Those were the days, my friends

November 22nd, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

The First Husband and I watched a DVD of this movie last night. In the interests of accuracy, I should clarify that the version we watched was the UK release, which was called The Boat that Rocked. Not sure why they changed the name for the North American release; either the distributors think we’re too stupid to get it, or they believe the word ‘pirate’ has a Pavlovian effect. Whatever. I managed to get a pirated (drool) copy through nefarious channels (Ohai, #1 Son!) of what I believe is the superior version. I’m told the North American release has been edited mercilessly to build up Philip Seymour Hoffman’s role, but he’s not as ubiquitous as the trailer would have us believe.

We quite enjoyed the movie, and absolutely loved the soundtrack, which I was busily downloading from iTunes as we watched. But it was nowhere near the movie it could have been, had the director or producers left out all the stupid girly stuff, and told the real story of pirate radio.

For me, growing up in wholly catlick Ireland in the 1960s, pirate radio was a godsend. Before it came along, the only place you could hear pop music was Radio Luxembourg, which, thanks to something called the Heaviside Layer, didn’t come on the air until after dark. Anyone who was a teenager in the British Isles during that era will remember the names of Barry Aldiss, Don Moss, and Pete Murray, who were some of Luxembourg’s top DJs – a term that didn’t even exist before them. Come to think of it, I seem to remember that the word “teenager” was only just coming into vogue then. Hmm. Suddenly, I’m really feeling my age, for some reason.

Most of us managed to survive with Radio Luxembourg, but we really didn’t know what we were missing, until an Irishman, named Ronan O’Rahilly, launched a radio station that broadcast from an old rust-bucket anchored in the North Sea. Known as Radio Caroline, it burst into my life like a rocket explosion. I was mouldering in boarding school at the time, when I found it by accident on my transistor radio, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I spent the next year playing cat and mouse with the nuns, who thought trannies (which meant something completely different back then!) were instruments of the devil – not far behind books, by their weird standards. Hard to believe, but the nuns once wrote to my father to report that I had been caught reading Jane Eyre. They were complaining to the wrong man; he responded by sending me a copy of At Swim Two Birds, which nearly gave the Reverend Mother the vapours. Much to my father’s delight, I might add.

Despite their best efforts, I managed to keep my tranny hidden from the nuns (Holy shades of Colditz, Batman!) for the remainder of my prison boarding school term, and my pals and I rocked on to the music of Radio Caroline. The scenes in the movie, of boarding school kids jiving and twisting in their dormitories to the music of Radio Rock, brought back some hilarious memories for me. As seniors, we slept in single rooms rather than dormitories (which rooms, I kid you not, were called cells!) and we used to crowd into mine every night after Lights Out to listen to Caroline.

Great fun. And my only good memories of boarding school.

American Prayer 2009

January 19th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

iDiot Savant

December 14th, 2008 § 4 comments § permalink

I hate grocery shopping with a passion. I look back with longing to the days when my mother would phone the grocer, read him a list of items, and a messenger boy would come puffing over the horizon on his bicycle, an hour or so later. Because I hate shopping so much, I put it off until the last possible minute and end up sallying forth, tired and grumpy, in the evening when the cashiers are just as tired and grumpy. Thank goodness for self-serve cash spots, say I.

And even more thanks for iPod, and a nifty newish program, Genius – or, as #1 Son calls it, iDiot Savant. You open up Genius, tap a song you like, and it will put together a playlist along similar lines. Today, I made it through the shopping without biting anyone in the soft part of their leg thanks to these songs:

  1. Daydreamer Adele
  2. The Finish Line Snow Patrol
  3. I Have Seen the Rain Pink
  4. The Guy Who Leaves Alanis Morissette
  5. Unchained Melody Sarah McLachlan
  6. Homebird Foy Vance
  7. Mississippi Bob Dylan
  8. Breakable Ingrid Michaelson
  9. Videotape Radiohead
  10. The Shining Badly Drawn Boy
  11. When We Were Young Dolores O’Riordan
  12. How My Heart Behaves Feist
  13. Love Joni Mitchell
  14. Paper Bag Fiona Apple
  15. Baby Can I Hold You Eva Cassidy
  16. Lonelily Damien Rice
  17. The Great Escape Patrick Watson
  18. Quicksand Sleeping At Last
  19. Transatlantique Beirut
  20. The Night Starts Here Stars

I wuv my iPod.

Miriam Makeba RIP

November 10th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

The gorgeous, feisty, wonderful South African lady, Miriam Makeba, has died at age 76. See her obituary in the NYT here. I remember watching this glorious black woman singing on television, when I was about 16 years of age, many, many moons ago, and turning to my mother to say, “gosh, she’s beautiful.” Her response? “But, she’s black. How can you think she’s beautiful?”

I really do not miss the good old days.

Spoke too soon

November 10th, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

Found another complaint choir, and it’s a Canadian one. Still not as tuneful as the Helsinki Complaints Choir, but still pretty nifty. I believe it was recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, for the As It Happens radio program.

How to complain in style ~ and in tune

November 10th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

I came across the Helsinki Complaint Choir on YouTube recently, and then discovered that there is a whole raft of so-called complaint choirs, including ones from Birmingham in the UK, and from Hamburg and St Petersburg, and maybe some other places I haven’t heard about. Of the ones I’ve seen, the Helsinki “complaint” is the most tuneful, just a delight all round.

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