Saturday, June 24, 2006

Unlikely Stories

My Dear, Dear Friends, do not lament! Please, dry your eyes, open your blinds, and cease your mournful wailing. For, contrary to popular belief, I have not succumbed to the Pilbo. Indeed, I have emerged emotionally and physically unscathed from my trial, and the flatpack creature now stands fully assembled, occupying pride of place in our living room. Can you feel my warm glow of contentment from where you are?

Perhaps even more shocking, Pilbo and I actually bonded during the assembly process. Yes, there was one sheared screw and half of the f**king wooden dowel things were too thin for their designated holes. But Pilbo & I worked together to overcome these challenges. And to what do I ascribe this felicity?

Camera Obscura, of course.

Things started off worryingly; I opened Pilbo's box and laid out its constituent parts on the floor. They eyed me malevolently and muttered threats. I stared back at them coolly, knowing the importance of not showing an Ikea product the slightest ounce of fear. Realising that maintaining a tranquil state of mind would be key to prevailing over the creature, I slipped the album into the CD player. The organ notes soared out of the speakers and immediately the Pilbo bits fell silent. By the time Traceyanne had finished singing her first line, I could see the tension drain away from them. By the time she was announcing 'Hey Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken,' they were positively cooing. I smiled at them and asked: "Shall we make this as pleasant as possible?" The bits burbled in agreement. Forty minutes later with nary a contretemps, we were finished. Oh, and the PivotPlus? Pilbo says it tickled.

Dear Friends, I've decided that Camera Obscura is the key to world peace and happiness. Forget your organized religions, your healing crystals, and your yogic flying - this is the real deal. I say we play the album simultaneously on every radio, CD player, tape deck, and speaker across the planet. Mark my words, Jew would embrace Palestinian, insurgents would dance with coalition forces in the streets of Baghdad, long-estranged relatives would reconcile, and Tom would shack up with Jerry. Oh, to heck with it, I just can't stand it - here's another track:

Camera Obscura - Razzle Dazzle Rose (buy it! Now! That's all you're going to get from me!!)

In other music news, a couple of weeks back I came across the most extraordinary video for 'Bathtime In Clerkenwell' by The Real Tuesday Weld. It was posted by the marvellous Colleen on sugartown, and you can (and should) see it here. I was fascinated, enthralled, and overjoyed - all those cuckoos! Those clocks! The bathtub!! I showed it to my office colleagues. I showed it to Dearest Wife, Little Man, and Darling Daughter. They all loved it (though Little Man prefers the Lordi video, truth be told). So, I went out and bought meself the CD whence the track comes. 'I, Lucifer' is a wonderfully odd creation. It bills itself as a soundtrack to the satirical Glen Duncan novel of the same name, in which Lucifer returns to modern-day London for one last shot at redemption. But the album is no goth dirge or industrial jackhammer; it mixes electronica , vintage swing, and twangy guitar to shape some rather compelling music. Please, do have a listen:

The Real Tuesday Weld - Bathtime in Clerkenwell (buy here)
The Real Tuesday Weld - (Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You (you Brits should buy here)
The Real Tuesday Weld - La BĂȘte et la Belle (je dirige nos amis francophones ici)

Still on things literary, I'm getting reacquainted with our library, now that Dearest Wife has shelved (with only token help from her lazy, gadabout husband, I fear) most of our vast collection of books. One tome that caught my eye and through which I leafed was Alasdair Gray's Unlikely Stories, Mostly. Gray is a monumental writer and has been justifiably described as one of Scotland's best authors ever (Colin, back me up on this, pretty please?). He in turn describes himself as "a fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glaswegian pedestrian." I love him and everything I've read by him to pieces, though I've yet to work through his masterpiece, Lanark. His writing is surreal, magically real, dryly hilarious, highly allegorical, and exquisitely illustrated by his own hand. A good place to start, methinks, would be Poor Things, the first book of his I ever read and still my favourite. In the interim, I offer you a facsimile of 'The Star,' one of his early short stories from 'Unlikely Stories, Mostly.'

Finally, I've been spending a bit of time this week over at the home of those mavens of indie style and cultcha, The Rich Girls Are Weeping. You should as well. Today the fabulous Cindy Hotpoint posted a slew of Madonna (or Madge, as we Brits know her) covers that are well worth checking out. To complement and partly round out that offering, here are two more:

Teenage Fanclub - Like A Virgin (from the 1991 'Star Sign' single. Try eBay...)
Ciccone Youth (aka Sonic Youth) - Get Into The Groove(y) (buy here)

Gosh, another posting heavy on things Caledonian. Hmm, maybe Scotland is the centre of the universe...