Top 100 singles of all time: 63 – Cardiacs – Is This The Life?


For one brief, beautiful moment, Cardiacs were in phase with the rest of the the planet. Most of the time, they career along the same spiritual bypass as their fans. Eccentric. Off-centre. People used to believe in four “humours” – sanguine, etc. – and I think there’s a certain truth to it when it comes to music. Melancholic people like Swans, who I admire but don’t get much enjoyment from (at least as far as I’ve heard). Not sure which the manic-depressive personalities fall under, but there are certain bands that intrinsically appeal because the music is written in those sorts of frequencies: Cardiacs, Foetus, Mr Bungle … obstinately difficult, but not just for its own sake. A jittery sort of energy; a strident sort of bounce seemingly at odds with an underpinning sort of sadness. You either get it or you don’t, and most don’t: they admire it, but don’t get much enjoyment from it.

Is This The Life? seemed to come from some other place. It doesn’t sound like a Cardiacs song at all, which isn’t a good thing or a bad thing but perhaps explains its unique appeal. It’s the closest thing the band ever had to a hit, peaking at number 80 in the UK charts in 1988. The single was the breakout song from their fourth album, A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window, which mostly sounded like this:  Continue reading

Neil Patrick Harris’s Puppet Dreams

Yesterday morning, I awoke from a dream in which I was exchanging polite conversation with JG Thirlwell who was sitting in the same row at an auditorium, waiting for a gig to start. I figured out it was because his review of a Jan Terri concert was the last thing I read before going to sleep. That evening, instead of browsing Tumblr, I watched Downton Abbey on Netflix, and dreamed of being the pampered owner of a huge mansion, attended by servants. I had planned to watch something like The Avengers and see if I could acquire some superpowers for my next dream, but instead I saw this.

It doesn’t bode well. The macabre wit here is definitely aimed at grown-ups – especially those who aren’t particularly hoping for restful, pleasant dreams. Continue reading

JR Ewing’s “guardian angel” and other WTF moments in soaps

J-R-Ewing-dallas-1978-1991-larry hagman

I’ll have fond memories of Larry Hagman, who passed away yesterday, since JR Ewing starred in an incredible “WTF” moment in Dallas: that moment when you’re staring at the screen for ten full minutes after the episode has ending, wondering if someone’s slipped LSD into your tea. The soap was always a little offbeat, but occasionally veered into the outright preposterous. It’s not alone, though – every soap on TV has featured plotlines that were weird, baffling or just plain bizarre.  Continue reading

My Daguerrotype Boyfriend has a calendar: Where early photography meets extreme hotness


My Daguerrotype Boyfriend is a Tumblr blog dedicated to old photographs where the subject is, well, kinda hot. Its collection dates back to the earliest types of photography, along with trivia about the subjects of each picture. Continue reading