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Showing posts from April, 2018

I’VE BEEN HIGHER THAN THE HIGH SIERRA [107]

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What is in a name? If that name is “Cortina,” enough to make a documentary: in 1982, the BBC broadcast “The Private Life of the Ford Cortina,” not as an episode of “Top Gear,” but as part of the arts series “Arena.” Named after an Italian ski resort, the car was portrayed as having woven itself into the fabric of British life over the previous twenty years, becoming the archetypal British family car and company car, its ascending trim levels equating itself with social status. In styling terms, it was the closest you could get to an American car without importing one. However, the “Arena” documentary followed an announcement by Ford that Cortina production would end in 1982, to be replaced by a new model based on a futuristic, aerodynamic concept unveiled the previous year. The comedian and writer Alexei Sayle, appearing as a Cockney punter through the programme, lamented the demise of his favourite car like a death in the family, before turning on its successor: “They’re g

DISTURB THE SOUND OF SILENCE [106]

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All I need is to press “Scan,” and my digital radio will produce a list of available stations, but there is no game in that. My main radio used to be a large hi-fi system, to which you could connect your own FM aerial, and see if you could pick up stations that should be too far away. I managed quite well – a fifty-mile radius from my home is not too bad for FM radio, even if some stations could be drowned out by signals both nearer and stronger. I still have the hi-fi system, mostly for the record player and CD recorder I also attached to it, but radio is far more convenient to find now and, if you are listening online, you can pick up a far better sound than FM can ever produce. I have decided to try the game again, this time with a supermarket own-brand radio. For reasons known only to them, Tesco are selling a twelve-band world radio – FM, medium wave, long wave, and nine short-wave bands of varying wavelengths and frequencies - for EIGHT POUNDS (or about ELEVEN US DOLLARS).

NO MATTER WHO’S THE LEADER WHEN THE SUN SETS DOWN [105]

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The idea of owning a personal copy of a film or TV programme is only around forty years old. Unless you had spent thousands on your own cinema set-up, or on a new-fangled home video tape recorder, 1978 was the year home video began in earnest, and anyone buying into it had to decide which direction they would take. Sony introduced the Betamax video recorder in 1975, with VHS, JVC’s competitor format, launching the following year. They were marketed with a specific use in mind – the ability to time-shift your television viewing. A two-hour video tape costed as much as £20, but were expected to be reused often - pre-recorded tapes cost at least three times as much, taking as long to make as they took to play back. With the recorders themselves costing up to a thousand pounds, selling films to the general public would have to be done another way. The answer was, as will be with DVD and blu-ray, to copy the main method of getting music into homes: pressing video onto a disc. The

FOR WHAT I’VE HAD IS WHAT I’LL NEVER GET [104]

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It turns out that, when I was writing about dead shopping malls last week, and about vaporwave music before that, I actually wanted to talk about nostalgia, so I shall. Nostalgia formed the critical base for both subjects, and once I ended a thousand-word discussion on shopping malls by saying I wasn’t sure what lessons to take from them, it wouldn’t be long before someone said it would be nice to read a follow-up as my thoughts about them develop. That person was my sister Layla, of Richee & Layla at His and Hers Reviews, and they made a podcast [ link ] reviewing Steven Spielberg’s latest film, an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One.” The film’s story is built around OASIS, a virtual reality environment in which people learn, work and play. This world is constructed out of all the popular culture artefacts you can imagine, and the quest taken in the film is based on finding “Easter eggs” hidden by the world’s creator, inviting people to “like” what he like

THERE’S A MAGICAL PLACE, WE’RE ON OUR WAY THERE [103]

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[Forest Fair Village, Cincinatti, Ohio] It turns out that, when I was writing about vaporwave music a couple of weeks ago, I actually wanted to talk about shopping malls, so I shall. It has been a torrid time for retail businesses in both the UK and the US, as familiar brands bind us together. I have walked past the Toys R Us store from where thirty years of our family’s toys have come, but I did not have the courage to enter, let alone face the staff that are losing their jobs. My ears were pierced in Claire’s Accessories, and while it has entered into chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, the UK side may yet file for administration, joining the electronics shop Maplin. Carpetright, fashion chains New Look and Select, and restaurants Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo, have all entered into Company Voluntary Agreements, closing branches to make themselves solvent again, with Prezzo closing its Chimichanga tex-mex chain, one of my favourite restaurants, in its entirety. Then, there are busi