Tag Archives: San Diego

More Binder Clip Hints And Tips?

Use a binder clip to keep beer stacked

Binder clips can also be used for:

  • Holding wounds closed until the airlift arrives
  • Holding eyes closed during scary movie scenes
  • Holding eyes open during the Ludovico Technique
  • Fun ear fashion
  • Temporary rock-climbing carabiners seriously go on try it
  • Holding sheets of paper together
  • Male contraception “in a pinch”
  • Add duct tape for a DIY eyelash curler!

You get the idea. Two years ago, I was faffing around in my San Diego condo. I was alone, because Cassie and I had not yet moved in together, so my evenings were spent in solitary domesticity. A “lovingly” detailed description of one of these evenings is here.

I had some beer in the fridge. I’m not a big solo drinker, so they’d been there for a while. It was the remains of my CostCo Mexican Beers variety pack, with Corona, Sol, Tecate and Dos Equis (they also do Dos Equus, but that has been known to cause nudity and horse mutilation). There were also a couple of bottles of Karl Strauss Woodie Gold (lovely stuff). They wouldn’t stand up because of the non-variability of the shelves, and the gaps between the wires, so I lay them down. When I stacked them they rolled apart, so I just grabbed a binder clip and attached it to the wire shelf – it fit nicely, and stopped the bottles rolling.

I snapped a pic with my then-new-but-now-retired Palm Centro, uploaded it to Flickr, and pretty much forgot about it.

… time passes …

One day, I got an email from Shaun Usher, the editor of the fascinating and highly recommended scanned vintage correspondence blog Letters of Note, asking if he could use my letter from Douglas Adams on the site. I wrote back and agreed readily, although it’s not really a letter of note – no revelations are made, no advice is given, and I didn’t go on to become an author myself. Adams’ love of the Biggles books is a matter of record elsewhere, I think. Nice to be thought of though.

I don’t think the letter was ever used in the end, but Shaun must have been browsing around, because on August 16th he tweeted a link to the binder clip photo. There was a flurry of re-tweeting, the photo got a bit of interest, and several people made the photo a favorite.

In late September, Adam Pash from the tips and tricks blog Lifehacker ran a post with a list of uses for binder clips. Having been reminded of my own use, I posted the photo as a comment. A couple of days later, Adam ran another post highlighting the comment, and the Flickr views took off like a rocket.

Binder Clip Beer Stacking Stats

Take a look at the stats – 157,000+ views!

The day after Lifehacker featured it, someone posted it on Reddit. That gave another big boost to the ratings, and ever since there’s been a trickle of interest, from Argentina, Japan and all over. It is the most popular photo I’ve ever taken, and the most “interesting” in the Flickr sense (views, favorites, comments etc). Just for a sense of scale, my next most interesting photo is some people in costume at Comic Con which got 3000 views, followed by an old scanned photo of my Star Wars toys (sensing a theme?) with 426 views, my ex-dog when he was a puppy, the Adams letter, and some cool British vintage cars.

The comments on the photo, and on the various posts which link to it, fall into a few main categories:

  • “Genius!”
  • “Why not stand them up?”
  • “Glad to see someone drinking good beer.”
  • “Why are you drinking pissy Mexican beer?”
  • “Beer doesn’t last that long in my fridge!”
  • “You shouldn’t lay beer down its bad theres plastic and bacteria in the cap and the air spoils it and its not wine and you shouldn’t do it.”
  • “Whatever, attention-grabbing smartass.”

It’s funny to see so much debate about beer, how to store it, assumptions about my reasons for taking the photo, and remarks about the whole binder-clips-are-the-new-duct-tape-is-the-new-AOL-disk thing. It was a cameraphone snap of a quick solution, and I have to tell you…

it doesn’t actually work that well. I had to add another clip to make it more stable, but it’s not very scalable, and the clips rust, and the bottles have to be the same size. But I don’t mean to be a snark. It’s nice and novel to be “famous” on the internet for 1.5 minutes. It makes me wonder how people who get more attention more regularly (ie pretty much everyone else) cope with it all.

A-Movin’ And A-Truckin’

Cassie and I moved in together, at the same time moving north to San Francisco. Double whammy! Luckily, my company paid for the move, so we were able to sit back and relax as paid men boxed all our crap personal effects and loaded it onto trucks.

They were amazingly quick, because they weren’t distracted by everything they picked up, like books or scraps of paper, they just packed everything in their path. They were like locusts, it was incredible. We had to shift all of the stuff they weren’t to take out of the way. That was easier for me, because I was living alone in San Diego, and I had a spare room. I just put my suitcase and the stuff I was taking by car in there and told them to ignore it. It was harder for Cassie, because she had a roommate, and lots of his stuff was mixed up with hers, especially in the kitchen.

But because they were so quick, they also ended up packing some stuff that was a little unnecessary. They would open a drawer, take a sheet of their wrapping paper, grab a handful of the drawer contents, and wrap it up, almost without looking at it. This meant that when we were unpacking, we would open a bundle of paper to find that they had wrapped a couple of paper clips, a half-burned tea light and some lint. If we had packed, it would have taken ages, but we would have purged at the same time. As it was, while unpacking at the other end we filled the trashcan twice over, and the recycling bin, and two or three boxes for the thrift store.

It was kind of embarrassing to have them running up and down stairs in San Diego on a very hot day, while I literally just sat on the sofa. There was nowhere else to sit, the sofa wasn’t being moved, and it was out of the way. I walked to 7-11 and got them cold drinks, but other than that I was just hanging around, keeping out of their way and answering questions from time to time.

Once they had left me alone in my little place in San Diego, Rimah, the best landlord I’ve ever had, came over and we did the paperwork and final sorting out. Then it was time to hit the road, first to LA, where Cassie had just said goodbye to all her stuff as the movers whisked it away.

Her place looked weird, completely empty. I don’t think her roommate had much of an idea how much of the furniture was hers. A blank slate, so he can make his mark. We spent a day or so making final preparations, meeting friends, feeling too hot thanks to the local brushfires, and getting psyched up. Then we hit the road, Cassie in her Jeep and me in my Audi, stopping first at Home for a final breakfast. We didn’t plan to drive caravan the whole way, but that’s the way it ended up. We got a mighty convoy, ain’t she a beautiful sight, only with Bluetooth instead of CB Radio. We only got split up in the morass to pay your toll and get over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco itself. Once we arrived, we had a bit of a rest before inflating our temporary air beds and getting comfortable before the delivery of our stuff.

In San Francisco it was the same embarrassing situation. I stood there with a clipboard, while the movers dealt with the stairs, boxes, and sweat. When they left, Cassie and I were stuck with the task of trying to make all this stuff fit in our apartment. We’re still trying now,  but slowly and surely we’re getting there.

After unpacking, we had a dozen boxes filled with flattened other boxes and wrapping paper. A call to the movers and they came and collected that as well, for reuse or recycling.

And here we are! It’s been couple of weeks, and we’re pretty settled, but there are some boxes around the place which whisper to us and make us feel guilty when we watching whatever’s On Demand on the cable. Soon, my boxy friends. Soon.

Like It Matters Here Is My Review Of ‘Watchmen’

So I went to see Watchmen in San Diego with Cassie and house-guest Martin. Of course, I’d been looking forward to it greatly, being a fan of the book and of Alan Moore’s other work. I’m not some huge Moore scholar, but I loved Watchmen and V for Vendetta, and I’ve read some issues of Top Ten (another “what if” story concerning superheroes) and Swamp Thing, and in general I think Moore is a true artist.

I loved his novel The Voice of the Fire, set as it was in a 10-mile radius around Northampton over 5000 years of personal and community history, with each story feeding a myth or legend to the next. I come from Bedford in the UK, not all that far from Northampton, which has its own long history. It makes me wonder what dark secrets hung over the Castle Mound, or the site of the old Ford that gives the town it’s name. No worse than the dark realities of the High Street on a Saturday night, I bet.

I’m well aware of Moore’s feelings about film adaptations of his work, and for the most part they are well and truly justified. But this one felt different. Artist Dave Gibbons was on board, and the shots of sets and costume sketches that dribbled out from the production all looked very hopeful.

Friend Brian, he that built these teeth for me for Halloween, had met Dave Gibbons when he was doing the special effects for the fantastic documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore (video clip here), and when we went to San Diego Comic Con last year he got him to sign his copy of Gibbon’s own book The Originals, a retro-futurist retelling of Quadrophenia, complete with hover-scooters (for the faces) and hover-bikes (for the “dirt”), high-collar riding coats known as “mantles”, and of course, hard pork-pie hats. There was lots of props, toys, early trailers and so on to see at Comic Con, and hype was at its height. So I had high hopes for this production.

I was a little disappointed. I’m not worried about the retelling being “faithful”. It definitely was. I don’t want to be that guy, complaining about every tiny difference. The sets, costumes, effects, design, vehicles were all great.

I’m not too bothered about the change to the ending. The “squid” would have needed many more characters and scenes: the artist who designed it, the pirate writer who came up with the hellish visions it propagated in the people of New York, the massacre of the secret community in the bombing of the ship, and so on. It was easier to just stick with a “big bomb” SFX sequence and leave it at that. In fact, by making Dr Manhattan the threat instead of some “alien invasion”, you might say it was a neater and more plausible ending (if “plausible” can be a word you would use in this context).

The acting was variable. Malin Ackerman was a bit wooden, and Billy Crudup’s performance as Dr Manhattan suffered from the fact that he was trying to be otherworldly and inhuman, but instead it just came across as “talking in a lilting la-la voice”. Jackie Earle Haley was fantastic, and Patrick Wilson was excellent as well, both of them showing the necessary vulnerability.

I didn’t recall the book being so violent. Checking back, of course, I see that it was, and the film was pretty faithful to the number of punches and kicks thrown during the rape scene. Nasty. However, there were some extra nasty little bits that were added, in one case with reason, in others without. I wouldn’t mind, but it did seem to enjoy lingering on some bits.Lingering was the problem on the whole. Every line was an important, every frame was a freeze frame. In the effort to not miss any bits from the book, it seemed like they were trying to make sure that every line was highlighted and clearly signposted. Despite this, the actors weren’t always that good at making the line clear, so even I, that knew every line that was spoken and where it came from, sometimes had a hard time understanding what they were saying. Even the bits that were played for laughs (the ejaculatory flamethrower for example) got overshadowed by the films – dare I say it? – pompousness. The funniest bit was Rorschach’s initial responses, “Some nice flowers”, “A pretty butterfly”. That says quite a lot.

The fight scenes suffered from the current trend for slow-motion sequences. They wanted you to see every bullet, every punch, every breaking bone. I think that these superhero sequences would be more impressive if they were done in real-time. These people are supposed to be superhuman, even if they don’t have superpowers, so a fight which lasts five seconds and leaves five bad guys on the out cold floor is more impressive than a painstakingly choreographed and elaborately filmed violent ballet. The new Batman films have it right. *Biff!* *Wham!* *Whoosh! – “What was that?”.

I think overall that my disappointment is that now the film is out, there’s nothing to look forward to. Except for the Tales of the Black Freighter DVD. And the director’s cut with the other 30 minutes they shot…

Heavy On The Magick

It was LA again a couple of weekends ago, because we had a few special things planned. Thursday evening I drove up as I often do, and as we couldn’t decide what to do for dinner, we just walked down the road to good old Dusty’s. Walking back up the hill with Cassie in the warm evening with a good meal and a couple of strong Euro-beers inside me was most pleasurable.

Despite having Friday off, I had to be up early, though not as early as Cassie, bless her. My job was to take Gordon to the vet to have his teeth cleaned. This involved a general anesthetic, which in turn involved him not eating, and being given blood tests and all sorts of palaver. I dropped him off, made sure all was OK, then went and hung out with my buddy Brian in North Hollywood. We went for brunch, then for a quick tour around the statues in the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, including the Henson Wall. A nice afternoon of chewing the fat, playing with Brian and Stacy’s dog Camden (a beautiful Golden Retriever), exploring the Brian Kinney Museum of GI Joe, Star Wars, Batman, and KISS action figures, and then it was time to pick up Gordon.

He seemed pretty perky when the vet brought him out, but when I got him in the car he curled up on the passenger seat, and went to sleep with his chin on my arm, which is unheard of. Unbearable cute. He was so stoned, he was wandering around, his eyes all droopy. He had a dogsitter that night, because Cassie and I had got something cool lined up.

Our friends A and I had got us tickets for the Magic Castle in Hollywood, which is a bit of an institution. It’s a crazy place, and it does have a bit of a reputation for being esteemed and classy with one hand, and sleazy and naff with the other. They make a big deal over getting people to dress up, and Cassie actually phoned to ask if she would be allowed in wearing flip-flops, because she had an ankle bandage on (she wasn’t, but she wanted to try). She was recommended to ask a friend with bigger feet to lend her some shoes!

Anyway, the four of us made an effort, and it was nice to be there, everyone all dressed up. We were booked in for a meal at a set time (it’s all very “by the clock”), but we got there early so we were able to grab an earlier dinner, then see more of the shows. The shows were what made the evening fun. In one of the small auditoriums we saw a magic variety show with a new stylish act involving clothes that changed color, followed by a much more traditional “assistant in a box” routine. The compére was a live wire, with a great finale involving dozens of those snake-in-the-nut-can tricks, and a blue double-breasted jacket that I think used to belong to the keyboard player from The Jets. Elsewhere in the various nooks and crannies of the building, card tricksters and traditional ball-and-cup-meisters were plying their trade. You could just stop and catch a short act, then move on.

It’s kind of a weird place – all twisting corridors and stairs and dark corners with a couple more tables for dinner, then another bar, then some creepy doll in a box on the wall, then the magical piano that plays what you tell it to (we heard Sweet Child O’ Mine).

The clientele were a mixed bunch. Several groups of younger people, getting a bit rowdy on the monstrously expensive booze. And I don’t know if they were magicians, but several of the older gentlemen were definitely accompanied by their “beautiful young assistants”, if you catch my drift. Maybe they have magic wallets.

It was a great night though, and A & I are cool for inviting us. If you throw yourself into it, and enjoy the effort that the performers make, it’s a really fun evening, even if the actual atmosphere and environment don’t tally with the image they seem to want to project. It’s all smoke and mirrors I guess, the former especially outside waiting for the valet ($8!) to bring your car round.

Then this weekend just gone was a San Diego one. Cassie came down late on Friday, then Saturday lunchtime we went to see The Reader in Hillcrest. An excellent film – my hope for the Oscars, rather than that patronizing one set in India. Kate Winslet was great – a really subtle and strong performance, and the male lead was great too. I also loved the furniture in the scenes in the 70’s. And the professor’s leather portfolio. Seriously. After that we strolled through the drizzle (as in light rain, not some Snoop Dogg thing)  to Mille Feuille for a cup of delicious hot chocolate and a couple fancy macaroon things.

Sunday we actually managed to get to the beach again – Gordon was in need of a good run around after being cooped up out of the rain. The sky was blue with little fluffy clouds,the sun was warm, the sailboats on the horizon out towards the Coronado Islands – pretty fecking beautiful. I must get another camera. Gordon was enjoying running about with all the other dogs, and we walked up to the wire fence separating the dog beach from the Naval Air Base. Then the usual trip to the Dog Wash, then a soda, then some relaxing and TV, before Cassie headed home.

These weekends are the only time we get to spend together, so we try and pack them as much as possible. That’s easier to do in LA, because I know more people there, but that will change. It looks like we won’t be making a move north for a while, because of the work problem – Cassie would need to quit her job and find a new one in SF, which would be kinda dumb, given the climate. We’ll see.

I Want My Money Back

Got up this morning, and before I could do anything else I had to put the heat on for the first time in my apartment. What the hell? I’ve been joking recently to friends back in the UK that it’s been so cold here that I had to roll my sleeves down. Now that Xmas is a couple of weeks away, it’s finally getting properly cold, albeit still not as cold as London.

Looking from my 14th floor office window, I’m greeted by a view pretty much like the one I had from my London office in Victoria, except for the 4 US flags I can see from my chair, whipping in the wind. It’s grey, dingy, and rain is spattering against the glass. If this keeps up, I won’t be walking the three blocks to the gym after work. And so the decline begins. I think I’ll just drive home.

The problem with rain in California is that because it is so rare, the roads don’t get rinsed off so often like they do in the UK. This means that when it does rain, the first thing that happens is the roads are coated with a thin film of water, dust and oil. This makes the commute interesting, and you hear the radio reports of crashes and delays, in the same way that snow in the UK makes the commute “interesting”.

If Cassie and I are planning to move to San Francisco next year, which is indeed the plan, I had better get used to weather like this. But it won’t stop me from moaning for the moment. I still have the scarf my Mum knitted for me as a child – best dig it out.

November Beach Weekend

I’m now parking in the underground lot beneath my building, which cuts down on the time needed to get to work, and the amount of calories I burn to get from the car to my desk (uh-oh, gym tonight). My building has every convenience, it’s going to make life easy for me. It’s gonna be easy to get things done. I will relax, alone with my loved ones. And that’s what I did at the weekend.

Cassie took her turn to come down to SD at the weekend, bringing Gordon (pron. gor-DON, rolling the “r”). I had another Friday off under the every-other-Friday-off-in-return-for-longer-hours regime, which is working nicely for me, even after only a month.

I spent Friday running some errands and generally pottering. I had an optometrist appointment in the morning, which was a spur to getting up and about. I like going to the optometrist – all the technology and gadgetry, and they don’t even hurt you! He did that thing where he puffs air at your eye, which makes you blink, and he took photos of my retinas. As with my dental x-rays, I was tempted to ask for copies of the images and post them here. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MY CAPILLARIES? My eyes are fine, my prescription has hardly changed, no I don’t want Lasik or contact lenses. I have to say my company insurance rocks for optometry.

My computer seems to have been fried by my putting 110v volts through it instead of the 240v it was expecting. Why that should fry the power supply is beyond me – this is why I failed A-Level Physics, and am not an electrical engineer. Anyway, I took it to a friendly repair place, who diagnosed the fried PSU, replaced it, and sold me a wireless router as well. Proteus2 lives again. Now to get the router working…

Cassie arrived early evening, and after the usual Zagat’s discussion we went to a nice Moroccan restaurant, Kous Kous. The food was great: Cassie had a chicken tagine dish, and I had beef, all washed down with hot mint tea. We declined dessert – she had a craving for ice-cream (!) so after a stroll round the trendy neighbourhood we stopped off at 7-Eleven.

We both wake up early during the week, so it’s hard to sleep in at the weekends, especially with Gordon whining to be let out. Unfortunately, “out” means getting up, dressed, and taking him downstairs and out of the apt-plex to pee and poo, so by the time you get back, you’re fully awake and dressed. So we decided to go straight to Coronado Dog Beach. It was a lovely day, altough the temperature hasn’t been as high, so we weren’t planning on swimming. Very wise too – the surf was quite impressive, crashing and booming, and paddling was very cold. The adjacent air base was launching some F-20’s, and Gordon had a great time dashing about, barking like a loon, and digging as predicted. After a good length of time playing, relaxing, walking up and down, and throwing the ball for G, we though maybe it was time for lunch. Then we saw that it was 9.45am. Hmm. We managed to drag it out for a while longer (I know, poor us), before taking the mutt to the scrub shop for a soaking. A slice of pizza and a coke later, we were home.

In the evening we met a colleague of mine and her husband for a couple of beers at O’Briens (“the hoppiest place on Earth”), which was really nice – the first time I’ve socialised with a colleague outside of a couple of happy hours and lunches. Must do more.

Sunday morning I made pancakes with Bisquick – my Americanization continues. I added slices of banana to the batter in the pan, so they were embedded. We ate them with Aunt Jemima’s Original syrup, hand-made by the lady herself in a gigantic stainless steel factory. I was horrified to see you can buy sugar-free syrup at the grocery store, which I’m sure is just like the real thing. Whatever, they were delicious, and I’ll be doing it again.

On Sunday afternoon we went to the horrid Mission Valley mall to pick out some frames for my new glasses. I took the plunge and chose some with very bold frames, a departure from the half-framed or frameless look I have sported for so long. The prescription wasn’t very different from my current specs, so I can keep my old ones for a choice of looks. I’ll be picking them up in a week or so, and I’ll post a picture.

While at the mall, we saw Role Models with the very funny Paul Rudd. The commercials really don’t do it justice. It veered from so-so crass comedy to the climactic surreal end sequence, where the guys dress as KISS to enter a LARP battle. I was laughing a lot throughout, especially when swear words were yelled – I’m a simple man.

Status Of Missing

So, how is the great experiment doing? Am I missing the country of my birth? A little. I miss my ex-dog quite a lot. My Google Reader feed of all Flickr photos tagged “westie” is either helping or not helping. I miss my good friends. I didn’t have such a huge circle. My brother and sister are up to their necks with family, so we’re separated by years, miles, and lifestyle. I miss them, but it’s cool. I guess things are still not settled here. I like my condo, but it is clearly a temporary thing, and I guess I want to have a home.

I’m trying to build up a circle of friends in SD, but that’s a slow process when I’m away most weekends. We’re having a work happy hour this evening, so I’ll try not to alienate too many people there.

I knew it was going to be hard, but the whole philosophy of it was that sample at the beginning of Sweat Loaf:

“… it’s better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven’t done…”

…and I certainly don’t regret it.

Cassie is coming down at the weekend, and though it’s a little cooler here now (I’m wearing a suit jacket to work!) we’ll walk on the Coronado dog beach and have some fun. We’ll watching Gordon run in huge circles growling as he streaks past us, then stopping to frantically dig a hole in the sand and stick his schnozz into it. This will require a visit to the dog wash, which he needs anyway.

Before this though is another Friday off, which I’m filling with taking my PC to the repair place, my eyes to the optometrist, my wallet to various places, and my lazy fat arse to the gym (perhaps).

Stay Hungry

I nearly called this post Pumping Irony, but that would have been shite. Instead, I’m making a reference to an early film starring the Governor of the united state I live in.

When I told Friend M that I was going to a gym, she responded

Gym??? Gym??????????? What ever next – nail bar?

Exactly how I felt about them. But as a result of certain photographs being published on the Web, I’ve joined a gym, and forked out for some sessions with a personal trainer. This is worrying. I don’t see myself as the sort of person who goes to the gym. Yes, I know that lots of people go, and it’s a pretty normal thing to do, but it’s never been a consideration before. But I’m not getting any younger, and now that I’ve taken the plunge, it’s easy-ish to carry on.

My trainer, Andre, was very nice and understanding of my goals (goals?????? you see?), and helped me to figure out a routine to do each time, so now I go to the gym with a tatty bit of paper listing some medieval-sounding grips and tortures.

One of the reasons I didn’t feel comfortable about going to the gym was because of the people who are already there – I didn’t want a load of sporty types judging me. And it’s true that sport is the main vibe around there – the TVs in the locker room are usually tuned to the baseball. Either than or Fox News which is even worse.

The people in the gym are of lots of different types. I’m pleased to see that many of them look like me – or at least are there for the same reasons as me. But there are many men who I think go to the gym a bit too much, that as a result have a rather strange body shape – little skinny legs, low waistline, huge wide shoulders and arms. It don’t look natural.

Dylan Moran said in Monster that people go to the gym to attain their “ideal body”, but that they were very unimaginative. He said that his ideal body would have (paraquote)

… one eye – you probably only need one. Some kind of sucker instead of teeth because they just give you grief in the end. And a long long tube with my arse way over there so I don’t have to deal with it.

The main reason I joined a gym was the food. Not the gym food, obviously, that’s all protein bars and protein shakes and “that yellow stuff in tins“. No, American food. And not junk food either. The regular food, sandwiches, salads. The quality is higher, the quantity is higher, therefore the consumption is greater. I must watch that. Plus I’ve been going to many restaurants recently, good and bad. I own a Zagats guide for San Diego, and I use the little sticky markers. Is this some form of Becoming that I am experiencing? What ever next, indeed?

Nick Cave, 4th & B, San Diego, 16 September 2008

This was the first gig I’ve been to in San Diego, at 4th & B, an old bank turned into a trendy wine bargig and club venue just a block away from my office on the way to the car park. So convenient, which is what matters the most when it comes to rock’n’roll, don’t you think?

I’ve seen Nick Cave play live once before, as part of a live soundtrack for some silent Japanese movie set in a lunatic asylum. He played a piano ballad at the start and finish, and in between Barry Adamson conducted the Mute Records All-Stars. Pan Sonic, Add N To X, and others created a cacophony which rose and fell through out the film, climaxing with a scene where the inmates have a big benny in the prison. Adamson kept the noise rising and rising. At one point in the impenetrable proceedings, a member of the audience called out, “what’s going on”, to which Adamson turned round and shrugged. The song that Cave played had a lyric that sounded to Friend Robin and I like, “Swee.com, Swee.com…”, when in fact it was, “Sweetheart come, sweetheart come…back to me”. Silly boys.

Before the film, we were shown a documentary about Can, from the hairy wig-out period, to found-sound pioneers, to the aren’t-we-wacky time, and finally to the modern inspirational veterans period. I have a copy of Finitribe’s great cover of I Want More, but that wasn’t mentioned here. Then as a nice little interlude we had the charming video for Add N To X Metal Fingers In My Body. So when was that? Quite a while ago.

Anyway, I’ve been getting more into Nick Cave recently. I’ve always been into him and the Bad Seeds in a kind of background way. Friend Robin and I have a running joke about Blixa Bargeld complaining about the venue in that tour film, “If you have a piece with two flutes, and one cello…”.

My username on various sites is ‘muteboy’, which I chose in a very vague way because I like the music from many Mute Records artists. I have an old Mute Records compilation from 1991 which had ‘The Train Song’ on it, amongst some rather less melodic stuff from ver ‘Bauten and others. I’m a fan of Laibach, Nitzer Ebb, Add N To X, Richard Hawley, Cabaret Voltaire, Inspiral Carpets, Plastikman, Renegade Soundwave, and I feel I should like more. And what are website usernames if not an aspirational and pretentious affectation?

Anyway, just last year Cave came out with his eponymous “solo” album Grinderman, which was a harsh and refreshing slice of organ-driven garage rock that sounds a bit like some of the old Birthday Party stuff. I saw them do Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars) on Jools Holland, and it was fantastic, adding that song to my “Songs I Would Like To Cover In That Parallel Universe Where I Cover Songs” list. I particularly enjoyed the lyric, “BZZZZ BZZZZ BZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ”.

Last night was the first show of a tour of US and Canada. This was a small(ish) gig before tonight’s Hollywood Bowl show, with Spiritualized. Cassie’s going to that, and I would have liked to go, and see Jason Pierce and the gang. Although I prefer their old stuff (of course), the last couple of albums being a bit too soully and gospelly for me.

Support in San Diego was from Red Sparowes. I don’t know if their name is a take on Black Crowes – they don’t sound like them, being more along the lines of instrumental prog/art-rock with a slightly melodic edge, and an underused steel guitar. They had the usual back-projection of Chairman Mao and some Manchurian corpses, as well as some clips from the wowee-zowee transformation scene at the end of Phase IV (I think). Is there a shop you get meaningful back projections from? Maybe the same catalogue pubs get selected vintage junk, and David Byrne got his metal buildings from. I started out liking the music from Red Sparowes, but I’m not sure about it now. I like that kind of noodly stuff, especially with a bit of weight behind it, but this didn’t grab me.

The Bad Seeds came on to a roar of applause, and started playing so that Mr Cave could come out to a fanfare and hysteria. The crowd loved him. The whole band looked great, suits and shirts with the necks open wide and low. Warren Ellis is looking more like he’s regressing like the guy in Altered States. He’s not at the lumpy amorphous stage yet, just hairy and mad-looking, strumming his electric violin.

They started with some rabble-rousing number, then did a few numbers from the current album, like the title track, and also some oldies and goodies. At one stage half the band left, leaving Cave, the bass player and the drummer to play ‘Into My Arms’ which one member of the audience near me had been crying out for. Someone actually held up a lighter. It’s a lovely song, but it really changed the pace to the detriment of the set. I wonder if it feels like an albatross to Cave. He certainly had trouble getting the words right, making the first verse a few extra bars long. Perhaps he was glad of the sit down and rest.

Nick Cave is a very intense and charismatic performer, with lots of energy and a clear camaraderie with the band, especially Warren Ellis, to whom he kept trying to give a dead leg. The techs kept having to run on and plug something back in, or stand something up. It was a fantastic gig, sweaty, very loud, varied, and a great start to the tour.

Rough unconfirmed incomplete set list in wrong order, don’t blame me.

  • Dig Lazarus Dig
  • Hard On For Love
  • The Lyre Of Orpheus
  • Red Right Hand
  • Let Love In
  • Into My Arms
  • We Call Upon The Author
  • Today’s Lesson
  • The Mercy Seat

I’m not a huge gig-goer, which is something I’ve been trying to remedy in the past few months. This was the first large gig I’ve been to in the US (having seen Brian play last year at a costume party and a local band play in Silver Lake) and I was curious to see if the usual stereotypes and characters come out. They do. You had your achingly hip guy with the (possibly fake) trackmarks in his vintage The Birthday Party tshirt. The guy closing his eyes and screwing his face up while he sang along. All cool.

One of the annoying ones was the guy in the toilet loudly complaining about the support band, saying “I don’t like this band I’ve never heard of. When’s the main group we all came to see coming on?”. He was complaining about the lack of “hooks”. I told him the J Geils Band were unavailable. He said (not to me, just to the world) that this band were “shoegaze” and that “shoegaze ended with Jesus and the Mary Chain” (sic), which is wrong on at least 23 levels, especially if you saw him. Nob.

There’s one of these guys at every gig. I saw Pulp in Brixton Academy in 1994, and Stereolab were supporting, which I enjoyed a great deal. It didn’t stop the twat in front of me shouting out “what’s this crap?” during Stereolab’s ‘Super Electric’ (one of my favourites) and that they should “get that fat cow off the stage”. This gentleman also didn’t enjoy “Warm Leatherette” being played between bands, thus proving his innate inferiority. Or the time I saw Inspiral Carpets at the same venue in 1990, and a guy with a northern accent loudly complained about all the southerners coming to see a northern band. In South London.

UPDATE: This was the setlist. Thanks Daniel!

  • Night of the Lotus Eaters
  • Dig Lazarus Dig
  • Tupelo
  • Today’s Lesson
  • Red Right Hand
  • I Let Love In
  • Midnight Man
  • The Mercy Seat
  • Deanna
  • Get Ready for Love
  • Moonland
  • The Ship Song
  • We Call Upon the Author
  • Papa Won’t Leave You Henry
  • More News From Nowhere
  • [then I think this was the encore] Into my Arms
  • Stagger Lee

San Diego Comic Con 2008 – Photos

About time too. Still need to get round to writing about it, but here are the photos.