Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Rezillos - Johnny Rotten - Gary Glitter

On this day, 20th December, 1980, I went to see Gary Glitter play at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London. Gary Glitter was then making a successful comeback. He'd faded after his halcyon glam rock days, but a few years later, his young glam fans were punk rockers, and he was popular again.

As far as I remember, the Gary Glitter show was very entertaining. He certainly got a good reception. (Gary Glitter's later crimes and troubles are very well documented and you can read about them in plenty of places so I'm not going to add anything.) However my most striking memory of the night - as I'm sure I've written about already - but what is a little repetition between friends - is of seeing Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten, or John Lyden as he later became, in the audience. As Johnny Rotten walked down the aisle he was grabbed in a loving embrace by an absolutely massive skinhead in a sheepskin coat. The enormous skinhead held him in a star-struck, lover's embrace while the Sex Pistol stood there, unable to move for some time, looking slightly embarrassed in the grasp of his adoring fan.


The support band on the night were the Revillos, from Edinburgh. I was a fan of theirs, and a fan of their earlier incarnation, the Rezillos. I saw the Rezillos at the Vortex Club in 1977 and they were very entertaining. They weren't exactly a punk band but they fitted in well at the time.

I think I went to that gig on my own, which I did used to do, on occasion, in those days. That was OK, though no doubt I'd have preferred to have some girlfriend to have gone with.

The Vortex was a small club. At some point a member of the audience threw a pint of beer over the band. They stopped playing while the singer, Eugene Reynolds, berated the audience, on safety grounds. That was reasonable enough, as the tiny stage was covered in a jumble of electrical leads.

A few years later, supporting Gary Glitter, the Revillos were really good, but right before they were due to play their encore there was a bomb scare. Everyone had to troop out of the venue and hang around in the cold street outside for ages. We were let back in eventually but I don't think the Revillos got to play their encore, which was a shame for them, as they'd deserved it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Four New Buffy Comics

Two Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics and two Faith and Angel comics to be precise. It's the new season nine, still overseen by Joss Whedon. I get these on subscription from Reed Comics, who do very good service for me in Buffy comics.

I'm unable to resist buying any new Buffy the Vampire Slayer produce, though I did say that I didn't love the last season of comics. I've never really enjoyed having hundreds of slayers running around, in a global organisation. It's a long way from the intimacy of Sunnydale. And I didn't like what happened to Giles. That episode didn't seem momentous enough, given what Giles means to the world of Buffy.

Still, Joss Whedon's Buffy remains a brilliant creation so I hope I like this series more than the last. I may even put on my Sunnydale High School t-shirt to read them. In fact I definitely will.

--

Current Millar books under film option - Lonely Werewolf Girl, Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me, Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving. And soon, probably, The Good Fairies of New York, again.

I have sold plenty of film options in the past. No one has succeeded in making a film. Perhaps someone will manage this time. I'll send out positive thoughts while reading my Buffy comics.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The 1970s - Golden Age of Sex

I was shuffling round the kitchen yesterday, making tea, and someone on the radio was talking about some new spy programme which is set in the 70s. And he had the nerve to say how bad the 70s were!

I was outraged. Because of course, not only did the 70s have the greatest music, from Led Zeppelin-led rock through prog, glam, punk and disco, the 70s were the golden age of sex.

People do like to imagine that the current time is the time when there is most sex happening but really, the 70s was the period when there was the most rampant sexual freedom in Britain.

There were various reasons for this. One, the free love ethic of the 60s finally arrived. There is an illusion about free love and so on happening in the 60s, but in reality, this only applied to a small group of people - the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and maybe a few hip writers. The rest of the country weren't really indulging in sex, drugs and rock and roll. It took them a while to catch up. But as the 70s rolled along, the rest of the country did catch up. Everyone decided that the long, long period of post-war morality had finally disappeared, and it was time to start fucking. People looked at Marc Bolan or Debbie Harry on TV, and thought, well what's the point in not having lots of sex? It makes no sense. So the idea of jumping into bed with people at every opportunity spread from a select few in London to almost everyone.

Next reason. No one in the 70s worried about catching any sort of sexually transmitted disease. Aids was unknown. Gonorrhoea and syphilis were vaguely remembered, but dismissed as easily curable with antibiotics. And in fact, I never encountered either of these diseases. As for other things, like herpes, no one had heard of them, or worried about them at all.

Also, all women were on the pill. This seemed universal at the time. No one used condoms. Condoms were regarded as a strange, old-fashioned sort of thing. It was entirely normal to sleep with someone and not even discuss contraception, because it was generally assumed that all women were using contraceptive pills.

So with no diseases and no pregnancy worries, and sexual freedom finally arriving, it was really a splendid time for shagging. No diseases, no condoms, no worries. There really was a lot of sex in the 70s. (As a side issue, everyone in Britain in the 70s was pleasantly thin. Really, there was a startling difference in body shapes between the 70s and today.)

Naturally, the handsome and virile young Millar was heavily in demand. Well I would have been had I not been practically crippled by overwhelming shyness as a youth. But I am not going to dwell on that, preferring to remember the 1970s as the golden age of fucking.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

T-Shirts Flooding Through the Mail

My minor obsession with manga and anime t-shirts continues. Two arrived this week and I have more on the way. Rather than fighting the obsession I'm just going along with it. I've found in the past that when I develop some minor obsession, I often get good writing inspiration as a result. Lonely Werewolf Girl, The Good Fairies of New York, Suzy Led Zeppelin and Me, and Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving all had their origins, in some way or other, in things I became obsessed with for a time. So it's quite possible that these t-shirts will eventually lead to something worthwhile.

K-On t-shirt



The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya t-shirt


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Avatar: The Last Airbender

I just watched the film The Last Airbender on TV. I think the film came out in 2010. It was badly reviewed everywhere so I wasn't expecting much. Which is just as well, it wasn't very good.

It's a pity. The film was based on Avatar: The Last Airbender which was a really great cartoon, one of my favourites. I watched it on Nickelodeon, all three seasons, something like 60 episodes.

I remember the first time I saw it. I was just flicking through TV stations and the cartoon immediately caught my attention. As it turned out, I'd stumbled onto an all-day Avatar marathon on Nickelodeon so I abandoned all other plans for the day and watched every episode they showed, rushing into the kitchen during the adverts to make tea and biscuits.

After that I followed the show relentlessly, catching up with the episodes I'd missed and watching all the new ones. There were many times, when watching Avatar: The Last Airbender that I'd find myself amazed at something that had just happened, and I'd think 'This is such a good cartoon.'

It was like a mixture of an Anime and an American cartoon and, it was full of good characters, all using their elemental powers for fighting, and traveling between adventures on a flying-bison. I was sad when it all came to an end at the end of the third season, and still sort of hope they might make some more.

So the film was a big disappointment. The cartoon was set in a fictional world that was mostly Asian, and the characters were basically Asian. Avatar Aang was like a young Chinese monk. However in the film, all the main young characters were played by white actors. It was very strange. This caused a lot of adverse comment when the film came out, I can see why. Plenty of people loved these characters as they were, and for the film studio to suddenly make them not Asian but white, seemed weird, and maybe racist as well.

I watched the film thinking 'Who the hell are these characters meant to be? I want to see them like they were in the cartoon' (There was one Asian actor as a main character. Unfortunately, he didn't seem right for his part either.)

This was only one of many problems. There were great characters in the cartoon but they didn't come across as great in the film. The dialogue was hopeless. And it was all so rushed. The film covered the first series of the cartoon, which was twenty episodes, but they crammed it all into 90 minutes. It was all a great disappointment. (I notice the film got awarded some Golden Raspberry awards for being the worst film of the year. To be fair, I'm not sure it was quite that bad. It was bad, but there were some reasonable action sequences and parts of it looked good.)

I saw it on TV so I don't know how the 3-D was. But I'm not interested in 3-D, and hope I never have to watch it.

There were another two series in the cartoon, so I suppose if the film had been a success there would have been two more films, but it doesn't seem like they will happen now. In a way this is a shame, because the film, being based on the first series of the cartoon, didn't even have some of the best characters, who arrive later. Toph, for instance, a young earth-bender. And Princess Azula, who is a really great villain. And is also one of the many cartoon females I fined myself strangely attracted to.

Well, I still recommend the cartoon anyway, it was great. I don't know if its still shown anywhere but if you come across it you should definitely watch it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Japan World Cup / Intruder Alert

I very much enjoyed watching the women's world cup final between Japan and the USA. It was a really good game, played at a high standard. I didn't mind who won, as both teams were good. It was exciting right to the end, when Japan were the victors in a penalty shoot-out.

I toasted Japan's victory with some warm sake. Well, I was going to drink that anyway. But I pretended it was a toast. I've been able to buy sake more easily recently, as my local supermarket has started stocking it, so I don't have to shop online anymore, and wait for it to be delivered.

About 10.45 pm, not long after the game finished, I had an extremely alarming experience. Someone put a key in my front door and tried to open it! Actually, alarming doesn't quite cover it. I headed towards the front door, shouting loudly and attempting to sound fierce. This had no effect, and the unknown intruder kept trying to open my front door with a key

So I threw open the door, ready to fight for my life. OK, that's not quite accurate. I opened the door with the burglar chain still in place. But if the intruder had broken through that, I was definitely ready to fight for my life.

The intruder turned out to be a young man I recognised, from the next section of this block, so hopelessly drunk that he'd wandered into the wrong entrance. He was fumbling to open what he thought was his own front door. He looked at me quite cheerfully and smiled when I told him he had the wrong flat. Then he shook my hand before stumbling off.

So that was alarming. But for a drunk person, it was quite an easy mistake. There are various entrances to all the flats in this long block, and they all look exactly the same. I have on one occasion found myself wandering into the wrong entrance, though I did realise my mistake before I tried to open someone else's front door.

Afterwards I drank more sake and returned to watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, one of many anime I'm watching at the moment.

Friday, July 08, 2011

World Record for Ruining T-shirt

My new Claymore t-shirt arrived from the USA. I ripped open the package, put it on, and went to look in the mirror.

'Hmm' I thought. 'That's strange. Why is it blood-stained?'

I realised I'd cut myself shaving. I hadn't even noticed before. Only a small nick, but enough to get blood on the t-shirt when I put it on. Sigh. I took it off and put it in the washing machine, thinking that, while I am clumsy and never take care of anything properly, I can usually keep something for more than five seconds before destroying it.

T-shirt currently in washing machine, getting blood rinsed out, I hope.

I seem to have developed an obsession with buying manga t-shirts. Possibly some sort of mid-life crisis effect. While other men are buying sports cars, I'm buying manga t-shirts. Hmm. Well, I am a big fan of Claymore anyway. I'll be pleased with the t-shirt when it's stain-free.



--

Here is an interview with me, and a good review of Lonely Werewolf Girl, on Jalisa Blackman's blog.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fetish Story and Fairy Story

Following my last blog, I decided to put the fetish story I wrote for Skin Two magazine on a separate blog, with an adult content warning. There's a link to it from the stories page of my website.

I also put another new story on my site, Rainith the Red. This is a tale about a fairy in London. It's quite a long story. I was commissioned to write it for an anthology, Wicked Pretty Things. However, this anthology proved to be rather ill-fated, and ended up not being published. So I've just decided to put the story on my site.

I used to have more stories on my website but I became bored with them long ago. I'll leave these two stories on there for a while.

I'm currently writing a third book about Kalix, troubled werewolf, which is coming along quite slowly.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Help Me With My Household problems. And Story Problems.

Current problems - Old TV - Sex story needing a home.

1) My television. This works perfectly well. But it's an old wide-screen TV, which means it is really huge and unwieldy. Not that I would generally be wielding it, I suppose. But it looks so old-fashioned compared to modern flat-screen TVs. Everyone else's TV is more modern than mine. People might be laughing at me behind my back.

Should I buy a new one? Or wait till mine goes wrong? If some old household appliance is working well, should you replace it just because you'd like a newer one? I've been puzzling about this for some time.

2) Sex story. I was looking at two stories I wrote for Skin Two, a fetish magazine. (Which closed for a while but has re-launched) I thought I like these stories but not many people had the chance to read them.

I used to have stories on my website, before I got bored with them all and removed them. So I thought I could just put these Skin Two stories on my website for people to read. Well, one of them anyway, which is better than the other. However, they were written for a fetish magazine and they're quite explicit. It was my intention, after receiving the commission for Skin Two, to write something that didn't avoid the subject of fetish and BDSM, but was quite cheerful. As opposed to gothic, gloomy or horrible. I thought I succeeded quite well. For stories which contain a lot of spanking, whipping and fucking, they're both rather cheerful. (to be fair to Skin Two, it also contained other good fiction, which wasn't gothic, gloomy or horrible.)

But I'm not sure about putting these stories on my website because having written Lonely Werewolf Girl and Curse of the Wolf Girl I seem to have become a teen or young adult author - which I never meant to do, it just happened by accident, though I'm not complaining because it's worked out well - and if young teenagers are visiting my website, maybe I shouldn't be putting explicit sex stories there. Might get complaints from outraged parents. I suppose I could post them somewhere else, but I have a low opinion of sites I've seen with sex stories on them. And who's going to read them there anyway?

Perhaps I'm worrying about nothing. There is so much pornography easily available on the internet, maybe no one would care at all about my cheerful fetish stories. But I'm not sure about that.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Evelyn Waugh / K-On

I just finished re-reading Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies, his first two novels, published in 1928 and 1930. I read these a long time ago and wondered if they were as good as I remembered them. They were, particularly Vile Bodies, Waugh's account of the bright young things who occupied the pages of London gossip columnists in the aftermath of the First World War.

I enjoyed reading this again. It's funny, quite cutting in places and it moves along rapidly in a series of short scenes. I like the lack of emotion shown by the central character when his life threatens to fall apart. Soon after it was published, the book became well-known for the language used by the bright young things; Agatha describing something as 'too, too sick-making' being the most obvious example.

I must have read Vile Bodies before I wrote my first book, so I wonder why I didn't steal from it, which is the sort of thing I would expect myself to do. But I didn't, as far as I remember.

I like this paragraph, at the heart of the novel -

…Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St John’s Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming-baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in Paris - all that succession and repetition of massed humanity… Those vile bodies…

My own piece of Evelyn Waugh trivia - A character in Lost in Translation uses Evelyn Waugh as her pseudonym for checking in anonymously at a hotel, not realising that Evelyn Waugh was male. The incongruity is pointed out by the character played by Scarlet Johansson. Then Scarlet's husband derides her for being smart. The cad.

K-On

However, the effort of reading two actual novels did take it out of me. I was fatigued afterwards, and could only slump in front of the TV for several days. I recovered gradually with anime, and watched many episodes of K-On. (Target Demographic - Japanese Schoolchildren age 8 - 14, and Scottish authors unable to rise from the couch.)

Hmm. I wish I had a job writing this anime. It's all about a band called Ho-kago Tea Time, which translates to After School Tea Time. Despite this being set in a present-day Japanese School, there's one scene where, to sort of signify great rock music, they show a picture of Led Zeppelin. Ah, their appeal is eternal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Small Bird Unhappiness.

I was walking home around eight-o-clock when I passed a small bird on the pavement, a baby sparrow I think. It was hopping around awkwardly. So I was concerned about this, but not sure what to do.

There didn't seem to be any trees around, or gardens, I wasn't sure where it could have come from. It was cowering on the pavement, looking unhappy.

I didn't want to pick it up, for two reasons. One, I had an idea that picking up a young bird is not a good thing to do, for the health of the bird. Two, I was nervous it might peck me and give me some incurable bird disease.

So after a few minutes dithering I phoned up the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) but this wasn't so easy because I had to call directory enquiries and then I knew I didn't have much credit on my phone. I got through to the RSPCA helpline, but this again was quite complicated. It was all 'press button one for this, and button two for that, and button three…' Finally there was an option for wild animals in distress and the automated helpline said if you found a young bird you should leave it alone, because it was probably a fledgling which had hopped out the nest, and it's parents were still looking after it. It would be able to fly in a day or two.

I wasn't very convinced about this - I could't see any sort of place it might have come from so I wasn't sure how its parents would find it. But I wandered home anyway, feeling quite gloomy about the bird, and thinking I should have been able to do something better. (This is all in the context that I am a hopelessly disorganised and inefficient person at everything.)

Once home I looked at the RSPCA website, which again told me that fledgling birds should be left alone. But it did also say that they might need help if they were injured. And if they were in an exposed position, like not in a garden, for instance, they might need put up on a ledge, out of the way of cats.

Well, by now I was confused. This bird did seem like a fledgling, fresh out the nest, but it had also seemed a bit injured. Or maybe it wasn't injured, maybe it was just distressed because it was on the pavement. I had no idea, really.

The advice line was just an endless stream of number options, giving pre-recorded advice. So I decided to phone the other line, which is the animal cruelty line (Though this didn't seem quite right, as I wasn't actually reporting any cruelty). This line gave more options, which included a message saying that they get many calls about young birds that have left their nests but are fine really. So I was a bit put off, and thought I'd probably be wasting everyone's time with my phone call. But I persevered anyway, because by now I was feeling very gloomy about the little bird on the pavement.

Finally I got to a place on the phone where I could report a wild animal in distress, and the RSPCA will send out an inspector to look. But among the myriad of phone options, it tells you that you can't report this unless you can actually see the distressed animal at that moment. Because, said the phone line automated service, they waste lots of time sending inspectors to check on distressed wild animals that turn out not to be there any more.

Well, I can understand this. The RSPCA is a charity, they don't have endless resources, in fact I imagine they are hard-pressed to do their job at all.

So I could only report this bird in trouble if I could actually see it. I took a note of the number, ate a biscuit because I was hungry, and walked back up the road, thinking that if I saw the bird again, I could phone the RSPCA back and report it.

However, when I arrived there, which was about half an hour since I'd first been there, the little bird was gone. I had a good look round but there was no sign of it.

There was a wooden fence above where the bird had been, and above that a sort of concealed hedge, from the garden beyond. I wondered if the parent birds might have rescued the fledgling. But I didn't see how, I don't think parent birds could pick up one of their offspring when it's grown that much. There were also some gaps in the fence I hadn't noticed before. Maybe it had gone through one of them, and was safe in a garden.

Hmm. I sort of doubt it. I think it's more likely a cat ate it, or maybe one of the many urban foxes there are around here.

So I walked home feeling very gloomy about all this, and am still quite depressed. Had I been more organised, and not for instance the sort of person who is worried about catching diseases from wild animals - and in fact is quite nervous about animals when it comes right down to it - I'm sure I could have done more. I could have picked the bird up, and looked after it till I took it to a vet or something. So I'm feeling rather a failure about all this at the moment.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Portal, general malaise, t-shirt

Arsenal's disastrous end-of-season form - and some angst about the difficulty of life - but mainly Arsenal's poor form - cast me into deep gloom, a malaise so profound that even if top model Rosie Huntington Whiteley had knocked on my door to announce that A) She had a secret crush on me, B) She'd been a naughty girl, and C) She'd brought along some agent provocateur lingerie she'd just been modelling, I'd still have been gloomy.

This is obviously some serious gloom. What if she'd brought a bag of manga? Well, I suppose that might have helped. But I'll need some beer as well.

I look forward to the day I can just disappear into some giant virtual reality computer where that sort of thing can happen. I'd never come back.

My gloom did lift somewhat when my new Portal 2 t-shirt arrived in the post. Did I mention how I can become completely obsessed with video games? Here I am wearing my Portal t-shirt, a willing victim of their marketing department. And you can see how happy I look. Actually I was quite cheerful when that photo was taken.

Other things in picture - my kitchen wall - corner of elderly fridge - sock hanging over radiator. There were other socks, but they're out of shot.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Determined Game Playing

I've been playing Portal on my Playstation, at the expense of all other activity. The experience fits in very well with two characteristics I have. One, I tend to be far behind other people in discovering things. Two, I then become completely obsessed with them.

After a friend recommended the game to me, I bought it and then worked my way through it in a determined fashion, meanwhile thinking to myself 'This is the best game ever invented.' (I can become over-enthusiastic.)

So, I was some years behind millions of other gamers in playing Portal. But in a way this has turned out well because the second game has just been released. After finishing the first game I didn't have to wait any time for a new one, I just bought Portal 2 and kept on playing.

My obsession can also extend to merchandise. I've been wondering if I could justify buying myself a companion cube. I'd like one. They do look like they'd make good companions. And there are some t-shirts I'd like too. The Valve store only operates in America but they do do international shipping, so I could rush them an order.

On the related subject of video games made into films - which I also saw later than other people - I watched Prince of Persia but I was disappointed. There's something wrong with he film. Well, being based on a video game it's completely stupid, obviously, but that wasn't the real problem. I'm quite prepared to sit and watch a completely stupid film based on a video game, I'm not expecting the plot to be any good.

The problem was that in the original game, you get rid of your human opponents quickly and then move on to fighting the sand monsters, who are much more interesting. But this never happens in the film. I kept waiting for the sand monsters to appear but they never did.

Other films watched some time after their release - Kick Ass. I enjoyed this. It wasn't as violent as I feared. I'm not keen on gore or horror. However, though I thought it was a good film, I enjoyed the parts where the young girl with purple hair was fighting much better than all the other parts. So I kept thinking 'Where is the girl with purple hair? I want her to come back and start fighting again.' If they were to make another film featuring just her, fighting all the time, I'd like that.

And now, I could do my day's writing shift. Or I could get back to Portal 2. Well, there's only one winner in that competition.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Bloody Valentine

I'm torn between buying the soundtrack for Lost in Translation and - eh - not buying it. In favour of buying it: I'm still obsessed with the film. Also, I just discovered the the soundtrack contains five songs by Kevin Shields, the main creative force behind My Bloody Valentine. I did know there was a song by My Bloody Valentine in the film, but I didn't realise Kevin Shields did more of the music.

Unfortunately I have a strong feeling that buying a soundtrack is a really bad thing to do. Like it means you're a big fan of film music. Which I'm not. But maybe this only applies to the soundtrack of Evita, or Phantom of the Opera. Hmm. I do have a natural inclination against it for some reason.

I really liked My Bloody Valentine. Their album Loveless is a great favourite. I bought it on cassette in 1991 and I clearly remember wondering if the cassette was warped, so strange was some of the music, till you got used to it. I'm sure other people thought this as well, the first time they heard it.

I remember seeing My Bloody Valentine play, but for some reason my memory fails me a little on this gig. It was in the early 90s, and I'm sure it was at the Forum in North London, but I'm certain My Bloody Valentine weren't headlining. They were the support band but I can't remember which band they were supporting. I saw a lot of bands at the Forum around that time. I can remember The Pixies, Carter USM, Pop Will Eat itself, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and others, but I can't quite remember who My Bloody Valentine played with.

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Here is a 10 second video of me. I already put this on Facebook - and Twitter - but I'm putting it here as well because, as the first video of myself I've ever uploaded anywhere, it's obviously an important social document, and needs to be preserved for society. Possibly NASA should send it into space, so alien civilisations can eventually see it.

Hi, here's my new Runaways t-shirt. Kalix would like this.

video

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cocksucker Blues - Rolling Stones

I just watched Cocksucker Blues, a documentary from 1972 about a Rolling Stones tour of America, directed by Robert Frank. The film has never been officially released. When it was finished the Rolling Stones decided they didn't want it shown, so it's remained in the vaults for the past 39 years, viewable only in bootleg copies. I watched it in ten parts on YouTube.

I did enjoy it as a period piece from the 70s, but it wasn't the wildly exciting documentary I anticipated. It does have its moments, including quite a prolonged scene of a woman injecting heroin. There's a lot of traveling, a lot of hotel rooms, some music, brief glimpses of sex and nudity, but the main impression you get is of a lot of stoned people sitting around talking. There isn't much of the young Rolling Stones on stage, though the few live performances are good. I suppose the director was just trying to give an impression of what life on tour was like, in which he succeeds.

I wasn't a Rolling Stones fan while young, but in later life I started to like them a lot more. The tour in the documentary is to promote the album Exile on Main Street, and that's a really fine album, one of their greatest moments.

Cocksucker Blues is an odd choice of title. I suppose it was just chosen to be offensive. Cocksucker is not a common insult in Britain. I've never used it, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone use it for real. (I've probably heard people say it in imitation of an American film or TV show.) The Rolling Stones certainly wouldn't have used the word when they were growing up. In common with the rest of London, they would have insulted someone by calling them a facking cahnt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Runaways / Epictetetus

When a person does something really stupid, and their foolishness is pointed out to them, they sometimes say - All right, I might have got it wrong but it's not like I killed anyone.

Faced with this, some time around 100 AD, the Stoic Philosopher Epictetus made this reply - You didn't kill anyone because there was no one there to be killed. But the only thing you could get wrong, you did get wrong.

I think that's a fair point, and a good reply.

I'm not surprised that people used the familiar excuse - Well it's not like I killed anyone - as long ago as the first century. In ancient literature people often have the just the same sort of problems and attitudes as people do today.

After musing about this for some days, and thinking I must have something really interesting to say about people always being the same, I realise I don't. Hum. Oh well, I find it interesting anyway. And I like Epictetus. I admire him too. He was a slave when he was young, and then went on to be one the founders of Stoic philosophy.

--

I watched The Runaways. I thought it was a good film. Kristen Stewart was excellent as Joan Jett. I liked her a lot. (I haven't seen any of the Twilight films however.) Dakota fanning was a good Cherie Currie too.

Kim Fowley, their manager, comes over as strange, and quite creepy, though I'm sure that the members of the band have said things about him far worse than portrayed in the film.

When the Runaways were around, in 1978 and 79, music journalists in Britain completely derided them. I don't think I ever saw a good word written about them. They were dismissed as just a bunch of young girls selling records by dressing in revealing corsets and so on. This was very unfair. They were a very good band. Their Live in Japan album is great, they could really play.

I looked at their page on Wikipedia and at the foot of the page, under the heading 'Use in media' it says 'In the 2008 novel Lonely Werewolf Girl, by Martin Millar, the main character's favorite band is The Runaways.' I was pleased about that. In the next book, Kalix will go and see the film.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life's wisdom. Vacuum cleaners, bagless

Moving through life, you pick up pieces of wisdom and experience. And my current life-lesson, learned quite recently, is that it's a bad idea to buy a bagless vacuum cleaner.

There are attractions, of course. When you're about to buy a new vacuum cleaner, and you're looking through the Argos catalogue for instance, and you see the adverts for vacuum cleaners without bags, you think, 'Well that seems like a good idea.' Because the bags are quite annoying. When it gets full you have to change it, which means buying a new one, and that can be awkward. They don't sell these bags in that many shops. And when you find them, they all have complicated numbers, like '30005 XJB' And you look at the bag, and think - 'Will that fit my vacuum model 30005 XJA, or do I need a different one?' And then you probably arrive home with the wrong bags and it's just very frustrating.

So, given all that provocation by the bags, it's sort of natural to think 'To hell with it, I'm going to buy a bagless vacuum cleaner.' Which brings me back to looking through the Argos catalogue, and thinking - 'That looks fairly cheap, and it doesn't have a bag. I'll buy that one.'

But this, I now advance as a general theory, is a mistake. The bagless vacuum cleaner is fine at the start. Sucks up the dirt, and no bag to replace. The problem is when you try to empty it. Which is probably when it gets so full it just won't work anymore. And then you find out something they don't tell you in the catalogue - emptying a bagless vacuum cleaner is really disgusting. You open it up and instead of just whipping out one full bag and putting in another empty one, you actually have to clean out all this filth you've sucked up for the past six months. And it doesn't all come out easily. Some of it is all squashed up and compacted and you have to kind of scrape it out and it's really disgusting. I hate cleaning out this bagless vacuum cleaner. It's appalling. I regard the whole thing as a terrible mistake.

Note - none of this blog is applicable to fancy Dyson cleaners and other high-end devices. They may be completely different. All my experience of household appliances comes from the cheap end of the Argos catalogue.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Price Increase Scandal

I like this painting by Picasso, sold last week at auction for £25 million. It depicts Marie-Therese Walter, with whom Picasso had a long affair. Picasso met her at a tube station in Paris in 1927. She was 17 at the time and he approached her with the line 'I am Picasso. You and I are going to do great things together.' I couldn't help but be impressed with Picasso for this. What a rogue. Am now eager to try it out. There isn't a tube station nearby but there is a large bus station so I'm off to give it a try. What could go wrong? I can definitely see this working out well.

It's Valentine's day. This generally reminds me of the tragic scene in Buffy when Xander gives Cordelia a necklace as a Valentines present. She immediately breaks up with him, thereby crushing Xander's spirit. Cordelia was a wonderful character in Buffy. I was sorry when she left the show, and she was never so good in Angel.

But in the main scandal of the day, my local Sainsbury's supermarket is now charging £1 for a packet of hobnobs! My favourite biscuits - or cookies - have rocketed in price. I was staggered when I noticed this. No doubt using the recession as an excuse, Sainsbury's have whacked up the price. It's scandalous. Only a few weeks ago they were 85 pence, and in fact quite recently they were on sale for the reduced price of 45 pence. Now it's a pound for a packet! I'm completely outraged. Hobnobs are a large part of my staple diet. I depend on them. £1 for a packet of Hobnobs. It's just not right. May stage protest outside the shop, with an angry placard.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Recent Cultural Activities

It's been a big few days of culture here. Meaning culture I can do without moving from the couch, obviously. It's not like I'm going to make the effort to go to the opera or anything.

First I finished a large batch of Buffy comics. I'd fallen behind with the series. These comics counted as Buffy Season 8, a continuation of the TV show, and were overseen by Joss Whedon. I'm not really sure what to say about them. I don't love these comics, but I love Buffy and it's good to have more.

Next I watched Star Trek. This was fairly recent film, with new actors playing the young Spock and the young Captain Kirk. I've never been a huge Star Trek fan - apart from Voyager, which I liked purely because of the awesome beauty of 7 of 9 - but I quite enjoyed this film. The plot wasn't great but it all looked entertaining. And there was a green-skinned woman in a bikini. I liked her. Possibly my critical standards suffer when confronted by attractive alien women in bikinis. But I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

And this Star Trek film reminded me of an old record, from 1979 I think, Where's Captain Kirk by Spizzeneregi, which was a big post-punk favourite. You used to hear that at gigs and clubs all the time.

So I went and listened to it on YouTube, and when I was on YouTube, just browsing around, I happened across something by Eno, and I thought 'I haven't listened to Here Come the Warm Jets for a really long time.' So I listened to it and thought, as I have thought before, this is one of the greatest albums ever. It was Eno's first solo record after he left Roxy Music and it is brilliant.

I've always believed the title - Here Come the Warm Jets - was a reference to urination, and probably something to do with Eno's large collection of pornography, though Wikipedia suggests otherwise. But anyway it reminded me of a book I hadn't thought about for a long time, Story of the Eye, written by Georges Bataille in 1928. Which, as far as I remember, does contain a lot of sex with people pissing on each other. Although it is a very long time since I read this. (I seem to say that a lot these days.) I remember reading it when I was at school, right after I read The Story of O. I liked The Story of O much better than Story of the Eye. But my blog is now lurching off course into something like 'Fetish books I read furtively at school instead of concentrating in geography class,' so, getting back to my cultural achievements in the past few days, I also read The Diary of Lady Murasaki by Murasaki Shikibu in Japan around 1008. Its a diary of her time at the Imperial Palace. Murasaki also wrote The Tale of Genji, which is a Japanese classic. I've never read it, but I will have to read it now because her diary about her life at court was so interesting.

The Japanese court was really civilised around the year 1000. Much more civilised than court life in Britain, I'm sure. The King of England at the time was Ethelred the Unready, one of England's best-named Kings. The King of Scotland was Cináed mac Duib, or Kenneth III. His grand-daughter Gruoch was Lady Macbeth, as written about by Shakespeare.

Am now worn out with culture and will return to watching SpongeBob SquarePants for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Romantic Comedy

I just watched a film called Suburban Girl because I thought it was going to be a romantic comedy. But it turned out not to be a comedy at all, just a romance. I persevered with it because it starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was of course Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm willing to give Buffy a chance in any film, even though I was fairly unimpressed by her career choice of Scooby-Doo movies.

I enjoyed Suburban Girl but once again felt thwarted in my efforts to find a good romantic comedy. I am starting to suspect that the genre may have peaked with When Harry Met Sally. Maybe there will never be another one as good as that again. Or one that reaches the heights of Annie Hall. Or even Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Actually, I sort of lost the inspiration to look for good romantic comedies around 2003 when I went to see The Sweetest Thing at the cinema. This was meant to be a romantic comedy but it was such a bad film I walked out half way through. At some point in the film, the main characters - one of whom was Cameron Diaz, who might have known better - were all sitting in a restaurant when for no apparent reason they all broke into a 'raunchy' song and dance. The film wasn't actually a musical, but despite this the director apparantly thought it would help things along if the women started singing something called 'the penis song.' This was so bad, and so inappropriate, that I was staggered when it happened. I still regard it as one of the worst scenes I've ever seen in any film.

I was so fed up I left the cinema. When I was walking out I grunted in the direction of the women at the cashier's office, saying something like "This is the worst film ever made." And this woman, who turned out to be the manageress, said "Well perhaps it's not your sort of film…"

I understood why she said that. Before venturing out to the cinema I'd probably been sitting round writing for four or five days and had forgotten to get shaved, or changed, and possibly did not look like the sort of person who enjoyed a good romantic comedy. In fact I may have looked like a tramp who wandered in off the street.

So I said to her that I was a fan of romantic comedies but this one had just been really terrible, and was a disgrace to the genre. And then the manageress smiled in a friendly manner and gave me a voucher to come back to the cinema for free, because I'd hated the film so much. I thought that was good customer service from the Streatham Odeon. I liked that they gave me a free voucher. But the whole incident did make me lose heart about finding romantic comedies I enjoyed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beat / French Books

I've just read an interview with Neal Cassady's wife on the Guardian website. She sounded nice, but it reminded me that I've never liked any of these famous beat generation people - Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg and so on. I've always found them annoying. I mean, riding around on a bus, listening to bebop and taking drugs, what's so great about that? Sounds terrible to me.

Hmmm. Why don't I like these people? I'm not certain. It's so long since I read On the Road I can't remember why I didn't like it. Maybe it's just an irrational prejudice, of which I have my share. It may possibly be because they all had exciting adventures which I would not be able to manage. Yes, that may be the real reason. Damn them for having interesting lives.

I'm right about bebop however. Surely it was always unlistenable. If you wanted great music in the 50s then R&B was much more entertaining. As long ago as 1946, there were great records like Roy Brown's Good Rockin' Tonight, and then of course the epic Rocket 88, written by Ike Turner in 1951.

--

After offering some free copies of the French edition of Lonely Werewolf Girl in my last blog, I realised, sadly, that I had made the mistake of getting involved in an activity which would require me to think. Having no idea of who to give the books to, I finally wrote down a number for each reply left then stuck a pin in the sheet of paper. This competition may not have satisfied the high standards required by the local gaming commission. Nonetheless, my winners are -

1 Simon Anderson

2 Marjorie

So if these people would like to email me via my website at www.martinmillar.com to give me their addresses, I'll post you the books.