Saturday, 26 December 2009

Off to DC...



Early tomorrow morning me and the beautiful Eva-Jane (who got me an outstanding new man bag for Christmas) are off to the States and Washington DC for a week and of course, New Year's Eve, soaking up history, politics and fine ales as well as dabbling in the history of hardcore US punk rock, of which DC is the capital.

See you in 2010!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Fucking Christmas!



A brief post before the pagan festival shoehorned to fit a made-up date for the birth of some dude that thought he was the son of God and established a personality cult in his name (luckily, he had a nice personality...not that some of his followers share that trait) gets under way.

I'll be spending it with beautiful Eva-Jane of course, opening prezzies, eating very good food, drinking Bailey's from a shoe and pretending to be John Lennon. We might even cram in some serious Monopoly playing, as I am the current holder of our household Monopoly Trophy!

I hope to slip in one more blog post before Eva-Jane and I go to Washington DC on the 27th for a week that spans New Year's Eve and whatnot. We can't wait, after Berlin, we really got into the vibe of going away for New Year's Eve and with things going so well for the pair of us, we can afford such glorious treats.

So Merry Christmas to one and all, even to the racist trolls and weird online stalkers, impersonators and other assembled no-life loners; no doubt spending the festive period glued to their PC's wishing evil to the world.


Monday, 21 December 2009

The Best Albums of 2009

So here we are again, that time of the year when the top LP's (in my humble opinion) are counted down in glorious fashion.

To be truthful, this year hasn't been as good as I thought it was, if that makes sense and I have no need of any notable mentions barging into the mosh pit of in this year's selection as I can pick ten albums that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Slim pickings indeed and it feels odd that this list was not a dog fight like every other.

So, without further ado, here we go...

10. "SPEECH THERAPY" SPEECH DEBELLE


Nearly didn't make it in but then I realised I was just being a tit and it deserves a place because it just speaks another language and her voice is so sweet (in a way) and the backing so jazzy but tight and still swinging. A deserved if obscure Mercury Music Prize winner even if it seems not to have helped her shift any units or reach a wider audience; a sad blow but a bright, black, British talent.

9. "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, LAZERS DO" VARIOUS ARTISTS


It counts, as it is not a compilation of existing tracks but rather a purpose built dancehall- techno-grime-roots reggae-death bomb of awesome dance-till-end of time, tunes. TOP RANKIN!!!

8. "GENERALLY SPEAKING" NEWHAM GENERALS


I've said it before and I'll say it again, having some black lads shout at you is my idea of fun and these two gents are as intense as they come but backed with some awesome, Prodigy style beats (in a good way) that carry the grimy day and Newham Generals just might be the torch bearers for keeping it real in innovative UK grime.

7. "RELAPSE" EMINEM


A much needed return to form after an achingly large gap, this choice is heavily influenced by the beautiful Eva-Jane, who made me listen to it all the time in Saint Lucia and it just got stuck in my heart. A work of deft skill with all the boxes ticked for any one with even a slight interest in Jay-Z being given a run for his money in the King of Hip-Hop stakes.

6. "BLUE ROSES" BLUE ROSES


Another UK artist and a profoundly moving and beautiful record, which seems to have passed many people by in the rush to lionise other UK female singer songwriters. I like it that way, as my lovely little secret.

5. "FITS" WHITE DENIM


I love how much this record rocks, the arrangements managing to be both sparse and vast at the same time, clever as well as accessible, they make a fine racket and have so many tricks up their sleeves. Excellent alt-rock, the US could do with making more of this kind of kerfuffle.

4. "NO HATS NO HOODS" VARIOUS ARTISTS


Regular readers will remember me repping this awesome record back when it came out. I think my previous life as a wigga is still effecting me heavily, I love grime, I love how british it is, how dark it is, how good it is and this is a collection of the best grime tracks of 08/09 mixed together into one dense blast of serious rhymes; this is an essential guide to what is happening right now in the UK rap scene.

3. "THE MASTER ALCHEMIST" INVASION


This band came from nowhere and blew me away. I took a chance on them and it paid off, this is their debut and it sounds like Aretha Franklin being backed by Lightening Bolt and if that doesn't make you want to buy it, I don't know what will. RAWK!

2. "IN THE COURT OF THE WRESTLING LET'S" LET'S WRESTLE


Looking at this list it's mostly all about British music and these chaps are as British as they come, clever lyrics about Princess Di's hair, old people and obscure ailments backed with indie punk rock guitar work and some great drumming...this album is a lovely bit of heaven.

1. "AFTER ROBOTS" BLK JKS


This LP towers over all others this year, like a musical God, it is literally in another league, another world, it is the Hamlet to the preceding collection of whimsical comedies and tragedies. After Robots is like a life-partner, a happening, a deeply personal experience. Buy it now if you haven't already.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The Ashford Resistance



You may remember that some time ago I was strangely fascinated by the Milton Keynes Communists and lo and behold, Phil BC at A Very Public Sociologist has once again stumbled upon a ridiculously titled blogging gem.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen may I introduce to you: The Ashford Resistance!

Now Trashford, as the locals call it (or Trashfordians), is very close to my heart as my parents are based not too far away from that neck of the woods and I've spent a wee bit of time in this horrendous mini-metropolis that is a very odd and soulless part of the county of Kent.

I always used to find it funny that, in the old days whilst people were waiting for the arrival of High-Speed Rail, that Ashford's train station was labelled with the incredibly portentous title of ASHFORD INTERNATIONAL RAILWAY STATION, when in reality it looks like a tin and glass shed and Ashford itself is not very international at all, or very nice for that matter. But I digress...

The idea that Ashford has a resistance, rather like the French Resistance, really tickles me and that these brave band of comrades are scuttling about the the urban nightmare landscape that is Ashford and carrying out acts of intense socialism/sabotage against targets of Trashford Fascism in all of it's concrete and glass horror.

UP THE ASHFORD RESISTANCE! 

Because Ashford most certainly needs them...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tory Muppet: Episode 2

In case you missed it, part 1 is right bloody here and part 2 is just below in all its wonderful YouTube glory, voiced by me and created and written by Internet legend and all round good egg, Tim Ireland.

Enjoy episode 2 and hopefully another will be on its way to you very soon...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Destroy the Trafigura Gag on the BBC: Blog This!



I hate Trafigura.

So to be given the chance to thwart their desperate efforts to silence the BBC, who ran an expose piece on the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, gives me much pleasure. Sadly, the BBC bowed to the pressure and removed the piece but the blogging community can help put it straight with a wee bit of the Streisand effect.

Here are the two videos of the original, now pulled report...





And here is the PDF of the report itself. For more info on this, you could do far worse than paying a visit to Richard Wilson's blog right bloody here.

Here's what you can do to help and put an end to this kind of legal bullying: put the BBC videos up at your blog, as I have done, as well as a link to the PDF of the report.

I've leave the final word on the matter to the art of the excellent cartoonist Matthew Buck...


Monday, 14 December 2009

Polish Girls Massage

In what is becoming something of a running theme here at Blurred Clarity, I have found more homemade signs stuck to street furniture in my neighbourhood.

This time, not only do they advertise the chance of a Polish girl giving you a massage, they are also cleverly designed so that you can rip off and keep the number for when the moment strikes you that you need a Polish girl massaging you, rather than you having to write it down, or insert it into your phone filed under Polish girl massage or something more cryptic if you have a wife.



Upon closer inspection you may have noticed that it doesn't actually advertise massage but something else called 'masagge', which one can only assume is just like massage but done by Polish girls in very bad English and for the record, massage in Polish seems to be 'MASAŻ'. However, if you step further back from the advert in question, the full horror of the situation hits home...



That's right, a cheap advert for Polish sex workers is attached to the face of a child advertising good road crossing practice for Haringey Council.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Director Dan

Here is a collection of images I found of me directing, flowing on nicely from yesterday's post. The images are of a rehearsed reading I did a month or so ago, of a new play by Tomasz Aleksander Kocinski called 'Good Times' and I think they are a nice document of a time and place.







Friday, 11 December 2009

Exploring Hamlet...



Another very busy week, hence the lightness of blogging.

In the day I've been working with the legend that is Ian Rickson, along with some other actors, on Hamlet and in the evenings I have been overseeing a showcase at the Soho Theatre of actors I have been teaching for some time and that I directed/wrote some bits of it.

*phew*

It has been a most creative, rewarding and demanding week and today is the first day I have had to let the head stop spinning and to reflect upon it.

I suppose the easiest bit to process is the showcase as being a director, to me, is far less nerve wracking than being up there myself acting. Of course, I live vicariously through the actors and duck and weave every moment with them but I also give up a lot of the responsibility to them, my job was done a while back, they have to seal the deal, to finish it all off. And that they did, to a man/woman and I am very proud of every single one of them and my own personal adventures with Hamlet this week will feed into their learning for next year.

So onto Hamlet...

Far harder to summarise really, words like: inspirational, moving, confusing, challenging and angry as hell, only scratch the surface of how working on the play for some 8 hours a day has been like. But it has made a most profound impact upon me because not only am I going to be teaching it to my students but my appetite has been wetted for more journeys into Shakespeare's pantheon.

I am not a huge Shakespeare fan or expert, having only done it once as an actor and although I certainly respect many of the plays (with King Lear as one of my favourites of all time, indeed, my dream is to play King Lear when I am old enough), I have kept a wide berth of Hamlet, as I prefer the obscurer texts or the more difficult ones, like Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

It was however, amazing, partly I suppose in getting to work with Ian Rickson, who is a man I am determined to work with in the future, he is a pivotal figure in British Theatre and shared many of his working techniques with us as well as a healthy sceptical attitude towards the play itself.

Oddly, not being a scholar or a huge fan, I found myself as a defender of the text in its most original sense and trying to fight the corner of ideas like having a ghost rather than a more contemporary take on what the ghost could be, or too much interpretation and guess work on the text (the idea being it made more problems than solutions) and the idea that Hamlet is not mad at all. By no means new ideas but I didn't think I'll feel so strongly about it and be the cheerleader for those concepts.

I know it sounds thick but it really is a very, very exceptional play and I realise now I'd given it short shrift. I am always obsessed with father-son narratives and the ghost of a great father dead is so very present, that search for a father's love and approval, with all the complexities of the father-son journey so painfully and powerfully rendered.

I cannot wait to work on it with my students and see them connect with an essential and breathtaking narrative and world of grief. I also hope myself one day to be involved in a top quality production of Hamlet and put all the work of the last week into sharper focus and direct practice. How invigorating!

On that note, I found this today, I think it is brilliant and lovely and I dedicate it to my wondrous Eva-Jane, who was outstanding in the showcase and even though I had to turn away because I feared her performance would break my heart it was so human, you are also the new Jennifer Aniston according to one casting director. How cool is that?

Monday, 7 December 2009

"This Isn't the Right Thing to do, so Let's Go"




Life breaks a person slowly

Forming them into a mangled wreck

That passes for an adult

The breaking, the gradual damage, comes to define you:

A pilot flying a plane that is going to crash

Sunday, 6 December 2009

"Excuse Me, I Go Fuck"



Well that was a hell of a lot of fun, a few days in Milan making a new commercial for IKEA and it was ruddy, bloody grand.

It was such a good trip because the other actor I was working with, Danny Alder, was a real legend, such a nice guy and great to work with, especially as I've had some bad times with really unprofessional actors in the past. Danny was a real pro but also on the same wavelength, so we could make the shoot as much fun as possible...I tip my metaphorical hat to you sir and hope we stay in touch!

I can't give much away about the shoot so can't post pictures and whatnot yet but will do so when the advert is live over in Italy, needless to say it was great fun with the bonus of some fine Italian food on offer 24/7, which we indulged in quite heavily. I've never seen people use olive oil so excessively on just about every damn thing and so much bloody cake! Breakfast was like: cake, chocolates, fruit, some more cake and coffee. And the pizza...Jesus wept, it was some very good shit indeed, as you'd expect.

Danny and I also managed to cram in the Milan sights but missed out on the San Siro, which was a shame but hope to see a football game there one day before I die.

The funniest moments of the shoot came whenever Danny and I had to speak Italian, which they will of course dub but we needed to get the mouth shapes right for the Italian actor doing it. Needless to say we were shitting our pants, surrounded by an Italian crew (lovely people and really on it, no flannel at all) viewing our efforts with a mix of disgust and car-crash horror as we mangled their language right up. It was pretty embarrassing but the worse moment came when I had to deliver the following line:

"Scusa, ma devo scappare."

What I didn't know was that a slight tweak to how you pronounce the word 'scappare' can make the Italian word for escape become the Italian word for fuck...

Little surprise then after one take that as soon as the director shouted cut, the crew burst out into hysterical laugher, that's right folks, I had just said:

"Excuse me, I go fuck"

I love this job.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Off to Milan...



Early to bed tonight as up at crack of dawn to make my way to Milan to do some filming, can't say what for just yet as can't breach me contract and all that but should be a fun project and never been to Italy before and got three days there; makes it all that more fun when it is at someone else's expense and you get per diems! Bring on the Euros!

Got some script to learn in Italian, which will be fun, although from previous shoots abroad it is just to get the mouth shape right and then they overdub a native's voice over mine. Then got plans to make of the not-to-be-missed bits of Milan, in the short time I am there of course but definitely think I want to get a piece of this bad boy...



As well as plenty of Italian scran when I'm over there and in order to get warmed up for my trip, I'm having a Sloppy Giuseppe tonight for me tea...

You heard!