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Living For The Weekend: A 2018 Diary By The BBG

Echoes start as a cross in you / Trembling noises that come too soon / Spatial movement which seems to you / Resonating your mask or feud / Hollow talking and hollow girl / Force it up from the root of pain / Never said it was good, never said it was near / Shadow rises and you are here / And then you cut / You cut it out / And everything / Goes back to the beginningDiaries! They're rubbish, aren't they? Too much space for you to write in all the boring work stuff you've got to do during the weekdays: too little space for you to write in all the fun stuff you want to do during the weekends. A good diary would display an entire week across two pages, but dedicate one of those pages just to Saturday and Sunday.

But you know all this, of course. Because you were told about it in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. And guess what? 2018 isn't going to be any different. So for the seventh year running, The Belated Birthday Girl presents her Living For The Weekend diary, available for £3.99 (plus p&p) from the good people at lulu.com.

(Okay, you could argue that December 31st 2017 is a bad date to be releasing a 2018 diary. Still, at least it's better than last year.)

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His Sonic Experiments With Robert Fripp: Pick Of The Year 2017

True story: when I set up the Spotify playlist for this collection, it came up with the message 'To help us recommend songs, try a more descriptive name for your playlist'. It strikes me they could have found at least *one* person's work to recommend, surely?If we assume that my pal Lou has been the main inspiration behind my Pick Of The Year compilations for some time now, then this year's one - the 36th in total! - marks a couple of biggish anniversaries. Because it's the 25th compilation I've made for him since he started receiving them in 1993, and the 20th one to have been burned onto CD rather than copied onto a cassette.

The usual rules still apply, of course: this is a collection of the music released in 2017 that I liked the most, constrained by the medium it's collected onto, meaning a maximum of 80 minutes to play with. This year's batch is a right old mixture of album tracks, singles, and selections from EPs (one of the latter being primarily available on 7" vinyl, which hasn't happened around here for, um, decades). It's all been brought together on one CD (as well as playlists on YouTube and, soon, Spotify), and as usual there's a competition to win your own copy of the CD at the end of this page. Will Dave win it as usual? Let's find out...

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Yippee-Ki-Yay, Father Christmas

@MichaelLegge, 14/12/2016 1:24PM: "I think my favourite Christmas song is Die Hard. A lot of people forget that it's actually a Christmas song."

@SpankTM, 14/12/2016 1:32PM: "A lot of people forget that it's even a song."

At the time I sent that tweet to Michael Legge, I was referring to this song. But now there's another one. It's become a genre!

Season's greetings to all of you from myself, The Belated Birthday Girl and this year's Christmas song suppliers, Jonnie Common and Bec Hill.

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MOSTLYFILM: #NotAllBatmen

As eminent Batmanologist Chris Sims has pointed out this week, there is a fundamental flaw in this greetings card cartoon. Can *you* spot it?True story. About twenty-odd years ago, my young nephew had three favourite action figures. The first was Batman: with his lumpy grey suit and navy blue cowl, he was obviously based on the 1966 TV version, and presumably some sort of family heirloom. The second was Batman: all in black, a sculpted torso replacing the middle-aged spread, looking more like Michael Keaton did in the 1989 film. The third was, well, Batman: the square jaw and cartoonish features marked him out as being the one from The Animated Series, the version my nephew was most familiar with at the time. And I'd watch in fascination as he'd wrangle all three of them into play scenarios that would frequently end with them having a big fight.

In a way, that's kind of what we're doing on MostlyFilm today, as we continue the site's farewell run of posts. #NotAllBatmen features five of us each picking one depiction of the Caped Crusader - the three discussed above in action figure form, plus the one currently on telly in Gotham, and me looking at one of his DTV animated incarnations - and comparing them against each other. No big fight at the end of this one, unfortunately: the best I can do in this Red Button Bonus Content page is show you a bunch of trailers featuring each of our Batmen.

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Spotify Picks Of The Year: The Noughties

Hard to believe, I know, but none of these covers was made using Photoshop.We're now past the halfway mark in this project to recreate all of my Pick Of The Year compilation CDs and cassettes as Spotify playlists - see also 1982-1989 and 1990-1999. And if there's one thing this exercise has taught me so far, it's that anyone who says streaming will eventually completely replace the physical ownership of music deserves a good slap. When all this is over, I will have 36 playlists comprised of records I liked a lot in the year of their release, and every single one of those playlists will be missing at least one song, if not more.

It's particularly noticeable here in the early years of the 21st century, largely thanks to my discovery of J-Pop in 2001. With a lot of Japanese music, it seems like nobody cares about granting the rights to stream it internationally. Things are starting to loosen up a little bit - Ringo Shiina has made all of her records globally available (with one maddening exception), and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has released everything worldwide from the moment Pon Pon Pon went viral. But all too often, you end up with bizarre situations like the new Vanilla Beans collection, VaniBest II, where the iTunes export version has been stripped back from 18 tracks to five, and the Spotify version restricted even further to two.

So there are a few Japanese songs on these compilations that I can't track down on Spotify. In addition to that, this was a decade when I picked up a lot of music in all sorts of contexts outside regular albums - downloads of mashups that were too copyright-infringing to go on regular sale, CDs only available at gigs, even one track given away with a book. None of those are available for streaming, as you can imagine. And most frustrating of all, it's impossible to predict when songs will be added to or removed from Spotify - there's at least one track here that wasn't available when I started assembling these playlists a month ago, but subsequently showed up because the album it came from had just got a tenth anniversary rerelease. (It's Glamur by Amiina, from 2007.)

So, in short: these playlists may have gaps in them, but I'll try to warn you here what's missing, and link to my original track-by-track discussions of the compilations as well.

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MOSTLYFILM: Netflix i Chłód

Karol Kopiec. It's explained in the article, honestly.The whole internet loves MostlyFilm, a lovely website that loves everything apart from late period Steven Moffat!

*7 years later*

We regret to inform you the website is dead

It was a good run, let's be honest. When a bunch of refugees from Film Unlimited (including myself) first floated the idea of running our own movie blog back in 2011, we had no idea how long we could sustain it. It's amazing looking back at those first posts and realising that between us, we were churning out five new pieces of content every week. It took quite a long time, but gradually that enthusiasm wore off: the frequency dropped off to three posts a week, and then irregularly, while the editor's task of coordinating all the people involved became less and less fun.

For the last couple of months, the site has been kinda just been sitting there while we've been batting around a few ideas for a reboot, and eventually coming to the conclusion that we're more or less spent. A lesser website would have just pulled down the shutters at that point and walked away. We, however, are not a lesser website. We are Europe's Best Website. And so, over the next three weeks (taking us into the start of 2018), MostlyFilm will see one final burst of activity - a series of posts looking back on the last seven years, wrapping up a number of our ongoing series, and continuing to do things that you wouldn't expect from a site that's mostly about film.

And on the topic of doing things that you wouldn't expect, this lap of honour starts with a piece of mine called Netflix i Chłód, in which I review the half a dozen Polish stand-up comedy specials available on Netflix. The prospect of providing Red Button Bonus Content for that is a little daunting, but I'll see what I can do.

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Spotify Picks Of The Year: The Nineties

New feature for this decade: sleeve art! Well, sleeve design. Okay, pictures on the sleeves.In the second of a four-part series - and it pulled me up short the other day when I realised that in a few years' time, this could become a five-part series - anyway, I'm continuing my decade-by-decade run through my Pick Of The Year compilations, this time presenting the ones from the 1990s as almost completeish Spotify playlists.

There's a major difference between these ten compilations and the previous set from the 1980s. Those earlier ones were purely made for my own benefit. The ones in the nineties, however, fall into three groups. The cassettes I made from 1993 to 1997 were specifically targeted at my mate Lou, following a session in a pub once where he grumbled that he couldn't find any decent new music any more. The CDs burned in 1998 and 1999 were also primarily made for him, but I now also had a website where I could tell the world about these favourite songs, so I was aware that I had an even wider audience. That also applies to the CDs for 1990-1992, the three years when I didn't make compilations at the time, eventually bashing them out nearly two decades after the fact to fill in the gap.

These selections may be a little more self-conscious as a result - not deliberately so, I think, but I'm sure there was some influence in my track selections because of that. There's still plenty of stuff on these lists that I can be embarrassed about now, though, so don't you worry about that. As before, some of the tracks aren't available on Spotify, so I've indicated that where appropriate and included links to the original pages discussing the compilations in full. In short: not so much the nineties, more the ja danketies! (One of my favourite gags of the period, there.)  

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Simian Substitute Site For December 2017: Jane

JaneMONTH END PROCESSING FOR NOVEMBER 2017

Books: “Well the first thing I wanna say is, mandate my ass.” In 1982 the NME gave away a cassette called Jive Wire, which among other things introduced me to Gil Scott-Heron via his ferocious anti-Reagan song B-Movie. Since then, I've seen him live in 1988, cheered his comeback in 2010, and mourned his passing in 2011. Cut to a month or two ago, when I was leaving the recent Tate exhibition Soul Of A Nation and discovered that the accompanying shop was selling Scott-Heron's autobiography, a book which I didn't even know existed up until that point. It turns out that The Last Holiday was assembled after Scott-Heron's death from about twenty years worth of attempts at a memoir, which explains its rather lumpy structure. It's a roughly chronological canter through his life, with special attention paid to the period in the early 80s when he was touring with Stevie Wonder (at the time when Wonder was heading up the campaign to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday). After that, the narrative thrust drops off, and we don't get to hear much about the troubles of his later years: it's hard to tell if this is a conscious omission by Scott-Heron, or just material he never got around to writing. Either way, what we have is beautifully written, and very much in the voice we've come to know and love from his recorded work. And afterwards, you'll want to drag out the records all over again.

Music: "We've managed to be a steampunk band for nearly ten years now without writing a song about Jack The Ripper. This is a song about Jack The Ripper." If there was an award for the best value gigs in London last month, then The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing would have to win hands down: they did three shows in tiny venues (Dublin Castle, Hope & Anchor, and the Sebright Arms), and only charged a fiver to get in. The catch? We were warned upfront that the bulk of the gig would involve them playing several songs they'd never performed in public before, as a warmup for the recording of their next album. And it struck me, watching this, that I used to experience this sort of thing all the time - certainly when I was at the peak of my Pogues fandom in the mid eighties, you'd come to expect that songs would appear in their live set at least a year before they made it onto record. Now I'm an old man, and the gigs I go to these days are largely by artists too big to risk trying out unfamiliar material. So, this made a nice change. We were at the second gig in the run (at Sebright Arms), and the ten or so new songs they played sounded just fine to me: their ode to Marie Curie is particularly poignant given Andy Heintz' recent cancer scare. The album should be out next March, apparently, so look out for that.

Telly: At some point in the next month, there should be a burst of activity on MostlyFilm, which has been a bit quiet for a few months now. Among other things, we'll probably address that quietness. For my part, you should expect a couple of contributions from me, including a piece celebrating the international programming that you find on Netflix nowadays: shows that they've made for a specific foreign market, and then made available worldwide in case anyone else is interested. Unlike the genre I'll be writing about in the piece, it's easy to see why Japanese shows based on manga have been deemed worthy of international exposure. Nevertheless, Blazing Transfer Students is a deranged piece of work and no mistake. A vehicle for the boy band Johnny's West, it features the seven lads as students transferred to the same mysterious school: on their first day, they're suddenly thrown into a wrestling ring and told to fight each other, even though they don't want to. By the end of the pilot episode (the only one I've watched so far), we're a little closer to understanding what's going on, but not much. Filmed in a surrealist comic-book style (complete with sound effects appearing as on-screen text), it starts out daft and gets dafter as it goes, with the trailer suggesting that a whole raft of genre spoofs are still to follow. It's possible that it may eventually get unwatchably ridiculous, but the sheer energy of the first episode is enough to persuade me to keep watching. For now, anyway.

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