Going Dark

TLC and I are off into the west this week. I don’t think they’ve heard of the Internet where we’re going, and phone signal is sporadic. So updates this week will be intermittent and tersely worded at best.
Instead, I will be settling down to some good old fashioned reading and writing, without the distractions of yer TwitTwoos and Facebonks and an RSS feed that don’t ever seem to quit.

Serenity or madness await.



The Big Man

I clearly remember the first time I ever heard Clarence Clemons play sax. The Old Grey Whistle Test, that exemplar of taste and musical goofiness, regularly used to roll out a clip from the 1978 Winterland gig that’s one of the all-time classics for followers of the E Street Band. Bruce was still a skinny, hyperactive runt. They played Rosalita. The whole song is propelled by the Big Man’s horn, driving, adding drama and little points of thrill and beauty even as it revs behind Bruce as he tries to talk Rosalita into a night-time tryst. He’s massive in that clip, physically and musically. And boy, could he ever pull off that salmon-pink suit. The guy was always sartorially … adventurous.

There’s a lot of distraught fans out there posting Youtube clips of Clarence’s Jungleland solo. It’s one of his finest moments, I’ll grant you. But Rosalita shows how the Big Man was the bedrock of the E Street sound, the heart and yes, goddammit, the soul. I don’t mind admitting to you that I’m a tiny bit tearful about today’s sad news.

The angels are in for a treat tonight. Blow, Big Man.

The Mutant Question: X-Men First Class, prejudice and revenge

We humans are a venal, fickle bunch. We’re fine with superheroes as long as they’reaccidental (bitten, exposed to gamma radiation, struck in the face by toxic sludge); gifted by otherworldly outsiders (aliens or magical beings, or indeed aliens posing as magical beings); or if they’re otherworldly outsiders (aliens from a stricken red-sunned world, gods of thunder, Amazonians). If you’re unlucky enough to be born with your power, then we will fear and despise you. Talk about a mixed message.

(spoilers after the cut)

Continue reading The Mutant Question: X-Men First Class, prejudice and revenge

Justified: an interview with Bill Drummond

I was looking for an exit strategy all morning. Maybe I was ill in bed. Maybe an unexpected client attend had dropped on me. There had to be something. I was halfway through a sixty-hour crunch week at work, and the last thing I needed was the added stress of a filmed interview with an ex-member of the KLF.

Thing was, I’d made a promise. And this interview was a big deal. Bill Drummond, art-provocateur and Justified Ancient Of Mu-Mu, was the last interview we needed to get perspective on Gimpo and the whole M25 Spin. It didn’t matter how tired I was, or how many rings I’d have to jump through to square a four-hour lunch break with work. We’d chased Drummond for years, and for me to bow out at the key moment because I was a bit tired wasn’t going to play. Dom would forgive me, but I’d never be able to forgive myself.

Continue reading Justified: an interview with Bill Drummond

Rules Of Engagement: Easy A and the laws of Highschool-land


The Laws Of Highschool-Land are clear and sharply defined. As a citizen of the state, there are certain people you must be friends with, certain things you must wear, certain actions you must carry out, certain things you must say. As long as you stick to those rules, then you will be safe and content, and nothing will ever happen.

Which is why those rules are designed to be broken.

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The Friday Fotos: What’s your pleasure?

This board is by the bar of the Eagle and Child in Oxford. There are better pubs in the town, but few with such impeccable geek credentials. Snag one of the snugs at the front, and you’ll be sorted.


This is the display over the bar at The Harp near Charing Cross, which recently won the coveted Camra Best Pub award. Their selection is always impeccably chosen, and swiftly served. But boy, does it get busy on a Friday night. I recommend Dark Star’s Hophead for these warm summer evenings, and they do a great pint (or two) of it at the Harp.


And this is the ceiling of the Hobgoblin in Reading. This is a gem, with a tiny bar that opens out into a labyrinth of woody snugs, scarred with decades of graffiti, love poetry and dirty jokes. Some of the best beer in the Ding can be found right here.




Who’s that Girl? Lisbeth Salander, remakes and makeovers

The David Fincher remake of Neils Arden Oplev’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is looking worse by the minute. I know it’s an exercise in foolishness to judge a film on the strength of a couple of trailers and a poster. But Sony Pictures have sent out these images to garner a first reaction to the film. So here’s mine.

(NSFW after the cut. There is an exposed nipple. It is pierced. Be afraid.)

Continue reading Who’s that Girl? Lisbeth Salander, remakes and makeovers

In The Cloud: iOS And The New Wave Of Mobile Computing

I try to keep the fanboi squeee regarding Apple and their products to a minimum here on X&HT. I use them almost exclusively, but in the past I’ve been … evangelistic about them. To the point of heated argument, which is downright silly. I’d like to think I’ve mellowed over time, and spent a year tinkering with Linux on my netbook. Advisory before I begin, therefore: other computing platforms are available.

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Cut: Censorship,The BBFC and Human Centipede 2

In a move that’s boggled the minds of UK horror fans, the BBFC have refused to certificate the sequel to Tom Six’s The Human Centipede, Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence. 2009’s Jap horror Grotesque was the last film to join this rarified club of films too awful for the sensitive British public to see.

Continue reading Cut: Censorship,The BBFC and Human Centipede 2