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After the bomb… July 26, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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…interested in nuclear holocaust fiction? You might think you need look no further than here. You might be wrong. This, here, surely is the most comprehensive overview ever on the topic. You’ll find Cold War thrillers, post apocalyptic novels, science fiction novels (the previous two not necessarily being the same thing at all) and more.

I’ve read a fair few of the books on the list…though I’ve got to admit to more of an interest in straight SF. It’s an odd experience reading the list, knowing that, at least so far, we’ve dodged that particular bullet of global nuclear annihilation. So far. It remains sobering to read this particular wiki entry.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Rubyhorse July 26, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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In the mid 90’s I lived in Cork for a period. Rubyhorse were a Cork band just releasing their first album. One of my co workers knew one of them and I went to see them live a few times and bought the Album ‘A Lifetime In One Day’. The Album was good, although they were better live.”Horses” and “Touch and Go” were two particular favourites. They were big enough in Cork but hadn’t been heard of much in Dublin.
Their lead singer , David Farrell, was the ultimate showman, Cork and cocky he had an incredible stage presence. He was so confident he was almost dislikeable but worked the stage well.
In 1997 , rather than relocate to London as many Irish bands had done, they moved to Boston in the US and started again from scratch. They built up a following there got signed to a major label (Interscope) and moved to LA. They recorded an album that was never released….. and split from the label.
They toured the US for a number of years and performed on The David Letterman show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. They split in 2004. In their time in the US they released four albums ‘Rise’, ‘Any Day Now’, ‘Goodbye To All That’ and ‘How Far Have You Come?’.
They did some renunion gigs in Cork recently.
Their Facebook Page

The first album ‘A Lifetime In One Day’ is available to Stream on Grooveshark
“Fell On Bad Days”

Free Education July 25, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics.
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Here’s a most useful bit of analysis all the way back from 1998 and in the Independent which while examining third level education makes the case that:

ONE OF the more interesting facts to emerge from the figures published by the Comptroller and Auditor General in relation to undergraduate costs in the year 1994-95, is that it is probably as cheap to keep students at most of the courses in university as it is to keep them on the dole.

Of course the situation has changed since then, and it would be handy to have a sense by how much and in what ways, but still a thought-provoking

Political jokes and humour… July 23, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, The Left.
7 comments

Reading this excellent proposal, noted in comments a while back, for a 4 day week due to the positive health, social and societal benefits of same, there was a comment below it which went as follows:

It’s that joke about the banker, the worker and the unemployed man in a cafe. The banker takes 9 of 10 biscuits on the table and nudges the worker “You want to watch out, that unemployed man has his eye on your biscuit.”

And the thought struck me, anyone know any good political jokes, actual real jokes you can tell people? All contributions gratefully accepted.

Sound trackin’ July 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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This piece on Slate noted that composer Michael Giacchino of John Carter fame (well, probably not ‘fame’ exactly – given how many seemed to hate that movie, though I liked it quite a lot), Lost, the TV series, fame (yep, that would probably be fame) and Planet of the Apes amongst many others has a tendency to name his tracks in a curious way… like here… and here… and here…

The ruins of previous social media July 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Good Alright piece here on the Guardian on ‘blogging’ of which more some time soon… but I particularly like the link to the following:

http://www.theonion.com/video/internet-archaeologists-find-ruins-of-friendster-c,14389/

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Cocteau Twins, EPs from 1985 July 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Ah, the Cocteau’s. What a group, and how typical of the 1980s, able to construct their own defined musical and aesthetic universe, seemingly detached from all that had come before or would come after (though, that last is perhaps arguable). They seem to me to fit into a line of groups, the Jesus and Mary Chain are another, and perhaps Echo and the Bunnymen on a good day a third, who simple were, as if they came into being perfectly formed at that one point in time. Treasure was… well… a treasure. Overplayed, surely. What album purchased before the advent of CDs, and in particular digital download, wasn’t? There was less music, or at least less obtainable music, and truth is less money and you made do with what you got, be it Easterhouse EPs or BFG singles and if they weren’t much cop, well, you probably weren’t going to admit that quite as readily then as now. Indeed there’s academic papers to be written about genre loyalty, and how it existed in such a curiously defined way back then and… like… where the hell did that go?

I never heeded it that much, and nor did any whose musical tastes and opinions I knew then and respected, or now, come to think of it. Music is music and the good stuff is everywhere and the bad stuff is everywhere too.

But there’s no question that – say 1984 or 1985, the predominance of certain forms of what we now, unfortunately, call indie but then was post-punk, was remarkable. And there was album after album just simply great music appearing in a way that wasn’t matched – for my money, until the early to mid-1990s and the rise of electronica, IDM, and perhaps tangentially drum’n’bass (though hip hop was an early precursor of this overall trend).

Which is where the Cocteau’s came in. This seamless sound, opaque vocals, chiming guitars, echoes and more echoes and all of it carried off with a sort of confidence that undercut any questions of pretension. They released three EPs in 1985, each encapsulating their approach. And what I find interesting is that I like the group a lot better now than I did then. Sure, I liked them, I got that Treasure was great and did indeed overplay it, but they were always just a bit too much, whereas now at this remove they sound genuinely remarkable – perhaps recontextualised by all those who they influenced and in turn influenced others again. That said I never stopped liking the EPs perhaps because the shorter format suited them better.

Liz Fraser’s voice was indeed beautiful, but it was a beauty rooted in the anger of punk itself and is sometimes difficult to listen to, both complementary and grating – which is as it should be. Listen to the yelps and barks she emits on Quisquose from Aikea-Guinea, or on Melonella from the Echoes in A Shallow Bay EP. And then listen to Pale Clouded White with guitars that stretch behind the choral sounds and simple vocal melodies. That too, that sense of dissonance fading into melody also came from punk. This might be goth, at a stretch, but it was goth opened up, widening to the horizon, not limited by sub-Joy Division retreads. That last may be slightly unfair, but it’s not, I’d guess entirely inaccurate.

Aikea-Guinea, the title track from the EP of the same name works perfectly. Kookaburra, if overly mannered vocally, even for a group where overly mannered vocals were all, surges on. Rococo, a neat and powerful instrumental harks back to Garlands and their own Joy Division influenced phase. The Tiny Dynamine EP contains Pink Orange Red, Cocteau Twins by numbers – that reverbed strummed beginning, and then almost shouted chorus, with a lovely guitar melody underpinning it – until one remembers that this was from … There was no by the numbers for it to be compared to. Ribbed and Veined is… chunky… high pitched guitar notes cascading downwards against an almost cinematic percussion, as if it were the soundtrack to a film. Plain Tiger has a typically convoluted vocal line, that folds in on itself and then opens out again.

And I throw in Millimillenary just ‘cos it may well be my favourite of all their songs. It was released on The Pink Opaque compilation in 1985 but had been written a number of years earlier when Simon Raymonde arrived in the group.

Special word, as with Lush some years later, has to be mentioned as regards the physicality of their EP and albums, the designed materials accompanying and framing them. Vaughan Oliver’s genuinely luscious visual and typographic solutions.

Actually all that in mind in a way, I’d argue that they went on too long. There was a sense that by the late 1980s the project was flagging, the albums becoming if not predictable somehow less transcendent. And it’s impossible to apportion blame. That just happens. Fraser has essentially retired from music, Guthrie continues, but none of his solo albums have reached the heights of these compositions (though, in all fairness, I should namecheck a fantastic album he did with Harold Budd entitled Before the Day Breaks from 2007).

Aikea-Guinea (Aikea-Guinea)

Kookaburra (Aikea-Guinea)

Pink Orange Red (Tiny Dynamine)

Plain Tiger (Tiny Dynamine)

Melonella (Echoes in A Shallow Bay) – by the way check out the lyrics.

Pale Clouded White (Echoes in A Shallow Bay)

Millimillenary

TV Science Fiction: Project U.F.O. July 12, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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I never saw this back in the day, a show that sort of predated the X-Files and Dark Skies in the late 1970s. Entitled Project U.F.O. it took actual accounts of UFO sightings and encounters and worked them into fictional accounts. It’s intriguing in a way because one would have thought that following Close Encounters there might have been more emphasis on UFO’s on television. But not at all. There was the far from great ‘The Fantastic Journey’.

In this episode there’s a scene that is very similar to one in CE3K about 8 minutes in.

Effects are neither good nor bad, but they don’t have to be really, do they? Lights in the sky can be… well… lights in the sky. Check out the jaunty music, provided by Nelson Riddle no less, which seems weirdly inappropriate for the subject. No Mark Snow on hand there for something a little more eerie.

Good point made in comments about the fact these have survived into the present day. Who taped these? And why did they keep them?

Farewell the Ramones July 12, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
9 comments

Sad to hear that Tommy Ramone has died this week, at the appallingly young age of 62. This leaves no surviving original members of the group, surely the best band called the Ramones ever and one of the best bands ever, full stop I’ve a real fondness Too Tough To Die and Rock’N’Roll High School, which came later, but Tommy was only (only!) on the ground-breaking first three albums (though produced many later ones including TTTD) so here is something from each of those first three albums (sort of kind of)… such a great group (and I’ll do a This Weekend on them soon).

Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue

Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment

Rockaway Beach

And I throw this one in, just ‘cos I love it.

It’s A Long Way Back To Germany (B-side originally)

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Bill Mallonee and The Vigilantes of Love July 12, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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From Athens , Georgia Bill Mallonee and The Vigilantes of Love were an alt country band that never gained the popularity they deserved. They broke up in 2001 and briefly reformed in 2008. Mallonee still tours as a solo artist. Alas I’ve yet to see him or the The Vigilantes of Love. His website
I’ve previously done a TWIMBLT on Buddy Miller and it was the fact that he produced the bands 1999 album “Audible Sigh” that led me to buy the album. It’s an excellent album , features the odd bit of guitar from Miller as well as backing vocals from a stellar cast of Emmy Lou Harris and Julie Miller (‘Resplendent’ below features Emmy Lou) . The album itself had supposedly four different releases (with slightly different tracks on each!) such were the bands problems with folding record companies Later on I brought a few more of their albums, with ‘Live at the 40 Watt’ being my other favourite.
Mallonee himself is an interesting character, originally a drummer he didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 32. He is also a ‘Committed Christian’ as I learnt from this interview from 2000
There is a history of the band written by Mallonee himself here.

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