Monday, 13 August 2007

The Unexamined Life...

...is apparently not worth living. Can't say I'd noticed to be honest, but then I wasn't looking, was I?

I only really became aware just how true this was when on Friday I lost my pedometer two half-hour walks and three train journeys from home, and realised all my accumulated steps counted for nothing if they went unrecorded.
Happily, I found it at home on my pillow that evening like a high-tech hotel chocolate. I have a suspicion this was the work of those particular elves/elemental forces who move stuff about the house you're looking for, before later replacing it somewhere unlikely you know you've already looked. If God's in the gaps and the Devil's in the details, minor household deities have probably been sniggering unseen in our drawers since the Romans named them Lares. The deities, not the drawers.

Modern physics tells us observation shapes the Cosmos, so who knows, maybe the Universe does muck about a bit like this when we're not looking. Maybe, that's why an unexamined life isn't worth living? If you're not looking, all the gubbins you're after gets hidden, and you have to go around making your special 'summoning mimes' to find things.
This is called boot-strapping- do a good enough tin opener or scissor mime as you pace around the kitchen, opening and lifting things at random and you'll invoke one.

Anyhow, what I started off intending to say was that an empty weblog is a sign of an unexamined life, and so I better start putting that right if I want to make something worthwhile of it. The weblog, not the- oh hang on, I've done that joke. Lots.

Well, since my last entry I've spent a few more days back in Bradford researching the telly book, which I've now had the advance for (hurrah!), and it's all quite nice. As usual, when you do this kind of archive trawling you keep finding out fascinating things that are of no use for your current project.
Did you know for example that Leonard Rossiter, Richard Beckinsale and Don Warrington recorded an 8 minute promo for Betamax in 1978 in which Philip and Alan explain the VCR to Rigsby. Be honest, how much do you want to see that, right now? Apparently, it was only distributed to salesrooms not to the public.
What do you mean "you already have it, and can provide Youtube links?" You're scaring me.

Another notable development since I last wrote here is that Death has come back from a holiday and been on double-time, taking loads of cool people and Antonioni whose famous film I've still not seen. I'll miss him mainly for his fabulous stammer inducing surname. So, to make these people's lives worthwhile I'll give them a quick examination for you.

Ian's list of the work of recently dead people to seek out:

Mike Reid - severe-faced soldier in The War Machines obviously.

Ingmar Bergman - Smiles of a Summer Night.
If you read this weblog you're either, arty, campy or desperately nostalgic so this should work quite nicely, ticking all your variously demanding boxes. It is funny, romantic and bitter-sweet, and should help dismiss any ideas you might have that he's one-note Nordic misery. It's also the missing link between A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Little Night Music if, you know, you're a friend of Billy Elliot.
I hate that film, by the way (caught an annoying chunk again last night), but then I have a massive Lee Hall blind spot I think. I just feel emotionally exploited by Spoonface Steinberg and I Luv You, Billy Spud etc., which seem just a little too obvious in the ladling of sentiment into the mouths of babes for me. I also resent having to sit all the way through a movie full of Marc Bolan just knowing "Ride A White Swan" is going to be crassly combined with Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake as a coup d'obvious at the end. All a touch "on the nose", I find.
If Smiles of A Summer Night works for you, you might find that the much longer and more varied in mood Fanny and Alexander makes you smile too. After that it does get a bit bleaker, but some of it's still amazingly cheerful- even the 'Dance of Death' sequence in The Seventh Seal is quite uplifting (do bear in mind I think Leonard Cohen's funny and find a lot of Edvard Munch uplifting too, your version of cheerful may vary).

Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning.
I've been haunted by this song since hearing a fragile weird cover on Mark Radcliffe's Out On Blue Six (an anagrammatic tribute to a certain Louise Buxton apparently), that I've never been able to track down. The envelope I scribbled details on suggests it was by Big Star but that was probably just the next act on. Anyhow, this was the only version I've heard that makes the sickly swoony tempo change into the 'Phaedra' bit work properly (and I've heard a lot of covers since, believe me). It was probably Lydia Lunch's version but it doesn't sound how I remember that take on it. Thin White Rope's version is okay too, Bobbie and Kate's is best avoided for me. This is a track in severe need of Saint Etienneing one day.

Tony Wilson - Earthbound by To Hell With Burgundy.
It's danceable folk music really, and I've picked it because it's peculiar, pretty and a bit different to what you'd expect. Not everything Factory produced was quite so sweaty and indiscriminately in love with you as people recall (I lived in Manchester for seven years and went to Hacienda about four times, and two of those were to see Spacemen 3 and The pre-ecstatic Shamen supporting All About Eve, so I can speak for the people at the edge, man). Obviously, Wilson's biggest achievement is So It Goes the show that made the legend, but let's also mention Be What You Wanna Be by ACR, because all the tribute air play's going Mondays, New Order, Joy Division at the mo and it's a decent track. Mainly though, Wilson strikes me as like that largely shambolic quiz show he did with Frank Sidebottom on- good in parts but making it up on the spot. Self-belief and taking chances can take you an amazing way, people will invent your masterplan in retrospect from the best bits. Good on him for what he achieved and for having the chutzpah to make it happen..

Phil Drabble - The One Man and his Dog signature tune. Evocative, rural, idyllic and in a jaunty late seventies synth styley? Nostalgoverload!

There- that was worth doing, wasn't it?

1 comment:

Ann O'Dyne said...

An UnExamined Life ?
Not any more mate.

anyone with a gmail.com email address knows from the sidebar that the bastards are reading and saving every word we exchange,
as well, they chirp "You can save your Gmail Chats!"

It will all come back to bite us in our collective posteriors, you wait and see ...

"finding a story that includes real emotion and a new SF idea"
... there's this guy who loses his Blackberry while searching for his pedometer, both of which contain the entire history of his life.
he's not just any guy either. he is responsible for the MI789 RedFile on
(I'm visualising Mathew McFadyen as he portrayed Tom Quinn the SPOOK here - well I do that a lot anyhow ..)

but I just swung through to commend your droll blog title and I discovered that when I clicked on How To be Topp in my books profile.
Nobody else seems to have Christopher Brookmyre titles.