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

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

anonymous call, a poison pen

So here's the thing:

In the end, eighteen people answered my call for handwriting samples:

--> Jenni from Wonder(ing) Goddess
--> Aravis from Exploring Aravis
--> Di from Suburban Hen House
--> Le Flash from The World of Flash
--> Statue John from Stand By Your Statue
--> Foxy from The Urban Fox
--> Spinsterwitch from Life As I Know It
--> Chig from World of Chig (welcome Chig!)
--> Mark from Fear & Loafing in England
--> SwissToni from SwissToni's Place
--> Adem from The Big Blog
--> Rufus-Fan (who has a blog, but isn't ready to tell us where it is yet!)
--> Bee from Life in the B
--> John from The Ultimate Olympian
--> Michael from Yummy Brain Gravy
--> B1rdie Num Num from The Num Num
--> The Eye In The Sky (who doesn't have a blog, but likes prog rock!)
--> Lord Bargain from The Bargain Basement

Each one of these lovely people sent me a picture of a handwritten lyric. For a dazzling prize -- the honour of naming a post on this blog and perhaps a SwissToni mix CD -- all you have to do is match the handwriting to the person.

To help you out, an eminent graphologist (the numnum) has kindly provided an analysis of each sample.... click on each picture to enlarge.

You ready? Here we go then......

Sample 1

Mystic NumNum says: "This person has a good level of confidence, requires personal space a lot, and is fairly caring of those around. The convex baselines indicate a good starter, but a rather poor finisher in most cases. The short upper loops indicate a material person who does not partake in religious type thought. The short sharp hooks indicate a irritable and cranky persona. The lack of a g/y/f/j may have tilted this analysis off track though."

Sample 2

Mystic NumNum says: "This person is a clear thinker who is reserved and caring. This person is a tad hypersensitve, so I shall tread gently. Focused in the here and now, but with a strong fantasy drive and a very childlike demeanour in most cases. (This person is also one who dislikes unlined paper, which makes my job bloomin hard!)"

Sample 3

Mystic NumNum says: "This peson is a logical thinker, who is keen to keep distance (slightly reserved). This person is unfortunately a tad insecure, and tries to balance that by involving in social activity. The clash of behaviours leads to insecurity. A strong focus in the past, and a non-egocentric view of life. However, the slighly falling baseline indicates a level of fatigue with life, which needs rectifying to balance the usually strong focus."

Sample 4

Mystic NumNum says: "Optimism, and a bit of a penchant to dwell on the past. Another good starter but not really geared to finishing with much aplomb. Strong level of self confidence, this person is slightly emotional and spontaneous with a bit of a quick-judgement. Sometimes prone to inferiority bouts, the optimism helps keep the driver going. Sometimes childish with a bit of a dreamy quality."

Sample 5

Mystic NumNum says: "An entire song when a lyric would have sufficed, matches the overreaction quality of the narrow spacing. Unfortunately I cant see it in good detail, but it looks like a bit of an inconsistent personality - at one stage calm and another very nervous and insecure. Very here and now, material driven, so no dreams of utopia or unrealistic futures, but a bit of an optimisitic streak."

Sample 6

Mystic NumNum says: "A balanced mind, thinking a fair bit about the future. Keen to continue learing from mistakes, this person is sometimes a bit too impulsive. However, mostly a very clear thinker with a high capacity to care for others. Very determined too. But again, could do with a bit more freedom and some plain-paper!"

Sample 7

Mystic NumNum says: "An orderly person who is conventional and requires privacy. Has a strong ability to care for others. Fairly confident and proud, though more leaning towards a religious view of life, and extremely hypersensitve. A strong penchant for all things olde, a childlike behaviour and a fantasy driven mind. A very bad starter but manages to finish in the end."

Sample 8

Mystic NumNum says: "Heavens, this is all over the place. An inconsistent personality, flitting between impulsive behaviour and a bit of a guilt complex afterwards. A strong fantasy type mind, that is dirving to optimism. A not so good finisher, but adaptable, caring and conventional most of the times. As an aside, if its a man, he sure has very feminine handwriting! The kind of guy who would have a tie pin and button hole, or the kind of woman who has a trinket or two on her person, but not really driven to catwalk-style (?)"

Sample 9

Mystic NumNum says: "Looks to the future this one, but has a bit of a hangup in learning much from the past. Strong self confident, lives in the here and now. Oddly enough shows signs of a need to fit in! Sometimes childish, but a dislike of y/g/j in their lyrics, leaves me little to work with in 5 mins."

Sample 10

Mystic NumNum says: "Secretive. Sometimes hypersensitive, this person has a lot of guilt driven behaviour. Optimism keeps them going, they are a bad starter but manage to finish in the end. An objective outlook of life, they do need some time alone to themselves. An odd sense of confidence, though the ego is sometimes taking over."

Sample 11

Mystic NumNum says: "Very neat! An artistic view of life, prone to walk off the beaten track somewhat. Very controlled behaviour, with a lack of confidence in most situations. A caring outlook, with a motherly view of life, though very focused in the here and now with little time to dream and fantasise. What is striking, is that amongst this, is a bit of inconsistency, so prone to moods."

Sample 12

Mystic NumNum says: "No time to waste here! Alas inconsistent behaviour shows that this person flits a bit now and then. Keeps their distance, then jumps right in and takes centre stage. No lack of confidence here, though it is sometimes masked as uncertainty. Driven by a need to satisfy material and physical aspects of life, this person is always on the go!"

Sample 13

Mystic NumNum says: "Seems like a clear thinking person, but there are aspect of extreme chaos here. Not sure where they lie, but could be on the personal rather than work side. A spontaneous person, who seems to lack confidence. Living in the here and now, they are able to learn from the past and use that well. Optimistic behaviour, but sometimes lacks pragmatism."

Sample 14

Mystic NumNum says: "Hmmm. Lack of performance confidence, but a stong physial and material driven person. Respects authority, but lacks confidence. Clear thinking, caring and holding a bit of hidden aggression. Conventional, but a need to be slightly different. Doesnt experiemnt, but should do, and if it doesnt go well, should try again and not give up!"

Sample 15

Mystic NumNum says: "This person is tired, fatigued. They dream of something, but something is distracting them, and they dont have the energy to progress. There is confidence there, but no ego. Largely living in the here and now, they can think clearly but have a hard time finishing things. A streak of individualism, but conformist too! I suggest a holiday!"

Sample 16

Mystic NumNum says: "This essay was a bit hard to read. This person is very realistic. Very driven, and a bit on the physical/sensual side! There is a strong ego there, and a bit of a fantasy mind. But a lot of inconsistency, which means there may be some confused people around this person. A bit tired, they do finish what they start, sometimes!"

Sample 17

Mystic NumNum says: "Sometimes forward thinking, sometimes not! Very inconsistent in that aspect. Strong healthy like for the past, but a very healthy confidence. Optimistic, caring, but somewhat conventional. It looks like two people to be honest - or a split personality! One is more grounded than the other, but both have healthy fantasies!"

Sample 18

Mystic NumNum says: "Last but not least - A very bold statement. Determined, though a bit tired. Childish behaviour somtimes, but largely optimistic. Good levels of confidence here, very much here and now though. Conventional, clear thinking and caring. Very good margins too! Person is good with budgets!"


Over to you.... shall we say you've got until Sunday night to make your guesses?

Thanks to everyone for sending in their handwriting samples, and an extra special big thanks to the numnum for giving up his Sunday afternoon to pore over them and provide his often scarily accurate analysis.

radio four is static...

Alex Kapranos initially resisted the input of the image consultants

Franz Ferdinand & The Editors @ Nottingham Arena, 29th November 2005

Lord B and I saw The Editors at The Rescue Rooms back in September and I gave them a 6/10 and said that I found them pretty underwhelming. It's a really good album, but somehow it just didn't seem to work for me in a small venue on the night. Judging by the reception that they got in the Arena, there's not too much danger of seeing them in a small venue for a little while. Lord B was a little reluctant (nano novel to finish off and all that), but I had insisted that we got there early enough to see The Editors. I really like the album, and I wanted to see what they were like on the bigger stage. The Rakes were also playing, but I saw them on Jools Holland on Friday night and I thought that they were pants, so I wasn't too bothered. Lord B, Rufus-Fan and I rolled up to the Arena for about 8.15, and just had time to grab a pint before The Editors came on - timed to perfection then.

I thought they were great - singer Tom Smith has got a great live singing voice, and the sound was pretty good. The Arena has notoriously bad acoustics, but I thought they sounded great. Lord B wasn't at all sure that he liked them, but as they kicked into each song, he would turn to me and say "Oh, I like this one". I think by the end of the set, he was realising that in fact he does like The Editors quite a lot. "Blood" was good, of course, but my favourite again was "Munich". Now that's a tune. I know what album I'll be listening to at work tomorrow. Good stuff, but as you know, I like watching support bands....

In the early days the band were quite a tight knit unit

Arena crowds are funny. Without wanting to sound too snobby, whereas a smaller gig tends to be filled with more hardcore fans, arena gigs have a larger proportion of people who don't often go to gigs. Franz Ferdinand are the kind of band that appeals to quite wide range of people: they are quite young and quite cool, so they appeal to the kids, but they are also very well critically received, so the dads quite like them too. It means you get to see some great dancing though....

I saw Franz Ferdinand for the first time at Glastonbury in 2004, and I thought they were the best thing I saw all weekend. They were tight and the music was exciting. How did they compare this time? I have to say that I was a touch disappointed. The sound was turned up just loud enough for Alex Kapranos' voice to slightly distort and for some songs to stop being tunes and to start being noise (Oh Christ, I think I sound like my dad!). That aside I thought they were great, maybe warming up a little as they went along. The band look great, and they have really worked out how to make the three guitars look good on stage, often standing in formation or in silhouette . The songs are pretty good too. The stuff off their first album we know all about ("Take Me Out" being a predictable highlight, but they also played a furious "Michael", a kicking "40 feet" and as their encore they did brilliant "Jacqueline"). What about the new stuff? Not bad. They played single "Do You Want To" early in the set to a rapturous reception, but "Eleanor Put Your Boots On", "The Fallen" and especially "Walk Away" work really well live.

Overall? Gripes about the sound aside, very good. Good merchandising too, judging by the number of people in the crowd wearing rather natty black and red striped t-shirts....

Go see.



Handwriting up tonight.

Monday, November 28, 2005

try to catch the deluge in a paper cup...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Oh doctor, doctor, is this love I'm feeling?

Alan Fletcher & Waiting Room@ Nottingham Walkabout, Sunday 27th November 2005

Right, quick catch-up for anyone not au-fait with who this guy is: for the last 10 years, Alan Fletcher has played the part of Dr.Karl Kennedy in the Australian soap opera 'Neighbours'. This programme is enduringly popular in the UK with housewives and with students because it is screened as part of daytime TV -- when I was a student it was on just after the news and just before Colombo, the Rockford Files or Quincy. After Harold Bishop, Dr.Karl was one of the best things on it; grumpy, but with a heart of gold.

Now, I haven't watched Neighbours in a long time, but when I switched it on a few months ago when I was working from home, I was shocked to discover that Dr.Karl had separated from his wife Susan! They were a great couple, and this came as a terrible blow to me, one from which I am only just beginning to recover.

Anyway, it turns out that Fletch has a band, and that he was doing a tour. As part of Lord B's birthday celebrations, I attended his gig at the Walkabout pub in Nottingham this evening. I'd love to say I was dragged kicking and screaming, but sadly that just wouldn't be true, and I was kind of curious about what the show would be like. The place was, of course, heaving with students. There were lots of a banners ("Dr.Karl I want your babies", that kind of thing...), and a group of girls were dressed up as nurses. In fact, now that I come to think about it, there were rather a lot of women there full stop. I think our Fletch is a bit of a dark horse with the ladies....

Kirsty Crawford was the support, and apparently she was in Pop Idol, but I'm blisfully ignorant of these things, so I'll leave a description of her rubbish karaoke set to Lord B. Fletch kept us waiting for bloody ages, during which time the DJ tried to drive me mad by telling us over and over again that we could meet Fletch at the end of the show if we went up to the DJ booth and bought a copy of Waiting Room's album... Fletch emerged with the band at a little after 10pm, narrowly saving the DJ from a bloody death, but all irritations were soon forgotten when the set began.

I think the setlist says it all:

-> We Will Rock You
-> Somebody Told Me
-> (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles
-> Just Like Me (a Waiting Room original)
-> Wonderwall
-> Angels
-> I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
-> Susan (to the tune of "Alice" by Smokey)
-> I Wasn't There (another Waiting Room number)
-> Song 2
-> Student Love (by Waiting Room)
-> Livin' On A Prayer
-> Place Your Hands - Paradise City - Sweet Home Alabama - Hey Jude (medley)
-> Don't Look Back In Anger

It was great! Frankly, I don't think you've really lived until you've heard a character from Neighbours playing 'Song 2'....

I also learnt a couple of key Neighbours plot points:

1) Susan has met a new man (boo!). The new man is terminally ill (hurray!). Karl is his doctor, so knows this. Susan doesn't know, and Karl can't tell her because of the hippocratic oath. oooh!

2) Susan and Karl are going to get back together. Hurray!

If I didn't have a job and a life, I'd maybe start watching again.

Fantastic night out.

8/10. Franz Ferdinand have got a lot to live up to tomorrow.

next door is only a footstep away...

Right. The handwriting analysis is now in (and it's really, really scarily accurate in a couple of cases). I'll probably be putting it all up on Tuesday or Wednesday, if that's alright with you lot.

In the meantime, I'm off to see Dr. Karl Kennedy tonight and Franz Ferdinand tomorrow. Somewhere in between that and work, I need to concentrate on getting my NaNoWriMo novel finished in time for midnight on Wednesday... 47,369 at the moment...

"I can't manouevre!"
"Stay on target...."
"We're too close!"
"Stay on target.... "
"Loosen up!"

I've lost Tiree and I've lost Dutch, but the end is finally in sight.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Look at us through the lens of a camera

"Would you like something signed by Andrew Flintoff?"

As conversation openers on AIM go, that's quite a good one. It turns out that the numnum was going to be meeting the great man at an awards dinner, remembered that I had a bookshelf full of Wisdens, and thought that I might appreciate the chance of a signature.

Would I like something signed? Hell yes!

Big thank you to the numnum for the offer and for putting himself out on my behalf. Big thanks are also due to Icy, who not only took delivery of the photo that I sent down to casa numnum, but also made the trip to the post office to send it back once it had been signed, paying for the stamps herself.

I picked up the picture from the framer this morning, and it will now take pride of place in my cave, somewhere between the signed Stephen Wright photo of Morrissey & Marr, the Manet print of the Venetian Grand Canal, the poster of the cover of Abbey Road, the picture of the first Ali / Liston fight and the photo of Han Solo.

Can you tell it's a boy's room?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cutie the bomb

Evening all. How's your weekend shaping up? I've just had a couple of pints of Hook Norton 12 Days, and I'm feeling pretty mellow. The perfect mood then for our weekly visit to pay homage to the God of Earworms.

Leading our worship this week is a man who likes his music, likes his beer and thinks that Teen Wolf is one of the great movies - very much a man after this blog's heart then. Just don't mention Teen Wolf Too, eh?

Oh yes.... Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your Earworming pleasure.......

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #27 - Adem from The Big Blog

I have to admit that my earworms are a little bit more pop orientated as the week I have been mostly listening to Radio 1 [in a Jesse from the Fast Show stylee] so with any delay and in no discernable order here they are:

Black Eyed Peas - My Humps

I first heard the BEP when they released 'Where is the Love' and I though it was an okay song but I think I've actually enjoyed the majority of the songs released so far and I think this has got something to do with the way they've marketed one member of the group....Fergie is Hot! I like nothing more than to hear her seductively singing about her 'lady lumps'.

The Darkness - One Way Ticket

I thought that they'd be a one album wonder but if their new single is anything to go by then the new album should be a corker. I've found myself singing the brilliant chorus "Bought a one way ticket to hell.......and back" and loving the fact that they're still playing on the cliché and coming up with lyrics which obviously do not make sense!

Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor

This has been on a lot of trailers on the BBC and as a former No.1 how could I avoid it. It's a cracking song. I thought they might be just another over hyped band but after hearing this I may have to reconsider….this my friend is the good s**t.

Bob Sinclair Ft Gary Nesta Pine - Love Generation

This song is truly worthy of being an earworm. It's had loads of airtime and I've even been guilty of putting it on the pub jukebox lately. I'll find myself whistling a little tune later on in the evening and wonder where it came from. Well the answer is that it's the whistling bit from 'Love Generation'. Doo di do, do-do-di-di-do-do.

Kanye West Ft Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger

I absolutely worship Kanye and this one's a classic. I would say that it's been overplayed as it's been for a few months now and is still ALWAYS on the music TV channels, but I love it. I've been clubbing [well to my local club] a few times lately and when this comes on I have to dance as the bass just makes you have to move. Add Jamie Foxx's infectious vocals to Kanye's rapping and you've got a bona fide earworm. When will I stop singing to this one? Maybe when I realise I'm a just a 24 year old white boy from Kent!

Sugababes - Ugly

This is the new single and is getting loads of airtime which is what these young ladies deserve. They have blossomed into a great group [4 albums now!] who have avoided the girl-band label. The song does what all great songs are meant to do if you are feeling down. It makes you feel like you are not alone and that everyone has problems which they can overcome. [Everybody: big "ahhhhh"]. A sure hit for the lonely pre-festive period.

Hard-Fi - Living for the Weekend

Okay this has been out for a while but it’s still in my head. I've got the album but haven't actually listened to it much [feeling guilty], although this is a TUNE! It’s the chorus that really gets you "Working all the time, work is such a bind, got some money to spend, I'm living for the weekend." This is in my head all the time and it's great because it's what everyone thinks when they're in a 9-5 and they need a release.

Kelly Clarkson - Since you've been gone

The album has been promoted on TV a fair bit now and I must admit I've liked the past few singles, this being the pick of them and the one that still pops into my head [even if it is only 10 second clips from the promo advert]. It's tarnished a little bit by the fact that she won American Idol [prime-time pop sell-out] but I think she's actually making some good music in the rock-pop-indie-vox genre.

Pussycat Dolls - Don’t Cha

What can I say? 1 pretty lead singer, 5 backing 'singers', and a rapper to add credibility to an otherwise poor song. It may not be 'all that' and I don't wish my girlfriend was like them, but after hearing it non-stop for the past month how can it not be on the earworms list? Nuff said.

Drowning Pool - Bodies

I will deviate from the pop for my last earworm and this comes from Sunday when I watched XXX [avec Vin Diesel]. This song came out when I was at Uni and the New-Metal-Rock was just entering the mainstream. I remember moshing to it and can still be heard shouting "LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOOOOORRR!"


Nice list Adem. Perhaps I should make a new rule that every list should contain a song by the Pussycat Dolls? No? Perhaps not. But ... that Black Eyed Peas song? (and the fact you fancy Fergie)... you are on your own there, my friend... definitely on your own. The most irritating record since Crazy Frog?

Next week's Guest Editor is that absurdly prolific novelist Alecya from Alecya G's Plastic Castle. You broached 80,000 words yet kid?

[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, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde]

no such number, no such zone

Right. The handwriting competition is now closed. Thank you very much for all your entries -- there were 18 in all -- they are now with the numnum for a spot of analysis. With any luck, I'll be putting them all up here at some point in the next couple of days, so watch this space, eh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

there's always someone, somewhere with a big nose, who knows.


I feel a little bit like I have been neglecting you all of late. At the very least, I've not really been giving you the attention that you deserve. Well, there's only a few days more of this madness and then NaNoWriMo 2005 will be officially over, and I can slump into a crumpled heap and try to rediscover my life again.... Or I might just hang around here.

I'm 42,380 words in now, and I want to get up past 43,000 tonight. It feels like the end is finally in sight, even if I haven't thought up a decent ending yet. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. At the moment it's all about the word count.

If you are exceptionally unlucky, I'll put another extract up here sometime.

Anyway. Enough about that. I have four other things to say, and then I must away to my novel.

1) You still have time to submit your handwriting samples. My plan is to pack them up and ship them off to the NumNum for analysis towards the tail-end of the week. If you are still planning on getting an entry in --- le flash, mark, jenni --- then get your skates on. Depending on how the numnum gets on, hopefully I'll be able to pop the whole lot up next week.

2) I had my eye-check up on Saturday, and my eyes are "too flat" to be lasered. It's nothing to do with my preseciption, apparently, and something to do with needing a certain amount of curvature to get the right kind of 'grip' to enable them to make sure everything is steady before they zap you. Sounds horrific, doesn't it? I'm not far out, and their parameters may change, but a fraction of a diopter is as good as a mile, eh? I'm not really disappointed by this. I was far from having my heart set on it anyway. Now I know.

3) I went to see Harry Potter last night. I enjoyed it, and I thought it actually worked better as a film than it did as a book. I thought that "The Goblet of Fire" was the book where J.K. Rowling's publishers stopped editing her, and it could easily have been at least 100 pages shorter. By necessity, the film had to trim the flab - and it was still nearly three hours long. Ralph Fiennes was magnificent, and even the kids seem to be improving, although Daniel Radcliffe appears to be turning into some kind of bird... he's all peery eyes, long nose and pointy face. The next one should be interesting: I thought "The Order of the Phoenix" was by far the weakest of the books so far....

4) I'm listening to "The Queen Is Dead", and it's a damn fine album.

Thank you and goodnight.

Monday, November 21, 2005

sometimes I forget I'm still awake...

The Bravery @ Nottingham Rock City, Sunday 20th November 2005

Let's get the support out of the way first. It was The Paddingtons. They're apparently being touted by the music press as the latest best thing since sliced bread, and they got a reasonable amount of crowd recognition. I thought they were piss poor punk imitators. They were clearly trying to sound like a cross between the Clash and the Libertines, but their singer couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, and they weren't anywhere near being more than the sum of their influences.

The Bravery finally shambled onstage at about 10:05pm to a rapturous reception from a crowd that looked to be made up mainly of students with mullets. Against all the odds, they were pretty good. They're a funny band really, consisting of about 45% eighties synth pop, 25% Bon Jovi's drumming and 30% heartfelt, bombastic but moany vocals. At the start of the year, the force appeared to be well and truly with them: word was out, and they sold out a gig at the Rescue Rooms in February before they had officially released any material in the UK. I don't generally receive music recommendations at work, but no fewer than two separate people in the office directed me to the demos on their website.... They released two cracking singles in "An Honest Mistake" and "Unconditional", and their debut album followed in March, reaching number 5 in the UK album chart.

As the year went on though, the momentum appeared to be slipping away. Their moment looked to be passing. When the album was first released, I thought that it was more consistent throughout than "Hot Fuss" by the Killers, a band they are sometimes compared to. When I put the two albums on the other day though, it was the Killers who were miles in front, and The Bravery album sounded stale to me, too derivative. I therefore approached this evening's gig with some caution.

I shouldn't have worried. I was stood right on the edge of the crowd, up in the bar, but even from there I was impressed by the reception that the band got when they came on. The crowd were really, really up for it. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I have never seen a band get such a good reception throughout their set at Rock City as The Bravery did tonight. They didn't play the best set that I have ever seen, but they were really pretty good. Sam Endicott has an excellent live singing voice, and he really put himself about... at one point throwing himself into the crowd, to shrieks of delight.

The band played for about 40 minutes in all, playing all of their album, a couple of new songs (which both sounded okay), a b-side and a cover I didn't recognise. I wasn't expecting to be able to say this, but I thought they were good, and I will be digging out the album to have another listen to in the car tomorrow morning - you can't say fairer than that.


(it's Dr Karl Kennedy next Sunday... a tough act for Franz Ferdinand to follow when I go to see them the following night....)


I've got about 10 handwriting samples now.... if you still want to play, I reckon you've got another couple of days before I pack them up and ship them off the The NumNum for some analysis before sticking them up here for you to have a guess at who they belong to.

Sound okay to you?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Where you bound on such a dark afternoon?

Greetings fellow Earwormers. I'm in a bit of a hurry again tonight, but before I dash off to man a phone on the Children in Need call centre, I've just about got time to introduce this week's Guest Editor....

Ladies and Gentleworms, direct from New York City, I am very pleased to be able to present for your earworming pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #26 - Hyde from the Annals of Mr.Hyde

(Sorry if this got a little long! I tend to write a lot…)

1. The River, Bruce Springsteen

Early in the week, I played this on the jukebox at my local bar. Melancholy suits Monday nights at the bar, don’t you think? I love the “blue collar” character of this song, with its wheezing harmonica, lonely whistle and fantastic lyrics like “Is a dream a lie that don’t come true, or is it something worse?” I played it because this song always makes me sad. It was playing when I broke up with my first true love-- a snowy January night in a dingy pub on 105th street. I can still remember how my arms felt around his neck that night. On top of that, having been born in Jersey, something in my blood reacts to Springsteen--Springsteen and Bon Jovi… (But don’t tell anyone I said that!)

2. Kentucky Rain, Elvis Presley

“The King” is always with me. I’m a huge fan. This was another jukebox choice this week. (I mean, really-- how could I ever get through a week without Elvis?) This is Elvis in my favorite Elvis “period”—1968-1973 (or roughly speaking, from the Comeback Special to the Aloha from Hawaii Special). Slightly over-orchestrated, slightly bombastic, I love the pacing of this song, its heart and of course that melody that just worms its way into my head. How can you beat the image of a high-collared, white-jumpsuit-ed Elvis searching for his sweetheart with the “rain in his shoes.” (Yes-- the cold, Kentucky rain!) I don’t care if Elvis singing about Kentucky isn’t typical New York City jukebox fare. It was another perfect Monday night tune that ended up stuck in my head for the rest of the week.

3. O Sink herneider, Nacht der Liebe, Richard Wagner

For me, this was the highlight of a concert I went to last Wednesday night—Deborah Voigt and Ben Heppner at Avery Fischer Hall. First of all, I adore Wagner; second of all, I am absolutely enamored with Tristan; and third of all, I am in love with the idea of love, as was Wagner. This music is orgasmic and invasive—seamless. It is sweet and sickening, eating away at you in a delicious way, forcing you to merge with it. (The theme of merging, the loss of boundaries, the blending of two, is one that I’ve been turning over in my mind a lot lately). This music comes in waves. It is poisonous—infectious, dare I say, degenerate! (That is, in the Max Nordau sense of the word). The two parts that got stuck in my head the most are the appearance of the Libestod melody, and Brangane’s Watch. I’ve been humming this stuff all week. Granted, it’s easy to go flat or sharp or to lose your place when singing Wagner unaccompanied, and I can’t help but be aware of the total inappropriateness of the venture—a capella Wagner? I think I just violated the sanctity of the Gesammtkunstwerk. Oh well…

4. Ti Amo, Laura Branigan

This song is incredibly cheesy, but I love Laura Branigan. There’s something about a singer who tears her cords out for her craft that I find irresistible and viscerally appealing. I delight in the ripping masochism of it all. (Maybe it’s because I spend so much time worrying that mine stay in good health). I pulled this CD out a month or two ago, when I was going through Narc-withdrawal and heartbreak, primarily to play and reply the equally cheesy “I’m Over You.” This song is a little catchier, and emotionally less “primitive,” but it’s the one that managed to get stuck in my head. Low, throaty and pained, I love the tangle of her anger—anger at her lover for leaving her, anger at herself for not seeing it coming, and anger at the sad fact that she’s still in love. I found myself singing it on the bus earlier in the week, and it’s been with me ever since.

5. A terra addio, Giuseppi Verdi

Ah, the beautiful conclusion to Aida! Aida and Radames, entombed alive in a vault below the Egyptian temple, bidding farewell to the Earth with sweet resignation. A few weeks ago, I went to see this opera with my mom. Shortly thereafter, I pulled out my sheet music and have been singing it at home ever since. Of course, as I don’t have a tenor on standby, I have to play the tenor-line extra loud on top of the piano accompaniment and imagine a Radames standing next to me. I’ve been singing more and more Verdi lately—the dramatic sopranos (not the coloraturas). My voice still hasn’t settled completely, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a dramatic or spinto/dramatic soprano, so I’ve been having a lot of fun with Aida, and this is my favorite scene. The melody here is just achingly beautiful, rising and falling from a gorgeous round G-flat before climaxing on the B-flat. (Incidentally, B and I used to do dramatic reenactments of this scene in which he would hurl himself against the wall, cursing the unmovable stone, crying: fatal pietra! One too many bruised shoulders ended that game).

6. Ne me quitte pas, Ute Lemper

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. Of course, I first knew the version by Jacques Brel, as I “discovered” Ute Lemper several years later. Lemper is a fabulous cabaret singer, although she lacks Brel’s growling throat-rolled “R’s.” Last November I was obsessed with the culture of the Weimar Republic (mostly because of a paper I was working on) and I got into listening to artists like Lotte Lenya and Marlene Dietrich, and the songs of Weil, Hollaender, etc. And as last November marks some important anniversaries for me, I recently pulled my Lemper CD off the shelf again—the one on which she sings the songs of Dietrich and Piaf. This song is my favorite on the recording. She begins with a throaty whisper. I can just hear the drunkenness--a worn velveteen chair, fading golden lamplight, a bottle of wine clutched against her breast. It’s a lonely song-- a desperate song. Hers has a warmth and ebb to it that the starker Brel version lacks. The music swells. I listen to it after dark. (And I never can resist the sound of French).

7. Unchained, Johnny Cash

I love Johnny Cash. (And I’m so psyched to go see Walk the Line this Friday! I’ve been listening in preparation.) There is something so solid, so hard, so masculine about him. Yet, above all, he’s a man of soul, of prayer, one who feels deeply. (I love a man who can sing about love, God and murder in one breath!) My favorite Johnny Cash can be found on his more recent “American” label recordings. This song is one of his best. It’s a “square” song with hard quarter-note strumming. It’s brought to life by an unembellished voice that has known a hard life-- a man humbled. I first got obsessed with this album when I was in New Orleans for spring break, my junior year of college. In part, this song always brings me back to that moment. “It’s so hard to see the rainbow through glasses dark as these. Maybe, I’ll be able, from now on, on my knees… I am weak; I am vain. Take this weight from me. Let my spirit be unchained.” This song is a prayer-- a call for help. I don’t pray very often. I never quite learned how to. But I do listen to Johnny Cash. And it means something to me.

8. If I Can Dream, Elvis Presley

Yes, more Elvis! (He always puts me in a good mood!) And this time, it’s Elvis Presley at his finest. The 1968 Comeback Special. Last year I bought the three-DVD box set of that fine moment in television history—complete with seven additional hours of raw Elvis footage, including several outtakes on this song. He sounds amazing here. His voice is all grown up—manly, gritty and wrenching, but not yet as operatic and decadent as he would become. The year was one of revolution, and I can’t help but find myself affectionately amused by the commodified Elvis’ only attempt at a “political statement.” “There must be peace and understanding, sometime… If I can dream of a better land, where all my brothers walk hand in hand, tell me why, oh why can’t that dream appear?” (Who could object to that?) I looped this song and listened to it over and over on Thursday afternoon as I commuted back and forth across the city. If you’ve seen the Special, you know there’s an endearing little dance he does at its conclusion in which he waves his arm up and down. (Also—a little bit of Elvis Comeback Special trivia— it has been said that every time Elvis says “Boy, my boy!” he’s making an inside joke to his friends to let them know he has an erection. And this next bit I learned at an academic conference about Elvis, (articulated by Camille Paglia but confirmed by Peter Guralnik, the famed Elvis biographer)—during the Comeback Special, Elvis was at one point so “excited” by his own performance that he ejaculated! Hammer and I have scoured the footage trying to find the spot. It remains a mystery).

9. Memory, Andrew Lloyd Webber
This song has been in my head for a few reasons. For one, although I can sight-read almost anything, this is one of the only pieces I can play on piano by-heart. (Thank god for pretty simple chord progressions). Last weekend my family and I were visiting family friends who had a new piano, although none of them play. They asked me to play something, and all I had to offer was this piece. On top of that, I’ve been listening to it lately, in part because I’ve been a little melancholy. I recorded myself singing this song in the summer of 2004. Then, this past summer, my hard-drive crashed causing me to lose almost all of my home-recordings except for this one (and a few others). It’s strange to hear myself singing and to think about all that has happened in the past year and a half to the girl whose voice is on the recording. It’s fun to listen to myself. Sometimes I’m hyper critical (too flat! too dark! need more resonance! too pushed!), and sometimes I just enjoy it. I have to admit, having grown up on musical theater, I have a soft spot for Andrew Lloyd Webber melodies, no matter how corny the music can get.

10. Tan’u, Tan’ushka, Valery Kalistratov

I’m pretty sure none of you know this piece, but nevertheless, it’s been haunting me in my dreams. I recently joined a Russian Chamber Choir, and we’re performing all Russian sacred and folk music for a Christmas concert in a few weeks. This isn’t my favorite piece on the program, but it’s the most relentless. It’s the second movement of a piece called Russian Concerto by a contemporary Moscow composer, Kalistratov. Kalistratov writes music based on folk melodies which should be sung in a declamatory style. In this particular number, the men and women of the village sing the praises of the local beauty, Tan’ushka. Much is made of her “black eyes, white skin and black hair.” Why is this particular song so catchy? Well, as the village folk weave their way through town to Tanya’s house, the girls flirt with the boys, singing “oh, le, la, li, le, ley, le, la, li, Da!” That line gets passed around the choir several times. It’s hard for me to explain, without actually singing you the melody, but trust me-- once stuck in your head, this one will never leave!

Johnny Cash? Classical stuff? The erections of Elvis Presley? That's what I call an Earworm list. Thanks Hyde - I think that's the most diverse list we've had yet, and it's all the better for that. At this point I'd like to extend a big SwissToni 'Hello!' to Richard Wagner as he makes his debut on this blog.


Anyway. I've not heard the Ute Lemper version of Ne Me Quitte Pas- my favourite version is the one that Dusty Springfield did - but I'll definitely be sure to check it out. I got into Brel via Scott Walker and through C's French upbringing. What a songwriter though. If you're not familiar with him, I do urge you to check his stuff out.

Next week's Guest Editor will be Adem from The Big Blog.

Right. I'm off to the call centre. If you call 0845 733 2233 between 9pm and 2am tonight, apparently you will have a 1 in 3500 chance of getting through to me. Good luck callers.

.... laters

oh... one more thing - SONG LYRICS PLEASE!

[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, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael]

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Extra Track (and a tacky badge)

I got an email this morning offering me $500 for a year's worth of sponsorship on my blog. All I'd have to do is put up some banners, which they assure me would be tailored towards my content (what? including urinal etiquette?)

Tempting though their offer was, I ain't no sell out.

What kind of person do they think I am? Do they think that I would just surrender all of my principles for the sake of a measley $500?

They'd need to offer me at least twice that.....


The lyrics are starting to roll in now.... more please!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

what's a wonderwall anyway?

Right. Do you remember the bookshelf thing we did the other week? The one where you guys sent me pictures of your bookcases, and we had a little competition to guess which one belonged to whom?

Yeah? Well, I was thinking of doing something similar.....

What I want this time is a sample of your handwriting.

I don't just want any sample of your handwriting though. Oh no. I want you to write out a song lyric, take a picture of it and send it to me via the email address in my profile. Your chosen lyric can be as long or as short as you like - you just need to make sure that it is readable in the photograph.

Does that make sense?

So get your cameras out and get snapping. When I have a respectable number of piccies of handwritten lyrics, I will post them all up here, and we'll have a little competition to see who can guess which handwriting belongs to which blogger. Be sure to think carefully about the lyric that you pick though...

As usual, there will be a fantastic prize on offer to the winner.

If we're really lucky, I'll be able to persuade the num num to do a bit of handwriting analysis on each sample and tell us what each one says about the personality of its owner.

So what are you waiting for? Get your thinking cap on and your pen out....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Making you feel like there's going to be a war...

Starsailor @ Rock City, Tuesday 15th November 2005

I'm not quite sure what it is, but there is something fundamentally dislikeable about Starsailor. Let's for a moment compare them with their near contemporaries, Coldplay. Whatever you think of their music, most people will not have a bad word to say about the band. Chris Martin sounds like a nice chap. He seems to be a bit of a worrier, and you get the impression although he's got an Oscar winning actress as his wife, that he has sold millions of records and has millions of pounds in the bank, you could probably go up to him in the pub and chat to him. I don't get that impression with James Walsh. He has a fantastic voice, sure, but he seems like a bit of a knob. He seems to have an inflated sense of his own importance.

The last time I saw Starsailor was at Glastonbury in 2003. The band were plugging their second album, and they had a slot in the late afternoon. They were terrible. They seemed to completely misjudge what the crowd wanted, and at one point they wheeled Donovan onto the stage as a "Glastonbury Legend" and wasted 15 minutes of their set with some terribly misguided duet with the hoary old folkie. I imagined that would probably be that, and that I would not see or hear from them again.

Starsailor emerged as one of the bands that people had heard about before they had actually released a single thing; they were one of those bands that the music magazines thought were going to be massive. I saw them at Rock City a little after their debut album had come out, and the place was absolutely rammed (mainly with students, as I recall) and the band themselves were fantastic. They had the songs (especially the majestic "Good Souls"), and in Walsh's voice, they seemed to have something a little bit different from the rest of the pack. They had a few hit singles around this time ('Lullaby', 'Alcoholic', 'Poor Misguided Fool'), and everything seemed to be going pretty well. And then the second album came out, along with word that Walsh's head had disappeared up his own arse. "A Rush of Blood to the Head" it clearly was not.

I thought it was quite revealing that they only played two songs from this album in their set tonight... showing what the band themselves think of the material. "Silence is Easy" is a great song, and closed the set... but the rest? Hmmm.

Since that Glastonbury appearance, Starsailor have acquired an additional guitarist to beef up their sound and have released a new album. As I hadn't exactly rushed out to the shops to buy it, Lord B was good enough to lend me his copy of "On the Outside" a few weeks ago. It's fantastic - it really is. I have to admit that I was really very pleasantly surprised. They played quite a bit of it tonight, of course, and it sounded good. Actually, I think "In The Crossfire" was the best song that they played all evening, and one of the best released this year.

So are Starsailor on the way back then? Perhaps. Rock City wasn't sold out, so they clearly have some way still to go, and James Walsh still behaved like a bit of a tit, albeit a bit less of a tit than he was on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury... but they still have the material, and he does have a really excellent voice. Bob Dylan was playing in Nottingham tonight, so we were treated to a snippet of "Like A Rolling Stone" -- I can guarantee you that the old charlatan himself has never sung that song more sweetly than Walsh did this evening.

The verdict? Worth seeing. They'll never be Coldplay, but I don't think the world really needs another Coldplay, does it?

6.5 / 10.

when you cut your lover slack, you'll get a monster back

Over at The Art of Noise they’ve just started a new feature where each week a panel of contributors will write a short music-centred piece…. Could be about a band, an album, a song, a venue, a genre, an instrument – the only limitation is that the chosen subject must begin with the letter of the week.

This being the first week, we’re doing the letter ‘A’.

So if you want to read Alison on Adam and the Ants, Dr Migs on Alabama 3, Ben on Amplification, Phill on Anderson / Butler, Jez on ….anyone, Jonathan on ‘Apple Venus Vol 1’, Pete on Asian Dub Foundation & yours truly on The Auteurs, then you’d best head over there and check it out.

Apparently we’re moving onto the letter ‘B’ next week, and they’re still looking for contributors....

hmmm. What shall I do?

The Bluetones?
Blackpool Empress Ballroom?
Billy Bragg?
'Back in Black'?
'Blood Sugar Sex Magick'?
'Blue Monday'?
'Beyond the Sea'?
The blues?
The bass guitar?

So many choices, so many choices...

Any suggestions?

Monday, November 14, 2005

and now my heart's beset with 18 carat gold regrets...

The Bluetones @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Sunday 13th November 2005

Whatever happened to The Bluetones?

"Slight Return" reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart in early-1996, and their debut album "Expecting to Fly" actually topped the album charts later on that year. They had a string of great hit singles: "Marblehead Johnson", "Solomon Bites The Worm", "If...", "Autophilia".....

And then what happened? I knew that they were still going because I went to see them at the same venue a couple of years ago. Have they done anything recently? I'm not sure how or when, but apparently they've done 5 albums and a greatest hits compilation, but nothing new since 2003. Now there's a flurry of activity because they've got a new EP out ("Serenity Now"), and they've signed a 3 album deal with Cooking Vinyl, the home of Billy Bragg and Echo & the Bunnymen, no less.

So Bargs, Flash and I rolled up to the Rescue Rooms, took one look at the (second) support act, and went to the next door bar. We entirely missed the first support act, naturally. A couple of warm pints later, and when we were sufficiently confident that the support had disappeared, we moved next door. It was as busy as it ever is. Being pretty tall, Lord B and I usually stand right at the back. This time we had the Little Legend with us, so we found a decent spot against the wall up towards the stage and made ourselves comfortable. The mighty Bluetones soon made their entry and kicked into "Bluetonic" - one of their very first singles - and one of my favourites [update: I am reliably informed by Flash that they opened with 'the jub jub bird' but I seem to have blanked that bit from my memory... ah well. ST]. I thought that would be hard to beat, but nope, I'm happy to say that they were excellent throughout - and that includes the new stuff. Initially Mark Morriss seemed quite concerned about something on his shirt-front, but pretty soon he was quipping with the crowd: "You can go home and say that when you saw the Bluetones, the singer rocked so hard his tie-pin fell out!"

Maybe that's the kind of self-deprecating humour that gets you nowhere in the music business.

Surprisingly for a sold-out gig in a small venue on a Sunday night, there seemed to be a couple of hecklers in the crowd. Ignoring them didn't work, so Mark was soon into the crowd to nick one particular idiot's hat (and then to taunt him for his baldness), and later on he was effortlessly shrugging off their abuse to the delight of the rest of the crowd. "If you don't like it mate, why don't you go home? I've already got your money". Cue loud cheers.

So. They were ace. If you aren't familiar with them, go check them out. Great band. If Embrace can be doing an arena tour, then there has to be hope for a band like the Bluetones, right? I mean, they have actually got a singer who can hold a tune and everything...

We bumped into Rufus-Fan and a friend on the way out. Flash must have been proper impressed as they were both splendidly drunk and celebrating the fact that Rufus-Fan is finally starting her own blog.... link to follow when I get it..... that was it, wasn't it? Oh yes... and I think you were also raising a glass to the fact that confirmation has just come through that she will be taking a year off work to travel around the chuffing world, starting in January. That's all very well, I suppose, but surely there was no need to give that horrible looking guy from the support band your mobile number, was there? They were *dreadful*.

Anyway. The Bluetones were great, and I was horrified to discover at work this morning that I foolishly haven't got any of their stuff on my iPod. I am busy rectifying that mistake as we speak....

It's Starsailor on Tuesday, then Dr Karl Kennedy on Sunday, and then the Bravery the following Sunday. Sad to say, I think I'm looking forward to the middle one the most. Do you think he'll bring Susan on for the encore and do a version of Neighbours classic "Especially For You"? I reckon it would bring the house down.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Evening all.

I'm just back in from London, and just about to pop out with Flash & Lord B. to watch the Bluetones... but time enough to give you a very quick run down of my weekend.


Escaped work early and ended up on the 15:30 to London. Train was slightly delayed, naturally, but it meant I got some time to have a relatively uniterrupted blast at my novel. Arrived in London at 6-ish and immediately got a cab for the hotel as I was now running late. I had thought I would get away with a silent journey, but sadly the cabbie is soon into full swing. He was 70 years old and a veteran of the Korean war, so potentially quite interesting. Like all cabbies though, he fatally misunderstood that a conversation needs to be two-ways, and frequently talked straight over me. I soon gave up trying and just let him get on with it.

The Ball itself was in the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane, and was one of those charity dos - this one for the benevolent fund of the Electrical Beauty industy (or something). I can't help thinking that there are more worthwhile causes than members of their industry who have fallen on hard times, but our host kept the champagne flowing and they raised 260,000 from an auction hosted by someone I didn't recognise from 'Allo 'Allo, so you can't grumble can you? Also featured a Rat Pack tribute act notable for:

a) a remarkably short Dean Martin
b) Frank Sinatra's memorable wig (so much like the real Sinatra then)
c) the casual racism towards Sammy Davis Jr (again, much like the real thing then)

The rest of the evening was fun though. How old do you have to get before you get bored of free booze? I have a suspicion that our waiter was Bob Paisley, but I can't be sure. He got me a very nice whisky for the toasts though.

Collapsed into bed around 2am


Full English Breakfast at the hotel, followed almost immediately by a lunch date with C's brother and his fiancee, who are leaving for several months in Australia on Tuesday. I had a coffee and watched them eat.

Went shopping. Notable for 2 instances of excellent customer service:

1) You remember my squeaking shoes? I bought them when I was in Australia in January 2004, but luckily R.M.Williams have a shop in London, so I took them in to have them fixed. The assistant took one look at them and said that a squeak could only be a manufacturing fault, so they are shipping them back to Australia to be hand-repaired, sent back and posted up to me. All gratis. I was very impressed. Mind you, I feel the need to go to future forests or somewhere and try to make myself carbon neutral as I shudder to think how much C02 I am creating just to get a pair of shoes fixed.

2) You remember I bought a PowerBook in January this year?? When I purchased it, I had asked them to add another 512mb of RAM to take the whole thing up to 1Gb. When I was idly checking the "About this Mac" section the other day, I saw that only 750mb were present. As I had my laptop with me for novel writing purposes, I popped into the Apple Store on Regent Street and asked them about it. It turns out that the PowerBook only has 2 slots for memory, one is fixed at 256mb and the other is removable, but intially 256mb. What they had done was replaced the 256mb with a 512mb and given the whole thing back. I was a bit cheesed off about this, but what they immediately offered to do was to replace the 512mb with 1gb of RAM free, so I now have 1.25Gb of RAM installed. They also gave the thing a damn good clean. Well done Apple. I think they liked me because I had bought a computer... they seemed a little bit wistful that they had become "The iPod shop". Ah well, eh? Crying all the way to the bank.

Did some other assorted wandering about, and also finally got round to spending some of the vouchers my mum and dad gave me for the Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden... they were great in there and I am now the proud owner of a fridge full of stinking cheeses. Montgomery's Cheddar, Gubeen, Appleby's Cheshire & 1/2 a Childwickbury, to be exact. Mmmm.

Had dinner at Belgos - a belgian restaurant in Covent Garden. Lots of Belgian beer & moules frites. Delicious. Highly recommended. You know you are in for a treat when the waiter hands you a separate beer menu. Excellent service too.

Day only ruined by a fire alarm in the hotel at some ungodly time of the morning (actually about 8am, but you know what I mean.... not nice)


More general pootling about. C. bought my Christmas present in the Oakley store, lunch at the Hamburger Union and then back to St Pancras and more novel writing on the train. I'm up to a shade over 30,000 words now, although I'm not sure where I'm going to be honest. I need to go for a swim and have a think. Perhaps I should kill someone else off?

Right. I think you're up to date. Are you alright?

Bluetones review tomorrow sometime.

Friday, November 11, 2005

He says 'I'm sorry but I'm out of milk and coffee'

Right. Just got time to squeek this post in before I have to dash off for a train... so I'll have to keep this fairly short. Look, what is there to say? We've made it to Friday, and I've made it to 25,096 words (By the way, I feel I should apologise again for the fact that this bloody book thing is dominating my life at the moment. I'm trying not to bore you with it too much, but it's never very far away from my thoughts. In my increasingly desperate search for other topics, I seem to have inflicted a rather crap joke and a conversation about toilets upon you, for which I am truly very sorry. Mind you, if you want to hear more about the book or want to read any more extracts, you only have to say....)

It's Friday. Hurray! It's time to slip into something more comfortable and make our weekly tripi to the temple to pay our respects to the Earworm God. Leading our worship this week is a man with mp3s literally dripping off his blog, and as he is currently featuring a song by Lionel Richie, he must really know his stuff, eh? ('oh what a feeling....')

Oh yes. Ladies & Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my very great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #25 - Michael from Yummy Brain Gravy

Greetings ST, fellow bloggers, foreign dignitaries, my beloved Pastafarians, and assorted critters: I am honoured and privileged to behold the power of sharing the worms within my ears with the rest of the class, except for that one guy…

Anyway, here goes the list of the songs that have been regularly improving and/or destroying my listening pleasure:

Hey Jude by the Beatles
This one was brought upon me by an odd source. A group of friends and I went out to a bar on karaoke night. That is when HE took the stage. He stood around 6 foot 5 inches, 400 pounds. (1.95 meters, 181 kilos if my math still works). He had a long beard, and a yamaka. This man went on to perform an amazing rendition of Hey Jude, with the full-blown “hey Judy, Judy, Judy!!!” ending. He is my American Idol!!!

Virginia Moon by the Foo Fighters
This is the lazy Sunday afternoon song. Acoustic guitar, Dave Grohl singing… The man is a genius. He can rock like few others, being mainstream yet providing enough noise, then pull out an acoustic guitar and accomplish a song like this.

Doesn’t Remind Me by Audioslave
This is the case of the earworm that spawned. Ever since the new Audioslave CD came out, I have had in one form or another, music with Chris Cornell on vocals. It’s been nonstop Audioslave, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, or solo work. His voice has amazed me for years. This is the song that started the ball rolling on this earworm, and it is still getting regular play.

Land of Confusion covered by Disturbed
I have a sick fascination with covers. (I won’t go into full detail, as it would take a 20-page report with an annotated bibliography.) This is the newest, a metal band singing some Phil Collins. I didn’t grasp the meaning back when Phil did it, but now the political meaning grips me a bit further.

Feels Like Rain by Buddy Guy
While having iTunes in party shuffle, this song came on. It spurred a blues listening spree for me. This song has stayed beyond that spree.

Ballad of Bodacious by Primus
I don’t dance. This song makes me consider it. Les Claypool, another musical deity, somehow manages to be a hippy, a hillbilly, and able to write some of the funkiest bass lines to ever be produced. Amazing that someone can write a song with that bass groove, and lyrically it’s about a bull named bodacious and the rodeo.

Fall Into Sleep by Mudvayne
This song is a bit more representative of most of my listening, but I’ve been in one of those “need to listen to something different” moments as of late. This song though, has re-found its way back for me. Songs like this are the basis of my nu-hippy lifestyle. Angsty, politically motivated, metal
songs… Good lyrics, catchy chorus… Can it get any better than that?

Entwined by Lacuna Coil
Italian Goth Metal. That’s how I describe this one to my friends (who won’t venture outside of top 40 radio.) Then when they hear it they get shocked, since the band is very melodic. Cristina Scabbia may possibly be my favorite female rock vocalist. This particular song, although good, has become the bad earworm, as I tend to just get the repetitive chorus stuck in my head. Nothing worse than one sentence of a songs lyrics repeating “over, and over, and over again…” actually… That’s the part of the lyrics that plagues me.

One More Try by George Michael
So, I’m at work, and this song comes on. George Michael’s music is just way too catchy. For some reason, all I have to do is hear one song and it will stick with me for weeks. Much better his solo ballads than his work with WHAM! If I ever get “wake me up before you go, go” stuck in my head again I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? Covered by the Revolting Cocks
Lately the weather out here has been cold, misty, and rainy. Which is pretty much a line to the song. So… every time I walk out into weather like that, this one gets stuck in my head. At least it’s the oddly amusing cover, and not the original Rod Stewart song.


Thanks Michael – and let me be the first to congratulate you on the inclusion of the god-like genius of Les Claypool in the list. I must dig out “Frizzle Fry” or “Sailing the Seas of Cheese”…. No one plays bass quite like our Les. I always find these lists fascinating, especially when someone removed from the parochial little music scene we have in the UK does them. I’ve never heard of people like Mudvayne or Lacuna Coil or Disturbed… although who the hell are The Beatles? Any good?

Next week’s Guest Editor is Hyde from the Annals of Mr. Hyde. I’m hoping for great things: as well as being a prolific and talented blogger, Hyde takes proper singing lessons, and has been known to step up to the karaoke microphone from time to time… I wonder if her big set piece number is something like “More Than This” (in a Lost in Translation tribute kind of way), or perhaps she’s more of an “I Will Survive” kind of girl? Or maybe “Bat Out Of Hell”?? I feel we must be told…

Anyways. I’m just off down to London to escort my lovely partner to a charity ball at the Grosvenor Hotel. Oh the glamour etc.

(I’ve also just crossed the 25,000 word point in my Nano novel…. All downhill from here, right?)

Until next week then.

[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, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm]


It Armistice Day today, so just a quick thought before I go: let's hope that the next year brings us fewer causes for additional Remembrance than this year.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

how low can you go?

When I was at work today, I got to wondering.

I was wondering if toilet etiquette was the same for girls as it is for boys. I was wondering if toilet etiquette is the same for the rest of the world as it is in England.

Perhaps I should explain. There is an unwritten code of behaviour in toilets that all men are expected to abide by. Failure to abide by this code is unthinkable. You are probably familiar with it. It goes something like this.

(In case you weren't aware, one thing you should know is that every gents toilet, at least in the UK, consists of a number of urinals and a number of cubicles)

Rule number 1: Always leave a buffer zone. Under no circumstances should you ever stand at a urinal immediately next to another man.

Rule number 2: You should always leave the biggest possible buffer zone that you can between yourself and anyone else. The first man into a toilet should always choose one of the urinals at the end of the row. The second man in should choose the urinal at the other end. The third man in should choose the urinal in the middle, and so on.

Rule number 3: If you can't leave a buffer zone, you should go to a cubicle. It is not acceptable to violate rule 1, or to wait for a vacancy.

Rule number 4: eyes front at all times. The standard is to look at a point on the wall directly in front of you and about a foot above eye-level.

Rule number 5: no talking

Rule number 6: If circumstances dictate that you cannot abide by any of rule 1, rule 2, rule 3, or rule 5, you should leave the toilet immediately and come back later.

Rule number 7: If you cannot abide by rule 4, then you should always use a cubicle.

There are some exceptions (half-time at a football match, for example), but basically that's it.

Do women have a similar set of unwritten rules? Is it acceptable to use a cubicle immediately next door to another occupied cubicle? I have heard stories that it is even acceptable to chat to your neighbour when in a cubicle. Can this be true?

Do these rules hold good across the world? Is it just the British who are this uptight?

Now I've started to think about it, I feel I must be told.

Or perhaps it's just me?


(you can see just how well you understand the rules with this little game - full marks is the only acceptable score if you are a man, by the way)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

it was dark as I drove the point home....

So, the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' is walking down the street. He wanders past a record shop, and is a little taken aback to see a massive poster in the window:


European wasps & the noises they make

Listen to it here!"

Well. How could the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' walk past a sign like that? This was big news in the world of European wasps and the noises they make and no mistake! He walks into the shop and strolls up to the counter.

"Hello, I've seen a poster in the window for the album of European wasps and the noises they make."

The youth behind the counter looks up, sees the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' and raises an eyebrow.


"Can I have a listen please?"

The youth pauses for a moment, and then points the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' at a booth. "I can let you listen to 10 minutes in that booth over there". He leads the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' over to the booth, hands him the headphones, pops the record on, and returns to the counter.

Ten minutes later the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' comes back to the counter looking a little confused.

"I'm the world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make'. I've been listening to this album for the last 10 minutes, and I don't recognise a single sound!"

The youth shrugs. "I can let you have another 10 minutes".

The world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' returns to the booth and puts the headphones back on. 1o minutes later he is back at the counter.

"I still don't recognise anything"

"Another 10 minutes?"

The world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' returns to his booth and puts the headphones back on. 10 minutes later and he returns to the counter looking more confused than ever, and not a little bit perturbed.

"I still don't recognise anything..."

The youth recognises the tone of desperation, and sighs. "I can let you listen to the rest".

The world expert in 'European wasps & the noises they make' returns to the booth and listens to the rest of the album. When it has finished, he takes the headphones off, and wanders slowly back to the counter shaking his head.

"Not a single sound...." He turns to the youth. "Are you sure this is the correct record?"

The youth frowns and wanders over to the booth. He checks the record.

"This is definitely 'European Wasps and the noises they make'"

He has another look.

[here comes the punchline......]



[here it comes now.......]

"Oh hang on a minute. This is the b-side....."

ba-dum tch!

well, at least it wasn't another post about my bloody novel, eh?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I want to live where soul meets body**


If I'd thought about this for long enough to realise that I wasn't going to be able to churn out 50,000 words in a couple of hours, then I might not be in this mess.

According to a motivational email that NaNoWriMo sent me today, the second week is the hardest. It's here when your target seems ridiculously far away and your plot seems at its most ridiculous. Apparently it gets easier from here, but that's easy for them to say, right?


I was determined that I wasn't going to let this thing rule my life, but it's slowly taking hold.

The good news is that I think I've worked out how to get out of the rut I think I got myself into over the course of the first 16,000 words or so.

Someone's going to have to die.

I'm sorry to say that Siobhan is going to be kicking the bucket later on this evening. Before I get to 20,000 words, she will have died a slow and lingering death from cancer. It sounds cruel, but I won't be dwelling on her death too much as it's the funeral that I'm really interested in. I think the death of a friend may just be the thing that Jim needs to send his life into a spiral and convince him to get in touch with Ben.

I know. I'm sick.

Actually the idea was one of two things that struck me when I was swimming at the gym this evening. I think the second thought was by far and away the more profound though: I was reflecting on why I had to be sharing my lane with the two fat blokes with straining beer guts, saggy man-breasts and stretch marks (one of them wearing a pair of too-tight speedos with an alarming tuft of hair sprouting from the top). The thought? Why are the girls in their bikinis always swimming in the other lanes?

It's not that I'm a pervert, you understand, it's just that I would far rather be swimming behind the girls than the fat blokes (although, to be fair, there is something amazing about watching a really fat man swimming fast - it's mesmerising).

Is that really so strange?


** title courtesy of Spin - claiming the prize Aravis won in the bookshelf competition and generously shared with Spin (I haven't forgotten about your CD either Aravis...).

Tomorrow will be a better day Spin.


This post brought to you by "Road Rage" by Catatonia and "Milk" by the Kings of Leon. Ah, the wonders of shuffle.


Update 23:24

20,190 words done & Siobhan is dead.....

Sunday, November 06, 2005

You shake as you think of how they sleep...

I am becoming obsessed with word-counts. Almost every waking moment seems to be taken up with either writing or thinking about writing my nanowrimo novel. I wish I could say that this was because I am working through the finer plot details in my head, but I mainly seem to be working out how many words I need to crank out on any given day.

I started out needing to write something like 1,700 words a day. At the end of day 6, I am now up to 12,519 - so probably about a day ahead of schedule.

I'm even starting to dream about the bloody thing.

I think it's probably dull and very self-indulgent, but what it actually turns out like isn't really as important to me at the moment as the fact that this whole project will have got me writing. When I'm done, if I think that there is a single idea, or even a single sentence worth keeping amongst the 50,000 words, then it will have been well worthwhile.

Do you want an extract?

Can you remember the first time that you were dumped? The first time that someone decided to cut their relationship with you short; to tell you that you aren’t wanted and to sever all ties and to walk off into the distance? I think it is supposed to happen to you when you are a kid. Perhaps it happened to you when you were ten and it was your first girlfriend. Perhaps you thought you’d never recover from the pain and shame of it all, but before the end of the week you were snogging Melanie Johnson in the bus-stop as though nothing had happened. Does that count? Perhaps it doesn’t, and you haven’t really experienced a dumping until you are ditched by your first serious girlfriend, where your relationship has gone a little further than those first kisses. Maybe even that doesn’t count as a proper dumping; maybe you can only consider yourself to have been truly ditched when someone you love unconditionally casts you aside and leaves you gaping like a fish and wailing at the injustice of it all.

In this world, you are either a dumper or dumped. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and the only way to protect yourself is to get them before they get you.

I can’t say that I agree with that point of view, although on the bare statistics of my life might lead you to think that I do: of the three serious girlfriends I have had, I dumped two of them. The first was easy. We’d been going out for about three months when we both graduated from University. She lived in one part of the country and I lived in another. There didn’t seem to be any point pretending that this could turn out to be the great love affair of my life, so I told her that it was over. I don’t flatter myself that she was especially surprised or upset by this news, but as I basically told her on the last night of term, I didn’t really get to see close up if this was the case. The second time was harder, and it took me a full year to pluck up the courage to do it. The relationship had lasted for three years and we were living together. The news came as a brutal shock, and I felt like a total shit. I still do. I had been thinking about it for months, but for her it was news totally out of the blue. To make matters worse, we continued to live together for another month before I was able to move out. Throughout the whole sorry business, I was sustained by one thing: the sure and certain knowledge that I was doing the right thing for both of us in the long run. Apart from a couple of brief visits in the first few months after the break-up, I haven’t seen her since. My parents still exchange Christmas Cards with her.

Are there guidelines for dumping someone? Is there a resource that outlines what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour? Should you give someone notice? I, the undersigned, hereby notify you that I wish to terminate our relationship in one month’s time. That kind of thing. Would making the whole process more businesslike make it any less painful or difficult? Would there be the right of appeal? Relationship tribunals? Claims for unfair or constructive dismissal?

Can you dump someone nicely, or is it such a fundamentally distasteful task for everyone concerned that you are better off just spitting it out and being done with it? You could be about to shatter someone else’s world, does it make any difference how you do it? It’s not as though being nice about it ultimately softens the blow, is it? What purpose does it really serve, except perhaps to make you feel a little better about yourself, to maintain that illusion you have of yourself as being a decent person. It was a tough job, but you did it as nicely as you could to spare her feelings. Bully for you.
Yeah. I know.

And so to bed, perchance to dream of something else.