Sunday, 31 October 2010

In which I utterly fail to say anything useful

Just a quick post after a hectic weekend, to try to keep my hand in. Hopefully the feature deluge will continue soon.

Had a very good weekend, saw a few people I've been missing (especially the boyf, who I've just realised I'm mentioning for the first time... (it'll be fine, I'm pretty sure he doesn't read this (he already knows what goes on inside my head, pretty much, and prolonged exposure is unlikely to help maintain your sanity (don't say I didn't warn you...)))) and did a lot of shopping (hence a lot of walking, my feet are still sulking) and eating. Stayed in The Godmother's flat in Wapping and played at being a yupple (yuppie couple - further venues for this game include the M&S foodhall and anywhere with a lounge).

Back by popular demand (ok, Lady Zorro (she swashes! She buckles! Her name has a Z in it! (have decided, entirely from laziness, not to think about these aliases for more than about 5 seconds)) said she enjoyed them), more Observations about London Town:

1. CSOs (Community Support Officers (demi-police, fond of biscuits (heard one in Norwich being warned by a mischievous youth that it's a criminal offence to impersonate a police officer))) are apparently not allowed squad cars but can commandeer a bus whenever they feel like it. I was on a bus when this happened. Bemusement ensued.

2. The pink polo is apparently the new Burberry cap for belly-scratching youths.

3. Wheelie suitcases have come the closest of anything thus far to making me believe in the devil. Saw two of them trapped with their owners in the ticket/oyster gates at Waterloo today. Sweet justice!

4. If you stand still for long enough, a queue will form behind you. This happened to me twice today, and rather annoyed an old woman, who apparently thought I had second sight when it came to cashpoints.

5. People don't ask you for directions/jostle you/stand too close to you on the train anywhere near as often when you have a tall, loudly Irish man with you. Funny, that.

6. (Because I'm generous!) The larger the shop, the louder the music. Because nothing makes you buy things like bleeding eardrums. (Nike (I refuse to call it Niketown - it's not that big and doesn't really have much of a variety of products, if you can ignore the creepy ranks of football-kitted mannequins long enough to notice) is a particularly bad offender, and has apparently drafted in several CDs of techno white noise to help people relax into consumerism.)

Right, time for bed. Wish I could have saved up that extra hour for when I really needed it!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

My Harry Potter Feature! Part the first.

I’m having real trouble writing a feature article for Journalism School. I think it’s mostly because I’m thinking of it as work, and actually doing work is so far down my list of priorities most days as to actually not be on it. So I had the brainwave of writing it for the blog, on which I can be rambling and whimsical and use as many brackets as I like (suck it, sub-man!), and then translating it into a Proper Feature from there. So, here is the first part (it's looooooooooong) of my account of the day I went to Platform 9 ¾:

First of all, it was really hard to find. I managed the Underground, and even found my way into the right bit of King’s Cross, but then there were builders everywhere. And dust. And stacks of things. I eventually had to ask for directions from a very cheerful station official who just said: ‘Harry Potter? Down there, two lefts, past the bicycle rack.’
            Turns out 9 ¾ is a sign (white letters on black, I’ve heard it’s cast iron but you can’t tell) and half a trolley (the rest of it is supposedly in the wall, but I have a suspicion it is in fact a clever work of illusion, as it would otherwise risk rendering the wall structurally unsound) in a corridor between two platforms, bisected by a very noisy security door. I’ll be honest with you, after the initial 10 seconds of mild excitement, you realise it’s actually pretty dingy and cold and builders are looking at you funny because you’re hanging around a little longer than most people do, and not taking any pictures. Thankfully, the first tourists/fans arrived not too long after this realisation, and things got interesting.
            Sachio and Yoko arrived with a giant suitcase (which was big enough to contain a friendly robot or possibly a fridge) and got quite excited. Drawing on my knowledge of fans (in general) from past conventions, I offered to take a picture of the two of them in front of the sign. It worked, and this went on to become my main strategy. Sachio and Yoko are Japanese, and have been fans for 8 years. They were meeting up after 6 years apart (Sachio had moved to the UK sometime during this period, and Yoko was visiting her) and (judging by Mr Giant Suitcase) this was pretty much the first thing they were doing together. They told me they were going to try to get onto the set of the last movie, which is currently being filmed somewhere. When I asked why they are such fans of Harry Potter, Sachio said: ‘The atmosphere is amazing.’ Yoko murmured something in Japanese, which her friend translated: ‘She wants to try the pumpkin pie from the movie!’ I have to be honest, these weren’t the mouth-breathing, cloak-wearing fans I was expecting (they weren’t even wearing glasses! (sorry, fellow glasses-weareres (I decided at the last minute that the term ‘speccies’ is probably quite insulting), but you’ve got to admit, there are more than a few of us in the Kingdom of Nerd) but I wasn’t too disappointed – they were really lovely. This proved to be something of a theme for the rest of the day.
            In the quiet spell that followed the lovely ladies’ departure, I chatted to Robert Bundik, who is involved in the station repairs somehow (I’m guessing, from his bright orange overalls and occupation of a small office on the other side of a security barrier), who a friendly builder brought from his lair for me as he was too busy to talk to me himself. He told me that: ‘usually all day there are people here, from morning until evening,’ which boded well for my mission. He said that the visitors are ‘all different nationalities, sometimes big groups, tourists, that kind of thing.’ I was struck by his indulgent attitude towards both the fans and me. He was more than happy to talk, and didn’t seem to mind the constant coming and going which must surely make his job somewhat more difficult.
            Next up to rattle the luggage trolley (it’s quite securely attached, but it didn’t stop us all trying) was a group of young Russians, over from St Petersburg for a conference. Liya, who emerged as the group’s leader, told me proudly that: ‘I read all the books. The first book I got from my sister, she was in London and sent it to me. I got the book before they were popular in Russia.’ She’s carrying on the tradition – her 8-year-old brother has asked her to bring him back something Harry Potter-related. Her friend Vera told me she isn’t a fan, although she’s read 5 of the books and seen all the films. I got the feeling she’s a bit embarrassed to be caught at the Platform – she described the books somewhat grandly as ‘really good books for children and young guys.’ ‘Of course,’ she adds, ‘the last book is not for children, it’s for adults.’ I’m tempted to agree. Another Russian declined to be named, saying (rather sweetly): ‘No, I’m a secret fan.’
            After the Russians came two of my favourite Potterheads of the day, Aubrey and Sean. Both from Georgia in America, they told me with a touch of pride that they are ‘both big fans.’ I let them get on with the picture-taking first (so many of the fans I met had huge, impressive cameras, and Aubrey & Sean (in my mind, they’re some sort of double act) were no exception). Sean grinned as he grasped the luggage trolley’s handles. ‘This is to torture my daughter,’ he kept saying, somewhat sinisterly. It turns out she’s an even bigger fan than he is, and is very envious of his trip (the lads (see, that sounds much less appropriate than Aubrey & Sean, Aubrey & Sean are not lads, and never have been) have just nipped over the Channel from a Food & Wine Tour (that’s just how they roll (with &s!)) in France) so he wants to record his moment of triumph (he also wanted some picture for a friend he works with in Afghanistan, where he’s a chef (I know, hardcore (take note, Superchef!), he told me that normally when he meets journalists, he directs them into minefields. I think he was joking…)). Aubrey told me everyone in his house is a fan (he has 5 boys, ‘2 rented’ (he fosters, America isn’t that strange)) and they used to dress up to go to midnight screenings of the films and to the book launches (finally, someone who’ll admit to being more of the fan I imagined! Sadly, I get the impression he did it mostly for the kids), where one of his sons got a lot of attention as when he was younger he possessed a striking resemblance to a certain Daniel Radcliff.
            Shortly after the departure of my new favourite double act, Heinz and his son Moritz, 13, (who says I’m not learning anything at Journalism School!) peered rather nervously around the corner at me. Heinz hadn’t been to London since 1972, and had brought his son over for the half term holiday to improve his English. Moritz is the fan, Heinz told me firmly (they were both rather solemn, but very sweet), but he hasn’t read all the books (his mum read him the first one; they started the second, but never finished). Asked what his favourite thing about Harry Potter was, he described the part of the 5th film when Krum walks into the Great Hall at Hogwarts, with fiery dragons flying around him. Heinz took a picture of Moritz holding the trolley’s handles and pressing his head against the wall as if disappearing into it.
            The next fan I met (who merits a mention as she let me take a picture AND gave me her email address) was Mille, from Denmark, who was on holiday with her parents. Her favourite book is The Order of the Phoenix, and she likes the books because ‘It’s cosy and at the same time it’s scary.’ Her father told me (with a mischievous look in his eye, now I come to think of it) that Mille had just had her picture taken with Daniel Radcliff. It turned out to be his waxwork at Madame Tussauds, which is less exciting (although it’s very lifelike, they showed me the picture).  

Right, hometime! More of this anon, hopefully (otherwise I'm never going to get this feature done!).

Ramblings and Observations

First, the ramblings! Mostly, I just want to be able to go shopping! I want/need the following:

- Gloves (actually, I'll be buying these as soon as I have any money that's not the bank's - Winter is coming (and if you know where that comes from, you're even cooler than I thought you were (except you, Harold (like the alias? Yes, I'm lazy) I already know how cool you are)).

- A Proper Handbag. There are some specifics: big enough for an A4 pad, my umbrella and my lunch, along with the other sundries of commuter life, preferably leather, smart, hardwearing, practical (I really like the satchel styles around at the moment - they fit in well with the Look I have somewhat organically developed (little black coat (with a little dress or whatever underneath) + either tights/leggings and black kneehigh boots (one of my best ever birthday presents) or jeans and little black ankle boots + hat), mostly through trying to be semi-smart and not having many clothes to confuse myself with).
I have wanted one for about 2 years now, and as the Working World looms ever nearer (fingers crossed), it is becoming even more important that I find one. So much so that I'll probably even be buying one before:

- A new hat! I saw a really cute one in Topshop a while ago: in case you care.

- Another cardigan. Because grannydom just can't come fast enough! (Also because it's cold and I'd like something that's not a hoodie to wear under my coat.

- More boots. Preferably cosy, possibly those fur-trimmed hiking boots that are everywhere. I just want more options for keeping my toes toasty!

- More dresses, tops, blouses, the perfect jeans, diamond-encrusted stilettos etc etc.

How much of this I will actually get around to purchasing remains to be seen. Hopefully at least the first two items on the list, or I am going to be very cold and scruffily disorganised.

And now, some Observations about life in London town:

1. People seems to take it as a personal affront if you sit next to them, especially on public transport. I have the urge to tell them I'm not actually the one responsible for cramming the seats into trains so tightly, but this would break one of the Rules of public transport in these parts - not talking. (I bet you could form an order of undercover contemplative nuns who lived on the tube and no one would notice.)

2. There are some very shouty people who hang around one of the entrances at Waterloo. I haven't been able to make out whether they're selling something or merely venting their frustration at an uncaring world, as they appear to be yelling in a language hitherto unknown to humans.

3. WHERE ARE THE STREET SIGNS? Are councils' budgets really that tiny? Navigation is very difficult because you often have to walk around a corner to find out where you are, at which point you are no longer there and have to start all over again.

4. WHERE ARE THE ATMS IN FARRINGDON? I have only been able to find one, and it's dodgy in the extreme and charges £1.80 per withdrawal. Do I need to join some sort of secret society in order to withdraw my own money? There is also an utter lack of opportunities to get cashback. Why? Is Farringdon a secret outpost of Communism?

5. Why is it people only ever seem to ask you for directions if you're waiting at a bus stop? Is it a sure indication that you're a local? One (possibly Eastern European) man just thrust a scrap of paper with a postcode written on it into my hand and was both disappointed and incredulous when I told him that I was also relatively new to the city (although I was wearing my big furry aviatory hat, so perhaps he thought I was his contact or something).

Must sleep now as it is technically tomorrow.

Monday, 25 October 2010

More things! (It's late)

I'm the exact opposite of prolific these days, aren't I? Thought I'd better write something to keep this poor little blog alive, so you get the first of many rambling list entries.

In my first ever journalism class, I told everyone that what annoys me most is 'people'. In fact, people in general don't really get to me. It's more specific kinds of people. Therefore, I bring you:

Pet Peeves No. 1: People who don't get off escalators properly.

Yes, this is a pretty pathetic thing to hold a grudge over, but I kept seeing them today.

Now, escalators are one of those sure signs that we are living in The Future (moving stairs! Come on!) but they have been around for a while. Long enough, in fact, for people to learn how to disembark from them properly. But no, there are always some who insist on waiting until the last minute, looks of intense concentration on their faces, before hopping off with a relieved little smirk at the precise instant they reach stationary ground . Not only is this silly (that flat bit at the top? It's so you can get into your stride to step off, and don't need to do any ridiculous bunny impressions), it also inconveniences the person behind them, who would have dismounted perfectly sensibly, had they been given the space to do so, but as the fool in front of them stubbornly occupies it until the last possible moment, they are forced to do likewise, and make that irritating little hop-step or risk falling over. What about the elderly, who need a good run-up in general? Must they risk their ankles because of some precious moron? Yes, apparently.

Rant over, mostly because I'm going to bed. Next time: Grammar Nazis get their comeuppance! (Not really...)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

[Totally forgot to add a title]

Ok, so. Not been so great with the updates recently. I’m going to make like an angry letter-writer-in and blame it on Broken Britain. Had an excellent weekend, though. Really enjoyed spending some time with my parents (yes, I’m one of those weird people who is friends with their parents. You see more and more of us about the older everyone gets, but I have been like this for a while (ever since the teenaged screeching and door-slamming stopped, in fact)) and seeing my aunt before she moves to a desert nation I’d never heard of. Also there was an excellent pub lunch, and renewed proof that crème brûlée is my spirit dessert (like a spirit animal, but tastier!) – this one was a white chocolate and raspberry version. (And wasn’t even mine – my father needs to learn the hazards of ordering crème brûlée while sitting next to me, i.e. I will eat it.)

I’m currently writing this during a mock News Writing exam. I know, I know, but I’ve finished with an hour to spare and I’ll get eyestrain if I double-check any longer. After lunch, we get to correct each other’s, a real exercise in trust-building and forging friendships, I don’t think (and not all that helpful, as most of us want a real mark from a real marker), and we will be being put into groups to ensure different perspectives are provided. I suspect it may be because one group proved hilariously bad at it last time, and am very much afraid that I’m going to be stuck with one of the reasons for this, but hey-ho. It’s just like being back at school. 

Still, tomorrow we apparently get to learn interview technique (probably the most magazine-related lesson yet! (although I bet you Mr Hack will find a way to make it all newspapery (no, that’s not his name, yes, it is a bit obvious))) and something else, which sounds nice. Kind of want to do some more shorthand, though – caught myself tracing out my train of thought on my knee on the train this morning. Fairly sure the man sitting opposite me noticed, though how he could tear his eyes from the matching-fleece-and-chinos, sandals-in-October behemoth sitting next to me and moulting all over my coat is anyone’s guess.

Going to print off and conk out now. Look up for more exciting, stream-of-consciousness updates in the future! (Maybe even tomorrow... the Birthday Blog, a 22-year review of planet Earth)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I have a question

Does anyone else not know the difference between Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg? 

Long tiring day today (lots of marking mock exams, and associated stress) but my evening's been pretty good. Ate a disgusting quantity of chicken chow mein in front of an America's Next Top Model omnibus, and am now drinking tea and internetting in bed. And I even get a lie-in tomorrow! Feels good, man.

Very brief post today because I am lazy and full of noodles. My parents are coming to visit this weekend. I'm excited, but have been instructed to hide everything in the wardrobe before they get here so they'll think the house is usually tidy. Of course it's not tidy, it's got me in it!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Another review (The Amateurs)

I've gotten a bit lazy about this posting thing, so I'm kickstarting the new blog week with another review (mostly because very little of note has happened, but you can decide I'm being intentionally mysterious if you like).

The Amateurs - Falling Slowly

Video here:

This is another song found online. The Amateurs are one of those harmony/a cappella kind of groups that the uncharitable among us consider glorified choirs. I have nothing against a cappella music (done right, it can be quite entertaining, and make you think about familiar songs from completely different angles) but I'm going to come out and say that, in the case of the Amateurs, I don't really see the point. Granted, this view is based entirely on listening to one song a couple of times on youtube (although this gives me far better grounds for my opinion than some of the site's commenters), but I'll be including a link to a more official review lower down, so you can check if I'm right.

My fist problem is that, from the look of the video, this group is huge for the sound it's making. They could cut out at least three people, sing harder, and sound better. Secondly, the song is just too predictable. I wouldn't be interested in listening to this oh-so-meaningful, carefully crescendoed ballad with an instrumental accompaniment, so what's going to make me want to listen to an a cappella version? Very little, it turns out. I'm sure they all sing perfectly adequately, and the rather poor quality video probably doesn't do their voices justice, but I find I just can't bring myself to care. Maybe this is because I need to go to bed soon, and maybe it's because they're boring. All I know is, the minute the song finishes, I've forgotten it (which makes writing a review a little trickier, so minus points for that!). 

The Amateurs are beautifully colour-coded (the dapper red suit on the right merits special attention) but vocally, they don't stand out. The male lead singer has one of those deplorably whiny voices that make me think of Justin Timberlake hopped up on oestrogen (music-reviewerly comparison quota met, I think) and the backing singers are just so average that they might as well not be there at all. At least impersonate an oboe or something! I wasn't thinking about the music at all, the competent, fade-into-the-back-of-your-consciousness harmonies saw to that.

In short, this song was probably very wholesome and musically correct, but, like the shredded wheat I forced down for breakfast this morning, it was utterly, utterly bland. And you might like to know, tomorrow I will be eating chocolate chip brioche, because I am amazing, and dull cereal, like dull music, makes me go off in a huff in search of something more interesting. 

There you have it. If you want to listen to some more exciting a cappella, try Our of the Blue or All the King's Men (shameless plug, I've never heard them, but Jumanji says they're good (if cheesy) so I'll trust her just this once).

Better informed review of the album this song is apparently on:


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Shop til you drop

Otherwise titled What I Did On My Weekend.

Jumanji and I do shopping. Even when we don't have any money, we shop (well, we wander around looking at things and having opinions(loudly)). And I have to say, this weekend was a fine return to form. We started out in Selfridges on Saturday, wandered through the food hall (Jumanji bought some very sparkly cupcakes and we watched a very old, very angry American woman harangue a poor shop assistant (cakes are clearly Serious Business over the pond), and then wandered off to another counter for macaroons and discounted whoopie pies (despite the ridiculosity of the name, they're pretty good - marshmallow and cake should have been brought together before now (and apparently the innovators who first created them are the Amish)) before inspecting what is apparently the World's Largest Gummy Bear) and then visited the famed shoe exhibition. There was a serious scrum of shoppers in a certain scarlet-soled section, but other than that we were free to wander around exclaiming at heels and prices.

Lunch was at Sakura, a very popular Japanese restaurant on Hanover Street. The prices were good, and the food utterly dispelled the myth that Japanese food is healthy. My oyakodon was mostly deep-fried chicken, accompanied by a bowl of miso soup that tasted of nothing so much as Guinness. Jumanji had udon topped with lots of foamy deep-fried tofu. Very tasty all round.

A visit to Portobello market took up most of the rest of the day. I was amazed at the size of it, more than anything (the variety, not so much  - most of the clothes stalls sold pretty much the same thing, ditto hats and makeup, and if you've seen one vintage jewellery stall, you've seen them all). I did manage to find some nice things, though - tights and two necklaces. Could have bought a lot more stuff (and, indeed, Jumanji did! (just kidding, Ji, I like your scarf-hat really)) but I was restrained, sort of. All sorts of people wandering around, too (including the winner of the Second-Scariest Dreads I Have Seen This Week Award (the overall winner was at the Old Bailey on Thursday - they were like ropes, and they just about strangled him before my eyes)).

Today (after much diversion thanks to the Planned Engineering Works that make weekend travel so much fun) we grabbed lunch on the hoof at a Bagel Factory (I was first introduced to this amazing chain in Dublin, and am very, very glad to find them in London) and then set out on a serious search for leggings. Uniqlo proved the winner on this front - reasonable prices and very good quality- and I am now the proud owner of two pairs (for the first time since I was about 7 (no matter what I tell myself about their practicality and winter drawing in, leggings will always make me feel around that age)). Along the way, we went for bra fittings, which was exciting, but bittersweet, as Jumanji thoroughly confused the fitting woman, and I am now traumatised by my own bra size (I won't burden you with the actual size (it'd be far too awful to see it in black and white), but suffice to say the woman laughed when I told her what size I thought I was). We also visited H&M, where Jumanji actually tried to take 10 items plus belt into the fitting rooms (I don't want to be mean in pointing it out, but she didn't plan on buying at least half of them! (and I was pretty much asleep leaning on a clothes rail by this point)).  Most impressively, though, I managed to get a train home without any mishap.

A busy day of subbing awaits, so I'll have to sign off and drop off. Goodnight!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Further Things

Firstly, I read on the news about 5 minutes ago that Johnny Depp is in town and visited a school after a little girl (who looks alarmingly like I used to at that age) wrote him a letter. All very exciting and (I'm being a touch cynical here) very good PR. I didn't even know there was going to be a new PotC movie. Actually it sounds like it'll be pretty good, as neither Keira Knightly nor Orlando Bloom seems to be appearing in it. But I'm most impressed that Depp decided to visit those kids in character. They do say you should never work with children or animals, and from the looks of some of the schoolkids I've seen on my wanderings, he may well have been facing a mixture of both. I wonder if he'd come and do a talk at Journalism School...

In other news, I'm very full. Went to the trouble of cooking a proper meal this evening and it was definitely worth it. I hadn't realised how much I've missed cooking. I don't think I could become an all-out food blogger like Superchef (I've decided to give people I know code names, mostly for the hell of it. Superchef is lovely, and better at shorthand than me! (and yes, he deserves the name - I've tried his biscotti)), mostly because it's hard enough work making myself post general ramblings (although I'll take this moment to celebrate - I haven't missed a day yet! I'm better at this than facebook) without having to cook themed meals every evening. Also, fun as experimental cooking can be, the washing up tends to be nightmarish.

(What did I make, you ask? (Well, ok, you don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway!) Panfried lemon chicken with herby oven roasted vegetables and basmati rice. (I've been reading recipe magazines all evening, can you tell?))

Another Exciting Thing today was rediscovering commuting in headphones. Blasted my favourite playlist for the whole hour-and-a-half journey in today, and felt really good when I arrived. The fact that the sun was blazing down on me may have been another factor. I really am a heat person. (This is probably not the scientific term for it, but it's true! In winter I'm sluggish, moodier, need more sleep and suffer from freezing hands and feet (although it's fair to say I'm not the one who suffers most), whereas when the mercury passes about 30 I feel much more relaxed, my brain works better, I'm notably more enthusiastic about just about everything, and I tend to lose weight much more quickly (not that I've ever been on a real diet in my life - I'm much too lazy). So there you have it - random facts about my preference of temperature. I know, I'm like an octogenarian.)

I'd probably better go to bed now, as I'm meeting Jumanji (man, she'll be maaaad if she reads this) tomorrow to go and look at lots of shoes, hopefully. Will report back tomorrow.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Rambling in Bedfordshire

I visited the Old Bailey today for Journalism School. It was actually really interesting. More people should go! It feels a bit like being an extra in a courtroom drama, and some of the things you hear are fascinating. 

In other news, it was a surprisingly warm and sunny day today. People kept saying this meant it would be a dreadful winter. It's a bit of a Britishness benchmark, complaining about weather that hasn't even happened yet. Someone should tell the people who write the citizenship exams.

I'll be learning shorthand all afternoon tomorrow! Actually, I rather enjoy it (although smaller doses would be preferable) - it's like doing word puzzles with a room full of people, against the clock. Possibly such events already exist, but I suspect only old people go to them. 

That's kind of it. (And maybe even a proper here's-what's-going-on-in-my-life blog post!) Very tired, suddenly. It's probably sitting in bed that's done it. I'll try to find another exciting song to share soon.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Poem (appropriate)

Last Monday as I exercised my wit
It ran away.
I've since seen neither hide nor hair of it -
What more is there to say?

A Review! (Pulled Apart By Horses)

This review requires a brief preamble (I've spent all day learning about What, When, Where, Who, How, Why, after all.) (OK, not all day - I overslept, and was about an hour and a half late. Embarrassing? Yes. Worth it? Not really, still yawned my way through most of the day (and after that spiel about prioritising sleep!))
What: a review! the first of several, hopefully (although I do intend to do some real, hardcore introspective blogging at some point (joking! Come back!).
When: now... unless something distracts me again.
Where: I think you know the answer to that one (I'm beginning to think these questions aren't quite as universal as I'd hoped).
Who: me. I guess I could try and get someone else to do one, at some point...
How: (this is, I'm assured, the meat in the sandwich of any story, and indeed this is the bit I really wanted to tell you about!) my reviews may turn out to be a little different to the usual music journalism, because I will freely admit that I have no pretensions to understanding music. I don't know any of the history, I'm unaware of the exciting subtexts suddenly bestowed upon usually innocuous adjectives, and I've never been to a concert. Not even once.
Why: because I felt like it? Or maybe I have some deep subconscious yearning to wear a leather jacket at all times and make 'derivative' sound like a compliment.

One more thing - in the interests of balance, I'm going to include a link to a review by someone who presumably does know what they're talking about. Read it later, if you like, and see how I match up. I am purposefully writing mine before I read theirs.

Pulled Apart by Horses - I Punched a Lion in the Throat

Video here:

I've decided to review a song instead of an album because I'm lazy. And yes, I pretty much picked it for the title.

1 1/2 listens in, and I've realised that although I know that the nice, mop-impersonating young gentlemen are singing 'I punched a lion in the throat' (and why not?), what I am actually hearing is 'Hi, there's a lion on the phone'. Equally left-field but possibly less rock 'n' roll. Does the song suffer for this? Possibly, as these are pretty much the only lyrics in it I can even slightly understand. It's all quite screamy and (dare I say it?) northern, which is fun, but slightly incomprehensible (although judging by the song's title, that may well be what they're aiming for...). The idea of a slightly harassed savannah secretary rather appeals to me, I have to say.

Music-wise, it's all pretty loud and repetitive, but that can be fun (I imagine it's much easier to 'rock out' to such music) and they're clearly having lots of fun with their guitars. I imagine that the drummer is pretending to be the gorilla on that chocolate advert (but these days, what drummer is not?), because it sounds as though he and his cymbals are having something of a disagreement (possibly in a sack) and the whole effect is rather thrashy, as though he just has to hit something, anything, on the beat. He has a nice subtle old-school crish-crashy bit in the intro, though. Vocals are marginally more comprehensible than my attempts at karaoke and, as mentioned above, decidedly screamy. I like the way it sounds as though everyone in the band is joining in with them, though. It's nice to see they've got each other's back.

Now we have the bit where I think I'm supposed to compare them to some other musician, possibly crossed with someone else entirely. I think this is where I fall down a bit, as I don't really have music knowledge that anyone else is interested in, so I'll settle for saying that they sound a bit like some very drunk men stuck in a well with an angry drum kit, but in a good way. 

That's it, so read this probably much better informed review here 
and go and listen to some more crazy northern shouting. I know I will be.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The First Post

So, I finally got to the part of my to do list where it says 'Make blog'. Which is exciting. I'm actually quite keen to move on to the next item on the list, which is 'Sleep' (in fact, every other item on the list is 'Sleep' - I've got my priorities right) so I'm going to be brief, with a list of interesting or exciting things that happened today. Call it streamlined blogging, if you will, I promise the next post will be less lazy.

Interesting Or Exciting Things That Happened To Me Today:

1. I found out that the bus is much faster than the tube to get me to Farringdon, where I am at Journalism School. May have won myself an extra ten minutes in bed, so it's exciting for me.

2. I found out that the mysterious invisible water cooler in Journalism School is in fact the vending machine. I was wondering where all those plastic cups were coming from.

3. I found and bought The Skirt. I've wanted a loose, black kneelength skirt to dress up or down for a while now (I came to London with a single suitcase, and am already feeling the sartorial deprivation) and it turns out it was in H&M all along! And for only £13, too. The best thing: it has pockets!

4. A guy tried to chat me up on the underground, and I rid myself of him in under 30 seconds. New record? I know this sounds like an incredibly self-absorbed Interesting Thing (and it is! Mostly because this never happens) but it got me to thinking - if I was in a film, where would that encounter put me? If I was the heroine of a chick flick (and what a chick flick that would be! (In fact, I think that's what they call Art House)), it would be an illustration either of my heroine credentials, or of how far down the pan my life was circling (depending on the attractiveness of the man). In something black and white (and possibly French), it might well be a metaphor for the human condition or something. However, if he was the hero of something indy/trendyish (especially if he was Michael Cera), it would set me up as either unobtainable, or a monumental bitch (or both, those films do both quite frequently, to my bemusement (I mean, yes, you got the girl, well done, but isn't she a horrible, superficial human being?)). Possibly I was a monumental bitch, but if you're going to try to pick up girls on the London Underground, at least shave first (and I have to say, as an opening gambit, "Is that eyeshadow?" is possibly the worst I've heard (except, perhaps, for his attempts with the poor Indian girl across from me ("I was just reading your holey paper over your shoulder, and-". Seriously.)))

5. (Wow, number 4 was long. Must be my predilection for brackets) I made and consumed possibly the best stirfry known to man (and that would be a much better title for a blog!) at about 22:15 this evening. Don't ask me for the recipe, I will mumble at you about burning garlic just right and the merits of low-salt soy sauce.

There you go, five things. Bedtime.