May 31, 2010


Anyone would think I had some kind of reluctance to post, these days. Not true, exactly, but at the same time also not exactly false. There seems to be so much bound up in the act of blogging that the sort of casual throwaway silliness that might once have sufficed now won't. That stuff goes on Facebook instead, or very occasionally Twitter. Not that anyone has any expectations of this place -- not, frankly, that anyone is even still reading it -- but somehow it carries some awful sense of obligation for me, something I should be doing but just don't get around to, like phoning my father. Although under the circumstances I'm not skimping on the latter.

Anyway, this is my last chance to scrape a birthdayish entry in the right month, so here we are. I am typing this on my major birthday present, Aglaia, who arrived somewhat after the fact due to Apple's schedule juggling, but is very delightful for all that. I have BlogPress set up, but on this occasion I'm just using Safari and MT's ordinary web interface, which is a lot more plausible here than on the iPhone. Various other things are either not yet sorted out or, perhaps, may never be, so this will be a relatively no-frills entry. Photo uploads, for example, are off the cards right now. In any case, what a very pleasing gizmo this is.

Going back to the day itself, a very nice time was had generally, and in particular at Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & co's wonderful Babel, third part of the trilogy that started with Foi. Coming so soon after primero, and likewise a return to form, this was another reminder of just how great the C de la B family can be. Unlike primero, Babel was largely shorn of the old rawness and pain and anguish, operating at a mostly more intellectual level -- including a serious but also very funny lecture on neuroscience. There was a lot of shifting around of Antony Gormley's big metal frame boxes, which occasionally seemed a bit faffy but unreasonably often became something astonishing and transcendental. The performers, many of them familiar from the previous episodes, were powerful and assured, and really the whole event was one of the best things I've seen in ages, vastly superior to the weak middle segment Myth. I wanted to go straight back the next night and see it again, but alas could not. I really hope this show is going to make return visits.

Other stuff: I liked a lot Chris Morris's suicide bomber comedy Four Lions, though it mostly made me want to cry much more than laugh -- really quite heartbreaking. I skated with Matthew in Hyde Park on what may turn out to be the one proper day of summer. Later we went dancing at Ku Bar (Saturday options are extremely limited, it turns out, at least if you don't fancy meth-fuelled Vauxhall barns that don't even get going until 4), which would be the first time I've done such a thing for a geological age were it not for a drunken visit to the same venue a couple of weeks before to round off an evening toasting the departure of CoMPLEXer Alex, off to postdoc at UPenn. I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around, though I'm not sure I'll be making a habit.

And finally: work, schmirk. Obviously a major contributor to my ongoing blogging failure, it's the usual rollercoaster ride from bright hopes to pits of despair and back; let us say no more about it.

Posted by matt at 9:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2010

Terror of the Autons

Long posting gaps continue. Big news. Hold the front page!

It's birthday season. In particular, Thursday was the old man's 70th. Back in February I was pretty convinced he wouldn't make it, but happily he has. Still hanging in there, on apparently quite ineffective chemo but somewhat improved pain control. There are secondary tumours. The picture is grim, but we knew that. In the meantime, they had a birthday dinner attended by many friends which sounds like it was a very special occasion. I am, of course, feeling somewhat guilty for not being there, but it's one fuck of a commute.

Last Sunday was Devan's, celebrated on Monday with a pleasant afternoon tea slash cocktails at the Waldorf; Friday was Davide's, celebrated with a weekend trip to chilly Cambridge, which I joined for Saturday lunch. And my own is coming up next week, but of course you hardly needed reminding of that, having been planning your festivities for months...

Thursday was also, locals will have noticed, the general election -- #ge2010 -- which was kind of entertaining in a rather glum sort of way. The electorate have, in something of a landslide, voted for confusion -- as I did myself. They ought therefore to be happy with result. Bet they won't be, though.

As a vague distraction from all that, we spent the evening at C de la B's primero, directed and choreographed by Lisi Estaras, which was typically uneven but also brilliant. A collage of the experiences of growing up Jewish, to a soundtrack of klezmer music mostly performed live by a staggeringly good clarinettist, this was easily the best thing the company has brought to London in years.

Whilst in the foyer of that show, the video clips from Compagnie Marie Chouinard's bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS looked thrilling, so I persuaded Ian we should go the following night, despite being somewhat bleary from a late night of watching the floundering election coverage. This turned out to be a horrible mistake. I genuinely can't remember the last time I hated a dance piece as much as this. I was yearning for it to end within the first five minutes, and managed to persuade Ian to leave at the interval. It was odious: vapid, poncey, soulless athleticism coupled to a soundtrack -- Bach remixed into gruelling noise, Glenn Gould's tedious monologuing slowed down and run through a vocoder -- apparently crafted by years of clandestine CIA experimentation to induce migraines in the audience.

I was particularly struck by the diametrical contrast with the night before. Like all C de la B's work, primero was fundamentally concerned with the mess of human experience. Chouinard's frightful ballet was much bigger, glossier, somewhat more technical, and utterly lacking in joy, substance, any connection to human reality. Awful awful rubbish.

Just to catch up, Laurie's Delusion was pretty good, though exceptionally downbeat, focussing significantly on the death of her mother; L'Allegro was once again a beautiful, life-affirming treat. Avoid Iron Man 2, see Kick-Ass. The new Doctor is very likeable, the new Daleks are unscary plastic tat, Amy's fun and River Song rocks.

Hello, sweetie!

Knowledge of Doctor Who monsters is, of course, increasingly important given the likely new prime minister...

Posted by matt at 7:31 PM | Comments (0)