the NFT.

(empty NFT3 = good coffee break)

The first day I was told: "You'll make a great librarian one day." I had ordered, categorised, and labelled a small room of christmas-like boxes (a task I fully embraced seeing as I rarely extend my full breadth of anality to my own objects). Nice dvds, books and PR ephemera mostly. Some of the latter was odd: Quasimoto rolling papers. Some of it was beyond great: Gondry / Faggioni's 'A Ribbon' Banhart video (one of his few I can stand).

The NFT's illogical partition structure makes for good exploration. Whilst snooping, I found the below images visualising the next phase of the building's development. Apparently the entrance is going to be next to the National Theatre. Some of them are shaky; I'm a rusty detective.

Floor plan.
Charlie Chaplin room.

I've also acquired a new hobby; observing the comings and goings of filmgoers from behind an information desk. It is a pastime I enjoy perhaps a little too much. There's an elderly lady who comes most nights and reads a thick tome on Greenberg in the foyer. There was another who lectured me on the downfall of the BFI and local identity; "You're not From South London, you've just lived there most your life. My mum lived in Peckham all her life, but she was From Jamaica." (the genes vs environment debate has an upcoming personal expiry date.)

Then there was the manga crowd, who weren't hard to spot; they had costumes (compulsory feature: exciting headwear). Our favourite wore hot pants and space boots despite torrential rain (I admire dedication). In the toilets of the after-party on HMS President, we learnt many tricks of the trade (don't look too much like the real thing: you could get sued).

Watching films whenever there's a spare seat ain't half bad either. Interestingly, I enjoyed Ghost in the Shell 2 more than Thumbsucker.

Ghost in the Shell 2 (or 'Innocence') for all its clunky philosophical musings (Descartes perhaps lost in transit) was beautifully animated (hand drawn+CGI), the intricate textures and variety of styles overwhelming. Can't claim to know much about manga as a genre, but it was gorgeous and I haven't been burdened with such an overtly ethical (if somewhat tackily handled) narrative in a while.

The main failing of Thumbsucker is that it lacks any sort of tonal coherency, which made for quite a collar-shufflling experience. The heavy-handed, condescendingly repetitive namesake motif alongside trite 'teenage-angst' symbolism/dialogue would have done my head in if it weren't for the light comic touch of Vince Vaughn and Keanu Reeves. Who would have thought. And it all started so well, with beautiful static landscape shots of the main locations. Maybe Mr Mills should stick to 2D.


I'm stooging

(From 'Overtime' by 3 French students.)

as of tomorrow, at the NFT. Resfest is showing Mike Mill's feature film Thumbsucker, amongst other good things.

Here's the schedule.


Caught 10 minutes of the Emotional Orchestra on Friday night:

I thought all orchestras were emotional? Couldn't they have made an anagram of all their names, or something? (There are some words I don't like much).

Anyway, it sounded pretty coherent (mildly impending doom) for a 30-strong female improv group (maybe they knew what they were doing.) Animated score was quite pretty, all translucent bands and wavy lines. It marked the beginning of the Her Noise season.


The next day, the Horse Hospital held a Reading Frenzy benefit. All the books cost £1 and the money's helping Portland artist Chloe Eudaly with her son's healthcare. Even though I got there substantially late I still found some Duras, Prevert and Post-structuralist theory. Yeah! Not a lot I like more than old, cheap paper.

This copy of 'Destroy, She Said' also has an interview with Marguerite entitled: "Destruction and language" which is pretty exciting. Duras' Whole Days in the Trees is beautiful and still.


Howl's Moving Castle is of course gorgeous and full of brain-melt-drip characters. I forgot everything for about an hour. It is, however, conclusively caramelised!

Spoiler: twee analogy. It reminded me of the last time I made a plum flan: I only remembered to add sugar once it was cooked, and had to douse the poor dish in the stuff. Still edible on the whole, it had burnt edges and was a little painful on top. (Should probably add that I wasn't using a recipe or scales in this mini adventure.)


It's finally pomegranate season.

I came home from work today to find a trail of 7 pomegranates leading into my bedroom. Karolin is the greatest flatmate, I think.

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood.

I played draughts for the first time this week. They were life-sized. Cait's a great teacher.

The Bethnal Green toy museum used to have a great cinema. It had ominous steps, and felt kind of cavernous (I was five). It was the first place I saw the Wizard of Oz. Pretty unforgettable as films go. Now it's a condescending play room where kids have fights over plastic balls.

The place makes up for this crime with this push button wave maker. Can't get more techy, but there's 11 of them:


Afghanistani semiotics of recognition.

I've just downloaded a 28 page PDF document showing some of the 5,800 candidates for Afghanistan's parliamentary election yesterday. Each of the 392 candidates have a symbol and photo of themselves next to their name, to help the illiterate majority of the population (80% - F, 55% - M) vote with ease.

Some of my favourite symbols:

p4 - pomegranate
p5 - door handle
p6 - warm soup with ladle
p10 - calculator
p18 - toothbrush and paste
p19 - water bottle
p21 - audio cassette (banned by the taliban)
p22 - trainers

Last year the 18 presidential candidates got to design their own. This year, the Joint Electoral Management Body did lots of focus-group research to ensure none of the symbols were 'culturally unacceptable' and the candidates got three chances to pick one they liked out of a hat. There weren't enough symbols to go round; one candidate has 3 footballs representing him (p24), another, 2 lampshades (p8).

The most interesting thing about the symbols is their non-systematic representation. Some are pictograms c1970s, others like the eyes are straight out of 1980s comic books, melodramatic shading et al. One is a romantic sketch of the sun rising over mountains. Mostly though, it was a great opportunity to get nostalgic over the overwhelming likeness to Microsoft Word's clip art, back in the day.

Open House

Up the road from my new place, an architect (Ed Frith) and choreographer (Caroline Salem), their four children and a bunny rabbit live in a work/live/play kind of house in Clarence Mews. It has large south-facing windows. They made it using sustainably manufactured masonite timber columns. The walls breathe. (sprayfilled recycled paper under the cute guise of 'warmcell')

Their 12 year old Benji showed us round:

Benji: "This is the MDF shower. It leaks!"
his mother: "It's not MDF! It's sustainable timber with a heavy varnish gloss! It doesn't leak!"

The architect's office is next to the kitchen is next to a large dance studio. Benji waited whilst a lady performed poi with stripy socks for us. (I hate poi. Hate saying hate but hate is hate and I cannot help but hate everything poi embodies.) Apparently this lady is the architect's assistant in her non-free time.

Upstairs the kids have great movable staircases/storage units, which are placed next to holes in the ceiling which lead to their bedrooms. In the office downstairs, all storage was movable and moved aside to show Ed's Greenwich university students' projects. Based on Perec's 'Life, A Users Manual' they have plotted a similar knight's route over the Medway and it's surrounding areas. The result was a little confusing, as the wall piece showed a chess board with various bits of seemingly arbitrarily connected ephemera.

Anyway, the highlight of this whole endeavour: one student produced a cross-referencing fanzine on the underlying structure of the book's narrative (it's an all-time favourite of mine). Ed let me have one. I haven't been so excited about bits of paper for a little while. It's now somewhere between Hackney and Brighton. It's a little follicle splitting.


New comic art and narrative illustration

Pictures and Words is a new book with some great things inside. To accompany the fact it's now sellable, there's an exhibition downstairs at Magma Clerkenwell. Aside from some nice drawings on the wall (incl. Greek grandfathers and expanding female spines) there's a large table where you can happily read the best of L'Association's recent wares. L'Association don't really do duds. Neither do their affiliates.

Yesterday I avoided the throng of beer-swiggers/emphatic business card-promoters and devoted a sizeable chunk of time to Killoffer's A3 pen+ink tale of a man slowly succumbing to an isolated life in his one-bedroom flat (with 676 versions of himself). He descends into madness, the book culminating in an orgy with his many selves; he pisses on himself whilst indulging another self whilst biting another self's shoulder. It's messy, but sparingly penned a la David B, another L'Association co-founder. '676 Apparitions of Killoffer' is the second offering from Typocrat Press, a London-based independent comics publisher.

Look at some pages here.

Barry McGee / Clare E. Rojas

Barry depicts defeated characters like no one I know. On bottles, in bulging frames, and in mechanical form accompanied by sighing hinges. Now he's got cubes all over the walls, in kaleidoscopic animations, and light boxes.

Across the road, Clare tells all manner of stories in her gouache prose. Virile men, wise women, beasts and diamonds all feature. Panels cram the walls. The narrative clues are in the fabric patterns. Look out for the little pink Poppins-Ginsberg character with an umbrella floating in the sky, and the speared ladies.

Today is programme day: received details for Open House this weekend, and the London Film Festival in October. Time to start strategisin'.


New Cross Road.

2 AM, the pavement's empty, and there's water spewing forth from the streets. Pretty exciting when the lorries went past.


Werner Herzog week

12 - 22 September, the Goethe Institut and Cine Lumiere are showing his fiction, documentaries and throwing a few conferences.

They are also screening (premiering, we can be fancy) his most recent film, the Wild Blue Yonder:

"Edited in the style of what could be called a 'mood documentary', the Wild Blue Yonder combines extraordinary images from underwater and outer space with a soundtrack in which music and untranslated or imaginary languages weave a complex sound pattern. Brad Dourif, known for his roles in fiction films about the supernatural, here stars as an alien visitor to our planet, and comments on the colonialization of space like a documentary narrator. Wild Blue Yonder features NASA footage and scientific experts. But are the 'facts' they represent scientific knowledge, or are they invented?"

Here's the schedule .


Lewisham Hospital.

I found myself in the main reception yesterday afternoon. They have a newsagents next to the seats. It has a billboard outside it:

I found out about the recent legionnaires outbreak on the internet. The conversation with my mother went something like:
"Why didn't you tell me there's a rare killer disease spreading from your workplace?"
"Oh, that. Only a couple of people have got it. It's not infectious."

Harry, via Calling All Pensioners, is a little better at regular updates regarding the state (underbelly?) of my soon to be-ex borough's NHS. Whereas the workers themselves can but moan and toil, he goes one better and hands out the mobile number of the Chief Executive on the radio (104.4).


German wind-up.

Germans do the best toy shops.

They have sections. Good, conscientious and comprehensive ones, too. I have never seen a larger wind-up tin collection before. Highlights:

This particularly great shop also has a series (12) of 50 cent mini (4x4 cm) wooden kind of-tangrams. The matchbox-like packaging is great. The puzzles harder than they seem. Hardest = the Christmas tree. Easiest = rhombus.


Mutant melanocortin-1 = great.

So, I can withstand pain better than most. Great news.

At first, I thought the enlightening olive-bearer at Borough market was trying to fleece me, via hair-related compliments. But no! A quick google search reveals that I really do have a mutant gene, and my red hair gives me an above-average pain threshold.

TV isn't always bad.

(Flying Dutchman, Albert Pinkham Ryder)

I'm not around a television most evenings. Luckily last night I caught Monday's proms on the BBC; the overture to Wagner's "Flying Dutchman", some Beethoven, and Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Wow.

There was also Alan Titchmarsh:

on Wagner, after a brief synopsis where he managed to say something like "love triangle!" "every seven years!":
"But opera's never really that simple!"
"He got inspiration on the seas to London!"

on Strauss, with a brief mention of Kubrick and superman: "For those of you for whom Nietzsche isn't mother's milk!.."

Did he really have to disrupt my soothing evening-passage with his croaky tones? Apparently, he was voted the third sexiest man, and is good with flowers. These credentials mean nothing!