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Put It On 8-Track, Put It On Cassette: Pick Of The Year 1987

Yeah, really running out of funny things to say about scans of cassette tapes now.It's 1987. As wiser men than me were saying at the time: What The Fuck's Going On?

Well, for me, the most significant event of the year was the first half of the long, slow process that would eventually result in my becoming an orphan in 2005. Did my mum's death have an impact on my annual compilation of favourite songs of the year? Well, there are a couple of fairly downbeat selections on here, but I think that by December 20th 1987 (the day I recorded these tapes) I was getting on with things again.

Musically, I was still going to a hell of a lot of gigs. Looking at my 1987 diary, I started the year with an Elvis Costello show, and wrapped it up with the Christmassy back-to-back flourish of (awww) Frank Sidebottom and (uh-oh) Gary Glitter. In between, I saw the Pogues three times, the Communards twice, Kodo for the first time, and Miles Davis for the only time. On record, it was the year that artists really started pushing at the artistic and legal boundaries of what sampling could do, and lawyers started pushing back: there are a lot of sample-heavy records on this collection, some of which have stood the test of time better than others.

It's 1987: I'm 23, going on 24. Here's what went on.

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Terracottadammerung 2013

Terracotta 2013 programme cover. I spent four days at the festival, and I think I only saw one of the films pictured here...Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Is that sorry enough for you?

Here's the thing. Back at the beginning of May, I received an invite to the press launch of the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2013. I'd reviewed nearly all the films in the 2011 and 2012 festivals for Mostly Film, but this time I had the opportunity to write a preview article and let people know in advance what was worth seeing. That preview article was published in mid-May as #TFEFF13, a little under a month before the festival itself.

Having done my duty for Europe's Best Website, my plan was to attend the festival anyway under my own steam, and review it afterwards for this site. Which was okay as far as plans go, except I had to leave several hours early on the final day at the Prince Charles to fly up to Aberdeen for work. And then I had a couple of weeks working weird hours and not really having time to do much else at all, apart from that weekend when I had to travel to Aberdeen again. What with one thing another, it wasn't until six weeks after the close of the festival that I was able to sit down and beat my notes into some sort of shape (and to merge them with The Belated Birthday Girl's notes, as she graciously agreed to review three films for me while I was swanning off to Scotland).

So, several weeks after it's ceased to have any real relevance to anyone, here's my film-by-film breakdown of Terracotta 2013, or at least the bits that took place during the daytime on June 6th to 9th. I didn't do the pre-fest screening of Days Of Being Wild - I was in Helsinki. I didn't do the second week of Indonesian films at the ICA - I was in Aberdeen. And I didn't do the Terrorcotta all-nighter on the night of Friday June 7th - I was in bed. But the rest of it is documented below, and should at the very least have historical interest. Enjoy. (Sorry.)

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Girls, Boys, Art, Pleasure: Pick Of The Year 1986

Still some sort of exclusive deal going on with Maxell tapes, then.It's 1986, the year I turned 23. So are there possible signs of maturity to be detected in my 3 hour compilation of the year's best songs?

Well, maybe. For one thing, I'd stopped pretending that all my home-taped cassettes were being released on a label called Bootleg Records, as you can see if you compare the picture on the left to the equivalent one for 1985. In fact, the documentation accompanying these cassettes is rather minimal - it's the only compilation this decade where I didn't write down the day it was recorded on tape. This leads me to suspect that I made it some time in early 1987, when matters such as the death of my mum were a bit of a distraction from such petty details.

But the other big thing to note is the sudden upsurge in political songs. I wouldn't say I was particularly politically engaged at this point in my life, but I had all the t-shirts. I went to the Clapham Common free gig for Artists United Against Apartheid wearing a Spitting Image shirt featuring the slogan 'If We All Spit Together We'll Drown The BASTARDS' (the last word in Frankie-sized giant type), and remember thinking that was a fairly radical thing to be doing. But looking back on the songs here, most of them (though not all) are at precisely that level of facile sloganising.

Enough of insulting me from 27 years ago - let's insult what he was listening to instead.

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BrewDogging #7: Manchester /or/ MOSTLY FILM: Mostly MIFfed

Disclaimer: we did not steal this book. And we didn't steal a knight from the Festival Square chess set, either:[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen]

This could get hellishly confusing, but hopefully it won't be. Just keep these two things in mind.

Thing number 1: Last weekend, The Belated Birthday Girl and I went to Manchester, mainly to attend a series of events as part of the Manchester International Festival. I've reviewed the ones we saw - and a couple that we didn't - on Mostly Film this week.

Thing number 2: Since the beginning of this year, The BBG and I have been finding excuses to visit all twelve bars in the BrewDog chain. Manchester has one.

So, bringing the two together: in order to promote my Mostly Film review of the Festival (which was originally entitled MIFfed because I couldn't think of anything better, so thanks to my editor for the improved version Mostly MIFfed), here's some Red Button content that will focus on the stuff we did in between the festival shows. Well, mostly the eating and drinking, if I'm honest with you. And most of that was done in one particular location.

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BrewDogging #6: Aberdeen

We're planning to print off this picture and stand it next to the other glasses on our shelf.[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch]

Take a look at that glass over on the left. As you can see, it's one of the customised glasses for use in a specific BrewDog bar. You've already seen the variants for Bristol and Shoreditch in the relevant articles: well, this is the one for BrewDog Aberdeen, the first of the bars to open, located in the home town of the brewery itself.

At the halfway mark of this quest to visit all twelve of them, going to the bar that started it all should feel like a homecoming of sorts. And yet, that glass over there is the reason why I can't unequivocally fall in love with the place, even though I was there during the biggest weekend of its year. (Technically, as we'll see, it's probably because I was there during the biggest weekend of its year.)

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Contains strong language, occasionally very strong, moderate sexual references, and scenes of mild perilOn July 14th 1998, I wrote this and posted it up as the first article on a new website called The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey. (Actually, because of my atrocious web design skills, it originally looked a bit more like this, but let's not talk about that.)

So if you take into account its previous incarnation as well as its current one, this means that my website is exactly fifteen years old today. Thanks to all of you who've supported it during that time, and I hope you'll continue to do so in the years to come.

In 365 days, the site will be sixteen years old, and it'll be legally able to have sex. That's got to be worth waiting for, hasn't it? (Although The Belated Birthday Girl has pointed out that it'll only be able to have sex with websites that are older than it, which could be tricky.)

MOSTLY FILM: A Poor Second To Belgium

Kotiharjun Sauna. This picture has been nicked from the sauna's website, because taking my own photo was tricky for a number of different reasons.It's been a busy few weeks for me - lots of stuff done during late May and June, with hardly any time to write about it. As a result, expect some frantic catching up in posts here throughout July.

To start off, cast your mind back to the last week in May. I'd been asked to spend the final four days of the month in Helsinki for work. The Belated Birthday Girl noted that this would require me to fly out of the UK towards the end of the late May Bank Holiday weekend. With a little bit of rearranging, the trip turned into a two-part affair - a long weekend in central Helsinki with The BBG, followed by four days on my own working in the slightly less glamorous environs of Vantaa, close to the airport.

My latest Monoglot Movie Club post for Mostly Film, A Poor Second To Belgium, is the usual edge-of-xenophobic analysis of the local films I saw during those eight days. If you're interested in the non-film stuff that we did in Finland, though, then this Red Button backup piece is where you need to be. (I've also got a few photos from the week on display over at Picasa.)

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Simian Substitute Site For July 2013: Monkey Wrench Plumbing Services

Monkey Wrench Plumbing Services MONTH END PROCESSING FOR JUNE 2013

Art: David Bowie Is... massively overcrowded, if you ask me. The V&A's exhibition of Bowie's personal archives was always going to be a popular affair - but after that day in January when he suddenly released his first new music in a decade, interest inevitably went through the roof. So it doesn't help that when you enter the exhibition, the first couple of tiny rooms act as a hugely frustrating bottleneck, making you wonder if it's worth carrying on. Stick with it: after that badly-designed opening (notable only for this exquisite clip), the display spaces get bigger, and there's a huge amount of material to wade through, fascinating for everyone from the casual Bowie fan to the total obsessive. All advance tickets for the show are now sold out, and you'll have to queue on the day to have any chance of getting in before it closes on August 11th. Alternatively, there's a one-night-only live broadcast of the show, David Bowie is happening now, coming to a cinema near you on August 13th.

Books: I haven't had a regular nine-to-five job-type job for several years now, having traded it in for a discombobulating mixture of working from home and travelling the universe. If there's one thing I miss about not having a predictable commuting schedule, it's reading: I only really tend to get stuck into a book when I'm on a plane or sitting alone in faraway hotel restaurants. Which makes it apt that one of my most recent purchases from an airport bookshop was Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith. It's based on the long-running Salon column Ask The Pilot, in which Smith answered readers' questions on all aspects of commercial air travel. The tone is pitched perfectly: Smith sounds like the sort of pilot you'd get chatting to at a party, and after a while he'd lower his voice and tell you what really goes on. Entertaining when it comes to the everyday niggles of travelling by plane, and reassuring when it comes to the safety risks, he even answers a question I heard someone ask on the very flight I was reading it on: what's that noise that Airbus A320s make during takeoff and landing, that sounds like someone taking a hacksaw to the landing gear? (Short answer: it's the power transfer unit cycling power between the engines.)

Internet: In case you hadn't found out by other means, I had a new piece published on Mostly Film last Friday. Monoglot Movie Club: A Poor Second To Belgium is the latest in my series of uninformed reviews of foreign cinema, this time looking at a couple of films from Finland. I would normally tell you about this here in some sort of backup piece featuring travel tips for the country in question, but I haven't quite got around to writing it yet. Give me a day or two and it should be up here then. Kiitos.

Music: The story so far. Last May, while on a Tokyo subway platform, I saw this poster. Back in our hotel room, I followed the URL at the bottom of the poster and did some research. Within 24 hours, I was the proud owner of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's just-released debut album: within seven months, I was telling anyone who'd listen that it was my favourite record of 2012. Thanks to some highly viral YouTube clips and a world tour, Kyary's become one of the few Japanese pop stars with a shot at global recognition: which is presumably why her second album, Nanda Collection, was released worldwide last week, and can be purchased as a download in the UK for a mere four quid. Fans may see this more as a stopgap Hatful Of Hollow-style compilation than a full-blown album - after all, it includes five previously released single tracks, plus at least three more that have been all over Japanese telly in adverts. But it's still a fun collection of super-catchy songs, given much more subtle production than they deserve - listening on an MP3 player, then on a proper stereo, it sounds like two completely different albums.

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