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Strange Arrangements: Pick Of The Year 1982

Yes, Bootleg Records. Are you suggesting I was the only teenage boy who imagined that all his home tapes were being released on his own record label? Oh.Well, I warned you this was on the cards at least a year ago. To briefly summarise: I made my first ever Pick Of The Year compilation back in 1982, and have been doing them regularly-ish ever since. After a brief hiatus between 1990 and 1992, I was drawn back into making them at the request of my pal Lou in 1993: and all the ones I've made since then have been discussed and dissected on this website. There are therefore eleven years worth of Pick Of The Years which I haven't told you about before... until now. (Yes, I do mean eleven. I'll explain why in October.)

I'm going to turn fifty this year: if I can't write a series of eleven toe-curlingly nostalgic articles now, when can I do it? And this will be toe-curling, trust me. All those compilations made after 1993 were compiled for an audience, and some internal filtering took place along the way to make me look interesting. But 1982-1992? Those were purely for my own personal benefit. Some of the track choices don't hold up nowadays, but I'm not even sure some of them held up back then either.

Still, let's go for it. It's 1982. I'm nineteen years old, I've spent the past year buying records with the leftover cash from my student grant (ask your parents, kids), and I've also picked up a twin-deck Amstrad boombox to make the editing of cassettes a doddle. At the end of the year, I decide to dedicate two C60s to my favourite songs of the year: one tape of singles, one tape of album tracks. Stand by to watch my street credibility being torn to shreds.

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MOSTLY FILM: Eat My Shorts!

The editor at Mostly Film needed an extra image to include in my article, and chose one from Adam And Dog featuring rear male nudity. I feel I have no choice but to respond with frontal male nudity. Not that you can really see it at this resolution, of course.If this was an even-numbered year - like, say, 2012 - then this would be around the time when I'd be telling you about all the fine work being shown as part of the British Animation Awards. But it's an odd-numbered year, so we'll just have to make do with the Oscars instead.

The 2013 Academy Awards take place this Sunday, and inevitably Mostly Film will be giving the event its full attention. The main thing to watch out for will be a liveblog on Sunday night, which will be ready and waiting for you on Monday morning if you can't be bothered staying up that late. But as a curtain-raiser to that, we have today's article Eat My Shorts! It's a two-part review of the short film nominees: Indy Datta has taken on the live-action films, while I cover the animations. From the look of things, it sounds like I had the better part of the deal.

The animated shorts are all viewable from the links in the Mostly Film piece, unless they've been killed off again: a recent article on Deadline has a few interesting things to say about that. (It should be noted that Shorts HD were claiming that they'd have the Animated Shorts programme on sale via iTunes from February 19th: as of the 21st, they're still not up yet.) Meanwhile, in this Red Button feature, I'll give you a few extra things to read and look at.

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BrewDogging #2: Camden

Can't we have both?I am a spy in the house of love.

No, wait a minute, that's not right, I'm actually the other thing. I'm actually the complete opposite.

Because it's Valentine's Day, and the BrewDog bar in Camden is holding an anti-Valentines theme night, with rare beers laid on for people who don't believe in that sort of guff. So The Belated Birthday Girl and I have deliberately cut short our pre-booked Valentine dinner to come here and drink those beers, while occasionally flicking the V's at each other so that we fit in with the theme. Luckily, we seem to get through the night without being spotted as the impostors we are.

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BrewDogging #1: Bristol

Expect several variations on this photo to appear over the next year or so."I've got a projick." It's a line that I remember fondly from the film adaptation of Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, although I couldn't have told you until today exactly how Hardy spelt it. It comes at the point where Mrs Durbeyfield announces her grand plan, which is to send her daughter Tess out to visit their newly-discovered posh relations. Unfortunately, it's a project that will ultimately result in destitution, heartbreak and a number of untimely deaths, but you can't have everything.

The Belated Birthday Girl announced a projick of her own at the end of last year: she wanted us to visit every bar owned by the Scottish brewery BrewDog during 2013. How many untimely deaths will this one result in? It depends on how many Tactical Nuclear Penguins we drink over the next year, I guess.

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MOSTLY FILM: Once Upon A Time In Japan

I DO NOT OWN THE COPYRIGHT FOR THIS (and other things people say on YouTube as if it'll cover them for posting illegal stuff)It's that Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme time of year again. I've covered some of their previous seasons here in 2008, 2010 and 2011: but 2012 was the first year that I did it officially for Mostly Film, when they sent me advance screener DVDs so I could get an article up before the films were in cinemas.

And I've done the same this year, spending a large part of last week ploughing though roughly-watermarked screeners (see left) in preparation for a piece that went online last Friday, the day that the tour opened at London's ICA. Once Upon A Time In Japan reviews seven of the ten films showing in the programme of the same name - and if you keep an eye on the comments on that page, I'm planning to put up brief comments on the other three once I've seen them at the ICA.

After London, the season moves on to Sheffield, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol and Nottingham: if any of those cities are near you, it's worth tracking these films down. If you're looking for a further incentive to investigate them, the Red Button Content I'm providing for this Mostly Film piece is a playlist of trailers for (nearly) all of them.

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Simian Substitute Site For February 2013: Trentham Monkey Forest


Books: For some reason, I tend to buy a lot of rock star autobiographies in airport bookshops. A couple of years ago, it was Keith Richards' memoir Life: this month, it was Pete Townshend's Who I Am, currently in that weird publishing stage of the Airport Only Paperback. (Where was I flying to? Oh, you'll find out.) Whereas Life was the work of a craftsman keen to reveal some of the practical tricks of his trade (ever counted the number of strings on Keef's guitar?), all too often Townshend falls back on mystical new age bollocks when he's trying to explain how he does what he does. He's also a shameless name dropper: from early praise of his childhood drawings from the creator of Fred Basset, to the casual mention that Sir William Walton complimented him on the harmony work on I Can See For Miles. Still, I'm four-fifths of the way through it so far, and it's an entertaining read whenever Pete stops focussing inward and delves into his rich collection of anecdotes about life with The Who. I haven't as yet reached the chapter where he discusses the bit of research that got him into trouble, but there's plenty of foreshadowing to suggest he's not going to gloss over that.

Internet: Back in the seventies, the Scots had Connolly, the Welsh had Boyce and the Brummies had Carrott. But in Manchester we had Mike Harding, and during my teenage years I was convinced he was the best of them. Up until the end of 2012, Harding had largely withdrawn from the gig circuit and was hosting the weekly folk music show on Radio 2. And then the Beeb abruptly dumped him for a younger presenter. Not that I have anything against Mark Radcliffe, mind (another Manc legend), but he just doesn't have the decades of experience with the music that Harding does. Magnificently, within a couple of weeks of his sacking, he'd set up The Mike Harding Folk Show, a weekly podcast sent out over the internet from his garden shed. It's a wonderfully eclectic mixture of musical styles, not afraid to bend the definition of 'folk' when it needs to, and quite obviously the work of an enthusiast who's happy to do this for (currently) no money whatsoever. I never used to listen to the Radio 2 show at all, but I'm devouring these podcasts as fast as Harding can pump them out, and you should do the same.

Music: Here's a curious thing. In order to get podcasts of The Mike Harding Folk Show that I could download to my phone, I had to sign up for iTunes. This was something I've been trying to avoid doing for years - in fact, within hours of my downloading the software, HMV announced that it was going into administration, as if indicating that I had become Part Of The Problem. I suspected that iTunes might result in some sort of change to my music buying habits, but I never expected this one: I've rediscovered the pop single. In the first month of 2013 alone, at least five cracking singles have been released. David Bowie's Where Are We Now? is a beautiful piece of work (I've always had a soft spot for Bowie's slowies), and it's fascinating to see people arguing over whether its frailty is a sign of old age or top quality voice acting. Dizzee Rascal's Bassline Junkie combines danceability and swearing in just the right amounts, and even if his social comment these days has deteriorated to the level of "loud music is better than drugs", at least it's something. Pulp's After You may just be an old track scrubbed up to promote some reunion gigs, but it's a fine reminder of how much Jarvis is elevated with a great band behind him. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's Furisodeshon - released globally, as if to prove those theories of world domination I was putting forward just a month ago - celebrates her 20th birthday with a video where she gets drunk and throws up at the end. And The Lonely Island come storming back with a song that gives internet meme YOLO the kicking it deserves. That's potentially a quarter of my Pick Of The Year 2013 CD filled already, and it's only just February...

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