Monday, May 31, 2010


Say Your Vows

Damn, I've forgotten what I was going to write about here... though I assure you it was going to be a good one.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


notice anything strange about the NME's Greatest Cult Heroes chart? ah, it brings back fluffy memories of when in 1977 chain store WH Smith listed the weekly pop charts in their windows with a blank at #2... The Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' was gloriously absented (in fact, as everyone knows, it should have been in top position); as with the very same WH Smith's, the NME has been so painfully uncool for such a long time that I'm not sure how much vindication can be derived from this, though excuse me for enjoying this fleetingly sweet poetic irony

on a vaguely related subject, what exactly are awards for? I'm not entirely sure what prestige means; however, semantic pedantry notwithstanding, yay! VBS's Liberia documentary has won two Webbys!

The Secret Of Scent
ever since starting this infuriatingly good book about the mysteries of fragrances, I've been sniffing around big store perfume departments like a truffle-starved black boar let loose in the woods; despite Luca Turin's slightly condescending literary tone, his scent descriptions are intoxicatingly evocative - I am now not a little impatient for even a four-hour stop-over at Schiphol airport, let alone the dream of one day visiting the Osmothèque in Versailles


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


These crows are holding the cigarettes they've just snagged the right way round! Anyone got a light?

Monday, May 17, 2010


The Turin Shroud, attracting enormous visitor numbers at the city's cathedral in a rare exposition currently taking place until May 23rd, is a fascinating and enigmatic piece of artwork. Artwork, since there is no archaeological nor documented evidence of a historical Jesus, any more than there is for Zeus, Isis, Apollo or Odin, discounting the clearly astrotheological and mythological fables contained in the canonical and apocryphal gospels. Shroudman's height is around 7 feet and I, for one, certainly don't recall in the gospel of Luke mention of a bearded colossus shambling around the banks of the Dead Sea, nor of donkeys being helplessly crushed by freakishly large sons of gods. Indeed, there are no references at all to JC's earthly appearance in any of this literature.

The shroud appeared (and for a while disappeared) around the mid-14th century, in one of the most productive eras for the highly lucrative Jesus relic industry. In fact there were dozens of these things kicking about all over Europe, and this particular one was then, perhaps ironically now, given far less credence than the disingenuous documentaries the History Channel, C4, and Discovery keep churning out. You might wonder how that burnt piece of Virgin Mary toast sold on eBay will be revered in centuries to come.

I digress. Having just read the generally excellent Turin Shroud: In Whose Image? by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, and despite their also getting bogged down in historical Jesus nonsense (which, it has to be said, they've built a living writing about), I found two aspects especially intriguing.

Defenders Of The Faith
It's simply extraordinary the lengths to which believers will go to defend the historicity of their faith. There are vast resources applied to discovering where Noah's Ark is, or Solomon's Temple, or the Holy Grail, or Jesus' tomb; hundreds of books, films, and archaeological expeditions of mythical constructs.

They might as well be looking for Thor's hammer. But they're not. And that's because since Christianity played the historical figure card so early in its gestation, allowing great power to be enjoyed by priests over followers of inferior 'less authentic' pagan religions, it implicitly and instinctively knows that the notion of historicity has to be emphasised and protected at all costs. Similarly, compare those lunatic creationists that maintain that Adam and Eve were real people and that the world is but 6,000 years old. Thus, having committed yourself to one big lie, you find yourself forever condemned to reinforcing it with an infinite number of small ones.

As is evident in the book, the Turin Shroud perfectly symbolises this phenomenon. What was dismissed even by the Church as a fake in the Middle Ages, now boasts scores of organisations devoted to 'scientifically' proving it's a bona fide Jesus relic. And ever since 1988 when it was oh-so-predictably carbon-dated to the 14th Century, the theories have become ever more byzantine and unbelievable, ranging from nuclear flashes to international conspiracies.

Since the imprint has the amazing qualities of a photographic negative, the real mystery is how the hell was the shroud created? And by whom?

The book convincingly proposes that today's Turin Shroud is the work of Da Vinci. That it is in fact a composite image of Leonardo's own head superimposed on the body of a man that was genuinely crucified. And that it was done using early photographic experiments using a camera obscura to project and capture images. It was a process that alchemists had, at grave danger from the Church to accusations of heresy, long been interested in and experimenting with. If this is indeed the case, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that it was technically and logistically feasible, then Da Vinci's mischievous genius is even more astounding than we previously thought.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


A Bell From Hell, 1973 (*****)
fantastic Spanish horror full of breathtakingly surreal and kinky violence as a young man is let out of a mental hospital to return to Galicia in order to exact revenge on his aunt and her three daughters; I'd be very curious to hear from anyone who's seen the original 106 minute version

Bad Ronald, 1974 (****)
brilliantly twisted story from writer Jack Vance; after killing a young girl, Ronald, our young antihero, hides from justice in his very own house with the help of his clingy mother; things get complicated when she falls ill and dies in hospital...

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, 1976 (*****)
Martin Sheen is suitably creepy and Jodie Foster is amazing as the precocious Rynn, a little girl like any young girl, she craves for love from adults, not to be protected nor preyed upon

Willard, 1971 (****)
thoroughly creepy story of an oddball son who befriends the rats in his cellar; there is a marvellous juxtaposition of the rats' and humans' behaviour, with predictably disfavourable results for the latter

Willard, 2003 (*)
this annoying remake is so heavily stylised as to render the original intent of the narrative completely redundant

A Nightmare On Elm Street, 1984 (***)
the original is still the franchise's best, but the film hasn't aged well, and Wes Craven never knows where to find the balance between suspenseful horror and silly cartoonery; Johnny Depp delivers a an early career-defining wooden performance

A Nightmare On Elm Street, 2010 (*)
expectedly appalling, hopelessly inept remake by Samuel Bayer, a heavy metal video director cum design squadder completely out of his depth


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage - Mary Daly
The Dark Romance Of Dian Fossey - Harold Hayes
One Of Your Own: The Life And Death Of Myra Hindley - Carol Ann Lee
Turin Shroud: In Whose Image? - Lynn Picknet & Clive Prince

Greatest Hits (LP) - Arabesque
Lipstick (LP) - Michel Polnareff
Cannibal Ferox (CD) - Budy-Maglione

Derren Brown Investigates
Orangutan Island
High Stakes Poker (season 6)



Ever wondered what a vast amount of pirate loot looked like? Direct from the dusty backstreets of Somalia's main port. The comments are priceless. Also check out the other exciting pictures listed below.

- can we have our boat back, please?
- welcome to Pirate Beach
- breeze blocks
- brass telescope (I don't need no)


Wednesday, May 05, 2010


The Anatomy Of A Response

I was wondering about what to write. Swithering between yet another rant against Helvetica Culture; against idiotic mixed capitalisation in song, movie and book titles; or else taking a deserved swipe at the bokeworthy new mustn't haves known as jeggings.

Or indeed another admiring update on the Somali pirates.

It's all a bit obsessive. As if it were enough to be merely obsessed. As if that were sufficient explanation, as if that's just how something is.

But when you stop and ask yourself the question what is it about the thing you obsess over that creates that special intense response, you have to search deep down for some kind of answer that isn't just a rewording of the obsession, or a glib legitimising I-think superstition. Not in order to justify or rationalise, not to be right or wrong. But to fulfil a curiosity about what lies behind: transparent concessions that are clearly in operation with this and other strong emotional responses.

Once again things are not what they seem.

obsession begins with the identification of a symbolic representation of an unconscious value we always held - once identified, the symbols start appearing everywhere because we're now actively looking for them; these values lie hidden behind the illusion of identity, which is why they're so difficult to express in words

linguistically speaking, we become disappointed in or with an exernal someone or something, as if it were outside our control, and likewise we experience it as if we were passive agents; in fact, disappointment can only be something we've personally planned for through a set of expectations that fail to be fulfilled

what appears to be impulsive (like a purchase, or a kiss, or saying the wrong thing, or a punch) is in fact illusory: it is planned unconsciously by us well in advance of its happening - its apparent suddenness is the moment of entering an unprepared conscious awareness

in language we refer to being attracted towards someone or something, as if it were an active process - however, unlike disappointment, attraction is something that happens to us, passively; it's a process in which we have no choice despite the illusion that we are somehow active participants