Saturday, 24 December 2011

"You dirty f***er."

35 years ago this month, the Sex Pistols accidentally made rock music history. For cussing in a live TV interview.

And this was the headline the following day...

Some may think, "people got worked up over a few swear words?" Indeed, they did - the above front page reported that one viewer actually kicked in his TV in disgust - and today it all comes across as unintentionally funny. But it does have to be seen in perspective.

It wasn't the first time the F-bomb was dropped on TV - that honour goes to theatre critic Kenneth Tynan in 1965 - but it was the first time it was used repetitively, and was also the first time a "prole" had used it on air. 1976 was also a time of uncertainty and disillusionment - post-war British economic stability was grinding to a screeching halt, and Vietnam and Watergate were still fresh on the public mind. And punk rock was far more than just a "new craze", it was a socio-cultural movement that harnessed widespread youth disillusionment.

Interviewer Bill Grundy's drunken ignorance - if not outright prejudice - was laid bare in the space of a few minutes. The "nice, clean Rolling Stones" never have been - Grundy was simply using them as a yardstick at best, and at worst he probably wasn't familiar with the Stones' off-stage antics. And given his disdain for rock music as a whole, he went out of his way to troll the Pistols into saying dirty words on air. It went all horribly right, with guitarist Steve Jones especially unleashing both profanity-laden barrels on Grundy. The rest, as they say, is history. And if you look closely, at the end of the interview Grundy appears to be muttering "oh shit" under his breath. Oh shit, indeed - he was immediately demoted big time after the Pistols's on-air stunt.

So how accidental was this pivotal turn of events? Well, for one thing, even the Pistols' manager, Malcolm McLaren, was browning his pants immediately after the broadcast. The following day, though, he found the guts to cash in on the whole affair.

Closer to home, the Neville Purvis Family Show was cancelled amidst controversy in 1979, after the namesake character dropped an F-bomb during the end credits. Arthur Baysting, who played Purvis, fled to Australia for a number of years as a result.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

I'm So Ronery

The passing of North Korea's latest Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il, marks yet another period of uncertainty for the hermit state and its near neighbours. If it wasn't so deadly serious, the private life of the Dear Leader would look like something out of Black Adder.

Everyone knows that any attempts to re-unify North and South Korea would be a lot trickier than that of East and West Germany for various reasons. Former Public Address blogger Graham Reid has already done the research:
The divide between North and South Korea is much more pronounced than that of the old Germanys. 
PJ O’Rourke once quipped that East Germans didn’t want democracy, they didn’t even know what it was. What they wanted was jeans and rock’n’roll. There is more truth in that than many would like to admit. In East Germany a generation grew up at least having some notion about what was going on in the west. Books and records were smuggled in, underground groups passed the gossip, there was some interaction with the outside world, even if it was just a radio picking up a western station or discreetly talking to a tourist. 
North Korea -- the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -- is a whole other scenario. Under the regimes of the two Kims (“the Great Leader” Kim Il-sung and now his son Kim Jong-Il aka “the Dear Leader”) the place has been steadily sinking into poverty and famines, all to the accompaniment of military parades and sabre rattling. 
The vast majority of the population of 25 million (half that of the south) are rural and poor, and know nothing of life outside this crucible of cryogenically frozen Stalinism.
And Chairman Kim's nuclear sabre-rattling - including the infamous missile over Japan - had less to do with actual nuclear threats, than a desperate attempt to compensate for a very small, um, ego. And even if he could launch a warhead, would the electricity stay on for long enough?

Another interesting observation to make is that China, Vietnam and even Cuba have managed to modernise their economies under the auspices of 'communism' - as did Yugoslavia when it was still a unified nation - but North Korea has stuck with the tried and true. It seems that if North Korea is to change for the better, the best possible change would probably be inter-generational and from within, as happened with China, Vietnam, and slowly but surely happening with Cuba.

Friday, 16 December 2011

A modest proposal indeed

In light of recent social welfare policy changes, this couldn't be more timely. With apologies to Jonathan Swift, of course.

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Ramones with wasabi

Direct from Tokyo, Guitar Wolf rocked the Bar Bodega last night to rapturous applause. You don't always have to understand what they're singing about, but the Ramones were like that too, and it's all part of the fun. My ears are still ringing even 12 hours after, but it was well worth it.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Cataclysm's end game

Patch 4.3, the end game patch of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, is finally out now, and it's brought some much needed refreshment to an increasingly stale and repetitive expansion.

They originally said armour customisation wouldn't happen, but it did, and they call it Transmogrification. Players get to keep their Level 85 stats while still harking back to their favoured gear sets.

The new Darkmoon Faire has been rejigged from the ground up - and it looks all the better.

The Raid Finder tool will take the drudgery out of looking for a raid group, although a raid will still only be as good as its weakest member. Going from past experience with the Looking for Dungeon tool, a poorly put-together group can drive up frustration and high player churn.

Alt characters won't take as long to grind through the old zones, but at this stage, two Level 85 characters are enough for me. I marvel at the perseverance of those who've managed to level 10+ toons to 85.