Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Donkey madness 

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Could this be the best Smacked Face Christmas present ever? A donkey that shits fags. And as the box states, it truly does "look great anywhere". Ace.

I'd write more about Christmas, but that's so last week already. Suffice it to say, it was a merry one. Presents included the above cigarette dispenser, a saucy suspender belt, a Vatican pill box with the pope on it, some cock-shaped pasta, a hangover repair kit... Hmmm, do I detect a theme here?

It's a hotch-potch of a post today, partly because it's probably the last one I'll get time to knock up before New Year's, but mostly because my brain is cotton wool due to last night's most excellent Reverberations 10th birthday party. It remains a mystery how, regardless of the fact I managed to stick to my vow to behave myself and lead a teetotal existence until the 31st, I still didn't get to bed until 3 o'clock this afternoon. Ouch.

I'm a bit annoyed to be honest, because I was hoping to catch up on some much-needed beauty sleep before the schlep north on Thursday for the mighty Optimo Hogmanay. Lord knows there'll be precious little of it once we cross the Glasgow city limits.

Optimo being Optimo, what Twitch and Wilkes will drop at midnight is anyone's guess. I'm putting money on it being some fucked-up obscure nugget of Slovenian skiffle no one will have ever heard before - or will again - but is somehow absolutely perfect. What'd I'd most like to hear, however, is Teenage Kicks, in a nod to the late great Peelie and because it's one of the best tracks ever written. Failing that, Justice vs Simian's Never Be Alone, Take Me Out by the Franz, any number of disco classics, Talking Heads' Once In A Lifetime, Black Betty for a bit of bogan head-bangin' action, or that old stalwart, Strings Of Life... Any of the afore-mentioned would do nicely, thanks.

As for New Year's resolutions... Well, seeing as I only managed to stick to nos 10, 11 and 12 of last year's vows (the ones that, insanely, actually involved partying more), I'm making just the one this year - to buy a cowbell, 2005's preferred percussive party accessory. Look out for me annoying a dancefloor near you soon.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Optimo, Liquid Liquid

Friday, December 24, 2004

The apologist 

An old mate from New Zealand says in his Christmas round-robin, "A couple of years ago, a friend told me about a Jewish tradition of apologising at this time of year to friends and colleagues, sort of an absolution thing. And a great way to start the New Year afresh. So... sorry."

That sounds like a great idea. A riotous year of fun and frolics has meant I've had to do - or at least should have done - more than my fair share of apologising (including last night, when I fell asleep and missed the entire Spacific party at Neighbourhood, damn it - sorry fellas), so what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by adopting a Jewish tradition? Er... Anyway, at the very least, all this grovelling at the world's feet will serve as a kind of metaphorical warm-up for Christmas Day, when no doubt I will be rolling around at the world's feet, as usual - isn't Xmas fun when you don't have to put on a good show for the family?

So yes. Sorry everyone. And have a wonderful Yule, y'all.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Suedehead, Morrissey

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Making a meal of it 

Outrage in the office today as it was announced the entertainment fund doesn't, after all, have enough in the kitty to cover our staff Christmas lunch this afternoon, and could we each please contribute £20 to the pot? It's not a lot, admittedly, but it's the festive season and the Smacked Face finances are stretched to breaking point, and that twenty quid means the difference between replacing the make-up that somehow went astray during Friday night's festivities or going bare-faced and frightening small children and dogs at New Year's. And anyway, it's the principle of the matter - if I wanted to pay to hang out with workmates, I, erm, would. Or something.

Anyway, a quick conference with the usual email harpies provided the following advice:

'What you do is go to the bathroom and jam your fingers down your throat, so you get the hellish red eyes. Go back to your boss, say "My sickness has flared up, I need to go home, I can't eat anything anyway." Then go home and save yourself the £20.'

'Or shit in your hand and throw it at him.'

'Even better, chuck a Snickers in the microwave for half a minute, place it down the back of your pants, say "Oh no... Oh no, not again." Stick your hand down the back of your pants and pull out a nice chunk of warm Snickers. Then sniff it. Then lick it. That way, the whole office will have to go home.'

'Or pull your eyeballs out and run around the office, shouting "Look at me - I'm David Blunkett!" Grounds for excusal by reason of insanity.'

'Or get your mate to wheel you around in your office chair as you tear a hole in your throat, stick a hose in it and hook it up to a vocoder, shouting "I, Stephen Hawkins. I, robot." Ditto grounds for excusal.'

They're all good suggestions, but I think we can do better. Over to you.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Tis the season to be selfish 

This Christmas I have bought:
1 x The Magus (for my sister)
1 x On Green Dolphin Street (for my mother)
1 x Pure Evil t-shirt (for me)
1 x WWII WRAF hat (for me)
1 x Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook (for me)
1 x Fresh Sugar Face Polish (for me)
1 x Sherbert & Wooster Collective Coloring Book (for me)
3 x Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (for me)
1 x Jose Eisenberg Youth Elixir (for me)
1 x Disco Rotic II (for me)...

You get the point. It's a very Smacked Face-centric Christmas this year, but after the horrorshow of 2003, I think I bloody well deserve it. And anyway, there's method in my selfcentredness. As I'll be seeing the people I usually spend vast sums on - the family - in mid-January, damn right I'm waiting for the Selfridges sale. And because I'm off to New Zealand, the people this side of the world who I'd normally buy a gift for will receive armfuls of Kiwi bounty on my return. So I'm not as selfish as I may appear.

Tell you what though - ask, and you will receive. My wee note to Santa asking for an iPod (below) has reaped dividends - a lovely little email appeared in my inbox today promising delivery of said coveted item on December 29th. To that person, I say an enormous thank you. Words cannot express etc, etc.

In the meantime, there's only the Christmas groceries to purchase (here's to a down-home Kiwi-style Christmas with no L-tryptophan-rich turkey to put us all to sleep) and the Xmas Day DVDs to decide on. None of your highbrow arthouse dramas or sickmaking rom coms please - we want corn and cheap laughs, and lots of 'em. Old School well and truly did the business last year, and obviously Will Ferrell's festive masterpiece Elf is on the agenda this time round, but what else will keep the cabin fever at bay? Answers on a postcard please.

And for the person who has everything? Well, if you can't afford a baby Hummer, a la Brooklyn Beckham, here's the next best thing.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: I Predict A Riot, Kaiser Chiefs

Cold mountain 

For the first time in what seems like yonks, I'm taking a sickie. Not throwing a sickie, mind - my days of the routine Monday morning fib session are long gone. I truly am sick as a dog, and no amount of vitamin C, echinacea and garlic, honey and whisky shots has been able to fend the lurgy off (though thinking about it, it may have been the whisky shots that got my immune system into this mess in the first place).

I'm now faced with the dilemma of how to fill in the long hours that stretch before me, all alone in my hilltop fortress. (Although am I alone? I'm sure I heard the sound of far-off 'intercourse' this morning - maybe one of the flatmates has pulled a sickie also. Either that, or we have a particularly filthy ghost.)

A rewatch of The Royal Tenenbaums served me well last night, but now I'm all out of suitable DVDs and fresh reading fodder until the Amazon parcel arrives. I'm loathe to drag the duvet into the lounge for a daytime telly fest, having not dared to watch it since the infamous late-night Countdown condundrum of 2002, but sadly, it's looking like the go. Either that or popping on a Spanish with Michel Thomas CD, and marvelling as my cotton wool-filled brain fails to take in a single verbo.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Rainy days and Fridays 

By sheer chance, the random CD* I grabbed from the pile this morning was the perfect musical tonic for beating the drizzly grey gloom that has settled in over London today - a old home compilation of some of the gayest, cheesiest most joyous disco anthems ever. Damon Harris's It's Music, Shout To The Top by Fire Island and Loleatta Holloway, Sylvester's I Need You, Chic's Lost In Music... I'd be kinda embarrassed to put such fromage over the speakers, but in the secret mental dancefloor afforded by my glorious Bang & Olufsen headphones, I was up on the podium, cutting such a rug Travolta would be put to shame - as would I, were anyone to see my drunk-uncle dancing [every Friday night, Whitehorse - Ed.]. It cheered me up a treat.

So, in a nod to geek tradition, it's Music Friday (created to cover the fact most bloggers can't be arsed thinking on Fridays, I suspect). What tracks bring you sunshine on a cloudy day? Don't be afraid to crack out the Stilton now...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usEND OF DAY EDIT: Hurrah, I'm outta here early. Last-minute weekend recommendations include the Kompakt DJs at Fabric on Saturday (if you can stomach Fabric, that is - ick) and the mighty Hot Chip at Uber Alles on Sunday, in the salubrious surroundings of Monkey Chews. Me, I'm heading south to join the glitterati in my brand new favourite T-shirt (thanks Pure Evil!) and catch DJ Ca$h Money at Plan B tonight. Word.

* No, I still don't have an iPod. That's what Christmas is for, right? (hint)

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Send Out For Sunshine, Heatwave

Smacked Stocking (or Stockinged Face?) 

No, no, no, you don't understand - I REALLY want to know if that "crazy Cuba Street photo store, the one with the printed T-shirts, mousemats, etc featuring the owners' buck-toothed children, still exists? And if so, can someone pick me up a set of coasters? "

Seriously. Apart from a swag-load of cookbooks and some Pure Evil merchandise, and maybe a case or two of champagne (or decent New World sparkling wine*) and some class Riojas, this item tops my Christmas list.

A stupid coaster isn't just for Christmas, you know...

* Yes, that is Lindauer. It's quite prized over here, you know. No more of this 'drink it, scull it, get out there, stumble and rock' nonsense... Oh, who am I kidding? Some things never change.]

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: 22 Days, 22-20s

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A tale of two cities 

Well, it's all gone rather antipodean round here, hasn't it? But this is not one of those 'Kiwi goes mad in London' blogs (although literally that is, of course, exactly what it is). So in order not to alienate my UK readership, and to perhaps gain a few from down under, this post will be divided into two parts, thus:

Random Kiwiana
* What happened to the Six Volts, other than splitting into the Brainchilds and the Muttonbirds? Did they ever get back together? They should. They rocked. (A kind of answer to this question can be found here.)
* Does that crazy Cuba Street photo store, the one with the printed T-shirts, mousemats, etc featuring the owners' buck-toothed children, still exist? And if so, can someone pick me up a set of coasters? Cheers.
* Has anyone else noticed how much The 3Ds' Outer Space sounds like the Pixies' Debaser?
* And yes, I totally omitted Head Like A Hole, Shihad, Fat Freddys Drop, Kapisi, The Narcs, NWT, Jean Paul Sartre Experience etc etc etc, from the previous post. As I said, it was off the top of my head. Which, incidentally, is like a hole.

Drool Britannia
(or What Will Be On My Hi-Fi Or A Stage Near Me In 2005)
* Bloc Party. Without a doubt, my favourite new band. Moshi Moshi has been a stalwart on the sidebar all year and with good reason - Bloc Party, Hot Chip, Matt Harding... We salute you, Moshi.
* Spektrum. Because 21st-century new wave never sounded better. Lola is goddess-robot made flesh.
* Clor. They come from Brixton. Their website's lovely. They're great.
* The Go Team. They come from Brighton. They have two drummers. They're great.
* Kaiser Chiefs. Ricky the singer looks like Alex Kapranos, one of the other chaps like Malcolm McDowell, yet another vaguely like Pete Doherty. And they have super-twee lyrics like: 'Watching the people get lairy/It's not very pretty, I tell thee'. Oh yes.
* The Libertines. We wish. But in the meantime Babyshambles will do. And what's this rumour about a supergroup named The Chavs, featuring Carl Barat, the Charlatans' Tim Burgess, Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows and Primal Scream's Martin Duffy?
* The Futureheads. Does anyone not love this band?
* 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Do Me Bad Things, Sons & Daughters, Selfish Cunt, Neils Children, The 22-20s, The Others, The Mutts...

And they're just the first ones that spring to mind. I haven't even started on the electronica... What a year.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The music 

Seems the Martin Phillips thing below has struck a chord, judging by all the emails you've sent. So today at Smacked Face Towers, in tribute to Dunedin's mightiest chocolate milk thief and musician extraordinaire, it's New Zealand Music Day.

It's a tough call, and my decision is definitely still subject to change, but if I had to compile an NZ top 10 - off the top of my head and not having been near the place for the past five years - I'd opt for, in no particular order:

Outer Space, The 3Ds
Death And The Maiden, The Verlaines (or Slow Sad Love Song? Hmmm, it's a toughie)
She Speeds, The Straitjacket Fits
Counting The Beat, The Swingers
Out On The Street, Space Waltz (NZ's answer to glam rock, yeah!)
Computer Games, Mi-Sex
I Love My Leather Jacket, The Chills
The Heater, The Muttonbirds
Be Mine Tonight, Th' Dudes
In The Neighbourhood, Sisters Underground

And yes, I know I've missed off Chris Knox, Che Fu, Herbs, Upper Hutt Posse, Bailterspace, The Bats, The Abel Tasmans, The Clean, The Headless Chickens, The D4, The Datsuns, the the the the... God there's so much good music - I feel quite studenty again. That still doesn't excuse Dave Dobbyn's jumper in the Loyal vid though.

PS: Anyone who feels like knocking me up a few compilations to redress the gap in my New Zealand cultural education since 2000, feel free to send 'em to the usual address...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

It's a heavenly pop hit if anyone wants it 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSad to hear (via Charlene Ramsay) the sorry circumstances of Chills frontman Martin Phillips' recent appearance in court - fined $150 for pinching $7.03-worth of cheese and a chocolate drink from a Dunedin supermarket.

I've always been a big fan of The Chills - I still get a rush of surprised delight whenever I catch I Love My Leather Jacket spilling forth from a North London pub jukebox, and mist up listening to the eerie genius that is Pink Frost. In fact, in my box of hoarded past-life treasures, I've still got a signed lyrics sheet from their 1992 gig in my hometown of Nelson, New Zealand, where, as the goofy 16-year-old host of my school's crap local radio show, I'd hung out with the band all day, pretending to be five years older and cooler, and a professional reporter, recording a totally unusable interview next to the noisy kitchen at Chez Eelco (RIP), and having to make excuses as to why I couldn't come back to their hotel room and drink JD all night.

Ah, those were halcyon days. I played the album they were touring - Soft Bomb - so much my mother ended up throwing it out of the car window (which may have been the same weekend she snapped my Bats' The Law Of Things LP in half after yet another heated debate. But that's another story...)

Anyway, I digress as usual, down a well-trodden path of self-indulgence. What I was going to comment on is the tragedy of lost fame. Though I abhor the fame-hungry desperation practised by legions of precocious stage school brats and tone-deaf popstrels, when you're genuinely driven by your talent, it's a different story.

For someone like Martin Phillips, a true artist in every sense of the word, fame is but a by-product of his real aim: to make his music and for people to hear it. However, should you achieve some semblance of success, you will automatically be propelled on to a pedestal, regardless of whether you want it or not. And to lose that lifestyle, to lose that fan base and opportunity to communicate your art, must come as a shock.

I always find it heart-breaking to read of former stars spotted stacking shelves in the local Safeways or falling into the usual spiral of drugs and despair - I even shed a tear watching the recent doco on poor old Stuart Goddard. That's why I found it particularly sad to learn that Martin Phillips is living on $30 a week as a sickness beneficiary. But all credit to the man, he's still making great music and trying to get it out there - and if that means having to pinch the odd snack every once in a while, then so be it. There's a tray of chocolate Primo heading Martin's way with my compliments.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Heavenly Pop Hit, The Chills

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Now is the winter of our disco tent 

OK, so if you were turning 30 in a couple of months' time and planning a suitable celebration to commemorate the tragic fact, who would you get as your dream guest DJ?

This is the dilemma facing Smacked Face. Call me a sad arse (or simply a namedropper), but having managed to talk the mighty Rusty Egan of Visage-Fade To Grey fame in to playing my 29th for a ridiculously minimal fee this year, I feel the pressure to match or better him with another musical hero next year, in addition to the usual motley crew of South London turntable wizards.

While my list of idols is long and lustrous, most of the revered either live in the States and would cost a fortune to bring over, or haven't touched a turntable since 1979. Larry Levan would be of course be the ideal, but as he's dead, he kinda rules himself out of the equation, and my knowledge of original UK disco-era DJs is sadly lacking.

When it comes to semi-local talent still pushing the records, there are a few candidates, but would they be up for indulging a mere, rapidly aging mortal with their presence? So far, with a day or two's absent-minded daydreaming, names that have been thrown into the hat include DJ Yoda, Dr Rubberfunk, Felix Jaxx, Dimitri From Paris, Mr Scruff, Dave Lee, Tom Middleton... obviously, dreams are free. (And alas, the Optimo boys can't make it.)

So. Any ideas? Keep 'em coming, this one is going to run and run. Though I do hear Pete Doherty will do most anything for a pipe...

EDIT: If you build it, they will come - information just to hand is that at least one of the above names has indicated a willingness to step behind the decks in February. Which is great news. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, etc, etc - more details to follow. Result!

PS: And thanks, y'all (especially Popbitch for its 20,000-strong bounty haul back in May) - this site just celebrated its 50,000th visit. Chuffed. x

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Step On It, Dr Rubberfunk

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Don't tell them to grow up and out of it 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe great thing about having concocted a year's-worth of waffle is that you can look back and see exactly what nonsense you were up to 12 months prior, for an exercise in compare-and-contrast with the benefit of hindsight.

For instance, on 8th December 12 months ago, I was happily cohabiting in North London, defending The Darkness, recounting a typically messy weekend and generally full of the joys of life after good times and a great haircut. Of course, what I didn't realise at the time was that this was the weekend the Donkey would meet the person he'd ditch me for a week later, that Justin Hawkins would become such a cunt, that I'd still be recounting ridiculously messy weekends a year later, and living the single life to the fullest in the deep South I'd sworn never to return to. With an OK haircut.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la méme chose, etc. Anyway, all this is just a front for the fact I've run out of ideas to write about. Instead, in response to public demand (yes, really), here's Ms G's Cabaret D'Anniversaire photo montage [right-click to view]. It was an exceedingly good night.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Changes, David Bowie

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The future's bright 

I remember strutting down Glasgow's Buchanan Street last March, and encountering a young lass who'd either fallen asleep on the sunbed or was severely colour-blind. I described her at the time as an "orange Atomic Kitten-alike with the contrast turned up to 11", and oh, how we laughed.

Sadly, pride goes before a fall and the boot is now firmly on the other foot, for it is I who is now the Tangoed object of derision, having foolishly agreed to accept a PR's offer of a fake tan freebie yesterday.

Having suffered the ignominy of standing naked in the office cleaner's store cupboard, sporting only a paper thong, while being sprayed liberally with freezing cold tan-in-a-can which proceeded to rub off all over my jeans and sheets, I hoped to be rewarded with a healthy, holiday, natural glow. Instead, I've ended up with a Natural Glow® that is almost radioactive in its alarming orangeness. The only consolation is that I'm not alone - our entire editorial team will be lighting up the room (and possibly emitting a near-inaudible power station hum) at tonight's Christmas do.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Golden Brown, The Stranglers

Friday, December 03, 2004

It's birthday! (sic) 

Once in a lifetime you find a friend who turns out to be a soulmate. I may have had a couple of glasses of wine tonight - only two, mind, and I'm well aware that many of you don't know the venerable Ms G but goddamn it, she deserves a post of her own - but this girl is one of the best things to walk the planet, and I don't know what I would have done without her these past few years. (Got drunk a lot less, I suspect...)

So, wherever you are, raise a glass to the wonder that is Groves: sexy beast, boozehag, and most of all, my bitch. Yeah.

(And a big smacker to the Q-dawg for yesterday! Tonight's gonna rock...)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

You talkin' to me? 

It's been a little quiet round here this week for several reasons.

Firstly, I've been spending a lot of time trying to piece together the lost hours of Saturday night. However, I've come to the conclusion that what you don't know can't hurt you, so I am now content to live in blissful ignorance.

I also volunteered to test some magic diet pills (the naffly-named yet scarily effective Slender Silhouette) for the usual 'drop a dress size by Christmas' piece, in order to tighten up the bum, get back into last New Year's size XS frock (hmmm) and ensure Friday's corset action won't be too scary (not to mention the big NZ bikini fest next month). These pills seem to contain more speedy substances than a gram of your finest Colombian toot, which has seen me gurning like a maniac around the office, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream. Unfortunately, though, it has also sapped my motivation to do anything bar twitch, sigh loudly or run like a trapped rabid rat on a treadmill down the gym.

And lastly, of course, there's been a certain birthday party to plan and burlesque dancing routines to rehearse. And you know what? Given that my dance experience consists solely of two failed ballet classes and years of rather rubbish Shuffling-In-Time™ in seedy corners of seedy dancefloors, we're surprisingly good. So if anyone feels to spend a lot of money on hiring a troupe of gorgeous scantily-clad ladies shaking their asses in a Cabaret stylee for their Christmas do, you know who to call.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Shooting From The Hip, Chicks On Speed

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