. I've been listening to it on shuffle for a couple of weeks. My iPod likes to torture me by playing long runs of Bryan Ferry's solo stuff while I am trapped on the tube
(no subject) - thehornedgod - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
Mum looks around in a way which is the opposite of subtle and says: "It never is"

This was the point I burst into laughter. Excellent work by you and your mum. And yay music! Thank you!
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
She is great when she sees a celebrity. One day I will tell the story of how she groped poor Simon Callow on a pedestrian crossing in Victoria.

Anyway, I hope you like the music
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC)
He is fabulous. His brother was in the Beta Band. I think they're a very musical family
Feb. 26th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
When I get home I'll download all this music. I have to hear it after your descriptions.
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
I think you will like King Creosote. It's a real mixture of stuff, from pop to folk
Feb. 26th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
Echoing the comments of:

a) Helen Mirren! Squee!

b) will download when at home. Thanks for new choons!
Feb. 27th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
I was squeeful myself but more because I knew mum would be dead chuffed to have done some star-spotting. At least she didn't grope Helen Mirren like she did Simon Callow

Hope you like the music. I've been to and enjoyed your other blog more than once in the past few weeks.
(no subject) - corianderstem - Feb. 27th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Feb. 27th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - corianderstem - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - corianderstem - Feb. 27th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
I've only got around to downloading the songs and am sort of having the hard time getting over the awesomeness of the Gravity's Rainbow remix. It's making me feel like I've just done a hit of E and dancing like some slick 18-year-old with glitters all over my chest in some rave (and I've never done Ecstasy or been to a rave in my life, so clearly the song has some uncommon powers.)

The Roxy Music is ace as well. I've been DL'ing Ashes to Ashes but have been withholding on that until I finish LoM season 2 (preferably before I hit 40, although at this rate, it might not happen.)

Thanks for the music!
Feb. 28th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
The Soulwax album is just *amazing*. If you're looking for quality dance music that's reminiscent of the zenith of the genre, circa 90-94, before all the drum and bass stuff, Go here http://www.myspace.com/soulwax

You might also like Justice's album "†"
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