Previous month:
May 2016
Next month:
July 2016

BrewDogging #33: Leicester

That bright bit in the middle of the picture? Bottledog still not shut, even after midnight. (photo by The BBG)[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stockholm, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi, Liverpool, Dundee, Bologna, Florence, Brighton, DED Angel, Brussels, Soho, Cardiff, Barcelona, Clerkenwell, DogHouse Glasgow, Rome, Castlegate]

I'm going to be honest with you here: this was our second attempt at visiting the Leicester bar. Remember Christmas 2015, the first one that The Belated Birthday Girl and I spent as official joint residents of Château Belated-Monkey? Well, during the gap between Christmas and New Year, we looked into the possibility of taking the train up to Leicester for a day or two, and did some research to find out what was happening there during the period they call 'the festive perineum'.

Absolutely bugger all, was the answer. And although Leicester isn't really that far away from London - 70 minutes by train on a good day, in fact - we couldn't justify the travelling time and expense to drink a couple of pints in a bar and go away again. We resolved to revisit the plan when the city had a bit more going on in it.

There was a lot more going on in it during the May Day bank holiday weekend.

Continue reading "BrewDogging #33: Leicester" »


MOSTLYFILM: Local Films For Local People

"Venti chai tea latte for 'Spank', please"Yesterday, on MostlyFilm, they published the 25th edition of Monoglot Movie Club. It’s a one-trick pony that keeps on delivering no matter how many times I flog its fly-riddled corpse, and I’m proud to be associated with it despite the way the first half of this sentence reads.

Of those 25 posts, five of them have been inspired by trips to the United Arab Emirates: LOLs Of Arabia in 2012, The World, Under Construction in 2013, Holydays In The Sun in 2014, The Ministry Of Happiness earlier this year, and now the new one - Local Films For Local People. As you’ll see, this is different from the others: I’ve finally managed to watch a couple of UAE-made films this time, rather than the Egyptian, Indian and Lebanese imports I’ve had to make do with in the past.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking to watch films in the UAE, you’ll be doing it in a swanky multiplex hiding in the middle of an even swankier shopping mall. Whenever I’m in Dubai, there are three malls I tend to shuffle between, and in this Red Button Bonus Content piece I’m going to tell you all about them.

Continue reading "MOSTLYFILM: Local Films For Local People" »


The Lexica Of Love

Watch out, Young Martin Fry Surrogate! Actual Young Martin Fry's got a shooter!Back in 2006, I wrote a review of the first three Ultravox albums - the ones recorded in the John Foxx/Island Records/pre-fame period of their history. At the time, they'd just received a 30th anniversary re-release with bonus tracks added. This made me feel very old. Not as old, though, as when I discovered recently that later this month, they’re getting a 40th anniversary re-release as a box set called The Island Years. It’s virtually the same material, but with the bonus tracks shunted off to a separate disc and supplemented by a couple of previously unreleased BBC sessions (including the OGWT set mentioned in my review).

They won't get me this time, but only because they got me last time. Still, that’s how the music industry works these days – they find the stuff that hooked you as a teenager, and keep reselling it to you every few years. Last week saw another example of this, as ABC released an album of new songs called The Lexicon Of Love II, some 34 years after their world-conquering debut of almost the same name. From a distance, it seems like a grossly cynical attempt at prodding the nostalgia glands of people my age. Which is why we need to get in close.

Continue reading "The Lexica Of Love" »


Simian Substitute Site For June 2016: Restaurang Hello Monkey

Restaurang Hello MonkeyMONTH END PROCESSING FOR MAY 2016

Books: Thanks to YouTube, images from your past that have stayed in your memory after a single viewing can be instantly pulled up for reappraisal. Here's an example: comedian John Dowie, performing his single British Tourist on the punk-era music show Revolver. Back in 1978, we were so ankle-deep in actual racism that it was hard to get your head around the idea of satirical ironic racism. But it's a prime example of how Dowie was always a man out of time - an alternative comedian several years before the term was even invented, who announced his retirement just as stand-up comedy was about to make the leap into arena-sized respectability. I attended his farewell shows at Edinburgh in 1990: I saw his sort-of-comeback in collaboration with Neil Innes in 2002: and then last month, I watched him share a tiny stage with Dave Cohen at the Poetry Cafe for the launch of his proposed autobiography, The Freewheeling John Dowie. From the half-hour reading we got, Dowie hasn't lost his ear for a sharp turn of phrase, and he's got a lifetime's worth of anecdotes to tell. Like all the best people these days (from Chuck Palahniuk to Jan Švankmajer), he's relying on crowdfunding to get the project out into the world, with a wide range of splendid rewards in exchange for your contribution. This is a book I really want to read, so I need you all to click here and fund it. Off you go.

Music: This would usually be the point where I post up a Spotify playlist of songs that have recently tickled my fancy, so that you can listen to them yourselves for nowt. Of course, not everything is on Spotify these days: other online music platforms are available. Riz MC's new album Englistan, for example, is on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Mind you, he's insisting it's a 'mixtape' rather than an album, to the extent that you can download it for free if you like. He's barmy: Englistan is better than most of the officially released records I've heard so far this year, and completely worth paying for (which is still an option if you choose to download it from Bandcamp or Amazon). Up until now, I've only really known Riz Ahmed's work as an actor, and appreciated the sharp intelligence that comes through in his performances, even in a brief fragment like this. I've not really had a chance to listen to his music before now, and it's great to see that his tunes are equally smart. This is a solid collection of tracks, but the ones at the beginning and end of the set are the ones that really stand out. The opening Englistan lays out the theme of cross-cultural integration in as wittily direct a fashion as the album's cover image: the more challenging material comes towards the end, with the controlled fury of Benaz followed by the darkly sarcastic poetry of I Ain't Being Racist But... Scroll down a bit and press play to hear for yourself - the most you have to lose is 45 minutes.


Telly: It was 2010 when Rachel Bloom first burst onto the internet with a song about the multiple pleasures of science fiction, the ridiculously catchy Fuck Me Ray Bradbury. It didn't seem likely that her rude approach to musical comedy would transfer into the mainstream, and yet six years later a show she co-created has become one of the major hits of the US 2015/16 telly season. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stars Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a fantastically successful New York lawyer who feels there's something missing from her life. She abruptly walks out of her job and into a much lower-paid one in West Covina, California - the town where her childhood sweetheart Josh now lives, as she learned just a few minutes before her resignation. This is either exactly the sort of behaviour we'd expect in a romantic comedy, or evidence of a major nervous breakdown on Rebecca's part, and Bloom carefully pitches the character as a balancing act between the two. I've seen half of the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on a plane - thanks for cutting out all the dirty bits, Emirates! - and it's remarkable how she's managed to sustain this as a dramatic conceit so far. But what sets it apart from other TV romances, as you'd expect given Bloom's past, are the songs - every episode features two full-scale production numbers, parodying old-fashioned musical theatre tropes or modern pop song cliches. All the songs are out there on YouTube, but you'd really be better off seeing how they fit into the show before spoiling yourself with them. The problem is, though, that you probably can't do that - at present, no broadcaster in the UK seems to be interested in picking the show up for transmission. I know this Month End Processing feels like it's just a list of demands now, but somebody really needs to sort that out, and soon.

Continue reading "Simian Substitute Site For June 2016: Restaurang Hello Monkey" »