February 7, 2007

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

So last night I went to a nightclub to watch a film about a manic depressive. And it was great!

Cargo – tucked away under the arches of Rivington Street in Shoreditch often shows films on midweek nights when nothing much is going on but this was the first time I’ve ventured over there – I suspect I will do it more often in future. It’s a great little venue – and even better when it’s almost empty and you feel like the leather sofas and candles are all there just for you.

The screening room is the back one – where I saw Akira the Don many months ago now…
and we managed to grab a couple of the bean bags down the front.
Coupled with 4 for a tenner Tiger beers we were well away.

Now neither of us could be called big followers of Johnson’s music – and the quality of most of the recordings on show didn’t exactly make me want to rush out and invest in the back catalogue, but having said that he had a gawky charm and presence that made it difficult to dislike what he was doing.

As the story developed and the tales of him descending into madness increased the sympathy for him waned a little – the story about him causing a woman to jump from her window because he had forced his way into her house and tried to exorcise her demons was a worry.
The best, and most unbelievable tale was that of him returning in his fathers plane from a successful SXSW performance when in a manic episode he pulled the key from the ignition and threw it out the window. The plane had to be crashlanded in a forest and amazingly they survived unscathed.

So an interesting film, but not an amazing one – the novelty of going out to watch it in a nightclub on a Monday though made it an enjoyable experience


February 7, 2007

So Bird flu is gripping Suffolk as a Bernard Matthews farm is considered off limits and a cull of birds is set to dent profits for the Turkey magnate. Well it’s nice to know that real turkeys are involved in Bernard Matthews product, from the slices you can buy I had my doubts.

It’s a shame of course, but I can’t help thinking this is being blown out of proportion. Bird flu is not a big killer it merely has the potential to be. I was traveling through Vietnam and other parts of South East Asia two years ago when the initial scares were being publicised in the British press and its fair to say that in those countries bird flu wasn’t a major worry among the general populace. In Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia it is not uncommon for families to actually share their living quarters with chickens and it is in these sort of environments where the virus has actually spread to humans. Regardless of the quality of British farms – be they battery reared or otherwise the proximity between human and poultry does not compare to the Asian situation. Human Deaths from H5N1 stand at 158 in four years http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/country/cases_table_2006_11_13/en/index.html
Hardly a pandemic, these stats also show that almost half of the reported cases actually didn’t prove fatal either and considering these are from lesser developed countries it seems to me likely that the threat has been exaggerated.

Super Casinos and a Culture of Gambling

I watched Louis Theroux’s new show last night – focusing on gambling in Las Vegas. It was a funny but also a cautionary tale of how easy it can be to get sucked into an addiction.
One of the subjects of last nights show used to be a doctor but now retired spends all of her days in the Hilton Casino – having gambled some $4million dollars in the last seven years. Louis visits her house – not that of a millionaire it must be said, and asks her son what he thinks of her gambling away his inheritance. He is diplomatic, she is unrepentant but watching her sitting in front of the flashing slot machines repeatedly pressing buttons in the hope of a big win is depressing in the extreme. She claims to be having fun – and I’m sure there is a certain rush to gambling but at levels like these it does seem to be a debilitating addiction on a par with hard drugs – only without the out of body experiences and fuzzy feeling..

This week the new SuperCasino license was granted for Manchester. I have a horrible image of Wayne and Colleen alikes losing their hard earned money in moments of madness. Then I think, who am I to judge people in this. The trouble is gambling is addictive and if people can’t afford to lose then it is going to create social problems.

As Louis Theroux asked of one of the workers in the Casino who claimed to be a friend of the doctor losing her money – at what point would you step in and suggest she was going too far?

$4 million seems a lot to me…

Hello world!

February 2, 2007

So here we are. Sat at home with a day off and writing my first WordPress post.

I’m planning to write about things that I get up to as well as comment on world events, music, politics and the like.

I’m currently listening to Pandora – and some crazy classical guitar action – its not at all my usual thing but suprisingly relaxing…

First thing to write about briefly is Stewart Lee’s What Would Judas Do? which I went to see at the Bush Theatre, Shepherds Bush last weekend.  I love Stewart Lee, from the days when he worked with Richard Herring on Fist of Fun and TMWRNG to seeing him in stand up on numerous occasions in the last few years.

I never got to see the controversial Jerry Springer the Opera though – I was out of the country at the time it was on and it is only since I’ve been back that I heard the furore it caused due to it’s alleged blasphemous content.  Lee has always criticised the recieved notions taught by the church – the Sunday Heroes section from This Morning with Richard Not Judy being a case in point.

“Consider the Lily”

This show takes a look at the last week of Jesus’ life through the eyes of Judas, one of the less important members of the disciples who despite initially feeling put upon because he always has to carry the bags and do the menial jobs, and is never really taken seriously by the suck ups Matthew and John because occasionally he feels Jesus’s teachings are a little too wishy washy eventually finds himself being given the most important job in the story by giving it a dramatic ending.

It portrays Judas as a bit of an idiot but a revolutionary one who believed Jesus was preaching real change and opposition to the Romans.

Lee likes to involve the audience, and participation is rewarded by the handing out of various bags of nuts throughout the show, this theme continues when the climax of the show involves bringing ten audience members to sit around a table, and bread and wine is passed around to recreate the last supper.

There are no real suprises here, Lee is obviously well read in his subject and quotes from scripture throughout, he is engaging, funny and holds the audience for an hour without too much trouble.

Anyway, that is my first post.

Exciting times…!