Thursday, August 31, 2006

The horror of Reality™

Arm yourselves with copious trugs of past-the-sell-by-date fruit and veg. Push me into a wipe-clean corner of a room with blood channels and a drain in a town where no-one will wonder where I've gone. Prepare the onslaught of abuse, deliquescent fodder and sharp, pointy objects, for I have found glimmerings of joy in...

Tommy Lee's Rockstar Supernova and The X Factor...

The sheer vacuousness of telly-reality-contest-hopeful-gurning-plebs has been something that generally has me slack-jawed in contempt, gazing hatred at the screen while I furiously will the television to implode. Second only to my desire to see the producers of said bilge have an on-screen live aneurysm and shoot blood from their eyes and both nostrils, this is a rage without too many parallels in my "oh bugger, the food's arrived, so I'll surely be able to find something on the box worth watching for 30 minutes or so" teevee grazing.

I think it's born out of the knowledge that there's so damn much f**king excellent telly about in the shape of things like the new Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Deadwood, Carnivale, Firefly, The West Wing, The Wire (are we noticing that this is all coming out of the US at all?) that I fail to see why prime-time is getting clogged like a glutton's arteries with this dreck.

And breathe...

Rockstar Supernova (now there's an idea to take somewhere - today's empty-headed fame whores gathered up and pushed into a fusion reactor to see what happens) is one of those "get a bunch of plebs together to audition for a singer's job and televise it with audience votes to make a chunk of CAAAAAASSSH" efforts.

What makes it so risibly watchable is the job that these fools are after. Singing for a, ahem, "rock supergroup" made up of Tommy Lee (who slipped Pam Anderson a length on video or something), Jason Newstead (who got so sick of the whining in Metallica that he sensibly left) and someone called Gilby Clark (who I’d never heard of, but is apparently a highly decent chap). No evidence so far of terribly good tunes beyond the sort of Velvet Revolver sleaze-rock currently being purveyed by about a zillion Guns 'n' Roses wannabees, not much in the way of talent for the generality of the entrants (apart from two who are bloody great), and an audience who seem to be primarily from the "Californian blonde-haired airhead secretary who thinks that rock is all about doing the 'devil horns' sign and gurning furiously at the camera as it swoops past" demographic. Along with a scattering of boys who obviously want to get into bed with them.

The entrants all live in a "rock mansion" for the duration of the contest and are given a bunch of songs to fight and squabble over so that they can perform them in front of the assembled mob and three band members. Oh, and producer, MC and guitar "legend" Dave Navarro, who wears marginally less makeup than a Blackpool drag queen.

The entrants do their schtick, and the comments come forth. And such pearls of wisdom they are too. Actually, Jason N (with whom I once had a fascinating conversation about Jazz many years ago) is indeed capable of stringing a coherent sentence together, which instantly puts him in the unenviable position of having to explain all his comments to the mouth-breathing proles onstage and in the audience.

The other two, now there's where the problems start. Gilby Clark (who replaced someone in GnR around about the implosion time and long after Slash) has black hair. Really, amazingly, made-from-the-stuff-they-build-black-holes-out-of black. In essence, straight out of a bottle black. I think he has some tattoos, and probably a pierced nipple. Oh, Dave Navarro has those too. Wow, they rock. Gilby’s comments on performances by the wretched auditionees leave you with a dull sense of "did that actually mean anything?". Most of the time, in the aftermath of a perfectly creditable performance by an understandably nervous entrant, Gilby, Dave and Tommy will just find something objectionable in it so that they can patronise the hopeful nerve-bag with a lecture about how any number of their terribly famous friends would never have done it like that...

Tommy Lee is just the class idiot who lucked into being famous by being a drummer. Who'd have thought, eh? A massive overbite, a sense of rhythm that he keeps in a crate somewhere backstage, painfully "rock" tattoos and an inability to finish a sentence without tacking on "man", "baby", "word" or some other "Look at me, I'm a rockstar" parlance.

Q. What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A. A drummer.

Q. What's the difference between a drum machine and a drummer?
A. You only have to punch the instructions into the drum machine once.

I thank you...

Tommy Lee, Gilby Clark and Dave Bloody Navarro have put so much effort into looking the part that (to a UK musician who expects people to loook a little bit, well, grubby) they all fail hopelessly. Regulation tattoos (all of which probably relate to some, like, "deep" thing that once happened to them, man), piercings (because of course, hotel receptionists, nurses, police officers and a million other regular people don't have them...), an inability to comment on anything without sounding smug, superior, condescending or thick, and self-belief that edges dangerously toward worship.

The two contestants that actually have some kind of star quality as well as a good voice (girls and guys, "attitude" is not the same thing as talent, thanks) are an Icelandic man, Magni, who is possessed of a real ability to open his heart on stage and pour out real emotional content into a tune, and a girl called Dilana who has that raw, smoky rock voice that all the rest of us wish we'd been born with. The cow... ;-) Plus, they both have stage presence (which the band is going to need in abundance, judging by the current members) and aren't swaggering, ego-throwers.

If either of them get through, I really hope they actually have the chance to make their own mark in their own way, contribute on equal terms in the band and not be dictated to by ridiculous rock caricatures like Dave Bleeding Navarro and Tommy Lee.

Okay people, you need to listen to Jason...

The X Factor. Bizarre beyond belief, yet oddly touching.

Can't believe I'm watching this...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bootskis, bootskis, marching up and down again...

Hurrah and huzzah!

As I have a preternatural (must look that word up soon) taste for the, shall we say "slightly off-beam" in terms of rewards for my own dazzling wonderfulness (hem-hem), I have recently taken the opportunity to avail myself of a fine pair of funky dancing boots (pictured below).

They are New Rock Malicia boots, all the way from Spain and big enough to help a fairly tall Englishman become a stupidly tall (and quite likely precarious) vain Englishman. Hey, but they rock like hell! Tommy Lee, eat your heart out! ;-) Just need a pair of leather jeans, much longer hair, and liver failure and I'm there, baby!

There's nothing quite like a spot of ridiculous indulgence to lighten one's mood. Or, in fact, just to bring an already good mood up to 'Great Mood - Level 3'.

There's piles of work on for both me and Good Dog, most of which is the sort of stuff we get to earn money at the same time as learning a bunch of stuff and keeping the experience levels up. Fantastic! Much has been achieved this year for us both in terms of work, meeting new contacts and generally developing a pretty damn great working relationship.

Apart from the fact that I'm obviously the talented one... ;-)

Now I'm off to build another computer, as it's been well over a month since I've done that and I need (yes, really physically need) a PC for playing decent games on, as the Mac ports of most of the things I enjoy playing for stress relief (Civilization III & IV, Neverwinter Nights, Sim City, Total War, etc.) are dire beyond belief and run too slow for words. That's pretty bad, when you're talking about a First Person Shooter, but these are bloody strategy and tactical turn-based games for the most part. Arrgh! :-/

Plus, the new computer will have green lights glowing out of it.

Because of Apple's decision to employ actual product designers who know a bit about how things should look, I'm loath to start buggering about with the cosmetics of my G4s and G5s. I'll happily hack the innards about a bit (within what's actually achievable in a Mac), but cosmetically, they're perfect. However, PCs start life looking like a piece of roadkill anyway, so you figure "why not?" and start mutilating them. Then you get to find out that you can build one that looks silly right from the get go and you're hooked. With a Mac, it'd be the equivalent of sticking a spoiler, skirts and under-car lighting on a top-of-the-range Rolls-Royce. With a PC, it's like grabbing a Vauxhall Nova (a crummy compact car, for our colonial cousins) and sticking a nuclear reactor in the back seats - YEEHAA, Grin Factor 12, Captain!!

The great thing about it is that it still is a useful bit of kit to have around. I'm not really one for the whole PC vs. Mac thing. I grew up using Macs and can therefore do what I need to do more quickly on a Mac due to my familiarity with the way it works and where I expect everything to be. If I'd grown up using Windows machines, I'd use those in preference and probably never have touched a Mac. What I need is to get the job done as quickly as possible, not worry about who thinks my machines are cool or not... ;-)

Having a Windows-based PC on the network means that I can farm out some of the video conversion work, as well as little niggly things like subtitle format changing, to it, while getting on with other work on the G5 I'm currently typing this on. Best of both worlds. And glowing green lights. Awesome...

Apart from the fact that I have a nagging feeling that I could really use a Linux machine too.

Just in case...