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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Archive for October 2009

The Courtesans Await You

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The Courtisans title

The cover of the eagerly awaited EP

For those of you who have done nothing but sit in the house and complain about X Factor acts I have a well thought out subtle message… GET A LIFE!

Go out and see a proper band in a proper club with proper people, not people who added you on Twitter.

Currently touring the weird and wonderful emporiums of London town are a band unlike any you shall ever see, fronted by an international horror movie star no less.

Eileen Daly is more comfortable in front of a microphone than a crucifix these days but her dark and dangerous undertones are rarely far from the surface.

So here we have their new music video.  Roll VT, Bob:

The Courtesans are (in their words) a “Gypsy Glam, with dark tales in waltz-time with deadly swing beats”.  What they mean by that is known only to themselves but to unlock their secrets you will have to go and see them perform live.  I was curious about this mysterious band so I put a few questions to them..

I’ve never heard a band that sounds quite like you.  From where do you take your influence?

We describe ourselves as a gypsy glam rock and roll band with dark

tales in waltztime, deadly swingbeats, tangos and arabesque stomps-and

that’s only half the story.  Our influences are many and varied, but

tend to be the more theatrical type of band or performer such as Kate

Bush, The Sex Pistols, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The

Cramps, Simon Warner, Queen.  That said we are in no way a retro band, and

have no interest in copying the sound or style of other bands or

eras, and like to think we have an identifiable character, which, like

Marmite, you’ll either love or hate!

Describe your ideal crowd or following?

Young, old, loyal. international people who still think it’s worth

buying a cd or record and paying for a ticket to see their favourite

band.

The Courtisans 2

How does Bob Marley like his doughnuts? Wi' Jammin'

Is the X Factor the work of Satan?

I think Satan has better taste.  More likely the work of Mammon.  This

show and its multi-headed offspring are pointless, depressing and

destructive.  On the other hand……..

Peckham Rolex,why the name?  Is it a reference to fakery?

The lyrics to Peckham Rolex were written by a very good friend Tom

Gallagher, and in fact refer to the electronic tag issued to felons on

probation the “Peckham Rolex”

Does Aurelio(your bass player) ever get mistaken for Russell Brand?

Although he does bear a passing resemblance, Aurelio is much better

looking.

So if this heady mix of the bizarre and the beautiful is your cup of char you can follow them via their myspace page here:

www.myspace.com/thecourtisans

or their facebook group, here:

facebook.com/group.php?gid=108279592760

Eileen 1

Eyes that could pierce a bank vault and cheekbones that could slit a throat

More on Eileen Daly next year…

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 27, 2009 at 12:59 am

A Biography of the Devil

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Pentagram

Much invoked, often implicated, always despised.  The Devil is as old as deity worship by humankind.  He is the yang to God’s Ying.  The dark side of us all.

“Having the Devil in you” is an often used phrase for agitated or highly aggressive behaviour.

“Being a devil” would be acting on selfish impulse regardless of short term consequences.

He has been worshiped, appeared in film, in art, in song and he even has his own football team.  Somebody even tried to sue him once.  But who or what is he or it and where did he come from?

Note: for the sake of consistency the Devil will be referred to as a He.

As mankind evolved we developed many rituals, such as burial and veneration of our dead.  That was the start.  Our psychology developed and emotions became more sophisticated and elaborate.  Our violence became less chaotic and more premeditated.  Empathy grew more intense in some, and much less in others.  A greater sense of empathy became the key to raising a family or tribe.

Selfish, devious, scheming and violent behaviour became the prime sources for the breakdown of early human society.  Both empathy and violent behaviour gradually clustered into two tangible forms.  We know them today as God and the Devil.  The two seem to be as old as the other, and they are in some way interlocked figures, we cannot have one without the other.

God, Allah, call him what you will is one of the most sought-after benefactors in history.  But he is not the topic of this essay, I will leave him for another time.

The devil 2

The Devil is an equally ambiguous character, and one much harder to pin down.  While God is generally regarded as a genial, bearded middle age man the devil is a hybrid of humanoid and animal.  This image springs mostly from the palette of renaissance painters and their vivid imaginations.  His form is, theoretically,  supernatural, with limbs of the creatures early man feared or hated the most.  The bat, the snake, and the goat.  (The last one seems a bizarre addition but nonetheless is there)

His powers are said to be great, but little is said of what they actually are.  He seems capable of great violence but there is little evidence of him using this as a first resort.  Instead, the Devil likes to trick, to scheme and to manipulate.

In view of the early church’s irrational fear of all things female it is surprising that the Devil is not imagined as a woman.  Not that the women of the time were any less inclined to devilish behaviour, they just lacked the physical capacity to carry it out in such a spectacular manner.

The devil appeared in early Jewish text first, not as the epitome of evil, but as a form of prosecutor sitting opposite the judgment of God.  The name Satan is a Hebrew version of ‘accuser’.  In some Talmud or Rabbinic versions he is seen as an Agent Provocateur, testing man for sin in the judgment of God.

In Christianity he seems to have been some kind of subordinate being who rose up and led a rebellion.  His exact reasons are hard to figure, but pride and will seem to figure in the case for both the protagonist and the antagonist.  But which was which?

Some kind of supernatural war has featured in renaissance art, fought with swords and breastplates.  It seems that God and the Devil were capable of mustering armies and leading them in armed struggle.  Ultimately God seems to have won and banished the devil into the wilderness where he planned his revenge.

We can reason from this that God is more powerful than the Devil, either physically or mentally.

Although far from universally popular or attractive, some people do worship the devil.  Their reasoning is highly personal.  Some worship his for personal gain, others, quixotically, because they do not believe in God.  For others it is some kind of protest against an over-paternalistic Christian society.  Few devil worshippers are balanced individuals.

The format for the worship of God are clearly laid down in the Koran, and in great detail in the Bible.  The precise method of devil worship seems to vary greatly.  Animal or human sacrifice, deviant sexual practices and child abuse have all been implicated.    The greater details seem to be a closely guarded secret and accounts of dark masses are rarely reliable.

The devil's bible author

In the late Sixties a man called Anton LeVay wrote The Satanic Bible.  This set down the Constitution for Satanism as a religion.  Those who bought the book expecting a charter for deviant behaviour were to be bitterly disappointed.  Le Vay’s book was more pragmatical in nature, banning outright human sacrifice (boo!), Sexual deviance (hiss!), and any act that breaks that country’s laws (sod this!).  Although LeVay has undoubted terrifying appearance, his is too practical-minded to make any headway with the crazies that his religion attracts.  The Satanic Bible, I would suspect is outsold by Mein Kampf by a significant margin.

The Devil has some symbols.  The most common in use is a hand signal consisting of a punching fist with the first and fourth fingers extended, the ‘horns of the devil’, popular at rock concerts.  So now you know.  In fact not many people knew what the hand signal stood for, I only just found out myself.

His main symbol is the Pentagram, the five pointed star.  The one subtle difference between Satanists and other religions that use the pentagram is this:  Satanists use the one with two points at the top and the three points at the bottom.  The two points at the top symbolize the triumph of the devil (they are the horns) over the three points (representing the holy trinity).  Within the star the face of a goat is sometimes portrayed.  It’s origins are unclear but, like the Swastika, it seems to have been hijacked at some point and used as a hallmark of wrongdoing.  The Pentagram had no association with Satanism at all until the Spanish Inquisition came along and associated the Devil with any symbol it didn’t like.  Somehow the association of the Pentagram and the occult looks set to stick, like the Swastika and the Nazis.

Now about that Goat.  The Goat, in ancient Egypt was a symbol of carnality.  Within some Satanic rituals it was used to procure fertility.  Other religions were already eating Goat only as part of a ceremony.  At some point the idea crossed over but animal sacrifice tailed off.

The Devil has two numbers, 666 and the less well known 616.  Why does he have these numbers?  Why did he want them in particular?  And what did he intend to do with them?  And why does God not have a number?

The answers are highly ambiguous and mostly come down to early Christian superstition.  616 may have been a typo, not as I thought, the devil’s Fax number.  The 666 could be a numerical code for something or other, but no theory has stood up to scrutiny.  Even in the year 666 very little of note happened.  The Devil never appeared, there was no fire and brimstone.  It was the medieval Millenium bug scare.

Al Pacino's raging rendition of Lucifer

Al Pacino's raging rendition of Lucifer

The Devil has been portrayed in several films, the most recent being The Devil’s Advocate, where he is played by Al Pacino.  In the film he is depicted as sardonic, cynical and bitter.  He also seems to hate God but still lives in fear of him, even if he will not openly admit it.  Personally I liked Jack Nicholson’s version better.

Jack Nicolson's understated mischief making devil.

Jack Nicolson's understated mischief making devil.

The Rolling Stones wrote a song about him, expressing their sympathy for him.  The song describes him as a man of wealth and taste, wily and mischievous.

So what does the future hold for the Devil in this brave new Millennium?  At the minute not much.  He has largely been sidelined while radical Islam and their Neo-Conservative enemies seek endorsement from God for their activities.  Nobody cares for the Devil anymore, poor Devil.  But as long as there is light there is dark and if there is a God then we can be sure the Devil will be hiding out there somewhere just waiting for his chance.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

Posted in Art and Culture

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Meet Ryli Morgan – the new Queen of Horror

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Ryli Vampire

The season of the witch is upon us at long last.  The demons stalk the earth and the dead will arise in search of human prey.

Here to save us all is Ryli Morgan, a kick-ass chick from North Carolina.  Along with her husband, Mark Baranowski she is one half of the power couple of Independent film.

Ryli Morgan 1

How did you get into the horror business?

My husband, Mark Baranowski (www.createtolive.com) had wanted to try his hand at screenwriting, and I gave him the idea of putting together a short film. I thought perhaps someone would be more likely to watch 5 minutes of a film than to actually sit and read a script — we filmed DESPAIR in the space of a weekend, and the rest followed in the natural progression of film.

Were the 1950s the golden years for the underrated horror movie?

I definitely think the 1950’s were when we, as a society, were able to put onto film our thoughts and fears from the time. From the beginning of film, people have made scary flicks, but the 50’s allowed us to go a bit wilder.

From whom do you take your inspiration?

Brinke Stevens is a big inspiration. She is the perfect example of a Scream Queen with a brain and actual talent to back up the looks.

Does being a horror movie star have any perks or downsides?

Perks: getting to meet, sometimes even become friends with, the actors who you grew up watching, your favorite characters.
Downsides: to take part in some of the bigger projects, it means time away from family, and when you have a young child, like we do, it can be difficult to find the balance between family and film.
Ryli Morgan 2

Halloween must be such fun in your house! Tell me what you get up to?

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday! I become a child again, and I really love any excuse to dress up as some horrid creature. We don’t decorate the house too much, honestly, but I usually find a party or costume contest to take part in.

How do you feel about the term Scream Queen?

Part of me loves it, and wants to at least come close to that status. The other part of me doesn’t like that term very much, because I know a few of these ladies and there is SO much more to them than their ability to jiggle in the right places and scream at the horrible monster that’s coming their way. I don’t want to say it’s demeaning, but it isn’t as all-encompassing a description as it should be, in order to properly describe these women.

Mark Baranowski’s new film, starring Ryli Morgan, Mr Dissolute,  is out on DVD November 2009 at http://www.amazon.com

See more of Ryli at her very own website:  http://www.thelifeofryli.com

Photos courtesy of http://www.rickdesign.com

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 15, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Horror Movies to watch this Halloween

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the witching season is upon us again.  The dead shall walk the earth and witches shall fly through the sky.  And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

But don’t let reality interrupt a night of fun and frolics.  There are lots of things you can do, go see a scary movie, take the kids trick or treating, or go to a fancy dress party with your work collegues.

Nah, just go see a scary movie.

In fact this year we have quite a batch for you to choose from.  Circuses of freaks, zombies, sadistic killers and bermuda triangles to name but a few.

So let’s start with Cirque du Freak, the story of two young lads who go to a freak show that is new to town.  The see lots of weird things, bearded ladies, tattooed men.  They see this one man do tricks with a poisonous spider.  After the show the man names one of the boys a deal, he will make him a vampire if he agrees to become his apprentice.  What follows is the accomplishment of evil.

My favourite so far is Zombieland, set in the aftermath of a nationwide Zombie attack.  Unlike other Zombie movies this one has a sense of humour.  It also has all the rules of how to survive a Zombie attack in detail, demonstrated in graphic detail.  How jolly useful.  It stars Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray, so you know you are getting your money’s worth.

The third choice is a good old fashioned haunted house movie.  Paranormal Activity is, theoretically, the new Blair Witch, handicam horror movie.  Filmed on a shoestring budget and lots of bumpy photography, it is none the less supposed to be extremely scary.  I guess you just have to go see it and judge it for yourself.

The Saw franchise seems to roll and roll.  We are now on number six of the series, and it somehow manages to retain the ability to scare the hell out of us.  What keeps the Saw series going is it’s imagination and intelligence that it channels into what it knows are our deepest fears.  Jigsaw is long dead but he sowed the seeds of sadism and dark pleasure into the souls of those who survived him.  Finally they are bearing their dark, nasty fruit.

Last but by no means least we have Triangle, a horror based on the mysteries of the Bermuda triangle.  During a yachting race a crew are forced to abandon ship in heavy weather.  A sinister cruise ship offers the only refuge, but on board all is not as it seems.

So enjoy your halloween, go to your nearest Vue and scare yourselves shitless!

http://www.vue.com

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Zach Braff is not dead

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Dude, is heaven supposed to look this lame?

Dude, is heaven supposed to look this lame?

Well for a change I would like to announce that Zach Braff, star of Scrubs, is NOT dead.  It was some twat on a fake site putting about a fake rumour.

Roll VT, bob:

I was concerned at first, considering the year we are having for celebrity deaths.  But within an hour nothing had appeared on http://www.tmz.com, sky news or the BBC.  Not even Fox ran the news.

Zach Braff is the star of the long running medical comedy Scrubs, that has won several TV awards.

Here is a clip of this funny series:

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Posted in in the news, TV

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Donnington will not host the British Grand Prix

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Donnington Park

It was announced yesterday that Donnington Park, the racing circuit in Leicestershire, will not be hosting the British Grand Prix from 2010.

This follows nearly a year of delays, budget overruns, confusion and ever-extending deadlines.  These problems were compounded by the world-wide recession which affected every sector of British construction.  Funding went through the site like shit through a goose.

On a visit to Silverstone in June, one of the curators outlined Donnington’s problems.

1.    It has no helipad to evacuate the wounded.

2.    Crucially, it cannot land helicopters because it is in East Midlands airport’s airspace.

3.    It has little in the way of parking space

4.    The entire track is merely half the size of Silverstone F1 track.

With these problems it is hard to see how Donnington ever got the commission in the first place.  Furthermore it had to cancel most of the 2010 events to make way for the construction work necessary to turn DOnnington into a modern F1 track.

Donnington did host the European Grand Prix back in 1993.  But following the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 a lot of stringent safety measures were put in place that made these changes necessary.

But deadlines came and went and Bernie Ecclestone lost patience with Simon Gillette, the Chief Executive of Donnington Leisure.  Finally Bernie had had enough and closed the book on the project.

So will the British Grand Prix now remain at Silverstone?  More than likely.  If not in 2010 then in 2011 certainly.  Silverstone has a lot of bookings for 2010, the main one being the British MotoGP.  One of the biggest advantages of a Motorbike Grand Prix is that they can host twice as many people.  Why?  Because everybody turns up on motorbikes, so they can fit twice as many in the car park.

So all this has left Silverstone in a win/win position.  It will come out of this a whole lot stronger and much better funded.

Only time will tell what will become of Donnington.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 13, 2009 at 11:59 am

Stephen Gately of Boyzone has died

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Stephen Gately

Yesterday it was announced that the singer Stephen Gately had died at his apartment in Majorca.  The Spanish police do not suspect foul play or misadventure, but no other details have been revealed.

Stephen Gateley shot to fame in 1993 as a singer in an Irish boy-band managed by pop svengali Louis Walsh.  Boyzone, as they were known, became the rivals of Take That at a time when the latter band held dominance of the Boy-band market.  While Take That were mostly from the north of England, Boyzone were all Irish.

Boyzone were an overnight success and sold out stadiums worldwide.

Stephen was also gay, but he found himself still very much accepted by his band mates.  He later came out and few people batted an eye lid.  He later became the civil partner of Andrew Cowles.

Boyzone split for many years, for unclear reasons, except perhaps they had taken their act as far as they could at the time.  They later reformed and played the same kind of slow ballads they had before.

Away from the music Stephen was also an actor and did many voice overs for Doctor Who audio productions and the Watership down TV series.

He was found on his sofa the morning after a night out.  No drugs or other implements were found at the scene and a post mortum is due later this week.  I think it is likely he fell asleep on his back and choked on his own vomit, but that is just personal speculation.

He was 33 years old.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 12, 2009 at 5:17 am

Posted in in the news

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