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Even more thanks this week from 2002

Thanks this week go to …
A soulful thanks to the following who lifted us up where we belong in the last seven days.

Sin to win: Seven deadly steps to success, by Marc Lewis. Evilly brilliant. Sample quote: “By avoiding to commit any of the Seven Deadly Sins you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential”. Read the book and you’ll realise this is not as tossy as it sounds.

Haven’t mentioned many eating/drinking places in recent weeks – so will do a quick round-up: Firstly, greatest bar been to in quite some years – Clancy’s in Long Beach. A nominally Irish bar where, whatever the Californian sunshine is doing it is always, and I mean always! 2am. An ‘Irish’ bar owned by a very chilled Greek bloke famous for its Mexican food and frequented by a mixture of white middle class lawyers, local ‘homeboys’ and ‘blue collar’ hispanics who would probably be at each other throats in any other environment.

F3K (otherwise known as The Famous Three Kings to those who don’t care for such blatantly tossy name ‘updates’) in West Kennsington. Watched England v Argentina game there – Great for ‘event’ games and you can’t fault facilities etc. But all a bit commercial radio especially the annoying twat who walks round with a microphone spouting ‘witty insights’ which are neither witty nor insightful and just make you want to lay your hands on an automatic weapon asap. For my money would take The Butchers Arms in Headington for straight no-nonsense footie watching.

Cock & Camel in Oxford. Odd one, as for all kinds of reasons I don’t really care for the place but, as much as Oxford has changed in recent years, this for me is still perhaps the best place to meet in the day. The alternative being the numerous other similar, but not quite as well done, chain pubs. It has a half decent wine list and the food is fine and they at least try and do some different stuff. Oh, and if anyone finds the switch card I lost in there, you can have a beer – but don’t take the piss!

And lastly, a cracking curry house in Sutton whose name escapes me. But will find and stick in next week.

Matt Smith. ITV has always suffered from being a pale shadow of the BBC when it comes to football coverage, particularly those oft-slagged “panel discussions”. Having poached him from BBC news, ITV have recognised that Smith is a football nut who knows what he is talking about and can draw out the very best of a decent panel of pundits. Des is looking over his shoulder.

Susana Baca is a unique performer from Peru who was recently showcased on Jools Holland’s excellent Friday night show. On record she is magnificent. On stage she is simply awe-inspiring. Her rich, emotional vocals and cool-as-ice personality catalyse a set crammed full of Afro-Peruvian folk, jazz, soul and roots. Have you ever felt you were in the presence of someone truly, truly gifted? I have now.

SeÒor Coconut are a wacky 8-piece made up of members from seven different countries. And they can play. Their set consists of samba, cumbia and merengue covers of Kraftwerk tunes. Barmy brilliance. Catch them now before they become megastars. And look out for the lead singer’s dancing – a cross between Neil Tennant, Andy Bell and Moby all trying to dance salsa.

Otherwise, been having a bit of step back in time on the music front. This is a hard one to write as we are about to try and persuade you that something that has completely unfairly been lumped upon as the one jazz record that Mr 3 Series (but unbadged of course) BMW/Morcheeba listening (I actually don’t mind Morcheeba, but you get where I’m going with this?)/Hugo Boss wearing corporate tosspot owns is in fact something that if you in any way allow it in will inhabit, soothe and just occasionally get you through. I am talking about ‘Kind of Blue’, and Miles Davis which for the last couple of weeks has again been pretty much my recreational drug of choice. If, in your life, for whatever reason you really need to be taken somewhere else for 40 minutes or so and brought back feeling wiser, richer, more fulfilled and any other state of being you care to come up with then I strongly suggest you get your ten bucks together and get out there and ensure that it is safe in your house, in your car, on your computer and anywhere else you may need it. Because I guarantee you may not crave that ‘hit’ now but one day you just might.

Couple of other bits to add, for which I am confident you will thank me. I know I may be the only person who hadn’t already seen it – But ‘Magnolia’ is one of the best, most inventive films I’ve seen in a very long time. And if you were wondering where the fantastic music came from, think no more. The truly great Aimee Mann. All three of her records are fantastic. And lastly, been having to do, as ever, some fairly dull stuff so The President’s of The United States of America are always great loud value – Love the line: ‘You seem cool for a naked chick in a booth’.

Ronaldo. In a World Cup sadly bereft of genuine inspiration, and with fellow Brazilian wonderstar, Rivaldo, tarnishing his reputation with repetitive diving, prima donna tantrums and never bothering to pass to his team mates, the return to form and fitness of the goofy wonder has been a real delight. Football needs players of true greatness. Ronaldo is truly great.

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