Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Magazine cover: Warhol's Interview, June 1973

Cover girl is Apollonia von Ravenstein. Photos by Chris von Wagenheim. Design by Richard Bernstein. Hair by Christian. Car boot sale find, 10p. Click on image to enlarge.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Homeless Movies Hits 10,000!

Whilst Justin Bieber battles it out with Lady Gaga for most YouTube visits (Bieber was the first to hit a billion apparently, and gains a million hits a day*), humble me is quite chuffed with 10,000 total YouTube hits. Isn't the internet amazing? Post anything up there and it takes on a life of its own. To be ignored or adored.

Those of you still holding your breath for the Homeless Movies DVD… you would have died about six years ago. But after many setbacks – financial, technological, emotional, physical – it will be produced in the next month or so. Maybe. Watch this space.

*Rumour has it he employs a whole factory of Chinese workers with PCs spending twelve hours a day clicking on his YouTube videos to up his numbers. (Only joking.)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lookalikes #6: Ted Croner album covers

Top right: Bob Dylan's Modern Times (2006); all other images from Luna's Penthouse CD (1995). Luna formed after the break up of Galaxie 500. If you like Galaxie 500, you'll like Luna. All images by Ted Croner, a key member of the New York School of photography in the 1940s and 50s. Yes, they're meant to be out of focus.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Annotated Pregnant Widow

I've just finished reading Martin Amis's latest book The Pregnant Widow, which I (naturally) picked up in a charity shop (hardback, 3rd impression, 99p). It's a partial return to form, but what I found interesting (vaguely) was why the previous owner had underlined or highlighted certain passages and corrected spelling mistakes. What impels people to deface books with their jottings is curious, especially if they're going to give the book away. But maybe that's the point – for the next owner to ponder why (though corrected spelling mistakes I can understand – aren't books proofed and spell-checked? I even have a professional sub-editor for this blog. Isn't that right, Mel?).

Here are the highlighted/corrected passages:

'...if we all looked liked bowling balls.' (The 'd' after 'like' crossed out – spelling mistake, p.55)

'After the storm. We display ourselves. Her. Down by the pool.' ('e' inserted after 'Her' – spelling mistake, p.57)

But dreams were non-smoking. (Underlined, p. 380)

'He's back. We talked.' And Kendrik, who was very dishonest but utterly undevious (a combination that would not serve him well), (Highlighted with a bracket and a question mark, p. 383)

What kind of poet was Keith Nearing, so far? He was minor exponent of humorous self-deprecation (was there only one culture on earth that went in for this?). (Highlighted with a bracket and an exclamation mark, p.401)

She combined beauty and dirt, like city snow. (Underlined, p.412)

'More than ever. Actually I'm getting fed up with Rome. It asks so little of you. I need something with a bit more bite.' (Highlighted with a bracket, p.417)

'…The Winter's Tale…' (Correction: 'The' crossed out and replaced with 'A', p.419)

…of a vanished England, all white, all middle-class, and all middle-aged – England before the invention of colour. (Highlighted with a bracket, p. 452)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harrison's Ford

Harrison yanked the fridge door open. 'No Ford in here!' he bellowed, grinning. The Leipzig maneuver was in full swing behind him. Outside birds crowed and nests hummed. Cali came in, one breast hanging out. She hitched up her briefs. 'Shit, Harry, what's all the locomotion?' she whined. 'Oh shucks, honey, I'm only foolin' around.' He grinned every time he spoke.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stairway to Hairven

A birthday card collage (for our dad) by my brother using cut and paste the old-fashioned way: with scissors and glue. See more of his collage cards (and some of mine, though his are loads better) and photos at alwarda on Flickr .

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Record Cover of the Day: Erotic Terrorism

It's not often you see the words 'Erotic' and 'Terrorism' side by side, but here they are, the title of Fun-Da-Mental's third album (1998). There was a brief period, somewhere in the late 90s when I was quite into Fun-Da-Mental, a British (yet anti-western), radical, Islamic hip-hop, dance and world music band. Sometimes the mix works; sometimes not. They're usually pretty controversial. I like the title and the cover of Erotic Terrorism, a parody of a Bollywood film poster. Perhaps not even parody – their music does also contain elements of sounds from Indian films.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Top 10 Warminster disasters*

'Gee, how I would love to be living in Warminster right now. You seem to be getting all the kicks and high jinks in life'
– Schoolgirl from Kansas (as quoted in The Warminster Mystery by Arthur Shuttlewood, 1967, an account of UFO sightings in and around Warminster in 1965)

This is my last week in Warminster, Wiltshire, 'the worst place in England to live' (someone said to me). A bit harsh perhaps, but it has been a bleak experience.

1. Splitting up with my family
It just didn't work out.

2. Burning the living room
Okay, that's an exaggeration; we had the log fire blazing with some cardboard lying quite near it (my fault). The cardboard caught on fire. I threw a bucket of water over it and black ash liquid seeped into the carpet. Don't tell the landlord.

3. Getting off on the wrong request-only train station in the middle of nowhere
I'd only just moved to Wiltshire and started an evening college course (screen printing); on the train back at night I had on my iPod and didn't hear the announcement that the train was stopping at a request stop, Dilton Marsh, quite a few miles from Warminster. I dashed out of the train. By the time I realised my mistake the train had gone. I looked around. There was nothing and no one. I phoned home. Mel was going to have to wake up Martha and pick me up by car. She phoned back two minutes later saying Martha had been sick everywhere and wouldn't be able to pick me up. I wondered around a while. I eventually found a cab.

4. Being chased out of 'friendly local' pub by a group of stoned skinheads
I've mentioned this previously (fourth paragraph down).

5. Being rejected from a local factory job
This involved having to don an apron, net hat and wellington boots then being shown around a prawn-packing factory followed by a twenty-minute maths test. Which I failed. We were allowed to use calculators but it took me about ten minutes to find the calculator on my phone. Even then the questions were harder than GCSE maths and I didn't get very far. (In my defence, all the factory jobs eventually went to Poles in a Polish job agency.)

6. Nothing to do at all
Eh, in my day you made your own entertainment. Whatever. It's like a soulless wasteland. Anyone for skittles?

7. Ex-in-laws threatening to move to Warminster
Perhaps the final straw/nail in coffin etc.

8. Living in a draughty, falling apart, rat-infested house for three years with an apathetic landlord

9. Not knowing anyone for a 100-mile radius
Thank heavens for broadband.

10. Never having seen a UFO or an alien
Everyone else here tends to see them. A friend thinks the whole town consists of aliens. And that's being charitable.

*Apart from moving here.

Due to overwhelming public demand, here's a few extras we remembered whilst clearing the house out:

• We locked ourselves out of the house on our first night.
Mel's best friend bought her (rescue home) dog over to visit. It shat diarrhea all over our bedroom.
• We had a plague of ants for about a week.
• In the early days, Mel was always tripping over in the house. And breaking things.

• Finally, as recently as last week I almost set the dining table on fire. With a bunch of candles on a tin tray. We forgot about them and the candles burnt through the tray, melted the varnish on the table and was very close to catching on fire.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Walking Dead recipe

You will need:

1x failed Brit comedy actor (Andrew Lincoln: This Life, Teachers, Love Actually) with dodgy American accent (à la Hugh Laurie in House)

1x blonde girl zombie (à la The Dawn of the Dead remake)

1x post-coma hospital opening scene (à la 28 Days Later, itself à la Day of the Triffids)

1x large helping of Basashi (raw horse meat served in Japan)

Add a healthy dose of mawkishness, (dodgy CGI) blood and guts.

Adapted from the comic books, The Walking Dead is the new six-part American TV zombie series starring Andrew Lincoln (forever Egg from This Life) as a deputy sheriff who wakes up in hospital after a coma to discover the world over-run by zombies. Sounds familiar? Perhaps, but it does get better. Good to see zombies back as Romero intended them, shuffling along at a leisurely pace (instead of the usual ubiqutious post-modern speedy ones). It's been developed and directed by Frank Darabont, who made The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist – all Stephen King adaptations. A promising start.

Not to be confused with: Waking the Dead, the BBC 'Police Drama series based around cold cases'.
Quite likely to be confused with: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, I am Legend, etc.

Do say: TV is the new movies!
Don't say: Zombies are the new vampires!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Book Cover: JD Salinger

Most authors nowadays (or any other day for that matter) have very little say in how the cover of their book will look. Inevitably they end up pretty bland, with each genre having very specific requirements (usually involving a boring stock photo) – you can tell a chick lit cover a mile away, for example.

Reclusive author Jerome David Salinger (who died at the beginning of the year) was the exception to the rule, in that he made the rules. Salinger stipulated in his contract that none of his book covers should have any image or information other than author and title. So no newspaper quotes, plot summary or author bio. And no photos or illustrations (though searching through Google images, it seems this rule has been broken a few times at least...). I love the simplicity of the Penguin example above, bought today at Oxfam for 69p. The back cover is identical to the front.

More recently, book designer David Pearson has given Cormac McCarthy's novels a much needed face lift, using only old-fashioned (-looking... they were actually rubber stamps) type blocks. They look magnificent (even if quotes from newspapers are as big as the title and author. Apparently Pearson/McCarthy wanted to use quotes from the books, but this idea was rejected... no doubt by the marketing department). Compare with the original UK hardback and paperback release of McCarthy's The Road, which had an awful generic Getty image for the cover and a pretty ugly typeface.

Pearson also designed Penguin's Great Ideas and Popular Classics series, both featuring type-only covers.

Previously: On the Road; Versions of Covers