Kill And Wait: A Royal Wedding Holiday In New York (#2 of 2)
MOSTLY FILM: Scala Forever

Simian Substitute Site For August 2011: Project Nim


Comics: Back in June 2009, I wrote about a talk given by writer/artist duo Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, which coincided with the publication of a new story for their postmodern adventure team The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. They envisioned Century: 1910 as the first in a trilogy of 80-page graphic novels, coming out on an approximately annual basis. Two years on, we now know how approximately they interpret the term “annual”. But now that Century: 1969 is finally in the shops, was it worth the wait? I think so. Century is a much denser work than the Fu Manchu and War Of The Worlds romps of the League’s earlier adventures: denser in terms of the complexity of its themes and plotting, and much denser in terms of the sheer quantity of cultural references thrown at you. The basic story is built around a set of easily grasped touchstones (at least for a British audience), as Mina, Quatermain and Orlando delve into the late 60s London underworld, coming up against a dastardly plot involving memorable pop star Terner. But right from page one – where Terner’s fellow band member Basil Thomas yells “Hello, sky! Hello, trees!” at the point of orgasm – there are whole archeological strata of metatextual fun to be had if you pay attention. (Or, as ever, you can let Jess Nevins do all the legwork for you.)

Internet: Yes, yes, the death of Amy Winehouse is a tragic thing, a ferocious talent cut short by a self-destructive streak and the inability of those around her to protect her from it. But. It's possible to think all that and still find Kunt And The Gang's over-hasty tribute Amy (It's A Terrible Shamey) rather glorious. I do have a fondness for Kunt and his works, with their catchy tunes and utter lack of moral fibre, but he does make it difficult for me to persuade other people to join me for his live shows in, say, Edinburgh. Still, maybe the internet is the best place for him, as he's come up with some ingenious methods to get his filth out to the world. His zero-budget web sitcom Perverts On The Internet has all the charm of a Crackerjack sketch with a shoehorned-in song at the end, although Peter Glaze probably wouldn't have joined in on the chorus of Hurry Up And Suck Me Off Before I Get Famous. And I do like his approach to getting round the repeated banning of his videos by YouTube. "We're using the business model of a paedophile ring..."

Music: It's been an insanely busy month for live music - it started with three shows at the Manchester International Festival that I wrote about for Europe's Best WebsiteTM, and then there were another six in London after that. Eels at Somerset House: just as rocktastic as they were in Edinburgh last year, but with a newly-added horn section adding some interesting textures on top of the racket. Guitar Wolf at Islington Academy: splendidly over-the-top guitar frenzy, virtually played as an hour-long continuous medley, and climaxing with the venue pulling the plugs on the band’s microphones as they constructed a human pyramid out of audience members. They Might Be Giants at Koko: all the hits and some fine-sounding new tunes from John and John, with a special appearance from sock puppets The Avatars Of They (renamed Rebekah and Rupert for this performance). Lamb at Somerset House: good to see them back after several years away – time has made the contrast between Lou Rhodes’ fragile vocals and Andy Barlow’s dance stylings even more fascinating, particularly when played at skull-buggering volume as they were here. Tom Tom Club at Jazz Cafe: my God, they’re in their sixties now, and they’re still as funky as they ever were. Jah Wobble at Stratford Circus: a typically eclectic mix of Japanese-influenced bass-heavy fun before the interval and more conventional jazz after, although the encore – constructed entirely from scratch out of Wobble’s verbal instructions to the band – was a revelation.

In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site for August 2011 is Project Nim. In one of those odd bits of synchronicity you seem to get regularly in the movie world, there are two films coming out in the UK in the same week this month, both on the subject of apes taking on human characteristics. The big one is Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, which in terms of unnecessary prequels is right up there with The Pervy Doctor That Looked At A Centipede And Had An Idea. The more interesting one is a documentary by James Marsh (of Man On Wire fame) about the chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky, raised by a behavioural psychologist in the 1970s as an experiment to see if living in a human environment would coax Nim into developing a form of language.

Did it work? Well, have you seen any simian stand-up comics on the circuit recently? (Lee Evans doesn’t count.) Marsh’s film tells Nim’s story, and apparently is a terrific piece of work: you can see it in US cinemas now, and in UK cinemas from August 12th. The website, as you’d imagine, tells you more about it while you’re waiting for the film to open.

Comments welcome on all topics below, as ever. Unless you’re a spammer, in which case DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!


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