Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Recent barngains

Western Stars, Bruce Springsteen's best album – and album cover – for years (his last four studio albums have been terrible).

As mentioned previously, barngains have been thin on the ground in these parts – with the recent exception of the new Bruce Springsteen album, Western Stars, an impulse buy in Tesco's. I was at the till with the CD, along with some other items, and when the guy serving me came to scan it, it came up as 1p. He tried it again, and again. Still 1p. He buzzed to call someone over. No one came. He let me have it for 1p.

But it was a recent trip to London where the barngains really started flowing. In my first charity shop visit, on the way out of the shop, after clumsily looking at some records in the window, my eye caught a drawing on the cover of a large book. I picked it up and it was the rather plush catalogue to the latest Bob Dylan exhibition, Mondo Scripto, which ran late in 2018 at the Halcyon Gallery in London.

I had not seen the exhibition, but agreed with most critics about it at the time, that while his songs are full of surrealism, mystery and beauty, this new series of drawings illustrating his songs were rather too prosaic and literal: a farm for Maggie's Farm, a bed for Lay Lady Lay, a hand knocking on a door for Knockin' on Heaven's Door – you get the idea.

However, the book – £45 from the gallery shop, £3 in the charity shop – is gorgeous. The drawings are amateurish but charming. Each one has a page of hand-written lyrics next to it (often re-imagined and different from the original songs, something Dylan has done all his career). The book is large and luxurious (with apparently many different drawings to the ones in the show). I was pretty happy.

I might also have got some CDs over the next few days. In fact, there was one charity shop where I bought a lot. They must have all come from the same donator as they jumped out at me amongst the usual Robbie Williams and Adelle albums:

Flower Dance: Japanese Folk Melodies (Nonesuch Recording)
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
Elton John – Honky Chateau (I loved the film Rocketman)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
The Bonzo Dog Band – Cornology Vol.2 – The Outro
Bill Frisell - Have a Little Faith
Eminem – Kamikaze (for the cover)
The Cinematic Orchestra – Ma Fleur Live at the Barbican
Tom Waits – Alice
Classic Bluegrass (from Smithsonian Folkways) 
Jack DeJohnette – Made in Chicago (ECM Recording)
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (Deluxe Edition)
The Zombies – The Singles As & Bs
Mike Oldfield – Hergest Ridge (Deluxe Edition)
Roscoe Holcomb – The High Lonesome Sound 
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash

All 50p-£1 each. There were lots of other good ones: Dylan, early Ry Cooder, Neil Young, Frank Zappa and King Crimson among them, but I either had them or didn’t want them. I got a bunch of other things too, in other charity shops, including a set of three Portmeirion storage jars for H in the relatively new Shooting Star Children's Hospices Charity Shop in Northcote Road, where the woman serving me, from Malibu, L.A., wrapped them up nicer and with more care than I wrap up birthday and Christmas presents.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Barngains
Two leaks (in a week)
London through its charity shops #8: 'round Clapham Junction

Elsewhere on Barnflakes:
BARNGAINS is a select list of rated barngains from 2007 to the present day.  

Sunday, June 16, 2019

My daughter's top ten films, aged 13

1. Ocean's 8* (Gary Ross**, 2018)
2. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki & Kirk Wise, 2003)
3. The Hunger Games (Gary Ross**, 2012)
4. A Dog's Purpose (Lasse Hallström***, 2017)
5. Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2005)
6. Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015)
7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)
8. My Neighbour Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
9. Instant Family (Sean Anders, 2018)
10. Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2010)

*Hmm, Ocean's 8 was going to be in a list I never posted for Worst 10 films of 2018. It would have looked like this:
1. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
2. Ocean's 8
3. Black Panther
4. Bohemian Rhapsody
5. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Two forms of punctuation in a three word title can only be bad)
6. Avengers: Infinity War (I agree with director László Nemes (Son of Saul and Sunset) about superhero movies)
7. Pacific Rim: Uprising
8. You Were Never Really Here (As much as I admire Lyne Ramsey, this didn't work for me)
9. Fifty Shades Freed
10. The Darkest Minds

**Mr Ross, now in his sixties, is hopefully best well known for directing the brilliant Pleasantville. And writing Big.

***Surprising he wasn't asked to direct Mamma Mia – Hallström directed most of ABBA's videos in the 1970s and 1980s as well as ABBA: the Movie in 1977. He's made a few decent films – My Life As A Dog (1985), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Chocolat (2000) among them but sentimentality was always his weakness.

Anyway, I'm glad she still loves Studio Ghibli films (numbers 2, 5, 8 and 10), I think they're brilliant too.

Previously on Barnflakes:
My daughter's top ten films (aged 12) 
My daughter's top ten films (aged 11)
My daughter's top ten films (aged 10)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Tunnel of green

If I told my daughter about the train journey, she’d sound excited and want to do it. And maybe we would in a few weeks time, then after a minute on the train she’d say, dad, this is so boring. It was the same with the record cleaner; I’d built it up to be the most exciting thing ever, which I still think it is, but after cleaning one side of one record she’d said, dad, this is so boring.

The train journey was from Truro to Falmouth Town. Admittedly it doesn’t exactly have the same exotic ring about it as the train journey through the jungle we did from Cusco to Machu Picchu in Peru, but it wasn’t far off.

The rattly old train hurtles south towards the coast. For most of the 20-minute journey we are surrounded by lush, verdant foliage. The bushes and trees are alive and moving as the train whooshes past them. The foliage is alive, obviously, but more than that, it seems to jump out of the way of the train. The plants, trees and bushes seem to enjoy the train speeding past, blowing them out of the way. It's like they're waving with their leaves. Most of the journey is like this, with the foliage really near to the train and the banks really high, so really the journey feels like a tunnel of green.

Except for the flowers. There's part of the journey where it's all about the flowers. Foxgloves, mainly, but also, maybe, rosebay willowherb or clematis, I wouldn't really know, or care. But their pinks and purples are overwhelming. Some of the foxgloves are giant, as big as the ones at Trebah Gardens that have a plaque by them for being so big, but these are just on the side of the railway line, blowing their trumpets in the wind the whizzing train creates. They don't seem natural, the blurs of pink and purple, but like candyfloss and sweets from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, perhaps.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Where we are now

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Two leaks (in a week)

 
Leaks are all the rage – in politics, technology, business, sport, film, music – if anyone is anyone, they're leaking (or being leaked) something, somewhere. The internet, like a church roof, is full of leaks. Being cloaked in secrecy, is it quite exciting when the something in question actually leaks. I've bought – legally – two musical leaks this week. It's hard to know anymore if leaks are genuine or simply PR ('Google leaks its own phone').

The first 'album' I bought was Radiohead's MiniDiscs (Hacked), over 16 hours worth of unheard Radiohead music recorded during the OK Computer sessions between 1995 and 1998. What happened was a hacker nicked Thom Yorke's MiniDisc archive and threatened to leak it online unless he was paid $150,000. Yorke thought fuck it, the material 'isn't v interesting' (his words), so released it all himself on Bandcamp for fans to buy for £18 (you know, to be exact, if it sounds like £18 for 18 hours, it's actually a bit less than 18 hours – 16 according to some articles online; and if it sounds like £18, it's actually £21.60 after VAT).

If you know me, you'll know I've probably never played a Radiohead album all the way through, so the only concept more depressing than having to download 1.8Gb of Radiohead material that didn't even make it onto a record was having to listen to it. So I didn't bother. But I did buy it. All proceeds are to go to Extinction Rebellion, so a pretty good cause (Thom Yorke feeling guilty for taking so many flights – he apparently had a build-up of liquid in his ears from doing so – quip a thousand cynical Guardian readers in the comments section of the article about the decision to release the material). We're still not quite getting this whole climate change thing when some depressing leaked music gets more press than the future of the planet. (Today, there are actually online reviews of the 16+ hours – yes, that would mean the poor sods had to listen to it all night.)

The second album I bought was Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) by British producer Jai Paul. It got 8.9 on Pitchfork recently so I thought I'd give it a try. The story is, the collection of demos was leaked in 2013 and sold illegally through Bandcamp. Jai Paul was so upset about this that for the next six years he underwent therapy and couldn't produce or even finish his unfinished demos. Only now is he able to officially release his unfinished demos. The Fader say: 'one of the great records of the decade'. Pitchfork say: 'the sound of borders breaking'. Anyway, I bought it through Paul's website, where you can pay what you want for the album. So I paid 1p. Well, I felt burnt after Radiohead.

What can I say? I've been watching the barnstorming and incendiary performances of Bob Dylan in the new Netflix documentary Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, as well as listening to the 14-CD set The 1975 Recordings. They make Jai Paul and Radiohead sound like dull, miserable kids playing on their laptops in their bedrooms.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Community Reflections Private View

The catchily-titled Community Reflections on Health and Wellbeing Through Smartphone Photography (no, not a contradiction) has actually been a great and fun photography course I've been attending for the past few months, visiting a church, Art Deco swimming pool, woods, mine and, best of all, Feadon Farm animal sanctuary, where I got weed on by a squirrel, whacked on the arm by an angry owl's wing and kissed three times on the nose by a fox. These things don't happen to me every day. Our group is having a private view on Wednesday 12th June at Heartlands in Pool, after which the exhibition is on until Saturday 7th July, so plenty of time to visit.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Beauty and the Brutalist exhibition
Beauty and the Brutalist private view

Cornwall loves and hates

St Ives is all high fives
St Just is justified
Padstow has a warm glow
And Porthleven is heaven.
St Agnes is ace
Penzance gives penance
The lizard is lush,
The Roseland Peninsula is singular
Sing a hymn to Newlyn
And all hail Hayle!  

But Camborne is stillborn
And Pool is uncool
Redruth is rough
Newquay should be nuked
St Austell is like borstal
Truro is tedious
Helston is hell
Lostwithiel has lost the wherewithal
Falmouth has a foul mouth
Penryn is a place to sin
But Bodmin takes it on the chin.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Wiltshire loves and hates