52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Take off your overcoat, you're staying for the weekend

Oi oi! Friday night. Lovely-jubbly. Just before I get a curry in and uncork a cheeky bottle of red, it's time for our regular weekly pilgimmage to the land where the Earworm is King. I've been experimenting this week, and I've been seeing how often I can deliberately inflict an Earworm onto the poor guy who sits next to me at work. It turns out that it's pretty easy, and this week he has inexplicably found himself humming "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand, "The Model" by Kraftwerk, "Talk" by Coldplay (all the more impressive as he had never heard the song before I hummed it quietly next to him for a few minutes), "The Deadwood Stage" by Doris Day ("whip crack away, whip crack away, whip crack away!") .... and perhaps unforgiveably, "Dancing In the Moonlight" by Toploader. He had his revenge though: I went off to a meeting, and when I came back, I discovered to my chagrin that I had been reinfected with the damn song as he was still humming it. Gah. I blame Fox.

Anyway. This week's Guest Editor is comfortably my favourite Singapore based ex-pat teacher of all time.... (for some reason the intro to "The Boy With The Arab Stap" has just started playing in my head. Curse my wretched susceptibility to Earworms!). He's also a longtime reader of this blog, and has been known to grace a stage in a Destiny's Child -ahem- 'tribute' act. Looks quite the part, too.

Yes. Ladies and Gentleworms. Without further ado... it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure:

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #19 - Mike from All Right Here?

I have a relationship with earworms which is often full of regret. Sometimes I’ll hate a song so much, or find it so laughable, that I listen to it lots of times just so that I can win an argument about how bad it is because I’ll then know the reasons why it’s so bad. I know the entire choruses to two R Kelly songs, for example. My regret is that, as a result, neither of them ever leaves my head for very long. I almost made the same mistake with Usher recently, but realised what was happening just in time. Fortunately, there are some good songs in my head too. I thought about lying and just putting good songs down, but it’s a real honour to be writing on SwissToni’s Place, so I want to do it properly. Here goes nothing, then.

The Vapours - Turning Japanese
I’ve only got this on a best of the 80s cd or something. It came on my MP3 player on shuffle the other day. It kept me awake all night and it really sticks. Some people think it’s about onanism which, interestingly, can have a similar effect.

Nelly - Ride Wit Me
Nelly. In his younger days a pair of plasters used to adorn his cheeks and he wore silly hats. He’s now matured into an artist who just wears silly hats.

Anyway, this song is the one that goes “Must be the money!” and I blame its earwormness on a school camp I was supervising when it came out. My colleague and I were washing up while the pupils were being teenagers in the next room – you know, dousing themselves in black make-up, hugging each other and crying about important things like how fat they thought they were. We were listening to the radio as we were washing up and both agreed that, even though we were far too old to really appreciate it, this Nelly chap had written a rather catchy sounding “rap” with an infectious chorus. In the manner of your dad, we started singing “Hey! Must be the money!” with some enthusiasm. We turned around to discover that most of the teenagers were standing in the doorway, looking at us incredulously.

Nelly, they informed us, was “lame”.

It’s never really left my head since. It came out in 2000. Argghh!

Spandau Ballet - Gold
This is an all time favourite of mine and a karaoke standard. I always ensure that I hold the mic in a Tony Hadley manner, you know, as if it’s one of those cigarette holder things.

For many years I thought it contained a reference to “the man with the suit and the face”, which always made me wonder what the man with the suit but without the face might have looked like. A great tune, I thought, but what nonsense these lyrics are. I discovered recently, however, that the lyric is actually “the man with the suit and the pace.” So that’s cleared that up.

Hard Fi - Hard to beat
A euphoric, rolling, uplifting song that manages to sound rocking and a bit housey all at the same time. The song’s about a guy seeing a girl that he likes, going up to her and saying, “Hi, how you doing?” This line, believe it or not, actually works, and one chorus later she’s already removing his shirt. It reminds me of being young and having much better lines than his, but them not working.

For pure energy and that feel good factor, this song is… er… hard to beat…

R Kelly - I Believe I Can Fly/Ignition
Well, one thing’s for sure. He’s no Shakespeare.

Two songs at once is, of course, cheating. For reasons explained earlier, these two often worm their way into my head as a kind of R Kelly medley, one segueing seamlessly into the other. “I Believe I Can Fly” contains the simplest and commonest of rhyming couplets, which therefore renders it empty and meaningless. He rhymes fly/sky day/away soar/door. Must have taken him all of two minutes. And the passion with which he sings these lyrics that a five year old would dismiss as, “Not my best work, Miss,” makes me laugh at him.

And so for “Ignition”. It’s too ludicrous for words, so what did I do? I learnt every word of the chorus.

Recently, some kids did an assembly on a history trip they’d been on to Vietnam. For the photo slide show at the end they chose “Ignition” as their background music. A somewhat incongruous choice, I thought. The best thing was, the teacher in charge of the music turned it up when the intro started, before hastily turning it down as soon as R Kelly started describing the sordid details of his “freakin’ weekend”.

Simon And Garfunkel - America
Simon and Garfunkel songs pop into my head more than anyone else’s, I think. Whether I’m “At the Zoo” or meeting “Old Friends”, whether I’m “Homeward Bound” or watching that “Most Peculiar Man” George W Bush on the telly, they have a song that pops into my head for the occasion. The one that permeates most, though, has to be “America”. I love the lyrics. “Laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces/She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy/I said be careful, his bow-tie is really a camera”. This reminds me of Ella and me “people watching”. It’s a romantic song, but there’s more than a smidgen of 2000s US/British paranoia about it too.

Teenage Fanclub - I don’t want control of you
This isn’t my favourite Teenage Fanclub song, but it’s the one that’s running round my head at the moment. What I love about this song is the lazy, carefree strumming, the beautiful harmonies, the great melody (obviously) and the dramatic key change just before the end. The main bit that’s going round my head is the falsetto harmony that accompanies the key change so I’m giving myself a bit of a headache, as you can imagine.

Kelis feat Andre 3000 – Millionaire
It’s the bass line and Kelis’ sexy voice coming in that appeals about this one. It’s very enjoyable to pogo around the living room to. I was singing it all day today. Kelis plus Outkast equals pop heaven. It makes me think of rain at night for some reason.

Ash – Orpheus
I’m not interested in fast cars or even driving quickly in a normal car. Indeed, most people make no bones about telling me that I drive like a Grandad. I don’t care. I have no desire to drive any differently. Until this song comes on, that is. When it does, I picture myself hitting the open road in a convertible, drop top down (as Craig David might put it), driving excessively fast on a beautiful summer’s morning. It’s the melody that has this effect on me, despite the fact that the lyrics mention both “sunshine in the morning” and “the open road”. I reckon they wrote the lyrics to fit the melody. Whatever. It’s a winner.

Kings of Leon – King of the Rodeo
This is in my head because I’ve been listening to a lot of Kings of Leon lately. This is probably my favourite track because it makes me drop whatever I’m doing and bellow along. I keep getting different bits in my head. The riff which kicks the song off is very simple and very hummable. The thing I like best about singing along to Kings of Leon, though, is the fact that I can understand about one word in twenty. It sounds to me like they’re singing in Polish or something, so when I sing along I can make up my own language. It’s kind of my own individual club singer round from the tv show “Shooting Stars”. For all its indecipherability, it’s pure, unadulterated class.

Cheers Mike. Good list my friend, good list. Good choice for number#1 too (Statue John will no doubt be along to voice his approval in due course). Very eloquent explanations too.

Speaking of cheeky reds, next week's Guest Editor will be RedOne from Run Over By The Truth. For some reason, I thought that Red had already had a stab at this, but upon review of a list of previous guest stars, I realised that this was not in fact the case. Red has a lot to say about music, and was good enough to find the link to a very sad and appropriate blues song for me the other day. Not before time, Red's absence will be remedied next week, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I can hear the dulcet tones of a jalfrezi gently beckoning me..... À bientôt, my lovelies.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo]

Thursday, September 29, 2005

here we are now entertain us

I mentioned somewhere below that I was already a published author. This is something of an exaggeration, but I have had a few things published in a few odd places over the years. From time to time, I think I'm going to start sharing some of this juvenalia with you all. I will publish it totally as it was... so please feel free to laugh heartily at me (and my goodness, for some of them, I think that's the only sensible reaction).

Our first piece comes from that illustrious newspaper, The Camarthen Journal. I have never had the pleasure of living in Wales, but for a brief period in the early 1990s, I was a regular contributor to the "Young Camarthen Journal" section on a Wednesday. They paid me the princely sum of £25 per article, as I recall....

This one dates from Wednesday 18th August 1993. Other headlines in the paper that day were:

"Thieves target busy car park"
"Nightclub plan thrown out"
"Coracle races 'could be the last ever'"
"Store staff set for a fun day"
and my favourite, "Sheep dip warning"

Tucked away on page 14 was this little gem:

Heavy Metal or Simply Lead?

Heavy metal was the term coined in the 1960s to describe the effect that the music of Black Sabbath had upon the ears of a journalist who had gone to one of their concerts. He obviously did not like them.

The genre has never had the best of reputations but it has perhaps never recovered from that infamous incident when Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a live bat whilst on stage. Certainly such hard rock music has bever enjoyed the best of relationships with the press, provoking such sensationalist headlines as "Rock star ate my hamster" and the overuse of that old cliche about sex, drugs and rock and roll.

In the interests of research, your intrepid reporter decided to see what all the fuss is about....

The biggest complaint about the genre is that it is simply noise - well, yes I suppose that this much is true, but then again, the same is said by many people about rave music, which seems to consist mainly of car alarms and whistles. A practised ear, it seems, can pick out the lyrics with ease. Those same lyrics, too, seem to have advanced beyond the normal macho male posturing and are now more self-consciously "thoughtful": "Civil War" by Gun N'Roses and "One" by Metallica deal with the horrors of war, and the line "What's so civil about war anyway?" is a good deal more advanced that the ironically rather limited "Techno, techno, techno, techno" of 2Unlimited.

All well and good, but the fact remains that many rock starts are actually quite sad. W. Axl Rose is a prime example: Guns N'Roses are an uncompromising band that rose from the dross in Los Angeles to become adored by almost as many pre-pubescent girls as Take That. Despite this, however, Axl seems to consistenly provoke riots at his concerts by keeping people waiting for hours on end, and hurls childish insults at other musicians and journalists who dare to pass comment on the self-styled biggeest band in the world, most notably and childishly in that great anthem "Get In The Ring". Despite the alleged spontaneity of each wrecked hotel roo and smashed TV, the idea is not a new one and those who do this act little better than primadonnas. Entertaining, perhaps, but not funny.

Whether we like it or not, heavy metal is playing an ever greater part in the shaping of society with the advent of such bands as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. "Grunge" has well and truly arrived and is even beginning to hit the catwalks in Milan and influence the subject matter of Hollywood with films such as "Singles". The grunge phenomenon is both heavy metal and a reaction to it. Metal has tended to become something of a parody of all the things that once made it so influential in the 1960s and 70s with such bands as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Now the genre is perhaps lacking some imagination and can only benefit from a new range of influences: punk (Nirvana, etc.), funk (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, etc.) and rap (Rage Against the Machine). Perhaps it is this influx of new blood that aids the survival of such comfortable old warriors as David Coverdale and Robert Plant.

Grunge also shows a post-modern attitude towards its lyrics, and the likes of "Smells Like Teenspirit" have become immensely popular, and yet their lyrics seem to be deliberately unfathomable and the bands themselves are not about to explain them. As "Weird" Al Yankowich parodied: "The lyric sheets's so hard to find / What are the words? / Oh Nevermind!"

What of my investigation then? Well, after thorough research into the matter, I have decided that heavy metal will survive. The genre has been both fashionable (Nirvana) and unfashionable (witness the tasselled leather jacket, string vest and leather shorts of Bruce Dickinson, lately of Iron Maiden) and now in the 1990s it is as strong a force as it ever has been. As for me, I'll stick to Morrissey.... "Punctured bicycle, on a hillside desolate..."


Good grief.

There's more (and worse) where that came from....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

understand the world we're living in

I've just caught up on the 45 posts I had missed over at Retro-Boy whilst I was away. Well. I only missed about 35 whilst I was actually away, but when I saw how much I had missed, I was a little intimidated by the amount of posting, and kind of put off catching up until now, and a very dull game of football on the telly.

I don't know what I was worried about. It was good! I learnt that our hero has appeared on the back of an Alabama 3 DVD, that he has been offered Voluntary Redundancy, that he's signed an autograph as Moby, seen pictures of him with a shaven head, that I'm a socialist, that Louise Wener would be one of his celebrity exceptions, that there has been a devastating plague in Warcraft... and much, much more.

I also learnt that I have been tagged (once I'd worked out that I was the "Gentle Giant").

Here we go then:

7 things I plan to do before I die
1) See a whole lot more of the world than I already have
2) Find a job that is both fulfilling *and* worthwhile
3) End all war and bring social justice to all
4) Spend a lot of quality time cuddling my lovely girlfriend
5) Become carbon neutral (should eat fewer beans, right?)
6) Become a published author
7) Become a grumpy old man (ideally not one that smells of piss)

7 things I can do
1) argue the toss about anything, with anyone
2) raise either eyebrow independently of the other
3) cook a mean chili-con-carne
4) Get a grump on with the best of them
5) juggle
6) stay in bed for hours and hours and hours
7) watch a game of cricket for 5 days straight and not get bored once

7 things I cannot do
1) sit still (especially when I'm in the house on my own)
2) goalkeeping
3) listen to classical music
4) keep my mouth shut
5) leave an open packet of biscuits in the house
6) stop my face from showing what I'm thinking - good or bad
7) tolerate Simply Red

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
1) brains
2) wit
3) a sexy nose
4) a twinkle in the eye
5) the way she moves
6) standing up to me
7) having strong opinions

7 things I say most often
1) "wanker"
2) "bollocks"
3) "fuck" (in all of its infinite variety)
4) "piss off"
5) "nice"
6) "we are where we are" (at work, all the bloody time)
7) "that would be an ecumenical matter"

(you lot are probably as good a judge of this as anyone - you tell me)

7 celebrity crushes
1) Julie Christie
2) Catherine Keener
3) Zoe Telford (from Teachers and Absolute Power)
4) Jane Fonda (c. Barbarella)
5) Isabel Adjani (especially c. La Reine Margot)
6) Disco Kylie (not pop moppet Kylie)
7) Angelina Jolie (I'm only human)

(I have always found this kind of list really hard, and have always really struggled to list crushes. But there you are.)

I'm meant to tag 7 other people, but I won't be responsible for inflicting this on anyone else, I don't think.

If you want to have a go though, please be my guest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I just close my eyes as you walk by

The Editors @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms

There's something about going to a gig like this that is guaranteed to make me feel old. It's probably a combination of a University town at the start of the new Academic year, a small venue, a fairly trendy band and £8 tickets. I don't think I have ever seen as much bum fluff, experimental hair & low-rent Libertines chic (as if that was possible) at a gig before now. Still, I've had a good innings: chewed a few bones, chased a few cats....

The place was rammed. The balcony was open, and a second bar that I never even knew existed had been opened to cope with the demand for warm, flat Stella. I think everyone who was anyone was there. I saw a white guy with bleached dreadlocks who might even have been W. Axl Rose (which, if he regularly travels to obscure venues in the wastelands of the English Midlands, might go some way towards explaining why 'Chinese Democracy' is so delayed....)

As usual, I was attending the gig with Lord B., and we adopted our customary position at the back of the venue just in time to hear the last chords being played by the support - "We Are Scientists" and settled in to wait for main event.

Now, I don't know if you are familiar with The Editors, but they have managed the neat trick of being hailed in some quarters as startlingly original in spite of the fact that they sound like an Interpol tribute band. To my eyes this makes them at least doubly unoriginal: copying a band who themselves are slavishly copying Joy Division. Still. I like Interpol, and I quite like The Editors' debut album , 'The Back Room', so I was quite looking forward to this. Interpol are quite a stylish band: all fringes, sunglasses and black jackets. They have that studied cool that so many New York bands seem to have. Because The Editors sound a bit like them, for some reason I expected them to adopt a similar look. So when they shambled onto the stage wearing jeans and t-shirts, with the Nottingham born guitarist sporting a Forest scarf, I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed. Singer Tom Smith did his best, frequently grabbing his head and whirling his guitar around behind his head, but basically the band lack charisma.

The whole set was about 40 minutes long, and they pretty much played their album through. My verdict? Much the same as the album really: they have one or two really cracking songs ('blood', 'munich') and a few other decent ones, but they just seem to be missing a little something. Originality certainly.

They're young, and they have some promise.... but to be honest I found them a little bit underwhelming (although a whole lot better than staying in and watching the second part of that documentary on that charlatan, Bob Dylan, that's for sure. I'll never forgive him for that truly awful gig at the London Arena where I actually fell asleep he was so bad.)

Bloc Party are next. 16th October @ Rock City.

... six out of ten. better luck next time.

Monday, September 26, 2005

and did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

I was going to talk about this last week, but never quite got around to it. No time like the present, eh? A Basra judge has issued an arrest warrant for two British soldiers after an Iraqi was reportedly killed. The two men, thought to be undercover members of the SAS, had been detained last week, but were freed by UK troops storming the police station, leading to civil unrest and much criticism of Britain's heavy-handed tactics.

Um. They're part of a foreign army of occupation; I don't think they're subject to local law. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that if your country is invaded and you want to send your invaders back from whence they came, it's not quite as simple as popping round to your local magistrate and obtaining a restraining order or an ASBO. Arresting a soldier for murder is patently ridiculous. It's what they do. It's a key part of their job description. What next? Speed cameras on the main road between Basra and Bagdhad? (Can't you just see the headlines? British Army object to speeding fines: "naked revenue generation" said a spokesman. This was stenuously denied by an Iraqi Government spokesman, who protested "This is not about the money. We're only trying to make the roads in Iraq safer, so children only have to deal with the mines and unexploded shells, and not worry about speeding Challenger Tanks and Humvees".)

Imposing rules on war is stupid and ridiculous. The idea that you are allowed to kill someone in one way, but not in another is absurd. War is chaos. You can't try and impose order on it by writing up a set of guidelines that people should follow.

Don't waste your breath objecting to the way that this war in Iraq is being fought. You should be more worried about why we are fighting this war at all, and how quickly we can get out of it.

That we fight any war.

I'm itching like a man on a fuzzy tree

iPod check in time.

As I laboured over an extremely tedious document at work this afternoon, the first 10 songs to pop up with my iPod set to "shuffle" this afternoon were.........

- > Snow Patrol - 'chased by.... I don't know what'
- > Moby - 'machete'
- > Gene - 'walking in the shallows'
- > Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules - 'mad world'
- > Joy Division - 'failures'
- > Maximo Park - 'acrobat'
- > Portishead - 'sour times'
- > New Order - 'bizarre love triangle'
- > The Ramones - 'rockaway beach'
- > Inspiral Carpets - 'sackville'

and best of all, number 11 was "All Shook Up" by the King himself.

Your turn. No cheating.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Insane in the membrane....

If you're at all squeemish, you may care to look away now.

Allow me to present for your viewing pleasure...... my brain.

(Feel free to click on an image if you want a close-up....)

I ask you - what other blogger gives you more? Could you ask for a greater insight into the innermost workings of my mind?

Samuel Pepys eat your heart out.

And yes, now you mention it, I do look a little bit like a fish in some of these shots....

(**respect due to the Eye In The Sky for these quality photos of the original scans....**)

Friday, September 23, 2005

We could be anywhere, but we choose up there

Here we are then, firmly back in the swing of the old routine... and as this is a Friday, that of course means that we get to strap on our snow shoes, wrap up warm and pack up the sledge as we prepare for another expedition deep into someone's head on a voyage of Earworm discovery. Let's just hope that when we get there we don't find that Roald Amundsen got there first.

This week's Guest Editor has been waiting very patiently in the wings for his turn at this for some time now. He is something of an authority on music and is kindly taking a moment away from being fed peeled grapes by the hands of some dusky indie princess to beam his thoughts to us tonight directly from his throne as Clearlake's official webmaster....

Ladies and Gentleworms....without further ado.... it is my great pleasure to introduce for your listening pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #18 - Capt.Damo from Noise!

So, the gist of this earworms thing is “sounds stuck in one’s head”? Right. On the night I’m writing this, I’m getting ready to make a 500 mile round trip to Scarborough Castle for a bit of a rock shindig. Except at least one act has pulled out, only a third of the tickets have been sold and apparently the generators won’t fit in through the portcullis.

By the time you read this, I’ll know whether the event was actually a success and you’ll be reading about it on my blog, if you like. A combination of the above events, and far too much time spent at my desk this week, has brought me to this little list.


10. Jackdaw4 – The Day I Wrote The Book

Willie Dowling is this generation’s Brian Wilson. You could argue about this, but you’d be wrong. Previously of bands such as Honeycrack, The Grip, Sugarplumfairies, The Celebrity Squares… you haven’t heard any of these, right? Catch up. Here’s his music – including the above-mentioned song.

Just a pity that they’ve pulled out of the festival I’m going to this weekend.

He briefly played with The Wildhearts too. I’ll get back to that.

9. Mew – Special

Mew will be very big before you know it. There’s a small venue tour coming up soon – get in and see them. There’s an almost religious atmosphere at their gigs, even now, and the Frengers album is absolutely essential for everyone.

I’m not convinced that this (their new single) is quite up to anything off Frengers. Have a listen to Comforting Sounds off said record. It’s a long track, make sure you hear it through…

8. Elbow – Forget Myself

Confession time. I’m on the credits list of Elbow’s last record, Cast of Thousands. I don’t deserve to be. 15000 people sang along to Grace Under Pressure at Glastonbury 2003 and the band wanted all of their names on the sleeve. I wasn’t at that stage at the time, but I put my name down on their site anyway. I’d like to think I slightly redeemed myself by singing on it for real at Glastonbury 2004, for a fully live version released to benefit the anti-mine charity MAG.

Elbow anecdote, number two: I once won tickets to a Jack Daniel’s sponsored Elbow gig. Which meant: seeing Elbow live for free and drinking as many JD cocktails as I could. It was a good night. I went and accosted the bass player and told him how great they were. I may not have made much sense, but he smiled and shook my hand.

Hear it.

(That’s one of three album credit lists I’ve lucked my way onto, the others being Mull Historical Society’s “This Is Hope” and AntiProduct’s “Made In USA”. I sort of deserved the latter one…)

7. Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To

Oh yes. I love Franz Ferdinand – the way they sound, they way they look (and that usually means nought to me with bands), the way they conduct themselves. No, really. I remember reading an article on the so-called resurgence in British music in that glorified rag the NME. Band after band fell into the traps in the little interviews in that issue. But not Franz… Alex Kapranos made it clear that he wasn’t going to get into all this ‘drinking English tea, us against the world’ nonsense.

The video for this is great too. Here it is.

6. Silver Sun - Immediate

A story of survival against all odds.

I cannot tell you how much I love this band. Returning to the theme above, the NME loves to group things together. It makes their journalistic lives easier. For Silver Sun, it was… cough… “Britpop”. When “Britpop” died, so did Silver Sun, apparently. Except Silver Sun were a hundred times better than your Sleepers and Shed Sevens. Songwriter James Broad knows what pop music is all about. And so it was that when they made their second and supposedly final album, Neo Wave, in 1998, we weren’t supposed to hear from them again.

Cue the Internet. And a lot of people that didn’t give up. A message board with over 400 members who did more than just talk about ‘the good old days’, they liked the here and now and knew that Silver Sun should be a part of it. So it was appropriate that the Internet following got the third album first. And as of May this year, it was everywhere.

In a musical environment where so much I love fails to get attention, and withers and dies, because of the naïve playlisting policies of ignorant radio stations, it brings me impossible joy to think that October brings a new Silver Sun single.

Never give up what you’re doing if you regard that what you’re doing is worth doing. Got that?

5. OK Go – Do What You Want

“One hit wonders”, say certain sections of the press. Possibly no-hit-wonders to many of you, if you don’t remember “Get Over It”. Their second album hasn’t even been released in the UK yet. It will be soon, when they tour in October with the equally wonderful Brendan Benson.

What do you need to know about this band? Well, it doesn’t all sound like “Get Over It”. Much of it sounds like Jellyfish. Any band sounding like Jellyfish can be in my gang. Anyhow, this one sounds like this.

And above all, they’re fronted by a guy named Damian. We need more Damians in rock.

4. Goldie Lookin’ Chain – Your Missus Is A Nutter

Comedy in music. It’s not right. Shaddap You Face. The Stonk. All football records. Funky Gibbon. Ernie. The entire recorded output of Robbie Williams.

Why is comedy in music not right? Because crucially, it’s not funny.

Goldie Lookin’ Chain have managed to rise above all this by actually being funny. And (whisper it) clever, thanks to Dwain P Xain. Seriously… try and write something as clever as “Gu~s Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do” (censored for the benefit of certain people whose work filters weed out the ‘G’ word).

I went to three festivals this summer. They were at every one. The joke completely failed to wear thin for me. They’re about to release a second record, and ‘respectable’ publications are finding themselves forced to admit that they’re hanging on for the simple reason that they do what they do very well.

Comedy in music. It’s not right. Which leads me on conveniently…

3. Various ‘artists’ - annoying ringtones

Who bought the Crazy Frog record? I read that it was ‘students and office workers’. Really? I wasn’t convinced. Then just recently, after the initial hype had died down, something horrible happened.

A colleague of mine who sits near me bought the ringtone. She works very hard, and she works long hours. She’s a pretty serious person otherwise. And her phone goes off a lot.

And if you work in I.T., you tend to find that a lot of people haven’t worked out how to straddle the fine line between ‘funny’ and ‘wacky’. Funny is good. Wacky is Timmy Mallett. And dodgy ringtones. So anyway, I spend much of my day hearing dodgy ringtones of all kinds.

Conspiracy theory time. If you say anything enough, it loses all meaning… “the charts, they’re full of rubbish”, “Crazy Frog, he’s really annoying”, “GW Bush, he’s a bit thick”. Like, tell us something new. So there you have it… the people who foist the most annoying things on us in life know we’ll grow to accept them eventually, and that the people who get the funny looks will just be the ones who continue to moan about it. So they can keep foisting this baloney on us.

So I’ll shut up now.

2. The Wildhearts – Nita Nitro

Ginger is this generation’s John Lennon. You could argue about this, but you’d be wrong.

Pretty much my favourite band ever, and (all being well) the headliners at Scarborough Castle. “Metallica meets The Beatles” was how one person described them. Fair enough. Frontman Ginger knows it’s all about two things… a) the riffs and b) the tunes. What a quaint old-fashioned concept.

The press used to love them. Their antics made Pete Doherty look tame. And could they ever knock out a tune. And they still can. Only the press don’t love them anymore. Or rather, the agenda setters dictate that they don’t talk about them. Does that sound like a paranoid rambling? Well, consider the facts in the case of, yet again, the NME:

1) Current editor, Conor McNicholas, admits that he exerts some control over what can and can’t be covered to ensure editorial consistency, so the writers don’t even have completely free rein.
2) When The Wildhearts recently reached no. 18 in the charts (and appeared on Top of the Pops) with no publicity, the NME managed a brief mention of them on their website chart round-up… they were called “Hoary old rockers The Wildhearts”. Which leads me onto:
3) The NME uses age as a battering ram when it suits this agenda. The oldest member of The Wildhearts is 40. Last week’s cover star, Ian Brown, is 42.

Anyhow, if you know that it’s possible to believe that “it’s all about the music” without turning into Paul Weller in the process, you still need The Wildhearts in your life.

1. Clearlake – It’s Getting Light Outside

OK. I might be biased. I like this band a lot. Eventually, I got a little frustrated that their website was rarely updated. Shows would take place and I wouldn’t even know about them. After some major goading from a couple of people and minor goading from others that I had never met, I knocked together a site in January. It took just four hours, because I initially adapted the code from a site I had made for a container storage company. And that included the time it took to create the message board (90 members and counting).

By March, things had moved on a bit and I got the nod to make the site the official one. I was pretty chuffed about this to put it mildly. Their third album, Amber, is provisionally scheduled for a January 2006 release and it is utterly wonderful.

Here’s a demo of the track. The album version is ten times better still.

And there you have it. Thanks for letting me talk in your general direction.


Thanks Damo - a good list, and no less than I would have expected from you (although honestly, you should know by now not to get annoyed by the NME - it's what they are there for, isn't it?). One thing though: I must chide you most severely for dumping "The Stonk" into my head.... Grrr. Bloody Earworms (for reference, "The Stonk" is replacing "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers, which is just cruel).

I hope it was worth the wait.

Next week it will be my great pleasure to present one of the first people to leave a comment on this site, and the author of one of the first blogs that I ever read on a regular basis. I'm pleased to say that Mike from All Right Here will be sharing his earworms with us, direct from Singapore.

Watch this space though..... I'll be popping the insides of my head up here at some point over the weekend.....

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm just going outside. I may be some time.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Connaît toutes les rues par coeur

Scenes from a French Airport:

"Of course, nobody was buying property as an investment in those days. I paid £38,000 for our little farmhouse, and I reckon we've spent about £12,000 on it so far. Prices have doubled. I've spent most of the week doing DIY actually. Yes. The wife and mother-in-law are moving out in October, so I've been busy putting in a shower for them. They only pick idiots for those makeover programmes - only those people who have picked the impossible project. No. I don't really watch them. We're about half an hour outside of Perpignan. Yes. It's very windy. Really windy. We're also about half an hour away from a ski station. Just a small one. No poseurs. Only one black run though. I've been most surprised by the roads here: they're excellent. It costs about 35 Euros in tolls to drive down from the ferry. We tend to take the ferry to Caen as it only skirts around Paris. If you come in through Calais you hit the Périphérique and the traffic can be terrible. We live in a lovely little hamlet. Really gorgeous. There are about 30 properties in all: 9 Germans, 6 Brits and 3 Dutch. The rest are locals in their 80s who have lived there all of their lives....."

At this point my whole body was shaking as I tried (and failed) to supress my laughter, so it was with some sadness that I had to stand up and move seats to somewhere I couldn't eavesdrop on the rather one-sided conversation taking place behind me.... It's the details that I loved: the wind, the number of black runs at the ski station, when the mother-in-law is arriving. All lovingly imparted to a total stranger in an airport departure lounge in a wonderfully smug tone. Sounds like a great place to live though, eh? I imagine that his local tabac sells the Daily Telegraph.


Hello. I'm back.

It was a wonderful few days in the late autumnal sunshine of the South-West of France. We wandered around Toulouse, with its narrow streets, and beautiful crumbling brickwork that turns a shade of pink in the light of the setting sun. We sat at little cafes and drank coffee and ate croissants; we explored the markets and we browsed the boutiques. We ate well. Oh, we ate well. Saucisse, confit, cassoulet.... all local specialities and all fantastic.

We went out to the Pyrenees and wandered through a forest admiring the red squirrels, the birds and the tranquility. We hired a car and went out to explore the Cathar heartlands in the mountains, especially Montségur, a ruined fortress perched 3000 foot high on the top of a mountain.

We were blessed with clear weather, and from the top you could admire the vista across the foothills of the mountains and back towards Carcassone. On the drive home we stopped to admire the tremendously preserved fortress that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Yes, it's a bit twee and its narrow streets are absolutely packed with shops selling postcards, tea-towels and replica swords. Yes, it is generally packed with coachloads of tourists (although actually not too bad now we're at the end of the season). Yes, it has been obviously been restored in places over the years (the historian in me would almost prefer to walk around a ruin than see something rebuilt). You know what though? It is still stunning.

So what else do you need to know? That the quality of music played on French radio veers wildly from the sublime ('Take On Me' by A-ha, 'Do You Want To?' by Franz Ferdinand, 'You're Beautiful' by James Blunt) to the ridiculous ('Africa' by Toto, 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' by Stevie Wonder) and on to the simply offensive ('Sussudio' by Phil Collins). Most of the people I met though simply thought that the White Stripes were amazing and that the Clash was where it all began, and frankly that's alright with me. Mind you, that was at a party where the playlist included The Smiths, Led Zeppelin and Daft Punk, so perhaps they aren't representative....

All in all then, a great few days away. I was relaxed right up until the moment that the plane was delayed by an hour, and don't even get me started on the sour-faced welcome you get to the UK as you are penned in like livestock waiting for customs to check your passport.....

Seriously though. I'm calm.

How are you?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chasing voices he receives in his head

It's not quite that time of the week yet, but as I'm heading off to the hopefully rather sunnier climes of Toulouse tomorrow morning, this week's earworms have been brought forward by a day. I hope that doesn't upset anyone's internal bodyclock or anything....


This week's editor is a mentalist of the highest order. I'm not sure that there is any other way to describe somebody who is planning to try his hand at all of the 136 Olympic events that he would be eligible to compete in... all before the start of the Beijing Games in 2008. He's already tried his hand at things like Badminton, the 50km walk, K1 Slalom Canoeing, and of course, the Triathlon.... All for a very deserving charity: The Sobell House Hospice (who will be my official charity of choice when I get fit for the London Triathlon next year).

Yup. Ladies and Gentleworms..... without further ado, it is my great honour to present a good personal friend of mine....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #17 - John the UltimateOlympian

I suspect this will be tricky – earworms never get long in my head before getting driven off by something new. I listen to my iPod for most of the day in the office; at home, if there isn’t music on, I’m usually playing the guitar (or watching TV). If there’s one thing an earworm needs, it’s silence to infect. There’s not a lot of silence in my life. Despite that, here are the ones I caught in no particular order:

Peter Kay and Tony Christie - Is This The Way To Amarillo
I spent most of last Saturday hiding from the rain in a hospitality tent at the Blenheim Horse Trials. William Fox-Pitt’s horse was called Tamarillo. I had no chance. It could have been worse; Kitty Boggis was riding Five Boys. I’m not even going to finish that joke.

Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap
Found myself singing this in the shower in the way you do when you’re not quite sure whether or not your housemates have gone to work yet. The title track from a Belle and Sebastian album that I’m rather fond of, this one was used as the theme tune for Teachers (a show I really didn’t like when it first came out, but subsequently grew to love). The line that always sticks in my head from the song: “We all know you’re soft cos we’ve all seen you dancing. We all know you’re hard cos we’ve all seen you drinking from noon until noon again.”

James – Say Something
The Best of James is one of those albums I expected to know about three songs from, but ended up singing along with most of it the first time I listened. It has become a firm iPod favourite in recent weeks, especially at work. “More than a drug is what I need / Need a change of scenery / Need a new life.”

Leftfield – Phat Planet
It’s slightly worrying how many of these are derived from adverts or TV programmes – this one was used for the Guinness advert ‘Surfer’ (which was directed by Jonathon Glazer, who also produced this little masterpiece). When this album (Rhythm and Stealth) came out, I had just joined a gym for the first time in my life – I dread to think how many hours I spent listening to this track as I ran absolutely nowhere on a treadmill. Over the course of about six months, it must have been at least two, if not three! What a waste of money that gym membership was.

Radiohead – Go To Sleep
It was on my iPod while I walked home, then I sat fiddling about with my guitar trying to play it, and then I wandered around the house for the rest of the evening singing it. This one didn’t have to do much worming; I did everything short of offering it a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Arcade Fire – Wake Up
Currently being used by the BBC in their advert for their autumn season, this one was also used by U2 all summer as their walking-to-the-stage music. The first half of the song is apt for both purposes, but halfway through the song suddenly becomes a weird homage to Can’t Hurry Love / Lust for Life. I like both bits, but it was the first part that wormed its way into my head.

Gorillaz – Dare
I don’t have a car, and even if I did, I’d probably listen to Radio 4 or Five Live rather than music radio, so I seldom get the feeling of having a song following me around – but this one has been doing just that for the last few days. I think it was ST who once remarked in my earshot: “Gorillaz – genius or rubbish – I can’t decide.” Regardless of who said that, I’ll go along with it. This is a catchy number though, especially Shaun Ryder’s bits.

Sonic Youth – Sugar Kane
This has been on a playlist on the pod since I got back from Dublin a few weeks ago. Having spent the evening watching the Kings of Leon followed by the Pixies at Lansdowne Road, it was hard to believe the night could get any better, but it did when I walked into Whelan’s pub on Wexford Street and saw Irish and Lions centre Shane Horgan singing and air-guitaring along to my favourite Sonic Youth song.

The Divine Comedy – Gin Soaked Boy
On the same playlist (having spotted and sung at Neil Hannon at the aforementioned gig) this one keeps coming up on shuffle as well (at least four times this week). It’s not the most technically wonderful piece of music in the history of the earth, but it has to be in with a shout of having the best closing line: “I’m Jeff Goldblum in the Fly”

Pixies – Crackity Jones
A minute and twenty-four seconds of some top-class barking from Black Francis – just what you need to get through the monthly company meeting. You’re going ahead with the EU cereals project? Really? That is fascinating. I have nothing to add to that, except maybe the fact that he got friends like paco pico piedra…WOOF WOOF!

Thanks, ST. I’ll be sure to have you on as a guest editor when I start a similar feature over at the Ultimate Olympian – “Eventworms”: Olympic events you can’t stop imagining yourself doing.

Or something.


Ah John, the pleasure was all ours (I'm actually a little surprised that Tony Christie hasn't featured more often in these lists, but apparently it's less catchy than the Crazy Frog).

Next week's guest editor is the very patient Captain Damo from NOISE! Should be a good one kids (I'm predicting now that Clearlake might make the cut).

I will be back next Thursday... so until then children... au revoir. In the meantime, do enjoy this beautiful English weather (for those not lucky enough to be in England, it is dark, cold & pissing with rain - plus ca change).

I'll be thinking of you all as I sip on a Languedoc Rousillon and munch on a cassoulet.....

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

but our land does not breathe in

JJ72 at the Nottingham Rescue Rooms.

JJ72's debut album came out in 2000, but somehow it feels like longer ago than that. The band were just kids, and they sounded a bit like Placebo singing lyrics written by the Manic Street Preachers. I bought the album, listened to it for a bit, and then pretty much haven't given them a thought since. Lord B asked me if I would come along to watch them at the Rescue Rooms (ticket price £10) and as (against his better judgement) he's coming along with me to the same venue to see The Editors in a couple of week's time, I agreed. I won't say I was exactly looking forward to it, but I'm always saying I should go to watch more live music, and this is a nice intimate venue to go and watch it in.

We walked into the venue a little late, to be confronted by the bare chested howling of a Northern Irish man from a band rejoycing in the name Red Organ Serpent Sound (what's that all about? is the singer called 'Ross' or what?). I suppose the band themselves were okay, but the singer was rubbish. Apart from his semi-naked preening, he howled like a heavy metal banshee, only slightly out of key. I cocked an eyebrow and headed to the bar.

JJ72 came on, and it became apparent that although original bassist, Hilary Woods, had left the band, they had trawled the world to come up with someone who looked pretty much exactly like her (they found her in Canada, apparently). Mark Greaney meanwhile still looks like he is about 14 and has absolutely no need for a shaving mirror. But do you know what? They still sound pretty good. The voice is unmistakeable, and the material sounded okay. I won't be rushing out to buy the new album, but I will be digging out the first one and giving that a listen tomorrow. In 'Oxygen' they have at least one stone-cold classic that hasn't been dimmed by time, and 'Snow' never fails to make me smile:

why won't it snow
like they said it would
what is it that they know
that i really should

Damn those weathermen!

Naturally, this got us thinking about other songs with a metereological title:

Riders on the Storm
Sunshine on a Rainy Day
Thunder Road
Weather with You
Electrical Storm
Smokestack Lightning
and so on.... (hours of fun, feel free to play along)

This at least served to distract me from the twat at the gig (c. Damo) who this time around was some woman who insisted on spending the whole concert, which she appeared to enjoy, bellowing at her friend standing next to her... all the way though JJ72s set. Gah!

Anyway. A decent enough way to spend the evening. I think The Editors are up next, and then a long run of gigs up to Christmas (off the top of my head: KT Tunstall, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The Bravery, The Bluetones). Nice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

everything... everything... everything gonna be alright this mornin'

I've been listening to "Mannish Boy" by Muddy Waters - the version from "Hard Again", with all the "YEAAAAHHH"s and "WOOOOOOO"s, not the more sterile earlier studio version. For me, this is music at its most primal.... monumental 12 bar blues with the only embellishment being the odd single note eeked out of a guitar, the whooping, and Muddy's growling vocal.

Delta Blues. Often imitated, never bettered.

You have to listen to this stuff LOUD....


(I am going to talk at some point about my obsessive-compulsive nature, and how this manifests itself in the fit of my glasses, but I've had an especially bad day with them today, and I'm off to watch JJ72 at the Rescue Rooms tomorrow, so it will just have to wait until another day.... I've caught myself starting to be secretive about it though, which is a really bad sign, so I will definitely be talking about it here....)

listen you will see, coming on in to me

Have you ever chosen to listen to some music almost at random, and have it turn out to be pretty much perfect for your mood?

That's exactly what's just happened to me. As I sat down to a dull but necessary piece of work that I have been putting off all day, I clicked my iPod onto "The Three EPs" by the Beta Band and started to knuckle down. Those mellow beats and mumbled vocals have hit the sweet spot and progress has been good.

Mind you, before I put the Beta Band on, I had a listen to the Band Aid 20 single, and I thought that was sounding pretty good as well.

Perhaps I'm just in an odd mood.

Monday, September 12, 2005

you've got everything to fight for...

I was really looking forward to watching the new series of David Starkey's "Monarchy" on telly tonight. He's got up to the Wars of the Roses now, and the rest of the series is going to cover the Tudor period. This should be right up my street, as it was my specialist subject at University (I got a BA in Modern European and Renaissance History, and an MA in Medieval Studies). The dissertation I submitted for my Masters degree rejoiced in the title "Historical Precedent and the Deposition of Henry VI", and examined the role of Parliament in the deposition of Henry VI, trying to compare it with the removals of Richard II and Edward II, attempting to demonstrate the increasing power of Parliament and the growth of a constitutional monarchy.

Sounds great, eh? And the good news is that it's available to you from the University of York library.... don't all rush.

Now the programme is on though, I'm finding that I just can't be arsed with it. All very interesting, but a whistlestop tour (with dramatic reconstructions!) through something that I studied in some depth for 4 years is turning out not to be very enlightening.

I suppose my memory must have been better than I thought. I can't even be bothered to take issue on anything with David "media historian, never written a serious academic book" Starkey. Maybe I'll go and cook my tea and listen to The Arcade Fire instead.

My dissertation is on the bookshelf next to me, actually. Hang on a sec [reaches up for it].

Oh Good Grief.

It was only 10 years ago, but somehow I can only see myself writing this as though though a glass darkly. It was a very different me, that's for sure.

Here's a bit of the conclusion:

"Was it not the duty of a king to provide his subjects with law and justice, and also to protect his inheritance? These were the claims that had been made by the opponents of both Edward II and Richard II, and now they were made against Henry VI. These claims were not made by Edward IV specifically to draw parallels between Henry VI and Edward II and Richard II. Rather these claims reflected the political ideals of the realm of England. To fail in these ideals was to fail as king, and to fail as a king justified deposition. In this way, just as they had done in 1327 and 1399, the polity of the parliament of 1461 acquiesced to the deposition of its king."

Get me!

Still, I'm not such a pompous arse now, eh?


It's gonna be a glorious day

Indulge me for a moment will you? You may remember me banging on about it just before the first match in the series, and again after the Trent Bridge test and the Spanish Cardinal incident.... but let me hold forth on the subject one last time. Something has just happened which means an enormous amount to me: England have regained the Ashes.

"In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."

Thus reads the inscription on one of the oldest but least impressive trophies in sport (it's about 5 inches high). A tiny little wooden urn that contains the ashes of the bales burned after that famous game when Australia beat England at their own game on English soil.

I've pretty much always been interested in cricket, but the first series that I ever really watched ball-by-ball over the course of the summer was in 1989. England had held the Ashes for a decade, and looked the stronger side again. It didn't quite work out like that though: the Aussies scored 601/7 (dec) in the first innings of the summer and never looked back. England were spanked, and it's been more of the same ever since then.

Look at this shameful roll-call of series results:

--> 1989 --- 4-0 Australia (in England)
--> 1990/1 --- 3-0 Australia (in Australia)
--> 1993 --- 4-1 Australia (in England)
--> 1994/5 --- 3-1 Australia (in Australia)
--> 1997 --- 3-2 Australia (in England)
--> 1998/9 --- 3-1 Australia (in Australia)
--> 2001 --- 4-1 Australia (in England)
--> 2002/3 --- 4-1 Australia (in Australia)

16 long bloody years. We didn't just lose, we were constantly humiliated.

More often than not, when England did win a game, it was only when the outcome of the series had already been decided (the only exception being Edgbaston in 1997).

Until today, not a single player in the English side had tasted series victory against the Australians, and not a single player in the Australian side had tasted series defeat to the English. A whole generation of English players has come and gone since England last won. Michael Atherton made his test debut during the series in 1989 and retired after the final Test against the Australians in 2001. In between he played in 115 test matches and never once got close to winning a series against the Aussies... nowhere near. By way of contrast, the last Australian player to lose a series to England was Steve Waugh - who retired from cricket in 2004, but played in that 1987/8 series.

But all of that finally ended today when England comfortably held on for a draw at The Oval and won the series 2-1, thus regaining the Ashes - and what's more, they bloody deserved it. England have played some sensational cricket this summer, and have had the better of the number one side in the world. It says a lot for the Austalians that they made it such a close series: at least three of the matches could easily have gone their way. In Shane Warne (623 Test wickets and counting) and Glenn McGrath (518 Test wickets and counting) they have two of the greatest bowlers ever to play the game, and my word they didn't give in easily. It was one of the best series ever, and the country was gripped - even when the Premiership season started in the middle of the third test of the summer.

It's a great day, and I make no apologies for enjoying the moment.


(by the way, the bloke below was Richie Benaud - one of the game's greatest commentators, who was today behind the microphone for his last Test Match in England)

It's going out to idiot America

Sunday, September 11, 2005

with your chrome heart shining in the sun

Congratulations to Lord Bargain, who today completed the Robin Hood Half Marathon in a shade over 2 hours. Full details over at his place in the near future, I should think.

Good effort mate.

(and to be fair, a good morning for England too...)


The bloke on the left has always struck me as having the air of an urbane and slightly self-satisfied lizard.

He's an absolute legend, of course, but how well known is he outside of his particular sphere? I'm curious....


Pop quiz: do you know who he is? (if you do, a simple yes will suffice)

Do you know what he's famous for?

If you don't know - have a guess....

it's the same old theme since 1916....

Today saw a return to something I had rather assumed we had seen the back of. For the first time in years, there were riots in Belfast today. This was apparently triggered when the police refused to allow the Loyalist Orange Order from parading into a Nationalist area. In the wake of this, petrol bombers attacked police and soldiers in several parts of the city, and there were reports of automatic gunfire.

Several things about this make me angry:

1) The refusal of the leaders of the Orange Order to accept the possibility that it might actually have been sensible for the police (after a review) to insist that they change the route. How would it not be inflammatory for these bowler-hatted buffoons to march with their drums and their pipes through a mainly nationalist area? Is that so hard to understand?

2) The willingness of the rioters to use this kind of thing as an excuse to kick off against the police

3) The Reverend Dr. Ian Paisley. This pompous buffoon is a festering sore on the peace process. Today he chose to blame the Parades Commission for its ruling on the route, rather than deigning to condemn the violence - the unspoken assumption being that the one deserves the other. Then again, what do you expect from someone who bought their title to be called "Reverend" from a correspondence course, has an honorary doctorate from the Theological Seminary in Rockville and uses both to bolster his 'moral authority' as a gloriously one-eyed bigot.

Apologies for sounding off on this, but as if the news wasn't depressing enough already, the scenes I saw on my television this evening made me feel very sad indeed.


I was also irritated by all the talk of rising petrol prices and the need to increase oil production. Apparently we need to make sure that there is enough fuel to meet global demand.

Er.... is it just me, or is this something of a short-term solution? Unless I am very much mistaken, oil is a finite resource, and one day increasing production is just not going to be possible.

It's great to know that we're good and ready for the day that the oil wells finally run dry.

Friday, September 09, 2005

somebody say a prayer for me

Hello. Time to leave your shoes at the door, quietly tip-toe across the room and light a candle to earworms loved, earworms loathed and earworms lost. Leading our remembrance this week is the sparky Spinny herself......

Ladies and Gentleworms... without further ado... may I present for your reading pleasure, the one, the only:

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #16 - Spinsterwitch from Life As I Know It

Thanks, Swiss Toni, for tapping me this week. It’s been an exciting week for me in many ways, and this is just an added bonus.

I have a somewhat strange relationship with earworms. I spend a lot of my free brain time in my head, daydreaming. But often I spin stories of one type or another, so I don’t often “listen” to the background noise of music that may be running through my brain. So this week was hard…stopping and really paying attention to what was underneath my little fantasies.

So here they are in the order that they occurred:

10. Lost In Hollywood - System of A Down
This song is just so melodic and melancholy that it’s easily catching. And who can argue with the lyrics…Hollywood can be such a toxic place for those who don’t “make it.” This song has been the most persistent one throughout my week.

9. Row, row, row your boat – Folk Round
I caught this particular earworm during the last scene of the movie Code 46. Good scifi which lends a creepy interpretation to the lyrics. I hummed it non-stop the next morning. “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily/Life is but a dream!”

8. Son of A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
I keep hearing this song lately and every time I do, it sticks. And why wouldn’t it…

How well I remember,
The look that was in his eyes,
Stealing kisses from me on the sly,
Taking time to make time,
Telling me that he's all mine,
Learning from each others knowing,
Looking to see how much we'd grown.

7. Revolutionary Beat – Flypside
I must admit that most of the songs on the Flypside CD play through my head often, but this one had the unique privilege of flashing in my head this week after learning I’d had my identity stolen again. In particular, was the phrase: “F*ck it, let’s ride!” I guess I just wanted to get away at that point, eh?

6. Vertigo – U2
I’m plainly stumped by this one. I don’t love the song, and I haven’t heard it play in a long time. But there it was this week.

5. No Sleep Til Brooklyn – Beastie Boys
This song was, for some reason, playing a little bit of a mash-up with #4 this week. They don’t work together that well, but I couldn’t shake the combo.

4. I’m Just Raw – Lyrics Born
A local artist made good. But I was pissed to have this song in my head because it really bugs me. Why couldn’t it have been “Calling Out?”

3. Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day
Not my favorite on their new CD, but the one that’s getting the most airplay these days. I think “American Idiot” would have been more appropriate tune for the week, but when are earworms ever appropriate. But, plainly, I’d like to stay awake through most of September or I’d miss the Green Day concert.

2. I Predict A Riot – Kaiser Chiefs
I think the Kaiser Chiefs might have sold their souls to the devil for this one. All it takes to get this stuck in my head is reading the phrase “I tell thee” on any random blog.

1. Gone to California – Pink
Yes, yes, I listen to Pink. She’s a hottie and her music is just fun. This song sort of haunts me.

So there it is the backdrop to my little brain, which more often than not gets drowned out by other things. I do love that there are 3 local Bay Area artists/groups on this list. It gives me some pride that we make good music here.

Thanks for sharing your space, Swiss Toni. You are a shining man amongst men.


Thanks for sharing Spin, and you're more than welcome. In fact - anytime you want to tell me what you are listening to, you go right on ahead. You're always welcome around here.

After his Led Zeppelin geekfest here, next week's Guest Editor could only be John, The Ultimate Olympian. If there isn't some shrieking nihilism or some full-on, foot-on-the-monitor rock, I will be very disappointed indeed.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

we could feel the motion of a thousand dreams....

Are you curious to know what's really going on inside my head?

Well, I might have some good news for you: I'm going back to the quack tomorrow, and he may let me keep copies of my MRI scans. If he does, I'll post some up here so you can have a good look at the inner workings of my brain.

Oooooh.... scary.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay.

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.

Don't it make you feel bad
When you're tryin' to find your way home,
You don't know which way to go?
If you're goin' down South
They go no work to do,
If you don't know about Chicago.

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned
All last night sat on the levee and moaned
Thinkin' about me baby and my happy home.
Going, going to Chicago... Going to Chicago... Sorry but I can't take you...
Going down... going down now... going down....

no more pencils, no more books

Wow. There I was moaning that nothing much was going on, and suddenly you're all busy asking each other questions and generally getting better acquainted. It's like we're all first years in our first week at University and we've been shyly introducing ourselves to our room-mates and next-door neighbours. I reckon we've got to the stage where we are all kind of gathered together in the TV room and we're trying to break the ice.

It's quite sweet. I think some of you are even flirting.

I don't want to put a downer on things, but I think I can guarantee you that within 3 months:

--> you will be unable to stand the sight of the person you first made friends with

--> Someone will be foolishly trying to grow a moustache / goatee

--> There will have been a lot of drunken snogging

--> You still won't have cooked anything more ambitious than a baked potato

--> you will have an amazing capacity to drink watered down beer

Obviously, my role in all this is that of the dispassionate observer. It is, after all, the role I played when I actually was at University.

Best days of your life, apparently.

I graduated 10 years ago and I haven't ever had cause to look back at my time in University with any great fondness (and what fondness I have tends to fade every time they ring me up and ask me if I'd care to make a donation).

Of course I had some fun when I was there: I drank a lot, I went to Glastonbury for the first time, I messed around on the University Radio Station, I discovered email and the internet, I spent 4 months living and studying in Venice.... Yes, some good times. On the whole though, I would say that the time I spent at school has proven to have a much more lasting impact on my life. Many of the things that seemed to make University so exciting to others were not really a big deal to me. I had been at boarding school since the age of seven, and so living away from my parents was nothing new to me. For better and for worse, it was at school that most of my attitudes to life were shaped. University gave me some excellent intellectual training, but I'm not sure what else it taught me. Not much about life, anyway.

I think it speaks volumes that I am in touch with only one person I met at University, and I'm in daily contact with lots of the people I went to school with.

Still, you enjoy yourselves eh? Don't mind me.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Relax. I need some information first.

Okay the questions from OLS are now in:

Questions for SwissToni:

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, other than the UK, and assuming you could speak the language, where would you want to live?

Funny you should ask this, as C. is seriously thinking about applying for a job at the United Nations in New York. She asked me what I thought, and after about a 1 second pause, I said that I thought that living in New York would be a fantastic experience and I'd be out there at the drop of a hat. I also think that I'd be quite happy to up sticks and move to Australia. When we were in Sydney a couple of years ago, I sat in Circular Quay and watched the bustle of people going to work in their shirt sleeves in the glorious weather, often clutching a coffee or a fresh juice, and I thought to myself that this was something I could quite easily imagine myself doing. I'm sure I'm idealising it, but somehow the rush hour bustle seemed more relaxed than it does over here. C. would also dearly like to move back to France at some point, and although I am okay with this in principle, I am worried that my conversational French would not be good enough for me to be able to do the job that I do. If I could speak the language better, then I think I'd also be happy to do that. I love exploring other cultures, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life in the UK. As it turns out, I now work for a company that has offices all over the world (including Paris, several in New York State and a big skyscraper above Darling Harbour in Sydney), so it would be relatively easy for me (I think) to transfer to another country. If work wasn't a factor either... hell, I'd be happy anywhere. There's a whole lot of world I haven't seen yet.

2. Have you ever considered becoming a politician yourself and curing the world of some of it's ills?

When I was younger I did think I might like to become a politician, although that wasn't so much to do with wanting to make the world a better place as enjoying the cut and thrust of debate. As I've got older though, this ambition has pretty much faded away. I'm afraid I'm now cynical enough to think that it's not the politicians who will cure the world of any of its ills.... that'll be the people who actually get off their arses and make a difference. I want to be one of those people.

3. If you were to be a politician, would you join one of the current parties (if so, which one), or would you form your own party? If your own party, what would it's platform be?

I was first able to vote in the 1992 General Election. Since that time, my voting record in General Elections has been:
Liberal Democrat (seat held by Conservatives)
Labour (seat held by Labour)
Labour (seat held by Conservatives)
Labour (seat held by Conservatives)

If I had never voted, it would have made no difference to any of the results, as they have all been comfortable "holds" with large majorities. I find that quite depressing. At both of the last elections I have considered voting Green, but at the end of the day have baulked at voting for a single-issue party, as their grasp on the other issues has been impractical at best and downright objectionable at worst. Our "First Past The Post" political system is heavily weighted in favour of the status quo. The third party here usually polls about 20% of the popular vote, but only received 62 seats in parliament... less than 10%. Labour polled about 35% of the vote and got 355 seats. A new party just doesn't have a chance.

Putting all that to one side, what would my platform be? Blimey. Peace, Love and Understanding. Oh yes, and the abolition of Simply Red.

4. On the basis that a gig is a main band plus two support bands, what is your ideal gig as of today, based on bands that are still together and actually playing gigs today? What would the venue be?

Well, there are a number of bands on my "to see" list - the foo fighters & the pixies for starters - but I won't be putting any of them on my dream line up. I think the three best concerts I have ever been to involved Metallica (at the Milton Keynes Bowl in about 1992), James (at Oxford Brookes in 1998) and The Queens of the Stone Age (at Rock City in about 2002). They don't make the cut either. Nor do people like Interpol, Snow Patrol or the Kings of Leon, all of whom have done blistering sets when I have seen them in the last couple of years. So who makes it onto the bill at my perfect gig then?

On the basis that he isn't dead and is apparently recording a new album, can I have Scott Walker? I can't think of the last time he performed in public, but I haven't given up hope that he will. He'd definitely be on the bill. The other support act (probably opening the gig) would be Coldplay. They're ace, but I've gone on about them long enough here before, so I'll spare you any more gushing. The headliner would have to be Morrissey, particularly if he is in the same kind of mood as he was when I saw him at the Blackpool Empress Ballroom about a year ago. He's the one artist whose work has meant the most to me over the course of my life, and I fulfilled a long held ambition when the cantankerous old git played Glastonbury in 2004, although it was much better to see him in the smaller venue a couple of months later.

The venue? OK, the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury is a brilliant place to watch a gig, but that's a lot to do with the atmosphere and the various substances the crowd has been consuming all day, and it's not the best place to really enjoy the music rather than just the vibe. For that reason, I'd probably pick Rock City in Nottingham, which is a real bear pit of a venue, and all the better for that.

Blimey. That was hard.

5. If you could choose your earworms, what songs would you WANT to be in your head for a week?

Well, the most played songs on my iPod ought to be some sort of a guideline to this, but they come out as:

Dakota - Stereophonics
Speed of Sound - Coldplay
Ladykillers - Lush
I Predict A Riot - Kaiser Chiefs
Mr. Brightside - The Killers (**STOP PRESS** - a quick look at iTunes reveals that this is tied with "Nice Guy Eddie" - Sleeper)

I'm not sure that's representative, and although it's not a bad list, for my perfect list, I think I would choose differently.

If I could choose 5 songs to have on rotation in my head*, they would be:

5. "Born of Frustration" - James
("who gave the leopard spots and taught the birds to sing?")

4. "Such A Small Love" - Scott Walker
("someone should have stopped the birds from singing today; hammers from striking nails into clay")

3. "Sweet Jane" - The Velvet Underground
("Just watch me now!")

2. "Don't Panic" - Coldplay
("we live in a beautiful world...yeah we do, yeah we do")

1. "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" - The Smiths
("but then a strange fear gripped me and I just couldn't ask")

(*liable to be different tomorrow)

Great questions, really great questions!

Right then. You lot.

It's hard work, is this:

For Yoko:

1. Which fictional character would you be and why?
2. If war is the answer, what's the question?
3. What song do you think best sums you up?
4. Daddy or Chips?
5. "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding?"

For Mark:

1. If Ian Curtis had lived, how different do you think your life would be?
2. George Lucas: visionary or lucky?
3. Do twins have a special connection?
4. How has fatherhood changed you?
5. "Is There Life on Mars?"

For Jenni:

1. If you could teach George W.Bush one thing, what would it be?
2. Body Hair removal for men: yes or no?
3. What's your favourite sad song and your favourite happy song?
4. Do you think the world would be a better place without religion?
5. "What Do You Get When You Fall In Love?"

For Bee:

1. The Rolling Stones: legendary or embarassing?
2. What's your favourite poem? Why?
3. What's the most ridiculous CD that you own (and still listen to)?
4. What would be your dream job?
5. "Why Do We Say Hello?"

For Lord Bargain:

1. If you could change one thing about yourself physically, what would it be?
2. Which song best describes your experience of love?
3. Apart from your daughter, what one thing are you proudest of?
4. What quality do you admire the most in other people?
5. "You're In Control Is There Anything You Want To Know?"

For Flash:

1. If you could go back in time, which event in your own life would you change?
2. Keyboard or Guitar?
3. Would you swap your Son for fame & fortune through your music?
4. What are your favourite book, film & album?
5. "Do You Feel Like A Chainstore?"

I won't repeat the rules - this post is long enough already. Scroll down the page and it's on here somewhere. I look forward to your answers.