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False economies?

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From The Register:

Supermarket giant Tesco is offering new members of its online DVD rental service a free 1GB iPod Shuffle – but only until 10am, 16 September 2007.

The good news though is that you’ll qualify for a free player with even the cheapest monthly package, which ships a single DVD at a time and is limited to two discs per month, for a monthly fee of £4.47. So a three-month subscription would cost you £13.41 and save you just under £36

I have no interest in owning an iPod Shuffle. Nor in renting DVDs (I can’t even find the time to get to the cinema as much as I’d like as it impinges on my drinking time). Yup, I signed up. Hey, maybe it’ll arrive in time for Xmas.


Written by Tony Kiernan

14 September 2007 at 1:35 pm

Posted in DVD, Viral marketing


Well, seeing as everyone else with be doing their that was the year, that was type thing, I might as well join the bandwagon. However, unlike everyone else, I’ve actually waited until the year was over to get round to it. And, indeed, a year in which I have started a blog.

For me, the most interesting thing about posting this blog has been the correspondence that I’ve received as a result of it. And, the sheer venom of a lot of it. Quite amusing. (There was a time if you type “mysoginistic fuckwad” into Google I came out top of the search.) There must be a fair whack of people out there who just spend the day searching the web for their own names. Seething balls of inadequacy just waiting for someone to validate their existence by telling them they’re as great as they think they are. Well, here’s the news: You’ve got my money, I’ve got your product. Now, fuck off! Assholes. Just because you’ve sweated for years over a frenzied keyboard/fretboard/surfboard (couldn’t finish that) does not mean I am obliged to enjoy your output. And, if I buy said output and it I think is crap I have every right to share this information. Why to het up about the opinion of one lone corner of a very large web?

I also get accused of only ever slagging things off. This, I know is complete bullsplat. But, again, I wonder why you are so bothered.

I have no idea how many hits this site has taken. I have no interest. Although it does always please me to hear from people that have stumbled across it and read something (no matter their take on it). It surprises me to see external links. A surprising number of people I know drop comments on stuff in it. I hope that they’re all getting something from it. My intention in starting this was really a training exercise. To practice putting what I was thinking into clear and cohesive words for others to understand. I’d spent so much time on the internet being willfully misinterpreted (by the kind of person that would sum up this paragraph by picking out the words “I was thinking”) that I felt I needed it. (It is this singular purpose that is the reason for my not including comments on the site, to answer anyone that’s interested. Although, I do intend to have them on the music part if I ever post older music or even make any more – one more resolution buys the farm.)

But, I will say this to all of you: Remember it’s all just one man’s opinion.

And so, without further ado, onto my Things of The Year:

10. Yamasuki – Le Monde Fabuleux De Yamasuki
Pleasant surprise of the year. A record with just so much sheer joy packed into the minutes than most other artists can’t even put into a whole career. A year packed with great Japanese related music.

9. Howl’s Moving Castle
It was tempting to put Sin City in here. Though looking back at what I wrote at the time, I remember just how disappointed I was in it. So, instead we go for the equally visually stunning Howl’s… More making-me-grin Japanese stuff. Is there a theme going here?

8. UKNova
Just about the anniversary of 9/11, I needed to buy a new telly but instead took the decision to chuck the damn thing out. I was spending way to much time lying on the couch watching the same episodes of Frasier over and over again. However, this year there was finally something on that struck me as event telly, a definite must-see: Chris Morris‘ new sitcom Nathan Barley. So, I introduced myself to the wonderful world of bit torrent and in particular the site UKNova. So, in addition to this excellent (and much under-rated IMO) sitcom, I also enjoyed Julia Davis‘ excellent dark Nighty Night. Well, the first series. The second was absolutely awful, sub-Benny Hill gross out. Very sad. Another great new sitcom was Armando Iannucci‘s The Thick Of It featuring the excellent (if currently slightly cloudy) Chris Langham. I got to see the all new Dr Who. Thought Eccleston was excellent and have high hopes for David Tennant. And, at the other end of the scale, the epic adaptation of DickensBleak House – perfectly pitched and cast, the kind of thing that the BBC deserves it’s reputation for.

I did watch some real shit as well, though.

7. Flying Matchstick Men
Decent local band shocker! Three gigs, all terribly exciting. Looking forward to them taking the world in 2006 (and, hopefully supporting Sparks). Which is nice.

6. Kung Fu Hustle
Cartoon madness and overt sentimentality. Oh, and completely hilarious.

5. Ian MacEwan – Saturday
This book blew my mind kinda like tripping of a sign that reads ‘Genius At Work’ and falling into the arms of the woman you love. Since I first read it, themes have kept coming back to me. The main once being that of lives invaded. It’s not a pro or anti war piece, it’s much more humane than that. It just asks questions without taking a stance. Or, if you’d rather it’s deep personal dreams. Full stop.

It also, got me digging out some Greame Greene I hadn’t read yet and scouring charity shops for others by him. I fear I may in a year or two have read his complete output. ‘Fear’ purely because I can’t imagine a world without uncovering another that I haven’t. (A bit like when Vonnegut goes.) I also came across (as part of May We Borrow Your Husband? And Other Comedies of the Sexual Life) that wonderful story bout the boy whose father is killed by the pig falling from the balcony. If this was not in your high school reader, I can only recommend searching it out.

Another book that I feel I must mention here, purely because it feels right is David Mitchell‘s The Cloud Atlas, a book with the dubious dual honours of being Booker Prize shortlisted and Richard & Judy‘s book of the year. But somehow that’s very fitting. elegantly structured (and, fairly gimmickily – but you all know I’m a sucker for that) it covers a lot of the same contemprary issues as McEwan’s book, if a little more clear on naming the villains. But, without pontificating. A staggering work of majesty, that would’ve got a much bigger piece had I got round to reading it earlier.

4. Team America: World Police
Released way back in January, and not bettered all year. Crude and rude to just about everyone. Also featuring the best parody of musical theatre since The Tall Guy.

3. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club in Denver.
In any other year – no, scratch that – lifetime both of these gigs would be sat atop any ‘best of’ list. But, 2005 was just so fucken great for live music. With a few exceptions (you know who you are Antony His The Voltas) all the gigs I’ve attended have been excellent. And, these two would be top of the pile – the creme de la creme – were it not for the simple fact of one all-time hero and three new ones.

2. Flannery’s Mounted Head.
Just nudging ahead of SCAC because of the complete emotional force of the night. I’ve heard none of the tracks from this again since, but it all still rings clear as a bell, and sends shivers down my spine. Album! Now!! Or at least a tour…I know a guy that sometimes promotes stuff…

1. Spookey
2005 – the year of the cat: the Spookey Cat!! Har-har. Three gigs, two compilation tracks, and an album. Really that’s what you want all bands to be putting your way in a twelve month period. The perfect embodiment of the if-they-play-go-see rule. Maybe if I’d had one more drink the night before I wouldn’t have grit my teeth and dragged my sorry ass to Stereo on as miserable wet Tuesday night in May. Thank god, I did, though. (What was it George Michael says about corners…) Everything that rock ‘n’ roll is about, a joyous rollercoaster ride. They better be back this year, I don’t think I could cope otherwise.

Written by Tony Kiernan

03 January 2006 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Books, DVD, Film, Gigs, Misc, Records, Theatre

Violent Femmes – Permanent Record: Live & Otherwise

In 1983 I was watching the Whistle Test (“no longer old & grey…”) when a band I’d never heard of before were introduced as the studio guests for that week. What followed was a stripped to the bone, dark country song about a man murdering his youngest daughter. It was hypnotic and dangerous. I knew I was watching something very, very special. The band were The Violent Femmes. I insisted that my mum buy me the album they were promoting (Hallowed Ground, still one of my all time favoutires – but, that’s another story). And so, for the last (I’ve just realised) twenty-odd years I’ve been picking up their sparodic releases as they come along. In all that time I’ve only managed to catch them live the once (in 2000) and needless to say it was a near religious experience for me.

And so to their first DVD. There was a live video previously, released as part of that Channel 4 series that also spawned stuff by The Icicle Works, Orange Juice and Lloyd Cole (and probably some other folk I can’t remember). I had the Icicles one, but that was just because it was avaiable in What Everys for two quid at one point. As with live albums I really don’t have any interest in live footage (or video comps for that matter). But, there’s such a dearth of visual Femmes stuff that this I just had to have.

The live footage is one of the most atmosphere-less sterile pieces of gig filming I think I’ve ever seen. Kudos to the band for still coming across as completely inspired.

The whole DVD has very much an early 90’s MTV type feel to it (with the exception of the Gone Daddy Gone video). It’s as if this was when the label had enough to fork out for videos etc for them, but wasn’t really willing to be too generous. So, everything is so generic or maybe familiar despite never having seen any of them. Worst of all are the two vaguely “industrial/goth” singles off of New Times – looks like such a desperate effort to sell them to the wrong audience. (“Don’t Start Me On The Liquor” should’ve been the single ffom there.)

I keep thinking this is one for the fans only. But, realise that’s because I would hate someone to come to the band through this and think they were that slickly stuck in a certain time. I loved every minute.

Written by Tony Kiernan

28 September 2005 at 9:51 pm

Posted in DVD