Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back from France

A short message just to say I made it back safely from France, arriving back in Brighton at about 3pm. I had some people a little worried about the fact that I was going to a country where I didn't speak the language and I hadn't booked a hotel and didn't know anyone there. Point taken. Got a room in advance, and despite my French language skills at the moment = zero, I made many friends around the city, including all of the security guards at Le Name Festival. I will write more when I've got more time (including a write up of the festival for TM / BF), but quickly..... High points: Water fights in the toilet disco, cycling around the city and getting joyously lost, conversations with Fabian about records and Trappist beer, dancing all night, Antoine & the "french ravers are stupid" conversation, buying cheap red wine, sunshine, beautiful parks, cobbled streets, bread, minimalist techno, friendly friendly people, stupid costumes, free disco shuttles from Roubaix to Lille, new music (!). Low points: Finding out that my ex boyfriend (Joe H) has malignant cancer, falling over on my bike when I was at a complete standstill at a traffic light (a nice man helped pick me up off the pavement), fretting that I didn't know how to speak French and/or that if I was mugged I wouldn't understand, generally feeling a bit scared (but that's the point of it all too). I hope Joe doesn't mind me highlighting his blog posting -- but if anyone who reads this doesn't know already & knows him, send him a message. Dave W phoned me up on Friday afternoon when I was hanging out in le cafe des sisc roses. I blocked his call, thinking he didn't realise I was in France & that he wanted to arrange a lunch with him and his girlfriend. Dave's response to my text was telling -- something was wrong-- so I told him to go ahead and phone me back, fearing the worst. The news was pretty gutting -- Joe and his girlfriend Emilie are living in Paris so already I was thinking of how they were doing. The raving must go on, but in my heart of hearts I am quietly thinking of Joe & the people who care for him and who are with him now.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Biting Fingernails While Watching the News

I'm not a big horror fan anymore, but am partial to a few zombies now and then so I was pleased to read that George Romero has returned to his indie roots with his latest film,"Diary of the Dead", which has recently premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. Romero is hanging with the kids on this one, utilising the advent of Youtube, mobile phones ("cell phone" in North America), and video diaries (no!), and the film even has a myspace account -- oh yes! (okay, maybe Romero's not responsible for that one, but whatever --let's pretend it was his idea.) There was a particular image I was tickled by, which featured in an interview with Romero in the Village Voice :
"You see all this shit happening that's just ridiculous, whether it's the war or the economy or housing. It seems like, 'Christ, the sky is falling!' " Romero says. "And I think there is a tendency with young people to think, 'Why get involved? You can't fix this mess—this stuff can just drive you crazy.' It can really breed paranoia. I once had an idea for a script about a guy who just sits biting his fingernails watching the news," he says, laughing. "Like a Warhol thing."
As everyone knows, I'm a big fan of DIY anything, especially film, but I did stop and think about what sort of risks Romero was taking by going back to independently-financed low-budget framework of producing a film. I'm sure it was just an aesthetic thing, in the same way that Lars von Trier and others embraced a return to a more stripped down way of filmmaking with their Dogme 95 rules. However, I do wonder how much Romero gambled on his bankeability as a renowned director. I suppose the gamble paid off. As reported in the Hollywood Reporter, Romero sold the North American rights for "Diary of the Dead" to the Weinstein brothers company for a cool $2 million-$2.5 million dollars ("Dead' sale reanimates Toronto market"). Okay for some.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Best Things In Life *Are* Free

On Saturday, I met up with Simon, Andy & crew at Liverpool Station and accompanied them on one of the best free things I've done in ages -- the London Open House weekend, which takes place yearly. Most of our time was taken up going to the Lloyds building on Lime Street, which only opens its doors to the public once a year. It was Simon's childhood dream to go inside the building, which was completed in 1986 & has won all sorts of design awards for features such as the glass elevator boxes, which were the first at the time. The building was spectacular, although if it were a shopping mall in the US, we might not bother with the fly-catching expressions. I went round looking at different angles & wondering if it had been used in any films, and both Simon and I were amused by the dining room, which was (according to one of the security guards) purchased in whole at an auction and moved from Lloyds' previous building to the current building. We also had a look at an 18th century church, which was very conservative with its holy-holy-ness and where I coined the term "twin-set and pearls with a bit of bling thrown in", which is a reference to the fashion of that period of decorating ceilings in pale blue, eggshell white, and gold leaf. Oh so modest. Give me Romanesque any day! We also had a look at some old Turkish baths a stone's throw away from the church, which is now an Italian restaurant. On the outside, it looks like a small OTT tiled hut, but inside, a stairwell leads you to where the baths once were and where the restaurant now resides. Apparently it's a "very famous restaurant"; the part I loved the most was the many photo collages in the entrance, which I used to love when I was a kid. I spent my childhood hanging out in restaurants and bars and they always had these photo collections -- good times, years passed, people being drunk and stupid. Excellent. Simon wanders up and squints at the photos -- "Ah, early Facebook! I love it." Queuing for Lloyds ate up most of the time, and deciding we were going to collectively pass out from hunger, we made several failed attempts at finding places that were open. Simon pronounced it was Shoreditch we wanted, everyone (mainly me) groaned, and we trudged up the street until we found a half-decent bar that served food called Junos. I failed with my squid and chorizo salad, then sadly limped up to Old Street. It was time to go. These are Simon's pictures, but I took the first one (above). >>See more by doing the right click. Laugh at the strange ones of me. Be amazed at the space invaders.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Judgemental, me?

Okay, I take it all back. I don't hate myself for buying the New Yorker, I don't hate every single aspect of the magazine, the advertising does annoy me, the band write-ups thoroughly piss me off even though I don't even like the bands in reference, and some of the articles are not half bad at all. It's been a long day. Every day seems long at the moment. Writing, coffee, cycle, coffee, work, tea, stupid banter, work, cycle, water, write, eat, read, check emails, wonder about why if things are in pairs one always goes missing, brush teeth, sleep, dream, start all over again. I never lose track of time except on weekends, and I never lose track of days except when I'm only holiday, so I'm looking forward to knowing that I'll lost at least one thing, if not more, when I skip off to France next Thursday for Le Name.

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The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

On Monday, I went to see Canadian writer Naomi Klein, most famous for her ground-breaking, consciousness-raiding book No Logo, read from her most recent book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Her reading at the Old Market in Brighton. It was the first of her UK tour, and as events in this town go, there was little if no publicity for the night. Despite this, the auditorium was packed out, largely with intellectual types. I saw Colin Chalmers, Director of Community Base, in the bar when I went to get my free glass of wine. He theorised that there was a serious divide in Brighton between the people who participated in social activism (such as ourselves) and those who merely read about it. Tonight was a case in point -- Colin was much more active in local activists groups than I was and for a lot longer so he was definitely able to give his expert opinion that NONE of the wine-swilling crowd were the participatory type. "Oh, look, that's why," Colin said, pointing at the book display table. "It's been organised by City Books. No wonder. All these people read books." My friend Derek Parkinson, journalist for e-democracy company Headstar turned up just before it was time to go in, and as the auditorium was full, we made due with sitting way in the back. I had time to go say hi to Oli and Berkan (from old Runtime Collective/now-Magpie days), as well as well as Berkan's girlfriend Asa, who were sitting up front. A second later I suddenly noticed Naomi Klein emerge from the stage door, looking very sleek in her stylish bob and designer black jacket. Not really what I was expecting. The talk started with a short film made by Alfonso Cuarón, director of "Children of Men", and Naomi Klein, and directed by Jonás Cuarón, which was based on the book. You can watch this film on You Tube: Most of the evening was spent with Noami giving a talk about the concepts and theories fleshed out in her book, which looks at at how governments around the world use real or imagined crises to distract the public in order to slip pass legislation and permissions that are most favourable to big business. She particularly highlights the role of conservative think tanks, which she says are wholly unaccountable, in keeping the necessary ideas on standby for government when such occasions occur. Some examples she names include New Orleans floods, the Thai tsunami and the Falklands War. She further went on to say that these "shock and awe" tactics are by no means new. As the event got to a late start, there was not a lot of time for questions from members of the audience, and those asked were of a particular poor standard. However, one of the last comments made was that Naomi seemed to be tarnishing Western capitalism as the architect of such tactics -- the member of the public pointed out that these tactics were widely used in totalitarian states. Very good point. Afterwards, I went with Oli and Berkan and Asa for food and drinks at the Sanctuary Cafe round the corner, where we continued talking about the talk, arguing think tanks, big business and anti-intellectualism. It was a good night. Look out for a very bright yellow book. Tell me if you find anything new.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Disenchanted in 30 Seconds

I take it all back. I've flipped through five pages. It's all come back. I remember why I thought what I used to think.


The Horrible Shame of Buying the New Yorker

My coming out as a "closet intellectual" apparently hasn't surprised some people. My housemate Steve hopefully thought I might be a lesbian, but I reminded him that I didn't LIKE women (not in that way) and he was duly disappointed. However, when I said it was the fact that I was an intellectual, he quickly did a turn-face on his heel, in an oh-so-bitchy way, and was not impressed in the slightest. In the kitchen when I made my proclamation was Steve, Rob & his girlfriend Kirsty -- Ference hovered near the communal computer in the conservatory next door. "My writer's group once a month is not enough," I dramatically announced. "At least you have a writer's group," Steve replied. "I don't have that." "That's your choice," I said. "That's what you would say." "I'm the same. Henceforth I'm fed up." Okay, it was yesterday when I woke up, wrote for an hour and decided that I was tired of playing the "anti-intellectual" game, which is more about giving myself an opportunity to do social work & writing without the added pretense of giving it an intellectualised veneer, which is what I'd spent most of my teenager years and early 20s doing. Mind you, it wasn't done in a completely self-conscious way. It was really part of the culture and tradition of which I'd become part of, which is to say, part of the Austin literary tradition vis a vis the Wrights. I gave up reading the New Yorker in the late 90s as some sort of exercise and partial act of rebellion -- now I'm thinking, "Jesus, I'm really suffering without that fabric of civilisation, no matter how much I might hate or disagree with it. Shit." I announced my return to the intelligentsia, after years of working in the frontline in a non-intellectual way (which is not to say that...oh fuck it) . Lines are crossed. I'm still doing it all. All I want to feel now is that I have some sort of social milieu, which almost seems an antiquated dream, since apart from anything, I feel like a hard-working, sacrificing idealist social worker living in an individualised society and frankly, give me the veneer any day.

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Yet another new feature on Trash Menagerie

Hi everyone Just in case my day job didn't keep me busy enough, I've written another feature for Trash Menagerie, this time on breaks DJ Sam Hell, who's been recently pulled into the UK breaks label Sinister Recordings fold. Ah......if you wanna read, more just check out the piece...... Amy xx

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Monday, September 10, 2007

When Your Dreams Become Suburban

I keep dreaming I'm in grocery stores. This has been recurring for several nights now. Do dreams really mean anything or is it reflecting that life has just become dull? Maybe I'm getting too much sleep (true).

On the plus side, I was also driving in a computer game & went off the road. I was also a property developer. Jesus. I'll just stick to the writing, I think.

Groceries To see fresh groceries in your dream, symbolizes abundance, ease and comfort.

Market To dream that you are in a market, represents some emotional of physical need that you are currently lacking in your life. You may be in need of nurturance and some fulfillment. Consider the specific items that you are shopping for. Alternatively, the market signifies frugality.

To see an barren market in your dream, signifies depression and gloominess. There is a void in your life.

Fruit To see fruit in your dream, signifies a period of growth, abundance and financial gain. Fruits generally represents lust and sexuality. In particular green fruit in your dream, denotes your hastiness and disappointed efforts. You need to work harder and longer in order to achieve your goals.

To see or eat rotting/bitter fruit, suggests your missed opportunities for growth and pleasure.

To dream that you buy or sell fruit, signifies much business but little profit in them.

From :

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

New piece on Trash Menagerie

"The Fairer Sex" This week I'm featuring Finnish designer-turned-cartoonist Venla Kivilahti, who we all know & love already, but now here's an even better reason to love her. A few her of her comics, but hopefully more to come.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

If your life was a movie, what would its soundtrack be?

Meme's as always come from DS, who I am desperate to hang out with. Fuck England. Bring on the last of the summer rose and let's all be in Manhattan ! If your life was a movie, what would its soundtrack be? Here's how it works: Open your music library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod etc.).
  1. Put in on Shuffle.
  2. Press Play.
  3. For every question, type the title of the song that's playing.
  4. When you go to a new question, click the Next button.
  5. Don't lie, and try to pretend you're cool
Waking Up: Unchain My Heart, Ray Charles Falling In Love: Grown Mix, Zebo Fight Song: Neon Lights, Kraftwerk (what? sick!) Breaking Up: The Sky is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughn (apt) Prom: Dim All the Lights, Donna Summers (and?) Life's Just...: Take On Me, Ahaa Mental Breakdown: Never Tear Us Apart, INXS (my jaw ceases to keep dropping) Driving: Dreams Come True (Afronaught remix), Alison David -- Bugs in the Attic Flashback: Send In The Clown, Lorez Alexandria Getting Back Together: Moist (Koma & Bones Remix), Meat Katie (interesting) Birth Of Child: Montego Bay, People Under the Stairs Wedding: I'll Stop the World and Melt With You, Modern English (of course!) Finale Battle: Shame & Scandle, Peter Tosh & the Skatalites Death Scene: The Thrill is Gone, BB King Funeral Song: Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing, Stevie Wonder

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What I'm Really Thinking About: A List

Obviously, there are more things going through my head, but if I told you that, that'd be saying a bit too much wouldn't it? (actually, not more than this!) 1. Found this in my email inbox this morning, courtesy of the UK Press email list: also this: I'm a teacher, apparently. 2. Woke up feeling like I have a cold. My housemate told me as he pressed his teabag against his mug that it actually wasn't cold in the house and that when he's feeling cold, he puts on 10 jackets and does star jumps (jumping jacks). 3. So on the basis of that, wore too many layers while I cycled to work & ended up sweating too much. Locked up my bike, decided that I would kill any potential colds with fruit juice. Walked into Somerfields, perused the juice department, ruled out all of the cheap juice on the basis that my friend Niall explained what concentrate was and decided that wasn't very good when you think you're getting a cold. So I went for Ocean Spray cranberry & raspberry. When I got to my office, read the list of ingredients and guess what? It's a juice drink (20% actual juice, from concentrate). Decided I was a loser. What am I doing looking at juice packaging when I should be at work? 4. Found a giant mug to make my tea in and remembered that my kittens mug broke at Barnival when I set it on a speaker. Felt bad. I really liked that mug. 5. Despite my incurable happiness, I'm feeling a bit frustrated by the DVD drive I bought. I thought I could just take the CD writer out & replace it with this, but upon taking apart my whole computer, found that it was a fucking slave drive, with completely different port type. I don't know if I really want to or have the time to read all this shit I found about S-ATA ports and what I need to do next. I'm thinking I should have bought an external DVD writer. 6.Time, diary, time, meetings, fun. 7.Colleague's leaving do tomorrow for lunch: will I get a margarita or will that be a really bad idea? 8. I hope people in my office realise that I am not listening to what they're saying because I took an antihistimine and it's making me a bit spacy. 9. My citizenship test study guide is actually pretty boring. 10. Should I learn some French?

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Positive Sound System's 15th Birthday

The advent of Facebook and it's influence in my life means that....I really don't know where that thought came from and where it was meant to go but I'm going to just leave it there. Positive Sound System are the people that are responsible for the best free parties I've ever been to, and I'm pleased and proud to know the warm souls who make up their crew. I can't think of a better reason to get mash up and sweaty than to celebrate the crusaders of repetitive beats 15 years of fucking up the virginal ears of all. Audio - Friday 28th September - me - there. You?

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