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Continuing my short but fiery lurve affair with Spooks, the second episode of this season was on BBC3 tonight when I got home from a very, very shitty day at work, and Dr Bashir was on it, looking all ruffled and beardy and fabulous.

Lord, Alexander Siddig was *good*. Such a powerful performance. He played an Algerian who infiltrated a Muslim extremist cell in Birmingham who were planning a suicide bombing. I had to hide my eyes at the end because I knew what was going to happen and I couldn't stop it. The whole thing was frightening and painful in the best sort of way.

They need to give Danny a good story and Zoe was a bit one-dimensional this week after her weekend heroics in exposing Tessa but me darlin' Tom Quinn suffered beautifully, in a Muldertorture-ish way.

I am addicted, addicted, addicted and it's hokey and I don't care.

It's on A&E this summer, but they're going to rename it MI5

* * *

Weird bookends to the day. After being woken up by frelling jackhammers again, I had breakfast in front of Sky One and behold! "Fire" on XF, which was very amusing and MSTable with some fabulous lines.

[Sky One hates me. S1 XF, then early Stargate, then Buffy, one after another 10am to 1pm. I need to *work* , dammit]

Then, after Spooks I switched to UK SciFi and it was Firefly's "Shindig", which featured Cecil L'Ively again.

I like this episode a lot.

"Captain Tightpants!".
"I guess I'm just a good man :::stab::: well, I'm okay"

I still find the premise off-kilter but I think that if it had been given its full run so it could bed down, it would have been wonderful. It was heading in that direction, though there remained strange lacunae and oddities in the world-building. There's scarcely a character I don't love, though Inara is the Lana Lang of Serenity.

* * *

lilydale reminds me that I am being useless with the music project.

I bought 31 Songs (or Songbook. Whatever) the other weekend, in which Nick Hornby declares that he is not writing his autobiography through songs because that's stupid and these songs are not the ones that changed his life or anything like that. Then he spends the next 80 pages or so contradicting that statement.

It's a charming, peculiar, rambly and unfocused book but he loves Teenage Fanclub

For that he can be forgiven almost anything. Anyway...


Twenty years ago. It's hard to believe that this record came out 20 years ago because it still sounds as fresh and modern today as it did back when it was a 12" record that was passed from person to person as if it held the secrets of the universe in its shiny black grooves.

There were lots of reasons to love New Order -- not least the fact that in "World in Motion" they released one of the very few good football records ever and the Hacienda nightclub was a great night out.

In 1983 these were the reasons to love them: there was their tragic history, their stroppy Manc insouciance, the fact that they had a girl in the group ... but the foremost reason was Blue Monday.

Released on Factory in a black sleeve with specially sliced out sections so it looked like a computer disk, it has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and a million in the UK alone (still the best-selling 12" single ever) yet it made almost no money because the sleeve cost so much to produce.

Blue Monday was wound around Hooky's sinister bassline and a drum machine pattern that's the most distinctive section of the record. When I was at school it was a badge of honour to be able to tap out the drum pattern on the benches in the chemistry lab. It's almost impossible to do it fast enough with one hand, yet if you try to drum it with two pens, you can seldom repeat it correctly twice in a row.

A lot of the best music that Britain produces seems to come from taking elements of US black culture and twisting them about. The Beatles took Little Richard and Chuck Berry and added elements of skiffle,music hall and goonish humour to create something slightly new; New Order took underground US dance culture and added the gloomy European sensibility of Kraftwerk and the iconoclastic spirit and DIY ethics of punk.

I think that one of the reasons I like it is that it fit the times in which it was released. It was dark and harsh and sinister and the period, with its Thatcherite-induced economic malaise that wrecked the north, was dark and sinister.

I taped it off the radio early on, but I didn't buy it until 1986 -- didn't have the money until then. It and The Fairytale of New York were the first records I ever bought with my own money, for myself.

"Blue Monday" sparked a love affair with electronic music which lasts to this day. I don't understand how people can find it cold and mechanistic. "Blue Monday is harsh and depressing, perhaps, with its slightly opaque lyrics about alienation and loss of feeling, sung in Barney Sumner's threatening monotone, but it is not trite nor is it predictable.

A mark of a good record is that it's very hard to ruin it through remixes and cover versions. I have heard some fairly woeful covers of this and I don't think that the 1988 remix is entirely fabulous either, but the song remains strong. Like Sympathy for the Devil, you can put it on in a club today and the people there will loose a collective "woooh!" sort of sound and begin dancing like maniacs

"Blue Monday" led to dance music for me, which was a big part of my life for four years, back when my embarrassment at my terrible dancing still didn't outweigh my love of doing so.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2003 05:54 pm (UTC)
Inara improves remarkably on repeated viewing.

Or at least, that's what I've found.

But "Shindig" itself is a weak episode; I can never quite get the plot premise to jell, no matter how hard I try. How could Atherton Wing possibly NOT KNOW how the Companions' system works?
Jun. 2nd, 2003 06:01 pm (UTC)
But "Shindig" itself is a weak episode; I can never quite get the plot premise to jell, no matter how hard I try. How could Atherton Wing possibly NOT KNOW how the Companions' system works?

I sort of agree, but Kaylee in a dress? The wisecracks? Wash and Zoe?

I am easier than conjugating avoir when it comes to shows with smart dialogue and good characters.
Jun. 2nd, 2003 06:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, I didn't say I don't love the episode, because that would have been a big freaking lie.

Any episode which can give you:

"Here lies my beloved Zoe, my autumn flower. Somewhat less attractive now that she's all corpsified and gross--"

is an episode that must be forgiven its weaknesses.

I love Firefly with a mad, crazy passion. I envy you UK people for getting to see ALL the episodes IN THE RIGHT ORDER.

Not that I'm bitter.

Stupid FOX.
Jun. 2nd, 2003 07:38 pm (UTC)
I want to see this show. It sounds awesome.

I have no television shows now. It's depressing. I just watch the bling go in circles on ACNtv. There's no fanfic in that.
Jun. 3rd, 2003 04:47 am (UTC)
:::bullhorn::: Queen of the Wild Frontier. Put *down* the remote control and step *away* from the bling. You're only hurting yourself
Jun. 3rd, 2003 05:06 am (UTC)
Yes, I know. But it's such *sparkly* pain.
Jun. 3rd, 2003 09:05 am (UTC)
Kari is right.

Besides, weren't you going to GET A TIVO?

Not that that would help the Firefly issue. If you want, I can send you the 4 episodes I have on tape, or I believe you can probably find most of the aired episodes on Kazaa these days. (Or BitTorrent...)
Jun. 3rd, 2003 09:06 am (UTC)
Yes, but Firefly is over.

And the TIVO is still on the big list. Right in front of the HDTV receiver. Mmm. HDTV.
Jun. 2nd, 2003 07:45 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, on a show like Firefly, the Lana-ness of Inara tends to get lost in the shuffle. There's too much else to focus on.

I think my problem with Inara is the casting. Morena Baccarin was beautiful enough for the part, and played it well, but she had NO CHEMISTRY with Nathan Fillion. It would have been so much more interesting if they'd sparked off each other rather than been awkward all the time.
Jun. 2nd, 2003 08:08 pm (UTC)
though Inara is the Lana Lang of Serenity.

Yes. I've said that since the first moment I saw her.


And Blue Monday!

I chose Bizarre Love Triangle instead, but Blue Monday! Squee!
Jun. 4th, 2003 04:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, Bizarre Love Triangle is superb, but Blue Monday was the first 12 inch I ever bought. (that sounds filthy)

I think you called it right, but perhaps, as truepenny says, I'll get used to her and the problem is just her lack of sizzle with Nathan Fillion
Jun. 4th, 2003 04:25 pm (UTC)
Gah. Shaye, not truepenny
Jun. 3rd, 2003 06:22 am (UTC)
Ooh! Go A & E! After hearing about this show (okay, hearing that ASH is in an episode) I want to see it.

And I have BBC America, so if it shows up on that...hmmm...must look into that.
Jun. 3rd, 2003 07:32 am (UTC)
I love that song! And agree with you about the cover versions -- I just love the version by Orgy. Have never heard World in Motion, however. Must remedy that.

Alicia, the downloading fool
Jun. 3rd, 2003 08:52 am (UTC)
Blue Monday!

At the risk of sounding vaguely pornographic... Oh! Oh! Yes! YES! YES!!!

New Order's on my list of bands to hit with this project, but I haven't decided on the song yet. Most likely it will be the entire album "Brotherhood," but is that cheating? I don't care.

New Order took underground US dance culture and added the gloomy European sensibility of Kraftwerk and the iconoclastic spirit and DIY ethics of punk.

What a great description, oh yes. I never understood how people thought dance music was cold and inhuman either, especially New Order. And I always hated it when people characterized it as "simple." There's something so wonderfully complex about their rhythms -- three or four different rhythms layered together in a mosaic that perfectly meshes isn't simple in the least.

Great installment. *g*
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )