Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

(From a photo of my brother and father in Halloween costume, 1993)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Silver Apples and Contact

If you thought Suicide and the Velvet Underground were ahead of their time, check out the Silver Apples, a late 1960s experimental psychedelic electronic band hailing from New York. Consisting of Simeon and Danny Taylor, the duo got their name from a WB Yeats poem, The song of the Wandering Aengus ('The silver apples of the moon'). Wikipedia think they anticipated not only experimental electronic music and krautrock, but also dance and indie rock music of the 1990s.

Their first self-titled album was released in 1968, followed a year later by Contact. The front cover depicted the band in a plane cockpit with a Pan Am sticker clearly visible. The back cover showed a plane crash with the band playing banjos in front of it. Pan Am were unhappy with the plane crash association and sued, causing the demise of the band and their record label.

The band were little heard of again until the late 1990s, when both albums were re-released, along with their third LP which was previously unissued. Silver Apples reformed, toured, released a few new albums and enjoyed some of the success they should had got first time round, until Simeon broke his neck in a road accident in 1998. Though he lived, he could never play quite the same again. Danny Taylor died in 2005.

Their first two albums can be bought collectively for under £3.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Margate's Shell Grotto

4.6 million shells. 2000 square feet of mosaics. One hell of a mystery. Margate's Shell Grotto was discovered in 1835 and made open to the public in 1837 but its age and purpose remains unknown.

Margate has had a bit of a facelift in recent years. Though a tower block and boarded up pub still greet you upon exiting the train station, the town now boasts a cool art gallery, the Turner Contemporary (built on the same site the Margate-loving JMW Turner stayed), as well as a bunch of trendy new galleries, shops, bars and eateries in the Old Town, including a Michelin-starred restaurant.

But it's the old stuff which is the best, innit? Aside from the Shell Grotto – still only £3 to get in – there's the famous Mad Hatter's Tea Rooms, the Harbour Arm, the Nayland Rock Shelter, where TS Eliot wrote some of his poem the Wasteland, as well as the famous Arcades and of course Margate's golden sands – often voted one of England's top 5 beaches.

The theme park Dreamland, which closed in 2005 (and which I have very fond memories of going to as a child in the 1980s) is meant to be re-opening this year but still appears very much under construction. It won't have the Looping Star roller coaster (now in Budapest) but will have the Scenic Railway, the UK's oldest roller coaster which was recently upgraded from Grade II listed to Grade II* listed.

A few days ago, Thanet Disctrict Council surpringly rejected plans for a huge Tesco superstore on the seafront, saying it would be unlawful and have a negative effect on the town.

• I'm perplexed as to why there are huge piles of sand along Margate beach.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Art of the seaside

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Perfect timing

In watch advertising there is such a thing as the perfect time. Most analogue watch advertisements display the time ten past ten (or ten to two) to give a harmonious, balanced, happy looking face, with the two hands almost forming a smile. 10:10 also draws your eyes towards the maker's name and logo which is typically placed towards the top centre.

Other less believable explanations include 10:10 being the time Abraham Lincoln and/or John F Kennedy were shot and/or died; or V for Victory; or open legs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Funky definitions

'My body stunk but I kept my funk'
– Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story

'The men's toilet is, in at least two senses, funky'
– Restaurant review, Guardian weekend magazine, 15/10/11

The meaning of the word funk has always slightly confused me. The easiest definition is when applied to music: funk music is a style of dance music of US black origin, which would include artists such as James Brown and Funkadelic. But it can also mean a foul odour, a depressed state or a panic. Add a 'y' and you get funky, which may also apply to passionate or soulful music. It can also mean evil-smelling and foul; authentic and earthy; stylish and exciting in an unconventional way; frightened and panicky; or lacking courage and faint-hearted. There are also other slang and specific US or UK definitions.

One of the most difficult words in the English language to precisely define, its first recorded use was in 1784, referring to an old, mouldy cheese. Derived from the Flemish word fonck, meaning disturbed or agitated.

Thanks to the Free Dictionary for most of this. I don't feel much enlightened; more like funky.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lookalikes #14: Famous Cinematic Eyes

From top left: Un Chien Andalou; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Blade Runner; 2001: A Space Odyssey; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Psycho; Repulsion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Random Film Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Mr Dark, I presume?

Dir: Jack Clayton | 1983 | 95mins | USA

'First of all it was October… full of cold winds, long nights, dark promises. Days get short, the shadows lengthen…'

A perfect time, then, to (re)watch Something Wicked This Way Comes, an underrated 1983 Disney film starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Price in his first screen role. Based on the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name and written for the screen by him too, the film begins in a typical Disney whimsical and nostalgic manner as we are shown the Norman Rockwell town of Green Town, Illinois (actually – unsurprisingly – shot in New England), where everyone knows each other and life is swell.

Life becomes unsettled with the out-of-season arrival of a strange carnival owned by the sinister Mr Dark, played by Jonathan Price. The carnival is able to make the town folk's deepest desires come true, be it vanity, money, lust or lost youth. However, their fulfilled desires come at a price. We watch the proceedings through the eyes of two boys, Will and Jim, as they witness the bizarre goings on at the carnival and provoke the wrath of Mr Dark, who seems to be in league with the devil himself.

Jason Robards is excellent as Will's elderly* father, Charles Halloway, weak, regretful and feeling guilty about being old and knowing he'll never be able to play baseball with his son (the conversations between Will and his father are perhaps the most affecting in the film). Indeed, much of the film is elegiac in tone, the seemingly contented townsfolk being revealed as bitter and regretful at life having passed them by.

Highly atmospheric and creepy with terrific set pieces – including a carousel time machine and a hall of mirrors denouement à la Lady from Shanghai – and fine music by James Horner, the film is also lyrical and literary, and not just because Charles Halloway is a librarian. As critic Roger Ebert notes, it's 'one of the rare American films to savor the sound of words, and their rhythms. That's true in the writing, and it's also true in the acting'.

Its detractors say it's a muddled and uneasy blend of lightweight horror and fantasy. Although it is slightly uneven in places, it's a film that works on a lot of levels. It's a horror and fantasy film as well as a coming-of-age drama, morality tale and allegory.

The special effects are certainly 80s-style but all the better for it; like the effects in the Hong Kong kung fu comedy horror films of the 1980s (possibly my favourite genre mash up ever), they're somehow more believable and creepy than modern CGI effects (for me, anyway), perhaps because of their tacky, homemade, amateur feel.

Jack Clayton directed the incredibly creepy film the Innocents (one of Martin Scorsese's scariest horror films of all time), another literary adaptation, this one based on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, in 1961. Along with Something Wicked in 1983, they form two fine horror bookends to his career, both films, in their own ways, exploring the impact of evil on children.

(*But was Jason Robards ever young? He was no spring chicken in Peckinpah's Ballad of Cable Hogue way back in 1970; by Something Wicked (1983) he was playing a man almost near death, with a dodgy ticker, but it wouldn't be until Magnolia (1999) when he was literally playing someone on his deathbed, dying of terminal lung cancer and actually died the following year of the same disease.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Postmodern teapots

If the official death of modernism (according to Charles Jencks) was 15th July 1972 at 3.32pm (Central Time), then postmodernism's official birth was at 3.33pm. The death of postmodernism, however, is more problematic, and while some believe it was 9/11 that bought a close to the movement, others believe it is alive and well in all of us, but particularly in Lady Gaga.

In the 1980s, postmodernism – a cut and paste mish mash of appropriated styles – seemed to be about going to work in a shoulder-padded suit, making loads of money, listening to Grace Jones and Talking Heads on a Sony Walkman, reading The Face magazine, returning home to a glossy designer flat full of bright, bold Memphis furniture and Alessi kitchenware with a Jeff Koons/Barbara Kruger print on the wall, and generally being flash, superficial and vacuous.

What it wasn't about was sitting around drinking cups of tea. That would be the impression one got, however, after visiting the V&A's exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990, which consists of an inordinate amount of whacky designer teapots, none of which were actually made to be used. Which leads me to conclude, was postmodernism really just a storm in a teacup?

Teapots by Peter Shire and Memphis Group
Make your own Peter Shire teapot
The ultimate postmodern home

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Top five naps

The drunken nap When occasionally asked when I was happiest, I routinely describe a moment at the Brecon Jazz Festival almost twenty years ago. Invariably people don't believe that I can pinpoint an exact moment of pure happiness, but that's their problem. It was a beautiful sunny day, I was drunk, jazz music was wafting gently in the breeze and I had a little lie down on a lawn. I was woken up some time later by a beautiful woman.

The post-sex nap (also known as the naked nap) These are always good; impossible to name a best. For atmospherics, perhaps it helps if it's raining outside. Alternatively, if it's daytime and sunny, with the sun shining through the window onto naked bodies…

The travel nap This is a nap on any form of transport conducive to napping, such as plane, train, bus or car; so most forms of transport apart from a bike. As with the post-sex nap, the steady patter of rain usually helps to send me to napland. But then again the sun does likewise.

The bored nap This is one you probably shouldn't do, but can't help. Life gets so boring napping is sometimes the only temporary way out. You feel so drowsy it's like a drug. This may include during work sitting at your desk, at a meeting or a lecture, or at the cinema or theatre, say. Or just from having nothing else to do.

The exhausted nap (also known as the nap attack) This can be after work, after the gym, after a long walk or bike ride, perhaps after looking after a child all day. It usually happens in front of the TV, or after a large meal, maybe.

(But of course, whilst a nap doesn't really need a category, it does need the right elements. Yesterday afternoon, after a large lunch, feeling a little drowsy, I went for a little lie down. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining through the windows, and a little breeze blowing through a slightly open one. My neighbour, an opera singer, was practicing her scales. Children could be heard playing in the distance. Occasionally I'd hear a distant train or plane pass by; or a duck quacking – there were no other noises. There was no use fighting it; this was naptime.)

The only nap I really don't like is the bath nap – which usually involves waking up in a bath full of cold water. Mostly, though, naps are great and some of my best memories are of napping. Napping is said to be beneficial for both mind and body. In Spain and some Latin American countries a nap is called a siesta, which for some reason has a more exotic and less lazy ring to it than napping. Siestas are an accepted, common tradition in these countries where the temperature is hot and lunch consists of more than a sausage roll from Greggs. In England, unfortunately, there's always something more boring to do than nap.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Joe Orton's guerilla art

In a naughty bit of guerilla art or culture jamming some twenty odd years before the terms actually existed, the then unknown gay playwright Joe Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell, unsatisfied with the 'rubbishy' and tasteless books in their local Islington library (some things never change), defaced the library books by modifying the covers with new pictures and text – with surreal and hilarious results. The two were eventually caught in 1962 and ended up spending six months in jail for their crimes, which actually proved a blessing in disguise for Orton's writing:

'I tried writing before I went into the nick… but it was no good. Being in the nick brought detachment to my writing. I wasn't involved anymore. And suddenly it worked.'

Joe Orton went on to write his most famous plays, including The Ruffian on the Stair, Entertaining Mr Sloane and Loot, before being murdered by his ex-lover Halliwell in 1967. Orton was 34.

More recently, in 2006 Banksy defaced the CD covers and inserts of 500 of Paris Hilton's debut album, returning them to HMVs across the UK. Dangermouse remixed the album and renamed the songs with titles such as Why Am I Famous? Copies are now probably worth hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. And before you ask, yes, I still look at every Paris Hilton CD I see in a charity shop, just in case.

The term culture jamming, the anti-capitalist art of subverting mainstream institutions, was coined in 1984 and is usually thought of as defacing things on a much larger scale than books and CDs, such as billboards. Artists including Ron English, perhaps most famous for his Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts, and the Billboard Libertion Front are two of the more prominent proponents of the art, which tends to be quite amusing but achieves nothing at all.

How things change. When once Orton and Halliwell were classified as criminals for their actions, now the Islington Museum are showing an exhibition of their defaced covers. Malicious Damage: The crimes of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell in Islington runs from now until 12 January 2012 at Islington Museum, 245 St John Street, EC1. Admission free. Visitors are free to admire the defaced books but not emulate the technique.

I first heard about the exhibition at Feuilleton, who heard about it in the Guardian.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crappa Nova

Going at least one step further than Patti Smith's classic lines 'I don't fuck much with the past / But I fuck plenty with the future', the new Spielberg-produced TV sci-fi drama Terra Nova – meaning new land – aims to fuck up both the past and the future as much as possible.

The multi-million dollar series (also known as Terra Bull), starring one of the annoying women from Mistresses and a bunch of equally annoying unknowns, begins in the year 2149, when things look a bit like Blade Runner, which was set in November 2019 – now only eight years away. Funny how the future catches up with us, and most things are still the same. Anyway, to escape the depressing Blade Runner production design, a rift in space-time has been discovered, like the one in Stargate, to transport people back 85 million years to dinosaur times, and Spielberg-style mise-en-scéne. Yes, it's Jurassic Park meets Lost in the most derivative programme since… The Walking Dead? We follow the boring Shannon family through the rift and back to the late Cretaceous period to see them build their future from scratch, except they've also bought with them guns, jeeps and the various technology which will no doubt see mankind's fall once again. The big budget is impressive, but can't hide the corny dialogue, hackneyed scenes, ropey acting and Spielbergian saccharine sentimentality.

The series has naturally received great reviews Stateside, with the LA Times calling it 'Easily the most exciting show of the fall season'. I do pity the TV critic, surely one of the most difficult and frustrating jobs around. Seeing as the bar for quality TV has become so low, anything seeming even anywhere near average gets praised to the heavens. The TV critic with the easiest task was the acerbic Charlie Brooker, who just ripped the piss out of all TV, but where's the challenge in that, when everything's crap? (But even Brooker buckled when he realised he was biting the hand that fed him.)

Not really related, but anyway, far more engaging than Terra Nova is the film Melancholia, which I recently saw. For once, an original sci-fi disaster movie, and just beautiful. Bring on the apocalypse if it's going to happen like that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shoegazing vs. navel-gazing

Shoegazing was an originally negative term to describe the indie rock sub genre that briefly came to prominence in the UK in the late 1980s and early 90s. Never hugely popular, though it still has a cult following, it was superseded by grunge and Britpop. Some recent bands in America (and other places), including Deerhunter, Atlas Sound, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Film School and Japandroids have kept the shoegazing banner flying by including elements of it in their music (also called nu gaze).

The term apparently originates from a 1980s Sounds magazine review of a Moose gig in which the singer had his song lyrics taped to the ground to read from. The name stuck and came to define a movement of bands who mostly came from the Thames Valley and whose guitarists performed whilst staring at the ground, either from shyness, being deep in concentration or trying to locate their effects pedals. Either way, the bands didn't like the term, and music journalists didn't like the bands.

Their sound is characterised by loud, distorted guitars with lots of feedback. Vocals are typically mute and droning (haunting if you're being charitable) but not essential. Music critics (nowadays) will use terms like textures, waves, cascades, walls and washes (even lasagnes) of sound to describe shoegazing.

If I'm not really selling you the concept, listen to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless really loud a dozen times. The first few times it'll sound like a painful noise; by the twelfth listen it'll be most beautiful thing you've ever heard. Maybe.

Key bands include My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush, Curve, Slowdive, the Boo Radleys and Chapterhouse. Key influences are the Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth. Retrospectively, bands including Galaxie 500, The Cure, Spacemen 3 and Husker Du have shoegazing elements in their music.

Filmmaker Gregg Araki*, a big fan of shoegazing, likes to include examples of the music in his films, including bands Ride, Lush, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, as well as lots of geeky shoegazing references only diehard fans will get. Similarly, Sophia Coppola used shoegazing bands for the soundtrack to her film Lost in Translation, even managing to coax Kevin Shields out of bed to write a few tunes.

Navel-gazing refers to excessive introspection and self-absorption. In music, this manifests itself in the work of Leonard Cohen.

*A recent Guardian interview with Gregg Araki discussing shoegazing was most interesting for the numerous comments by shoegazing fans reminiscing about the old days. I'm not sure anyone even mentioned Araki's films, though I personally think they're great.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Top 10 Gay Films and Filmmakers

This is tricky – I'm basing these lists on the assumptions that, 1) gay filmmakers don't necessarily have to make gay films all the time, 2) but gay films probably have to be (at least partly) about gay people, 3) I'm sure lesbians make great films too – but I haven't seen them (except Desert Hearts), and, 4) Brokeback Mountain was rubbish.

Top 10 Gay Films
1. Edward II (Jarman, 1991)
2. Satyricon (Fellini, 1969)
3. Poison (Haynes, 1991)
4. Un Chant D'Amour (Genet, 1950)
5. Mysterious Skin (Araki, 2004)
6. Flaming Creatures (Smith, 1963)
7. Rope (Hitchcock, 1948)
8. Querelle (Fassbinder, 1982)
9. My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991)
10. Top Gun (Scott, 1986)

Top 10 Gay Filmmakers
1. Rainer Werner Fassbinder
2. Derek Jarman
3. Pedro Almodovar
4. Pier Pasolo Pasolini
5. Gus Van Sant
6. John Waters
7. Todd Hayes
8. Kenneth Anger
9. Gregg Araki
10. Isaac Julien

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Red-eyed woman

My red-eyed woman
She don't treat me bad.
She might look angry
But she's actually sad.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The books of Lambert M. Surhone

Is Lambert M. Surhone the most prolific writer in the world? A search of his name on Amazon reveals 154, 428 results (though the amount seems to change daily), mostly in Books, but also eight in Clothing and one in Large Appliances (a book about washing machines). But he'd better watch out. Miriam T. Tennoe is catching up: she's written some 119, 525 titles and Susan F. Henssonow, coincidentally, also has 119, 525. Mostly, it seems, they write books together. Between them they write on an extraordinary diverse range of subjects, from Tandem Mass Spectrometry to One More Chance (Pet Shop Boys Song). Their catchy titles range from the short, such as Talacre, to the extremely long, such as U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia: Lewis F. Powell, Jr. United States Courthouse, United States District Court for the District of Virginia, Project Safe Neighborhoods. Or my personal favourite, Poi: Performing Arts, Mori, New Zealand, Juggling, Object Manipulation, Poi Tricks, Fire Dancing, Glowsticking, Circus Skills: Performing Arts. Some have great subtitles, like Patch Adams: Comedy-Drama, Patch Adams, Health Insurance, Myopia, Conformism, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel London.

And these books are expensive. Tandem Mass Spectrometry, for example, is £30 yet less than 100 pages long. So what's going on? Well, closer examination reveals the 'authors', if they exist at all, are actually editors and all the content comes entirely from Wikipedia. Yes, that Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia. The books are printed on demand, and anyone can do so, if they want. It's quite legal under Creative Commons. Indeed, it can actually be done within Wikipedia: there's a Print/Edit button on the left hand side of Wikipedia, with a section called Create a Book. Other websites provide the same service, such as PediaPress.

There are also articles within Wikipedia all about Wikipedia content duplication, so in theory, though it may be pointless (yet surreal), you could create your book in Wikipedia about creating your book in Wikipedia.

But is anyone stupid enough to buy these books? It's possible they're not selling in their millions, but probably only a minimum amount needs to be sold to make a substantial profit. After all, print on demand means books are only printed when ordered, so there's no extra costs.

So, should we just dismiss it and figure Amazon sell all kinds of dodgy stuff and anyone can self-publish a book and put it on there? Perhaps, but other websites also sell the books, including 'reputable' bookseller sites AbeBooks and Waterstones, who admittedly only have 24,698 titles by Mr Surhone, a small percentage of his output to date.

Surhone may have out-written the original Wiki writer, Philip M Parker, who according to Wikipedia is the world's most prolific author and has the advantage of actually existing. Wikipedia say he has over 200,000 books on (though I could 'only' find just over 110,000, and a 'mere' 103,411 titles on, including such titles as The 2007 Import and Export Market for Industrial Refrigerators, Freezers, and Other Refrigeration and Freezing Equipment and Parts in United States, which sells for a whopping £298.30 and has 158 pages.

Friday, October 07, 2011

London Toile

I'd been after the Iain Sinclair-edited anthology London: City of Disappearances for some time. I finally got it the other day, secondhand but in good condition and hardback, for £5. I suspect I mainly wanted it for its cover (the book itself has had quite bad reviews), which at £5 is definitely the cheapest way of acquiring a Timorous Beasties artifact.

Timorous Beasties produce 'surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers', cleverly subverting traditional forms with contemporary imagery. Once described as 'William Morris on acid', they've been a big influence in making fabrics and wallpaper hip and relevant once more.

Their London toile (above) wallpaper and fabric (as well as, inevitably, cushions, plates, and said book cover) is their most famous product. At first glance the imagery looks like the old-fashioned toiles produced in France in the 1700s, usually of pastoral scenes. Closer inspection reveals scenes from contemporary London, including a boy being mugged at gunpoint, teenagers drinking and smoking, dustmen and the homeless against backdrops of famous London landmarks including Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Trellick Tower and the Gherkin.

Their London toile actually looks quite cheery compared to their previous one, Glasgow toile, which features crack addicts, prostitutes and the homeless against dark backgrounds of graveyards and tower blocks.

In a similar vein, artist Rufus Willis gives a contemporary twist with his set of Illy coffee cups, produced in 2005. Instead of the Chinese gardens and landscapes typically found on Blue Willow ceramic ware, Rufus portrays modern life with factory chimneys billowing smoke, crumbling, war-torn buildings and shanty towns.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

This is very sad news. I remember first using Apple Macs at college in the early 1990s, but it wasn't until the late 1990s that I used them professionally. Since then I've owned numerous Macs, and currently have two, along with two iPods and an iPhone. For better or worse, I now can't imagine a world without Apple. I've never owned a PC and never willingly used one. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and its charismatic leader, will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Notes on Portishead (the town)

Back in the early days of Apple Mac, one of the first things a graphic designer learnt was never to use a font named after a city, of which there were many back then. So Monaco, San Francisco, Venice, New York, Geneva and Chicago were all out of bounds, due to the fact that they were extremely ugly (the only modern exception is a fictional city: Gotham, the Obama 'Hope' typeface).

The same rule goes with bands named after places: Alabama, America, Asia, Boston, Bush (after Shepherd's Bush), Chicago, Europe, Linkin Park and the Manhattan Transfer are all dreadful. But two bands are a notable exception to the rule: Saint Etienne, named after the French city, and Portishead, named after the coastal town situated north-west of Bristol.

I've been wanting to go to Portishead ever since first listening to Portishead and learning it was actually a place. Like their music, I always imagined it to be depressing, haunting, industrial and dark. If I had to visualise it, Portishead would look like the landscape of Eraserhead.

Actually finally visiting the place (and playing Portishead albums on the way there) was one of my 1001 Things To Do Before I Die, along with seeing the Star Wars locations in Tunisia (tick), going to Legoland (tick, twice), listening to Sheryl Crow's All I Wanna Do whilst driving along Santa Monica Boulevard (tick) and playing the soundtrack to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly whilst driving through Almeria, Spain (tick), where many spaghetti westerns were filmed.

Though the band themselves call the town 'dreary', I was rather surprised and disappointed to find Portishead, well, rather average, and even, dare I say it, nice. It was once, by the look of things, pretty industrial, having a working dock, two power stations and a chemical works up until the 1980s. The power stations were demolished and the docks redeveloped with a new marina, complete with virtually a whole new town attached, dwarfing the old town.

The nicest part is by the 'beach' (actually mud flats, being on an estuary), where there's a boating lake, park and one of the UK's last remaining outdoor swimming pools. The weather was amazing; we had a swim and an ice cream. Everywhere looks lovely in the sunshine.
The pool, which is run solely by volunteers, and re-opened especially for the scorching weather last weekend (can you imagine a council doing such a thing?), is on Battery Point, site of a gun battery and fort used during the English Civil War. Also of interest is an unusual black, rusty lighthouse. It was possibly the only thing in the whole town that made me think of Portishead (the band), so it's perhaps no coincidence an image of it appears etched into the 12" vinyl release of their 2008 song Machine Gun.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Top 10 Vampire Films

1. Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922, Germany)
2. Vampyr (Dreyer, 1932, France)
3. Let the Right One In (Aldredson, 2008, Sweden)
4. Near Dark (Bigelow, 1987, USA)
5. Daughters of Darkness (Kumel, 1971, Belgium)
6. Martin (Romero, 1978, USA)
7. The Fearless Vampire Killers (Polanski, 1967, UK)
8. Mr. Vampire (Lau, 1985, Hong Kong)
9. Cronos (Del Toro, 1993, Mexico)
10. Night Watch (Lukyanenko, 2004, Russia)