Sweet municipal dreams

I owe posts on a couple of things, but I break my long silence to commend the new Saint Etienne album, Home Counties, to you.

It appears to be on Soundcloud, so I imagine it is on whatever thing you cool young people are using, though I bought the CD. Remember them?

I am not entirely sure how I found out it was out, some sort of osmosis I think, though they are one of the bands that to me have the property that you feel you have known the song all your life.

I particularly commend Whyteleafe, which is obviously the Brexit song (containing the phrase 'dreaming of dual nationality'), and Train drivers in Eyeliner which somehow made me think of cleanskies and timscience

If I am honest I slightly preferred Tales from Turnpike House (all together now, bloody hell did that really come out 12 years ago). See Side Streets here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsVWl28LttI

Nonetheless a good effort. 5 stars.

Copenhagen (2014)

You may recall me mentioning this film:

"Some Googling to find the actors ages finds that one is in a film presented at the Sundance festival called Copenhagen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_(2014_film) in which 28 year old American bloke falls in love with Danish girl and discovers she's only 14. Which seems to me likely to not quite work as the woman playing her was presumably about 19 when it was filmed and to me looks about 19 in the clips on YouTube. She appears to not quite be Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I am not entirely sure that I buy into the concept or that it is a terribly coherent one anyway, but notwithstanding that I suspect dream girls in Denmark may never get manic."

My curiosity was piqued as to whether it was going to be as daft as it sounded...

It wasn't on LoveFilm by Post, presumably because there isn't actually an English language release, despite it being (mostly) in English, so I got a German DVD of it, which of course has the original sound track. In fact someone has, tsk tsk, put the whole film on YouTube. Unfortunately this means that the bits where they speak Danish have on-screen German subtitles (it doesn't have subtitles for the film in English or German as far as I can see). Or rather for the first half the bits in Danish have on-screen German subtitles and then the obviously got bored and stopped. Possibly on the German sound-track they are just dubbed into German - the ones in the first half it's relevant to the plot that some of the conversation is in Danish and tiresome-frat-boy can't understand, the ones in the second half are just manic-pixie-dream-girl talking to her family so why not just have them dubbed into German, I suppose.

It was everything I expected and more. As with my comment about Deutschland-83 about them thinking 'well, we want to do a cold war plot that only works in 1983 and an AIDS plot that doesn't really make sense until 1987-8 but fuck it let's do it anyway', I think they must have thought 'well, we've got this idea about a 28 year old tiresome-frat-boy meeting a manic-pixie-dream-girl and finding out she's 14 but actually that would just look creepy so let's have a 19 year old actress who looks 19 and whose character acts like she's 19 - within the constraint that no-one really acts like manic-pixie-dream-girls though we have a barely-plausible 'oh well, she didn't know her real dad so helping irksome-frat-boy find his grand-dad resonates with her somehow so somehow she can drop everything and spend two or three days cycling round picturesque bits of Copenhagen and doing manic-pixie-dream-girl stuff' - and yet say she's 14 and then the irksome-frat-boy can be petulant for a bit when he finds this out and then after about half a scene go back to relating to her as though she's 19 which of course she is really.'

Also the plot is that it turns out that he granddad was a Nazi / Nazi collaborator. But, folks, for this to work he's going to be at least in his mid to late 80s and yet of course the confrontation scene wouldn't work if he goes to meet feeble old dude (not that all people in their late 80s are feeble) so let's have a healthy looking bloke who looks like he's in his early 70s.


Pouty Bisexual Danish Energy Vampires (in my Joy Division oven gloves)

As you know, professor, Channel 4 have bought the rights to various TV series from round the world and subtitled them and shoved them up on E4. Some they have shown on TV e g Deutschland 83 which I have mentioned before.
As you also know, professor, I dislike almost everything on TV (and books and...). I am not proud of this, it is just a fact of life. However I have liked various of these series. I particularly like Heartless
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/heartless an 8 part Danish drama, although it is deeply silly.
Does your teenage son / daughter look like they're in their mid 20s? Are they good looking and exceptionally pouty? Then why not send them to our gothic expensive private school in the middle of nowhere without much sign of many teachers or many staff - main extra-curricular activities being weird rituals and fencing in the crypt?
Ancient curses / witches / energy vampires / plot holes / flashbacks to the medieval history of the gothic manor house that became the school / creepy aging hippies, it has them all.
As I snark above, many of the actors playing high-school students are in their 20s, quite late 20s in some cases. Obviously Denmark doesn't have the equivalent of Grange Hill to provide actors to play high-school students who are high-school age. Also possibly there is too much shagging for that to be acceptable.

Some Googling to find the actors ages finds that one is in a film presented at the Sundance festival called Copenhagen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_(2014_film) in which 28 year old American bloke falls in love with Danish girl and discovers she's only 14. Which seems to me likely to not quite work as the woman playing her was presumably about 19 when it was filmed and to me looks about 19 in the clips on YouTube. She appears to not quite be Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I am not entirely sure that I buy into the concept or that it is a terribly coherent one anyway, but notwithstanding that I suspect dream girls in Denmark may never get manic.

Another of the better series is Cenk Batu, a German police drama (apparently most German police dramas are all linked together in a meta-series) in which a tall striking cop of Turkish heritage repeatedly goes undercover in the underworld of Hamburg whilst making absolutely no attempt to disguise himself or wear different clothes and despite having a couple of undercover assignments per episode somehow his photo isn't up on the cork noticeboard in the HQ of every criminal undertaking in Hamburg. There weren't many episodes though, which makes it slightly less ludicrous http://www.channel4.com/programmes/cenk-batu

For those who didn't watch it I do recommend Deutschland 83, although the ending was rather silly - as I said before they have clearly learnt a lot from British TV in terms of uneven tone and pacing and plots that don't quite make sense. And there is definitely kudos to them for thinking - well we'd like to marry an AIDS plot which would work in about 1988 with the 1983 Cold War exercises, but obviously that doesn't make sense, but never mind, LET'S DO IT ANYWAY!

"Send me up a drink" says Major Tom

1. Adverts for USA Today
1983 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svnaEFbt3f8
Slightly later with minor celebrities singing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3LiURnoFzk (subscribe and get a free tote bag).
I was in the US when USA Today came out (think I did find a copy at some point whilst I was there though they weren't printing it everywhere). A product of its time - technology advanced enough for them to print a colour newspaper all over the country but not for everyone to get their news on glowing things in their pockets. It is an odd paper - and not, I think, without a certain knowingness with respect to the faint absurdity of 'here is a fairly thin newspaper covering a country with 300 plus million people occupying a large chunk of a continent', particularly in the bit which is 'one one sentence news story for each state'. The second commercial above is far wittier than American commercials of the time generally were - the level of wit increased significantly when dot COMs began to piss their money up the wall in the late 90s.

2. Bowie
(as commented on cleanskies LJ but I'm pasting it here, so there)
I cannot help but notice the artifice around major new stories including celebrity deaths - Mark had mentioned that 6 Music had played a few jingles and songs at 7 o'clock - I went back on the iPlayer and listened, and indeed so, but interestingly 5 Live was reporting it as fact at about 6:55 - did 6 Music feel it needed a higher standard of proof than 5 Live given its audience or were they all just trying to get their shit together enough to carry on?
I wouldn't necessarily have expected Bowie to be a Level 2 event, though in retrospect I can't really dispute it.
My favourite Bowie track is Young Americans, I get the impression this is quite an unusual choice. On which note I bring you the 100% genuine Lennon and Bowie version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PhW6x82v7U

3. Deutschland 83
Credits here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L_PlDsa_BI (the theme is the song Major Tom by Peter Schilling - English version (on the subtitled version shown on Channel 4 anyway) - here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTseSi0Qgow )
As you know professor, I am rarely grabbed by books / TV, but I am quite grabbed by this whereas for example, the BBC4 subtitled dramas haven't really - I watched about 4 episodes of Borgen whilst Nellie was on her way out, but without an expiring greyhound I felt no need to see any more episodes or to find out how it finished. This however I am enjoying; it is a cold war drama, with a somewhat gormless young man (German dramas do seem to like their young gormless male heroes) blackmailed by his aunt into going to West Germany to be a spy. The production values (dodgy set dressing / costumes / hairstyles and other anachronisms (*)) and wildly uneven tone (black comedy and viciousness) suggest they have learnt more from British TV than American.
Also, for fans of Ostalgie, the whole of the film Sonnenallee appears to be on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGO9ef-wTMI - it is very much a slice of life film in which nothing terribly dramatic happens. It is much less of a jokey fantasy than Goodbye, Lenin, not that I didn't enjoy that - a not funny story about Sonnenallee: I could only find a DVD without subtitles. I found a subtitles file on the internet but after downloading a number of bits of software with such incoherent descriptions I couldn't work out whether or not they were supposed to be able to marry subtitles with video and then finding that either they weren't intended to do that or I couldn't get them to work I gave up and wrote a program to display them in a large font, with start and stop options to keep it in sync with the video, then we watched it with a laptop under the TV to provide subtitles.
I am always struck by how East Germany in the 70s / 80s or depictions there of anyway remind me so much of Britain at the same period.

(*) I'm not misremembering am I, 1983 is at least 2 years too early for a mum to be saying to her daughter, 'be careful, use a condom, I've heard about this disease'?

4. Endeavour
They're just not going to try to make the Morse of Endeavour converge with the one of Morse are they? Probably a good thing too.
I only hope that ITV are fully aware of the severe penalties of encouraging cross-over fanfic. 'Sergeant Vimes of Cable Street', indeed.

Best Endeavours

I have discovered, through the medium of YouTube, that the Channel 4 News theme is a bit of library music called Best Endeavours https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFeSUmrdCHk by Alan Hawkshaw. If there were a theme that I thought was lovingly written for the particular programme it would be that.
He also wrote the theme used for both Grange Hill and Give Us A Clue which is bizarrely called 'Chicken Man' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpKH7rUQ2rY

So farewell then, Lewis

"In the kingdom of the blind
It’s said the one-eyed man is king
And in the kingdom of the bland
It’s nine o’clock on ITV" - HMHB - http://www.chrisrand.com/hmhb/achtung-bono-2005/corgi-registered-friends/

As Duckworth and Lewis walk off hand in hand into the sunset, we pause to wonder what ITV will replace it with. As I have said before, I find it impossible to believe that any British detective novelist can avoid having less than one eye on their novel(s) being turned into a long running TV franchise.
The peak of ludicrous crime shows was of course Van Der Valk, where British actors wandered round Amsterdam calling each other things like 'Wim', and plots were taken from the big pile of detective plots without reference to cultural differences.
I like to think of the Van Der Valk theme having the lyrics

"Weekdays at nine, so it's time for a ludicrous crime, ludicrous crime squad on ITV.
Weekdays at nine so it's time for a stupid crime, stupid crimes, ITV."


I sort of assume that in the pre-ITV plc days, you couldn't do a detective drama outside your region - which meant unless you were TVS doing Cats-Eye (ugh) or STV doing Taggart you wouldn't get one outside the areas of the big 4. Now presumably there could be one set in Bristol or points West or South-West. Nonetheless, Oxford is more scenic so they could do worse than buy my college contemporary Victoria Blake's novels and characters https://victoriablakewriter.wordpress.com/category/crime-novels/ - they have the benefit of being set in Oxford AND West London, and Sam Falconer has an adequate amount of 'oh noes teh backstory' to function as an ITV detective drama.

Meanwhile, the synthesiser long-form version of the original Channel 4 Theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWAK6IIERKA

As you know, professor, this was written by Lord David Dundas. If he doesn't have an answerphone where someone sings, to the tune of the Channel 4 jingle

'David Dundas - he is sorry he's not home
David Dundas - leave your message after tone'

I want to know why. I know I would.

He also wrote the ITV jingle - marvel at this long form version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5zM8mkltI0 (presumably aimed at ad-agencies and advertisers, at least initially


Now that one can download programmes on the iPlayer I commend to you Huw Stephens's BBC Introducing programme on BBC Radio Cymru. It can be sometimes slightly hard to track down, or maybe I am doing something wrong, but at the moment they seem to be calling it C2 - if you search for Huw Stephens it doesn't appear. The evening music shows appear to be called C2 every day (twice on Friday). Huw Stephens is on on Mondays from 7 p.m.
Lots of Welsh indie / electronica plus the other stuff he likes. With the added bonus that the talking and news is in Welsh so I and I expect most of you won't understand it.