Friday, 31 July 2009

A good day indeed

To promote the release of Paul Rodriguez's third signature skate shoe, Nike SB has created a microsite based around the 'Today Was A Good Day' TV ad for the shoe.

The site features a full, 2:20 version of the ad featuring cameos by fellow Nike SB team members Eric Koston and Theotis Beasley; Basketball legend Kobe Bryant; and Ice Cube, probably best known for his role as Danny Rich in Anaconda. It's well worth a watch.

The shoe itself is coming out in this lovely red colourway in September. I like it lots.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Yes It's F*cking Political

I wrote a short (but a bit longer than 140 characters) review of Tweetminister for next week's new media age today. I'm one of those people that wants to be a bit more interested in politics but that desire isn't quite enough to actively seek out the information I think I might be after. Thank god for Twitter then, and, more than that, Tweetminister.

Basically, it collects together tweets by politicians and about political issues and presents them in a live stream and analytical blog, cutting out all the other noise that exists on the main Twitter site (although Tweetminister is not associated with Twitter). I think I'll definitely be checking up on it from time to time, mainly just to make myself feel intelligent and relevant.

And for those of you wondering about the title of this post, it's the name of a Skunk Anansie song from their second album, Stoosh. You might or might not have noticed but I like using song titles and well-known lyrics as headlines (both in my professional and non-professional work). This one has a special place in my heart as I clearly remember a Radio 1 DJ playing it by accident on daytime radio back when the album was released. About half the song was played before the hasty apologies. Here's the song (albeit not the version I heard but you get the point).

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Race for the prize

Richard Herring is one of my comedy heroes. From listening to Fist of Fun on Radio 1, to watching the resulting TV programmes and following his weekly podcast since week 3. I went to see the preview of his new Edinburgh show Hitler Moustache on Saturday and had every intention of blogging about it. Then The new offenders of standup comedy appeared in the Guardian on Monday and I was moved to get on with it.

I'll come back to the article later. It annoyed me and not just for the obvious reason. Anyway, the show - the basic premise (being Herring, it goes off on some pretty complicated, but no less relevant, tangents) is that he is trying reclaim the 'toothbrush' mustache, as it was originally called, from Hitler in the name of comedy since Charlie Chaplin's upper lip was warmed by the same style of facial hair.

I've seen Herring perform many times, either live or on DVD, and, as said above, listen to the 'Collings and Herrin' podcast he does with Andrew Collins every week, so I am pretty familiar with his work. Hitler Moustache is his best I've seen so far. I'm not going to go into too much detail because I think reviews of comedy that quote punch lines don't work, but it was hilarious. There was one section that hit home pretty hard after I missed my chance to vote in the recent European elections, in which the BNP gained two seats – I missed the postal vote deadline and was in Taiwan for polling day – and it did feel as if he was talking directly to me. He'd have been right to, I had no excuse.

But, if one thing was clear from the routine, he is in no way racist. In fact, he spend much of it highlighting just how stupid and shortsighted racism is. If only Brian Logan realised this before he submitted his pitiful article to the editors of the G2 and Guardian website, who then published it.

Logan had an agenda, to prove that a group of comedians were rallying against political correctness and the supposed fear of saying anything that could offend after all the 'Sachsgate' bollocks, by being offensive for the sake of it. As a starting point, this is already ridiculously wide of the mark. He then quotes Richard Herring. Again, being familiar with his recent work, I could immediately see that his words had been taken completely out of context, which is the other problem with comedy reviews – when the comedian delivers a punchline, proceeded by a well-thought-out routine, it's funny, when a journalist repeats it in writing, it isn't and can be often taken the wrong way. This was also the case in a review of Russell Brand's return to the stage following 'Sachsgate', the journalist made him sound smug and arrogant about the event and aftermath. I saw the show, that was in no way the case. Anyway, I digress.

Herring's quotations in the article were things he might say but not without a great deal of accompanying information, which would make it pretty clear that it is not what he believes. Logan cherry picks what he choses to report of his conversation with Herring throughout the article. The result, Richard Herring ends up looking like an ignorant racist, using offence for the sake of offending and getting a cheap laugh to any reader who isn't aware of his political views, intelligence and style of comedy. Unfortunately, that's quite a lot of people, great as he is, the majority of people don't go to stand-up comedy. Any stand-up comedy.

What also angered me about the article was the fact that it's yet another example of a lazy journalist either failing to do enough research or deliberately ignoring it to suit his own agenda. It's annoying enough when I read articles on subjects I have an interest in in which the journalist gets something wrong, often through lack of research, so when I read this it was pretty upsetting. Not only is it full of wrong information, it makes people who categorically aren't appear racist. Richard Herring now has to spend his life, for the duration of his Edinburgh run, with what is most commonly known as a 'Hitler' moustache with a lot of people genuinely believing he is racist. In the show he said it wasn't about him personally having the moustache, but reclaiming it for comedy. Well, that was last week.

I'm tempted to grow a toothbrush moustache as, at Herring's suggestion, a protest against the BNP in Europe but also to show my support for him. The trouble is it would look like a ginger pause button under my nose.

Anyway, in other news, Stewart Lee was there to watch the performance on Saturday and really looked like he was enjoying it. They both came into the pub afterwards. I was going to go over and say hello and how much I liked the show and their work etc etc stalk stalk, but they were too deep in conversation for me to feel like I could disturb them. Good to see them together again.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Bugged out

I've just got in from BUG 14 at the BFI Southbank. Curated by David Knight and Phil Tidy, and hosted by Adam Buxton (Adam out of off Adam & Joe), it charts the evolution of music videos.

First off tonight was the long-awaited official video for MGMT's Kids, directed by Ray Tintori and starring folk music's Joanna Newsom. Apparently it's caused quite an uproar in the YouTube community, as can be seen in the comments. Something about scaring a kid for life...

Following on from MGMT was the video for the new Franz Ferdinand song Can't Stop Feeling. Directed by Russell Weekes (who was there), it's such a simple idea but so well done.

The third video was a brilliant too (well, they all were but this one was one of the stand-outs). It was a collaboration between animator Steve Scott and illustrator Will Sweeney for the Justice-produced The Parachute Ending by French hip-hoppers Birdy Nam Nam.

Tonight's guest was Irish animator David OReilly. Conversation focused on his nonsensical, but extremely loud, animation shorts, such as Octocat Aventure. Then shown was his stunning animation for the latest U2 single I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight. I've tried to turn the volume down in the clip but if it hasn't worked, fear not, it's U2 and therefore easy to completely ignore the music, especially with such visual stimulation.

Being a big fan of Sexy Beast and his other music video efforts (Rabbit In Your Headlights anyone?), I was very excited to see a promo directed by the mighty Jonathan Glazer on the bill. This one was for The White Stripes' Jack White and The Kills' Alison Mosshart's supergroup The Dead Weather's song Treat Me Like Your Mother. (Does that sentence have too many apostrophes in it?) I doubt the video is a true reflection of the title's request.

I cannot wait for BUG 15. I haven't taken much notice of music videos recently but I think I have many an hour spent pouring over YouTube ahead of me.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Things to do in Mile End when you're wet

Living so close to Victoria Park is great, although my visits there are mainly restricted to when it's warm and sunny. But there are occasions that mean I have no problem standing in the middle of the park in the rain. Two such occasions came this weekend. Madstock on Friday and Lovebox on Saturday.

Taking to the stage before Madness on the Friday were The Pogues. Shane MacGowen was happy to show off his shiny new teeth, although he seemed to have traded in his eye for them. I'm still trying to work in an 'eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth' joke in here.

It might be heresy to some, but don't all of The Pogues' songs sound the same? But it was ok, because Mr MacGowen was ready with the witty quips in between songs. God knows what language they were in though.

Then it was the turn of the hosts. Suggs took the stage in a shiny houndstooth check suit and bowler hat. The set was a mix of the (amazing) classics and (also very good) songs from the new album (which I admit I'm actually still to listen to).

The crowd was also quite amusing to watch. We had 'gold circle' tickets, which meant we were in the bit right in font of the stage, with the proles fenced off further back. We were surrounded by a lot of quite large, original skinheads. Obviously, looks were very deceiving. There was a lot of dancing but it was all very civilised with everyone keeping themselves to themselves and just thoroughly enjoying the show.

And then on to Saturday and a much younger, rowdier crowd at Lovebox. After lapping up what sun there was in the afternoon and a few pints of cider we headed over to the main stage to catch Florence and the Machine. I've met The Machine's drummer. His name is Chris and you can consider his name officially dropped. I'd watched coverage of their Glasto performance and this one was just as good.

After Florence, it was time for one of the two bands I'd really looking forward to – N*E*R*D. I'd wanted to see them on their last your but, at £35 a ticket, I opted to give it a miss. Unfortunately, things didn't start off too well. First, Pharrell's microphone wasn't anything like loud enough. Then, when the sound had been sorted, they proceeded to cram all the best songs, bar the singles, from their first, and by far their best, album into a ten-minute medley. I was not impressed.

They pulled it back though with sheer comedy value. During their last few songs they invited a load of people from the audience onto the stage. The invaders were then herded off for a few minutes before the female portion was aloud back on during Lap Dance. Those girls already on stage were soon joined by more from the crowd till it was practically overflowing for ladies, largely trying to get the attention of the band members. And they all went off backstage together at the end of the set.

If I was excited about N*E*R*D, I was was stupidly excited about seeing Duran Duran. As with Madness the night before, their set was a mixture of classics and new stuff although, in this case, the new stuff provided perfect opportunities to go to the toilet and the bar. Yes, both the toilet and the bar – it really wasn't that crowded.

The main body of the set ended with Ordinary World, providing a massive singalong from the crowd. I'd heard that Mark Ronson would be joining Duran Duran on stage and feared the worst. But my fears weren't realised as they kicked off the encore with a Bond theme medley before launching into A View To A Kill. Ronson just played guitar. He didn't even play the trumpet. In fact, it wasn't exactly clear what he was adding to the performance. Never mind.

All in all, it was two great days of music. Ok, it might have rained a bit but i haven't been to a festival in the sun for literally years, so it'd have to take more than that to dampen (sorry) the mood.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


How exciting. I updated my blog profile today and saw that it had been viewed 100 times. That's a bit of a blogging mile stone for me and it only took about three months to get there. On reflection, though, easily half of those were probably me with the rest split between Marie and my Mum.

Monday, 13 July 2009

No! (more) Sushi

I like working in an office where the newshounds share the invitations they get from PRs to shindigs with everyone. Last week, I took advantage of one such invitation and went to an event at the Yo! Sushi Whiteleys branch. Marie came along for moral support.

The restaurant has recently reopened after a redesign and the designers responsible –Mat Cook from Intro and Philip Watts from his eponymously named company – were there to talk about their inspiration for the new look.

In the talk, until it was cut short by their powerpoint presentation giving up the ghost, Cook and Watts described their research trip to Japan. They travelled around, took photos of anything that moved and everything that didn't, went shopping, ate sushi, did more shopping and ate more sushi. I. Want. That. Job.

I have to admit that my real reason for going – despite having a small obsession with Japan, having never actually been there, I even buy imported Japanese fashion magazines at ridiculous prices – was in anticipation that there would be free food. There was. Lots of it. Too much of it. The conveyor belt was running, being continuously replenished with the finest sushi they had to offer. Marie and I go to Yo! Sushi a lot but the price always stops us going overboard. That was obviously not a concern this time. We both got a bit carried away. Ok, extremely carried away. I've never felt so sick from eating too much. I might give raw fish a wide berth for the time being.