Stalingrad Tank Trap

Happy new year one and all! Let’s hope this year is somewhat less vicious when it comes to beloved celebrities and musicians.

Anyway, back in 2000 a Russian DJ by the name of Oleg Kvasha had a hit in Russia with a fairly generic dance track titled зеленоградское такси. For those of you unable to read Cyrillic (what are you doing with your life?) that’s Zelenogradskoe Taksi or Green City Taxi – although it often seems to be referred to as Zelenoglazoe Taksi instead which means Green-Eyed Taxi. Here it is…

Not long afterwards musician and TV presenter Aleksandr Pushnoy re-recorded a bunch of popular Russian pop  and dance songs in the style of scary German Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein – including of course Zelenoglazoe Taksi. And the result is glorious! 😀

The video – despite fitting so well – isn’t original to the song. It’s the intro from a 1994 computer game, the Doom clone Quarantine. In this game you play a post-apocalyptic taxi driver picking up and delivering passengers around the crazed streets of Kemo City, shooting up and running down attacking psychopaths with a variety of vehicle mounted weapons all the while. You know, good old fashioned fun.

Jumping forwards to 2007, the Austrian group Global Deejays released their own remix of the song, titled Zelenoglazoe Taxi

What’s interesting about this is that I strongly suspect it’s the inspiration for Stalingrad Tank Trap, a track mentioned in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novel Whispers Underground

I put my ear against the cold metal of the nearest door – the bass rumble was enough for me to identify the track.

‘”Stalingrad Tank Trap”,’ I said. ‘By Various Artiz.’

I like a bit of drum and bass to dance to, but Various Artiz were notorious for cranking out one identikit track after another – they were as close to mainstream as you could get on the club circuit without turning up on a Radio Two playlist.

My logic is as follows.The original name of the track referenced the Russian city of Zelenograd, hence “Zelenograd” = “Stalingrad”. “Tank Trap” sounds suspiciously similar to “Taxi”. Naming your group “Global Deejays” is only slightly less inane and generic than “Various Artiz”, and from what I can gather the general opinion of Global Deejays is pretty much as Peter narrates in the extract above. Quod Erat Demonstrandum!

Maybe I should tweet Mr Aaronovitch about it? Or maybe not 🙂

To quote the Propellerheads – that is all!

Deus in Machina

Shocking isn’t it? I say I’ll start updating again, and then complete silence for weeks. I’ll claim the psychological shock of returning to work combined with the first day of said work coinciding with the hottest day in 18 years – 44.4º C to be exact (about 112 in the old money), which is the kind of temperature that requires the better part of a week to get over no matter how mild the subsequent days may be by comparison.

In any case, I survived both the resumption of the daily grind and mother nature’s seeming determination to kill me and it’s probably time I made some kind of update. So here I am.

Books. I have now finished some of the books I got at Christmas, in addition to The Martian which I devoured in under 12 hours. The latest Peter Grant novel for instance, Foxglove Summer. It’s quite a different beast to the previous installments as it sees PC Grant leave the familiar environs of London for the open countryside. Not to fear however, things out there are just as strange as in the big smoke – maybe stranger. Unless I’m mistaken it’s the longest novel in the series so far, but it doesn’t seem long – it flows along as enjoyably as any of the other books.

If I had one complaint it would be that it ends rather abruptly with something of a deus ex machina (or perhaps more accurately deus in machina). I have to wonder if Ben simply couldn’t stop writing and his editors had to cut him off. In any case it’s well worth a read and a worthy addition to the series.

The second book is Graham McNeill’s Gods of Mars, the conclusion of his Adeptus Mechanicus trilogy. While quite good, I feel that it’s not quite up to the standard of the previous two entries (Priests of Mars and Lords of Mars). Graham had a lot of balls in the air at the end of Lords, and it seems as if he wasn’t quite sure to do with them all in the concluding volume. As a result the various plot lines kind of smash together in an uneven fashion to bring them all back under control. That said, the characterizations are still great, the dialogue enjoyable, and a variety of Xenos we hardly ever get to see pop their heads up for a brief moment in the sun, which is always fun.

One thing I must take Graham to task for however is the sneaky references he keeps slipping in. Honestly, it’s like he has some kind of strange disease. I can accept for instance that the Imperium might well rescue and refit some burnt-out battlecruisers found drifting near the shoulder of Orion. And it is in fact logical that a cadre of weaponised hunting hounds (which are lean and athirst) might be named Tindalosi. But an ancient Adeptus Mechanicus scrying device named a Mars Volta? Seriously Graham, seek help before it’s too late! ;D

In addition to reading books, I went to see The Imitation Game with Rebecca and Dom. It was really, really good. Historically inaccurate on a number of points, but a really excellent movie. I was particularly impressed with the way they included explanations of cryptological concepts like cribs and cillies into the plot without having to load the viewers down with exposition. Although not 100% accurate it’s a fitting tribute to one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, and if you’re at all interested in Turing and Enigma then you should go and see it immediately.

OK, that wall of text should make up some for my lengthy absence. Now go and make your own damn entertainment! ;D

Stadtkrones Ahoy!

For all my fine words about taking a break from the Peter Grant series I bought volume 4 – Broken Homes – on Wednesday evening and finished it on the way to work this morning. Another great read with some fascinating information on German architectural theory (the idea of a Stadtkrone intrigues me). But that ending! How could you do that to us Mr Aaronovitch?! How?!

The Mythbusters were great! Apparently we were the biggest crowd they’ve ever performed to. And Adam was greatly amused by the idea that people from Perth should be called Perthlings. I was sitting right at the very back but still managed a few decent photographs, which I’ll put up once I get the chance.

Where the Pink Flamingos Stand

I’ve really been getting into Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series of late. For those not in the know it’s a series of urban fantasy books about a rookie cop in London who finds himself apprenticed to the UK’s last operating wizard, who also happens to be an Inspector in charge of a department of the Metropolitan Police that they don’t like to talk about. They’re great reads with sharp, funny writing and plenty of geeky references to both popular nerd culture (book number three mentions Space Hulk for crying out loud!) and the history of London – both subjects dear to my heart.

I’ve read the first three so far. I actually enjoyed the first one (Rivers of London or, if you’re American and thus can’t be trusted with proper book titles Midnight Riot) so much that within ten minutes of finishing it I had purchased and was reading book two, Moon Over Soho (it helped that I was in the city at the time and hence only a few minutes walk from White Dwarf Books). On two occasions while reading the series I almost shouted out loud in a public place – the first when I figured out who the villain in Rivers of London was (a full two pages before his give away catchphrase I would like to point out ;)), and the second from sheer astonishment at Nightingale’s reminiscences about tiger hunting – which is pretty impressive for someone as reserved as my good self.

Prior to picking up Rivers of London I was chiefly familiar with Ben due to his work on Doctor Who, he being responsible for the classic McCoy era story Remembrance of the Daleks and its brilliant novelisation. I was already a fan simply because he included in that work a reference to the British Rocket Group, but he has now been elevated into the pantheon of my absolutely favourite authors. I’m very much looking forwards to reading the continuing adventures of PC Grant, but am taking a break before moving on to Broken Homes to minimise my risk of hyperthaumaturgical degradation.

Now, it’s inevitable that the title of book two in the Peter Grant series – Moon Over Soho – would not as intended remind me of jazz music, but of The Drew Carey Show. As such I’ve been wandering around the flat singing to myself…

Moon over Soho bring my love to me tonight!
Guide her to Lambeth, underneath your silvery light!
We’re going shopping! So don’t lose her in Wapping!
Moon over Soho, tonight!

(I cannot see any reason why someone would travel from Soho to Lambeth via Wapping, but when the Muse calls you gotta accept the charges).

After several weeks of such awfulness it occurred to me to do some poking around to try and find the source of Mr Carey’s first season ditty, and with very little trouble I tracked down the original, as broadcast on Cleveland area TV station WJW in what would appear to the early 70’s, but based on contextual clues can be no earlier than 1988…

I really like it. Singer/Songwriter Bob “Mad Dog” McGuire has a fine voice, and I enjoy the way his slightly tongue in cheek lyrics depict the North Coast of Ohio as a setting for romance equivalent to Hawaii or Capri. Well done Bob!

On top of his cut down opening theme performance Drew Carey actually recorded a full version of the song, giving it more of a swing…

Also, in an act of wonderful lunacy, 90’s Canadian white boy rapper Snow also did a version for the final season of The Drew Carey Show, which is one of those things that you need to hear to actually believe…

So yes. Read the PC Grant series, keep an eye out for anything involving Ben Aaronovitch and consider Lake County Ohio for your next romantic getaway!

PS: I wonder if Mr Aaronovitch is aware that a branch of the river Tyburn passes almost exactly underneath the Folly? This cannot bode well…