Letters, Year Six (July - October 2003)
The Cineaste, Streatham, 05/07/2003
I thought I'd let you know about some intriguing stuff I saw yesterday -
yes, I know exactly what you're thinking, but no I'm not having you on. As
part of a local festival there was yesterday evening a showing of
"experimental work, student film, premiers from local production groups,
comedy and classic shorts, and social and historical documentaries". And
all this in a deconsecrated C of E church. (Whilst in there I thought the
fact that our local ABC cinema is actually in the process of being
demolished was a poignant irony, but that's another matter). There was
some creditable stuff in amonst the offerings - in particular one short
simply named Ghost Town, directed by a person named Marcelle Ben-Haque,
who unfortunately didn't put in an appearance so I can't be certain if
he/she's a man or woman. This had some spellbinding montages of images
around London, with suggestions of love, life and dreams around the
capital, and had me thinking about it for the rest of the evening. There
were some talented ideas here so lets hope Marcelle gets the opportunities
to move on to bigger and more widespread things. More (sparse) info about
all this at www.streathamfestival.info.
So anyway, when in a few short years' time the Streatham Film Festival has
the same cachet as, say, Cannes or Venice, I can say I was there from its
And finally, just to politely correct Rob D's (17/06) horrendous
geographical error, ie that Croydon is in Surrey, and emphatically not in
south London. As if to prove my point, anyone from S. London doesn't spell
Francis Ford Coppola once said: "To me the great hope is that now these little 8mm videorecorders are around and people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to be making them. And suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her father's camcorder and for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form." Who's to say that when he said "Ohio", he didn't really mean "Streatham"? (Apologies if that seems to imply that Marcelle Ben-Haque is a little fat girl.)
Michael Kawasaki, Sparks, Nevada, 09/07/2003
Terrific site that you have there! Lots of great information. It has been a pleasure to visit!
I think the same could be said of your site, Michael. You've certainly got a much more interesting range than those Russians everyone keeps going on about here.
Rob D, Croydon, 13/07/2003
[re: reply to letter dated 17/06/2003]
Humble thanks for the acclaim but I just wrote what I saw - I expected yer average African artist and, instead, got something totally unique. The review was an attempt to get others to share the experience. Did it work - did it fuck; mainly because Oyediji seems very reluctant to do any live gigs (he really wouldn't work on CD). As to me appearing on his web site I suspect he did what we all do; Google search for your own name or web site. When I first got internet access I did that and was somewhat disturbed to find my surname in the Latin version of the Book of Revelation (shades of Omen 1!) but it appears from further investigation that my name is the Latin word for 'thick', bugger.
BTW - saw a band called The Roots on the Glastonbury coverage the other week and bought the album - Niiiice.
Definitely with you on The Roots. When we were in Australia, their song The Seed (2.0) was being played every day on Triple J Radio's breakfast show, which is amusing when you consider how relentlessly filthy that song is. Find out more here.
The Always Supportive Suzanne Vega Fanclub, My Armchair, 14/07/2003
What a F****** mess! Call this a redesign. Who did you get to do it, the council? And what is that big black left hand column for? To make notes with a white marker pen?
So moving on, thanks a bunch for not telling me Suzanne Vega was on the entire Graham Norton show tonight (14/07/03); only saw last ten minutes (mind you it would be nice if for once when she was on TV, she played something other than Luka).
Anyway as it is obvious your site is completely washed up and finished, afficinadoes may like to try this authentic 'Spank The Monkey' site.
"What is that big black left hand column for?" seems to imply that a) your screen's too narrow and b) your screen's too dark. I can't be held responsible if you're trying to view this site on substandard equipment...
The problem is this - above a certain screen size, it's very difficult to read text that stretches across the entire page. So, like many websites out there, I've made the decision to use margins, with a fixed size portion of text in the middle. If you're 1024x768, you should get monkey decorative borders up both sides: at 800x600, you'll only get the border up one side, but I think it still looks ok. (And if you're 640x480, you may have to scroll, but you should still get all the text on screen in one go, albeit monkey-free.)
Still, I can appreciate that certain people will always prefer things as they were in the past. Hence your link to a site that was the Simian Substitute Site for December 2001, I guess. (At least I assume it's the same thing, your version doesn't seem to work any more.)
Ken, London, 18/07/2003
[re: letter from Suzanne Vega Fanclub dated 01/04/2003]
Re: Russian Lingerie Website - I doubt anyone is interested but there is a real GUM website. For all you saddos the lingerie models can be found here.
As lovely as it is to hear from you after such a long absence, Ken, I feel I should point out to everyone else that I'm happy to receive letters that aren't about ladies underwear too.
Ken, A seedy office in the King's Cross area, 23/07/2003
[re: letter from rob dated 20/05/2003]
Re "TRANSLATED THE WHOLE THING INTO FUCKING RUSSIAN" - I had this checked out for you and am assured that overall it is an accurate translation. They use a translation website named 'virtual lady' whose artificial intelligence does let it down occasionally - for example the word 'street' in 'Almeida Street' would normally be translated to the Russian word for street (Ulica), but has been left as the word 'street' as if it is a proper name.
It's nice to hear they've been reasonably faithful to the original. I'm just amused at the idea of Russian-speaking Ian McDiarmid fans ploughing through that review, mainly because roughly one-third of it's rabbiting on about a restaurant in Islington.
Dave Shaw, Scotland, 31/07/2003
Great site. Much better since the update!
HA! In your FACE, Suze! So that's one vote in favour of the redesign, one against. Any more comments?
(Dave, by the way, appears to be something to do with The Jakeys. It's an 'internet soap opera' about a Glaswegian working class family who win 150 grand on the bingo, move to a posh bit of town and proceed to cause havoc there. Give it a look.)
Dardie George, 01/08/2003
immense plucking bowline exerted pontiff accessible schoolmate adherer bovine expanses blues exists imitable scandium acrylic testimonial postures popularization bombproof cos messages counterfeiting expels exiled telemetry evicting satires televised examines scampering adjoins portfolio exasperater expound hymnal couturier scattergun crabbing achieves acknowledger boots potlatch huddle humidly boulder playthings hygroscopic scoffing adapted asuncion melodiousness hung scamp meter bottle metaphoric bra scrawls crisscross exacerbations bole humanoid methods taxable alabama testy scolding executor aeneid scotch adding cotangent metropolitan humaneness baylor exactions tellurium exchanges mig hunters popularly
anne merest ethereal acclaimed telegrams mediocrity testified amoco illusory exercisers cotty brays testimony meretricious exorbitantly bateman counterintuitive scepters exponential saturation meadows bonanza acyclic hurlers crinkle pluton savor possessively 7th acknowledgments saucers examiner europeans tautologies adjoining betty executive thankfulness ampex humidifiers adjunct boxer country hostess accessors telescoping adroit schooling mattresses tetrahedra howl hovel terrorizing humorously brambly telescopic execution exalted albuquerque boarder terminated maxims evoke expanses aches hundredfold excommunicated accomplish portrayed blues seating crimsoning bernice polariscope boggling tapir humidifier actively antonio satanic hubs
Dardie George, in case it wasn't immediately obvious, is an evil spamming pigfucker. The one edit I've made to this mail is to remove a link to some sort of pharmaceutical sales site. All the remaining text you see here is printed in white on a white background: I'm guessing it's just padding to fool spam filtering software. There's something poetic about it, though, isn't there?
The Belated Birthday Girl, At home, 02/08/2003
I came across this site for Asian Extreme Cinema, and it looks pretty good: so I thought, following on from your Tartan Asia Extreme Festival piece, I should share it with you and your readers. It has lots of reviews on Asian horror movies, with loads of pictures (and good Spoiler warnings where appropriate - see the Ring review page, for example): downloadable wallpaper (covered in their logo, though): a discussion forum: and an excellent links page, with links to places to buy the films from (including my favourite, Poker Industries) and links to other Asian and other horror related web-sites (including another favourite of mine, Midnight Eye). Anyway, here's the URL:
Hope others enjoy this site, too.
Nicely spotted, darling.
Rob Baker, Open Mike Productions, 06/08/2003
Hello Mr Spank The Monkey - I came across your site, while looking for an MP3 version of Silver Medal by Otis Lee Crenshaw. I'm thinking of using the song on a TV show (Rich Hall's Fishing Show) but can't find a copy of it anywhere. Even Rich (Otis) hasn't got a copy.
By the way, Rich isn't with Talkback anymore (not for sometime actually) and his agent is now Addison Cresswell from Off The Kerb. Thought I'd let you know. I'm not sure whether their website is any better.
If you know where I can get a copy of the above song, I'd be grateful if you could let me know.
I'm guessing that my site came up in searches because I put a track from Otis' Hi-Fi Ballroom album on one of my end-of-year music compilations, and subsequently got mails from three people desperate to know where they could buy the album. And now even Rich is looking for one? That's kinda priceless, really.
I should point out that I contacted Talkback two years ago to ask them if Hi-Fi Ballroom was still available (via their crappy website, hence Rob's comment above). Rich wrote back to me personally saying that it wasn't, and sent me four copies of his new CD in compensation. For this reason, I have considered him a god amongst men ever since*. So if he needs me to burn him an MP3 of Silver Medal from the old CD, then dammit I'll do it, providing you promise that nobody's going to sue me for breach of copyright.
* even though the last time I mentioned him here was to complain that his opening gig at this year's Melbourne Comedy Festival run was a bit shit. But it was, you ask him.
The Backwash Team, 08/08/2003
Congratulations! Your content has been recommended by Backwash.com!
The content appears on the page titled: "Metaphorically-fixated Packrat" and reads as follows: "It'll excite you, arouse you, maybe even repel you if you're lucky." Outstanding review of the Surrealism: Desire Unbound exhibition, including descriptions of the artwork as well as a handy link section at the end. http://www.gleeson0.demon.co.uk/dunbound.htm
Backwash is a community of independent columnists who recommend the best specific content on the net. If you would like any changes made in either the description or URL, please contact the columnist responsible for recommending your content at firstname.lastname@example.org...
Thanks again for providing your excellent content to the Internet community.
Well, it's always nice to get linked to. But it amuses me that the pieces I write about modern art get all the serious links and discussion, given that it's the one area of contemporary culture that I know absolutely fuck all about. Maybe it's time I did another one...
Suzanne Vega Fanclub, Keegan Wonderland, 09/08/2003
Gday Australian arts critic. I have decided to end my boycott of your site following its tragic redesign; after all if one can't support ones friends in a crisis. Besides where else do I have to review the new Cheeky Girls single.
So what can I say other than the Cheeky Girls have yet again come up trumps, with their new single Cheeky Holiday. Not only is this an affectionate homage to the great Seventies pop group Boney M, but it is a complete reinterpretation of a much loved classic. What is particularly clever is the way they replace the chorus of "It's a holly holly day" with "It's a CHEEKY holiday". Thus they manage to not only stamp the song with their own particular style, but are able to sneak in a cleverly disguised link to their own group image.
But don't take my word for it. Click here to play the video on your preferred player (Windows or Real). Any Foot Fetishists among you may also enjoy their single Take Your Shoes Off.
What with this and the GUM lingerie catalogue, your obsession with loose Eastern Bloc women is starting to worry me, Suze.
Suzanne Vega Fanclub, Piccadilly Line Delayed, 01/09/2003
[re: letter from The Belated Birthday Girl dated 02/08/2003]
Hmmmph snot fair! Why don't my letters receive a 'Nicely Spotted Darling'.
No replies about acne please.
Heh. In an unrelated matter, Suze (whose interest in space travel has been noted elsewhere) thinks you should read this document. (Be warned, it's a 9.85mb Acrobat file.)
Rob D, Croydon, 07/09/2003
[re: letter from The Cineaste dated 05/07/2003]
OK, OK, Croydon is in Saarff London, innit? That's why it's called 'The London Borough of Croydon'. And anyone else starts dissin my hood gonna ge' a visit from the boys, see?
Tsk. South Londoners. Next thing you know, they'll be organising mince-by shootings.
Sheryl Crow Fanclub, Piccadilly Line, 08/09/2003
Greetings you all. This is to announce with much gravity and fanfare (or should that be gravy and funfair) that the Suzanne Vega Fanclub (or the artist formerly known as) is from this point on to be known as THE SHERYL CROW FANCLUB.
All guarantees and existing contracts will of course be honoured.
P.S. Broadband (Real Media) users may like to click here.
I can't just start calling you Sheryl now, Suze. That would feel weird.
James, Aberystwyth, 26/09/2003
Hi, just read your review of the Asia Extreme festival and was pleased to see that there are others who appreciated this season of films. I'm currently at university in Aber, but I spent summer at home in Southport in the north west, and once I heard that they were doing this festival, I made the effort of going up to Liverpool by train and going to the UGC cinema every two weeks to catch the latest film in this season. Unfortunately I missed Shiri but I saw it recently on video, yet all the other films I didn't miss, especially Happiness Of The Katakuris, which I thought was a genius film, and currently I'm obsessed with the work of Takashi Miike. I'm using his masterpiece Ichi The Killer as part of a 3 part portfolio for an alternative cinema module, and currently just ordered the book Agitator by Tom Mes, which profiles much of his work, and I have admiration for any director who can make 7 films in a year.
Going back to Asia Extreme, unfortunately the screenings I attended, which were mostly early evenings on a Saturday cause I had to work most week days, were not packed out to say the least, and it shows the problem that these sort of films face in that many won't see them cause of the subtitles or they just aren't well informed about them and are more informed about the latest Hollywood blockbuster that's out, which is unfortunate as these films show a lot of imagination and ideas that I haven't seen in American cinema for a long time. Though it was a great season and it's fun when you can go and see Fulltime Killer on a Saturday afternoon while they are playing Spy Kids 3 in the same multiplex. I hope they continue or even better do another season again and once again it was good reading your review. See you in the future.
The Belated Birthday Girl, who's also a major fan of Miike, can confirm that Tom Mes' book Agitator is a terrific piece of work. Half the films covered in it may well never be seen in this country, ever: so as a key to understanding how the director got this way, it can't be beat. Except it's already out of date, as he's still making films at a rate of knots. Since the book came out we've seen his barmy Yakuza horror flick Gozu at the London FrightFest, and this month the Leeds Film Festival will be showing the apparently more genteel Shangri-La. So don't worry, I think you've got plenty more of these films to look forward to.
The Sheryl Crow (but you can still call me Suze, Spank) Fanclub, Piccadilly Line, 30/09/2003
So anyway there are two men on safari in one of Africa's deepest jungles. Suddenly a message comes over the radio warning them that a deadly man eating lion is heading their way.
"I better put on my running shoes then" says the first man.
"Don't be silly" says the second man, "you can't outrun a lion."
"I don't need to outrun a lion" replies the first man. "I just need to be able to outrun you."
Meanwhile, Suze continues to spit in the face of non-broadband users by recommending this link to you.
misha (on behalf of Mr Monkey), 09/10/2003
Okay, maybe it's not so monkeyriffic, but it is news: i completely redid
Mr Monkey's site! It's got an all new design & a couple new
pages/features, everything's updated, and i converted almost everything
to php. Also, i've started collecting votes on the next t-shirt design. In the last week FIVE whole people have voted, and none of them was my mother, i swear.
... if that doesn't pick up a bit i may end up abandoning this project
for lack of interest.
How are you? What's new? What are you going to be for Halloween?
Yes, I knew about the site makeover: I noticed this week that I'd been
getting a few hits from people who'd visited your new links page, so I came
over to have a look. So I'm sorry to have to tell you... those five people
who've voted on the t-shirt design? One of them was me. (I didn't leave my
name, because I assumed occasional employees of Mr Monkey wouldn't be
allowed to take part in the prize draw.) Anyway, let me know when the new
one's ready, I'd definitely be interested. If any of you lot out there are similarly interested in a stylish monkey t-shirt,
then visit misha's vote page for details.
What am I doing for Halloween this year? As they've moved the London Film
Festival forward into late October/early November, I'm probably going to be
seeing three or four movies back to back. One of them may even be scary.
Watch this space.
Alicia Vargo, Colorado, 13/10/2003
Please add our Web URL to your search engine.
Suze? Ken? Michael Kawasaki? See what you've done? Because of all those lingerie site links you keep sending me, there are now people out there who think I'm some sort of search engine for pants. Thanks a lot, guys.
Sheryl Crow (but you can call me Betty) Fanclub, 15/10/2003
Dateline 14/10/03 - Shepherds Bush Empire
SHERYL ROCKS - IT'S OFFICIAL
As you have all probably guessed I am Sheryl Crow's number one fan (which in translation means I own three of her albums). Well this is the first time in a long time I have been nervous before a gig. Why? Well to be honest the omens weren't good. Firstly the only previous occasion I saw her - Feb 99 at Wembley Arena - it turned out to be a duff gig thanks to having tickets right at the very back of that aircraft hangar, and also because Spank The Monkey didn't buy me enough drinks.
More ominous however was last Saturday's (recorded) appearance on the Parkinson show, which I had to catch whilst flicking across from the Turkey/England match. On that occasion Sheryl literally yawned her way through a rendition of All I Wanna Do. This was then followed by a Radio 2 concert webcast from the same Saturday (I won't give the link as it is only up for seven days), where again she sounded bored, and the band distinctively weedy.
Well anyway I needn't have worried, a packed Shepherds Bush, and me in the audience (she must have known) and Sheryl kicks ass. She could have of course taken the easy option and gone for the Greatest Hits performance (God knows there are enough of them), especially as that's the album now in the shops. However we had 5 from last year's C'mon C'mon album (obviously including Steve McQueen and Soak Up The Sun), as well as songs from Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart's First Cut Is The Deepest (new single), plus that one that goes: "been a long time, been a long time, been a long, been a long, lonely lonely lonely lonely looooong time". A couple of other non-recorded new ones (one dealing with the Gulf War) were also in the mix. Oh yes and of course all the big hits: Every Day Is A Winding Road, If It Makes You Happy, A Change Will Do You Good, Leaving Las Vegas, All I Wanna Do, and probably one or two others I can't remember.
The point is the band rocked and Sheryl + voice were really blasting it out, having a good time, and making sure the audience were having one too. I mean what a beautiful woman, I sure hope I look that good when I reach forty. Anyway before you all start calling me a lucky bastard (this gig was only publicised on her website) she is playing three more dates at the Shepherds Bush Empire 7/8/9th December.
Oh yes, midway during the gig some guy in the audience shouted out "I love you Sheryl" to which she replied "Call me". Do you think she would know, if I called her instead?
Has it really been almost five years since we saw Sheryl Crow at Wembley? Crikey. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it, even though you'll still always be Suze to me.
Jennifer Monroe, Associate Director, MPC Trust, 17/10/2003
[sent to my webhosts, who subsequently forwarded it to me - Spank]
We have noticed that despite several attempts to encourage your user "[Spank The Monkey]" to cease his use of our trademark "You've Got Post" on at least two html pages published to your network, the infringement continues.
In fact, MPC Trust has owned and operated "You've Got Post!" since 30 January 1999. We have developed an outstanding list of users, and honed our brand through patience and appropriate reactions to the market in which we operate. However, continued unauthorised use by your user "[Spank The Monkey]" cannot be tolerated.
We have attempted to contact your user several times. We have written emails which have gone unanswered. In response to one of our emails, your client published the following: "All original content (c) Spank The Monkey 1998-2003. All other copyright material is used here without permission for review purposes only. Any attempt to sue me for its use will result in pictures of you having sex with a dog being circulated across the Internet. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Murdoch. Don't push me." http://www.gleeson0.demon.co.uk/index.htm
Therefore, we request that you require your user "[Spank The Monkey]" to remove all references to our trademark without further notice. In the event that your user does not immediately remove the offending content, we will instruct a UK solicitor to pursue a claim of trademark infringement without further notice. Unless your firm takes the appropriate action against your user, you may also be held liable for damages resulting from the continued infringement of our trademark.
I really wasn't sure how to respond to this initially, for a number of reasons:
was, however, aware of its use by AOL UK, which is why I used it as the title: it's the British equivalent of their world-famous "You've Got Mail", and is spoken by no less than Joanna Lumley whenever email arrives at a British AOL account. As they've been using it since at least 1997, I'd assume that they've got a stronger claim to the phrase. Perhaps Jennifer might want to consider suing AOL instead.
- The general impression I've got from several people (notably my legal advisor Mr Fischer) is that the key issue here is if my use of the trademark can be construed as some sort of passing-off - that is, if a casual visitor could somehow mistake my site for MPC Trust's, because of our shared usage of the phrase "You've Got Post". MPC use it as the name of a webmail service: I used it as the title of an article about internet mailing lists. You'd have to be heavily concussed to mix the two up.
- "We have attempted to contact your user several times. We have written emails which have gone unanswered." - well, that's a lie, as far as I can make out. I haven't heard anything from MPC Trust at all prior to this letter (which, as I've said, wasn't sent to me anyway).
- "In response to one of our emails, your client published the following..." - well, that's an even bigger lie, and one which can be proven as such. The watertight 'sex with a dog' legal disclaimer on my front page was not written in response to one of MPC's non-existent emails: in fact, archive copies of the page on the Internet Archive site show that this exact wording has been in use since September 2000.
- When I wrote the article back in May 1999, I wasn't aware that "You've Got Post" was a trademark of MPC Trust. I
Mind you, at the time of writing MPC still hadn't got around to completing registration of the trademark, so perhaps she might not.
But anyway, it's quite worrying to get a mail like this, so I couldn't decide whether to comply with its demands or not. And then I did a little research on MPC Trust: and I found that as well as webmail services, they're also pretty heavily involved with the porn site market. Jennifer herself was involved in a legal tangle only a few months ago, in which (as reported by MPC's own news site) she accused a Greek ISP of stealing bandwidth out of the mouths of honest whoremongers.
That helped clarify my response, of course. The Spank The Monkey brand has been carefully built over a period of more than five years, and obviously there's a risk that any perceived link with pornographers will tarnish the reputation of that brand. I'm therefore happy to make changes to the pages in question, so as to avoid damage to my good name from association with MPC's one-handed websites. Naturally, I have considered the possibility of seeking reparations from Jennifer and MPC Trust for the damage that this association may have already caused, but I've decided against it. I'm happy for now just to be comfortable knowing that I have the moral high ground, and also knowing that come the day of judgment MPC Trust will be swept away in the Lord's cleansing fire.
FourSquare, Ambridge, 24/10/2003
Not sure about the new look, hope you enjoy the rest of the festival, I'm off to the Bull for the afternoon.
I've never had a fictional character off the radio write to me before. It's rather exciting.