Thursday, 28 December 2017
The above was a brief extract from an M R James short story A Neighbour's Landmark. It is not a story I am overly familiar with but I would single out this short piece of writing as a lovely example of just what a fine writer James was. A beautiful set up of rustic charm which pivots and slides into unfathomable terrors. A roofs edge nicely balanced paragraph that is equally descriptive as it is mood setting. There is as much Turner as there is Poe in this piece of writing,the work bleeding from the edges of the canvas of the reader's imagination, in ochre and gray hues.
M R James body of work can be found in many editions. He inspires as many formats as artists who seek to illuminate the tales. The two editions I took to read over the Christmas holidays are two nicely put together paperback editions from Penguin. Easy to carry, hard to put down. Went for a walk today down a frosty country lane that runs between an old Protestant graveyard and an equally old Catholic one. Leafless trees hung weighed down with frosty moisture in protective groupings around the resting places of the long deceased. Reading M R James is the perfect prelude to such a winter dander although it renders the darker corners somehow seemingly unquiet.
Thursday, 21 December 2017
Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Ricky Wilson was a hugely talented guitar player and song writer. The sound he produced from his guitar was literally all his own work as he tuned it in his own special way, creating a Ricky Wilson/ B52 sound. Just listen to his playing on stuff like Private Idaho, Give Me Back My Man or the seemingly effortlessly cool Lava. If there were such a thing as a rock god he would be tapping his feet in approval "Yes, like me, that Ricky is a creator.". These among others are inspired and brilliantly timeless. Yet I do not know if he has ever received the admiration and respect he deserved, which his musical gifts surely warranted. I might be wrong. I do not read any musical papers or am familiar with related musical journalism. I do not know if there is even such a thing anymore. Reading an article in Record collector or the NME would be like me reading about trout fishing in in-land waterways in Trout Fishing Monthly. I feel so distanced from the current music scene yet still take great joy in listening to so much of the music I grew up listening to. I still have a load of vinyl from them Golden Years but as far as I am aware there were no great gay guitarists in the bands I listened to and I think it would have been something great to know there was a great gay rock and roll guitarist belting out great tracks that made you want to dance and sing a long to.
I also do not if Ricky Wilson would have been comfortable being described in the music press or any press for that matter as "Gay guitarist Ricky Wilson" he might just have preferred "guitarist Ricky Wilson", perhaps not wishing to have his sexuality become a defining characteristic of his persona as a performer. He sounds by what little I know to have been something of a private individual. Flamboyant front men, and women, are in no short supply in the history of Rock n' Roll. The colorful captains leading their fellows across the vast sea of entertainment. Yet we so often never get to see the men, or women, who stoke the engines keeping the vessels moving forward, straining before the open furnace shovelling fuel. None of the other band members were even aware he was sick with AIDS as he did not want to burden them with worries for his sake, which indicates a reserved but caring nature.
Mind you,way back in the mid eighties there were so many misconceptions and societal mysteries regarding AIDS and the many people who suffered with the condition, some of which, unbelievably, persist to this day. So many sources of support and treatment were not readily available and many sufferers found themselves demonised and ostracized and even mistreated.
What a terrible thing it was that Ricky Wilson was only thirty two when he died, a hugely talented and much loved person with so much potential. He had already achieved so much and it would have been something to see how he would have matured as a writer and performer. Just look at the video made for Song For A Future Generation and see him having a laugh, swinging on a flower bedecked tree swing, taping away joyfully with feet of flame to that anthem to the power of song to transcend time. What a honey.The B52s went on to record again and to achieve great world wide success but their finest period for me will always be when Ricky Wilson was effortlessly belting out great guitar riffs and tunes that will always be around as long as people love to dance around a mess.
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Watched his adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's short story "Ligiea". With Vincen Price bedecked in a suitably funereal fashion as a widower, Vernon Fell, who is haunted by the spirit of his dead wife who has returned from the dead in a vengeful angry mood in the form of a black cat.
Tomb Of Ligiea is a lovely film to look at with the exterior filming being particularly striking as it was done in a ruined ancient abbey somewhere in a lost middle England. While the interior sets include every left over prop from every other Roger Corman Poe adaption made up to that point. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and thought that Vincent Price was ubber-cool with his specially made wrap around glasses created for his character who was sensitive to direct sun light.
At one point though I had to pause the movie as the dialogue totally threw me. I had never heard such an a weird marriage of goobly-gook and bizarre skewed sentiment delivered with such heart felt sincerity, as an actor of Vincent Price's abilities was capable off.delivering. The dialogue went as follows; "Christopher,not ten minutes ago I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable. What rot would be freed from its grey leaves. I need a stroll."
It was so unintentionally funny, so loaded with wonkily poetic melancholy I could not stop laughing. Honestly, for about ten minutes. I love Vincent Price and he delivered this clanger of a statement with one hundred per cent commitment to the dialogue and character. But boy did I think it was so funny. The screen play was written by a writer called Robert Towne who later went on to win an Oscar for his Screen play for Chinatown. I do not remember any dialogue from that movie but I will never forget his dialogue for this one.
Tuesday, 12 December 2017
The flame that burned twice as bright burned only half as long.
Thursday, 7 December 2017
This version has the most amazing cast. Almost every part played by a familiar old face that are so good at what they do they make it seem so natural and easy. There is Helen Merren as a beautiful but equally other worldly and imperious Titania. See Phil Daniels as a punk street urchin Puck who seems filled with a boundless energy yet also slyly natural. And what a joy to see Brian Glover as Bottom. That Dead-pan delivery in the dourest of northern tones whose transformation generates a magical smile despite the fact you know its a coming. The whole production has an wonderful dark wintery night production feel to it. As though it ticks every box that made the BBC a creative force to be reckoned with the world over. It is a joy and it is a keeper.
"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Oh that Rodger. He was incorrigible.
Twice Upon A Time airs on Christmas Day.
How is it possible to look forward so much to something you know is going wring a tear? Its possible ,I suppose, thanks to the man who put the Who back into Doctor Who.
Sunday, 3 December 2017
Ken Reid was also responsible for other great comic book favourites of mine; Rodger the dodger and Jonah. What a great thing it would be to see similar collections using these these two great and much missed heroes of yester-year. I suppose it will depend on the success of this volume but hopefully it will happen. This world needs its funny characters more than ever.