The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

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Friday, February 25, 2005

On human surfboards...

I was recently interviewed about the relationship between recent British army brutality and reality TV; now that the guilty verdicts are in, my comments appear here. Recent thuggery is still pretty mild compared to what the Brits did in Kenya though.

Ade nuff yet?

Championship football managers clearly don't read this blog. Blades and Clarets have been in a tug-of-war to sign Ade Akinbiyi from Stoke. Another £600,000 spunked on 'panicbuyi'. A fierce critic from his Palace days - the 'Ed' of this story - confides:

'Coincidentally, I was thinking of of old Ade-nuff the other day. For some reason I was under the impression that he was our all-time record signing.

Then I realised that it was in fact Valerian Ismael, and suddenly my heart was full of forgiveness for the man hailed by Trevor Francis as a great "defensive forward".'


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Edgar's award

‘Fate or some mysterious force has put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all.’ So says Tom Neal as the closing line of the movie Detour. In my case, fate was relatively well-behaved for a change, and meant my home's previous residents left their Sky TV box and satellite dish behind. This means all the decent channels are no longer beamed to me – no Sky Sports, Filmfour, TCM or countless Law and Order re-runs. Anyone for Virtual Horse Racing? How about Pornstar TV, where you text in your name to a premium rate service for it to be translated into something like ‘Fluffity Ramrod’? No takers? Shame.

Anyway, part of the barrel-scraping free service includes the Horror Channel and, at 10am, this means two hours of mystery and suspense. The selection criteria for these movies, I assume, is their lapsed copyright or some other dubious existence putting them in a grey area of the public domain. Which is entirely appropriate given the amount of vintage film noir showing up there at the moment. I’m talking treats like Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea in Killer Bait a.k.a. Too Late for Tears. I’m talking an unofficial Edgar G. Ulmer season, including Bluebeard and Detour. And jeepers mister, as they said at the time, Detour is good.

If alcoholic femme fatales are your thing – my friends can insert timely comments on my private life below – then Ann Savage does the business. Although the reliance on coincidence makes it a bit hokey, what’s amazing is what director Ulmer comes up with on a microscopic amount of resources. Estimates suggest he was rationed to 15000 feet of film and six days to come up with the picture (Lyons: 49), so the results are amazing.

Tom Neal puts in a good performance too, but it’s clear he wanted to live the film noir life for himself. It wasn’t the finger of fate but his own dumb conduct that stopped him going on to better things:
‘Neal made headlines and fractured his movie career by beating up Franchot Tone in an argument over actress Barbara Payton, who then married Tone, left him a few months later, and took up again with Neal. Then Neal murdered his third wife, Gail Evatt, got convicted of involuntary manslaughter and did six years. He died soon after being released from prison.’
All in all a ‘hellish spiral from rich-kid Northwestern and Harvard University grad to Hollywood lout and wifeslayer.’ (Gifford: 55)
Puts our own Pete Docherty in perspective.

Read on:
Gifford, Barry (2001) Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir (Roundhouse Publishing, ISBN: 157806290X) Buy it here
Lyons, Arthur (2000), Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir (Da Capo Press, ISBN: 0306809966) Buy it here

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


My review of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou appears here. Talk of 'the life aquatic' seems appropriate: outside the February snow is reverting to its watery state without first settling. As my six year-old told me this morning, 'it's part of life dad'. Maybe, but slushball fights in the school playground are just not the same.

Still on a watery note, I was emailed a casting call for a part in the short film 'Dancing Pee' earlier this week. I was offered the 'role of "KURT" or "TRACY". "KURT", white male in 30's, tall, muscular, gentle look but also evillooking man to play a criminal role... "TRACY": male (White or Black) in 30's, fat, disoriented look to play another criminal role...Shooting will take place in New Cross, London on March 10-20.' I had to turn it down due to other commitments, but good luck to the director, who seems to have great faith in my physical versatility, never my acting ability...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Flick of a Switch…

… and I’m confused. One minute Panic Room is on Channel 5 (sorry Five) with the sound off and my podmate and I are praising the set design and cinematography, particularly its sickly green hue. Next thing it slips over to the Horror Channel, which is showing Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp (buy it here on DVD - if you must - under its UK title). Only thing is, the green tinted shower scene invites the comment/confusion ‘same movie, new characters’. Who knows what else could be going on in the cavernous apartment where Panic Room is set?

Then the cable offering goes back to its routine slasher bobbins and we go back to David Fincher’s superior effort. ‘Dont ya think this movie sounds a little too familiar’ [sic] asks ‘madatme’ of BM2 on the IMDB. Sure do, mad. You mean Friday the 13th, of course. But the striking thing tonight is how edgy, arty Fincher can suddenly have a Troma moment, more by accident than design. Talk about the canonisation of the junior branches of culture. Or maybe I need to get out more.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


What's happening to my spam? This just in from 'Barclays bank':
" D‮rae‬ B‮cra‬lays M‮bme‬er,

Th‮si‬ ema‮li‬ was se‮tn‬ by the B‮alcra‬ys se‮vr‬er to ver‮fi‬y y‮ruo‬ ema‮li‬ address. You mu‮ts‬ comp‮tel‬e t‮ih‬s proc‮sse‬ by cl‮ikci‬ng
on the li‮kn‬ be‮ol‬w and e‮iretn‬ng in the s‮llam‬ win‮od‬w yo‮ru‬ Ba‮yalcr‬s Membership number, passcode and memorable word.
T‮sih‬ is do‮en‬ for y‮ruo‬ pr‮noitceto‬ - bec‮sua‬e s‮emo‬ of our memb‮sre‬ no l‮gno‬er ha‮ev‬ a‮ssecc‬ to t‮eh‬ir em‮lia‬ addr‮se‬ses and we
m‮tsu‬ ver‮fi‬y it. To v‮ire‬fy y‮ruo‬ em‮ia‬l addr‮se‬s and acc‮se‬s yo‮ru‬ b‮na‬k accou‮tn‬, cl‮kci‬ on the l‮ni‬k b‮ole‬w:

If anyone falls for this, they might as well have been playing for Charlton today. "Barc?c?a?ys" even sent me a follow-up email when it was clear that previous one was not only fraudulent but unreadable too.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Like a (flat-) pack of wolves...

It must be the zeitgeist or something. Over a decade ago, part of my journalistic beat was visiting riot zones, the day after the event (or during in one case), to compile reports for the next step office. This allowed the London newsdesk to write up articles with a rich reserve of quotes, 'local colour' and other observations. And so to Whitehawk, Leeds and Bradford I went, gradually getting to grips with the slow decline of class warfare in 1990s Britain.

Late last night, by chance, I was outside the latest trouble-spot: the new Ikea store at Edmonton. Struth, that building went up fast: last time I was there it was just a car wash. Construction may be backward, but it's sometimes very quick these days. Perhaps they were working from a prefabricated flat-pack (but not an Ikea one).

As Jennie Bristow reminds us on Spiked, before "the killjoy days of risk-averse regulation, this kind of exuberant aggression used to get its release at football matches and pop concerts. Now, to see crowds behaving badly you have to go to a glorified warehouse selling cheap flat-pack furniture." Personally, I've had a love-hate relationship with North Circular Eastbound retail parks for several years now: they leave me thirsting for mob violence even without bumper crowds or the lure of £45 sofas.

Maybe Ikea riots will be to 2005 what "creatives" were to 1997. The latter get a mauling on Nathan Barley, the new sitcom from Chris 'Brass Eye' Morris and Charlie 'TV go home' Booker. To someone who did a stint supplying content for a startup, the caricatured characters are nauseatingly recognisable. I don't miss those nitwits one little bit. If only I was getting paid a pound (sterling) a word still...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Not the best medicine

My annual trip to a standup comedy night can act as a useful barometer of British social attitudes. When I used to perform it in the late 80s, it was a way of berating Thatcher and warning of nuclear armageddon. Sure enough, if last night's trip to a comedy club is anything to go by, its socially indicative aspect is still there. It's just that many of the gags - about white trash chavs and George W. Bush - aren't especially funny. Marcus Brigstocke just about saved himself with an assault on ambulance chasing lawyers and loan companies, doing a note-perfect parody of daytime TV adverts. But, that and few edgy Michael Jackson gags aside, this was a left-leaning Richard Littlejohn in action.

Talking of the 1980s, Otis Cannelloni did more or less the same set I saw him do nearly 20 years ago, a note-perfect lounge-singing bossa nova spoof. He was followed by Canadian comic Mike Wilmot, who mainly worked on gags with a load of anatomical detail and avoided easy targets. Looking around my flat, it's clear his comments about having the stove next to the toilet were a bit close for comfort. As for his calling me fat ... pot, kettle, black.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Blogs and Dogs

The end of an extremely busy semester is upon me. The plan is to concentrate on finishing off a book, freed from distractions like teaching (and possibly blogging too). It's a chance to be creative (log-in needed) and maybe improve my health too. As Stuart Pearce might say, 'I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel.' But as I really enjoy teaching, it's a tough decision too.

But am I taking a gamble? One answer is yes. My friend the Dog is getting married and we're off to Vegas to celebrate, by getting high, not taking responsibility and forgetting about being good citizens for a long weekend. (OK, maybe not getting high on the contraption depicted at the last link - the computer simulation puts me in a state of fear.) No Elvis costumes though- that would be too conventional, and they don't come cheap. The age of putting on a stag do for peanuts seems long behind us, and each new marriage in my clan seems to involve getting out my passport and another overdraft. If you discount the memories, the effect is basically ephemeral, but stag nights stag be done out of friendship (of the sort discussed on the Jukebox before) and not economic calculation.

Who knows what sort of calculation is going through Ade Akinbiyi's mind at the moment? He suffered from being Leicester's goal-shy record signing and part of Peter Taylor's uneven and ultimately disastrous regime at Filbert Street. He was incoherent off the pitch -"I was watching the Blackburn game on TV on Sunday when it flashed on the screen that George (Ndah) had scored in the first minute at Birmingham. My first reaction was to ring him up. Then I remembered he was out there playing" - and on it. One Palace supporter I know never really got over him; another compared him to having a slobbering labrador chase the ball all day. Now he's involved in a sit-down protest over the future of current club Stoke. "I sat myself down in John Rudge's (director of football) office and refused to move," said Akinbiyi. Just like old times in the goal-mouth at Filbo and Selhurst Park then, Ade.

PS. To Dr Michael Wetenku of Abidjan,Ivoiry Coast: if I do send you the financial details requested, you will end up seeing far more of my money than I will ever see of your "28 million dollars belonging to Gen Robert Guei who was shot dead together with all his family last september by the Government soldiers here on an accusation of plotting a failed coup de etat." Ask me again when I'm in Vegas and you might get a better result.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Pass the Courvousier

A design industry friend recently sent me the new Alcohol Concern self-testing guidelines. These allow you to work out if you or 'a friend' - i.e. also you, only more bashful, less lion-hearted - is a risky drinker. My results came back as follows:

* Their drinking is medium risk and they are likely to be drinking above safe levels.
* They are more likely to experience harm as a result of their drinking than most people.
* This means that they are more likely to have accidents, social or psychological problems and are more likely to develop more serious alcoholproblems in the future than people who drink safely.
* The good news is that they may not have experienced harm so far and should be able to avoid serious problems if they cut down.
* Their score is higher than 73.5% of UK adults.
('Their' refers to me, incidentally.)

Yet I drink sweet FA at the moment as I'm constantly on painkillers. Is the acceptable level is a quarterly gargle with mouthwash supervised by the Salvation Army?

Libertarians have a point. I need a drink.