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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'd take enough to please me....

Yoko's been running a CD shuffle-athon. You put your name into a hat, make a CD featuring twelve of your favourite tracks, and post it off to the name that comes out of the hat.

I made this CD:

1. Don't Panic - Coldplay
2. Snow ((Hey Oh)) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
3. No Surprises - Radiohead
4. Piazza, New York Catcher - Belle & Sebastian
5. Yes - McAlmont & Butler
6. Jolene - Dolly Parton
7. Such A Small Love - Scott Walker
8. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
9. Sweet Jane - Velvet Underground
10. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
11. Chocolate - Snow Patrol
12. One - Johnny Cash

A bit predictable perhaps, and it turned out a little more downbeat than I was expecting, but I'm still relatively pleased with it as a snippet into my musical life. I shipped it out to Shadie in Illinois (I think it was a qualified success) and waited for my CD to arrive.

FizzyBeverage sent me a CD from California, and as I'm supposed to type up my thoughts.....

"Whatever I feel like" from Napoleon Dynamite

1. Tiger - Paula Cole

I'm not familiar with Paula Cole, but I quite like this one. Slightly mannered, but not too showy - which is a good thing. Sounds a little bit like Tori Amos crossed with Alanis Morrissette.

2. Mississippi - Paula Cole at Lilith Fair

Same kind of thing as above, only a live recording. Not entirely my cup of tea, but perhaps worth a closer look.

3. No Leaf Clover - Metallica

I stopped listening to Metallica after the Black album. It wasn't really anything they did, it was just that I've never got round to listening to any of their newer stuff. I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything to do with that awful traffic jam I got caught in after seeing them at the Milton Keynes Bowl.... pretty sure. Actually, this one's a live recording too. I've no idea what era it is, but it's fairly typically Metallica: melodic bits and then loud thumping guitar / drums.

4. Demonoid Phenomenon - Rob Zombie

Oh. This one's too shouty for me. I like heavy metal generally, but I'm not into the industrial end really. Vaguely like Megadeth crossed with Marilyn Manson.

5. Not an Addict - K's Choice

The intro to this really rumbles, and when the female vocal comes in it really took me by surprise. Again - quite heavy, but nicely offset by the vocals.

6. Ripple - Perry Farrell

"Ritual De Lo Habitual" is a great album, and this is unmistakeably by the same guy. Unfortunately though this song really, really reminds me a song from "Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat" though.... "Any Dream Will Do" I think it's called:

I close my eyes, draw back the curtain...

No. It really does.

7. Two Step - Dave Matthews Band

I've heard of this guy. Big in America, right?

I don't really get it. He sings with a bit of a folky twang in his voice, and with a slightly folky backing underpinned by some insistent drumming. Pleasant enough, but I still don't get it.

8. Son of a Preacher Man - Joan Osbourne

Oh this is terrible. I'm a huge Dusty fan and this is one (live) cover that really didn't need to happen. I think the worst bit is when she starts to freestyle towards the end....

9. Remedy - Black Crowes

This record I love. This was on the first album that I ever played in my halls of residence when I first arrived at University, so it has good connotations for me.

10. Old Dirt Hill - Dave Matthews

Similar to the other Dave Matthews record above. I like this one more though. It's naggingly catchy and it's growing on me

11. We Care a Lot - Faith No More

I used to love Faith No More. Around "The Real Thing" and "Angel Dust" they were one of the best bands around. "From Out Of Nowhere" was the song we used to use to psyche ourselves up before our GCSE exams. This song was from their earlier (pre-Mike Patton) incarnation. Rap/Rock fusion eh? Can't beat it! It's not quite Rage Against the Machine, but it is a minor-classic.

12. Grace Is Gone - Dave Matthews Band

Clearly a fan, eh? The beginning of this really reminds me of the music on "Firefly". Quite country, but that's no bad thing.

"Chapstick" from Napoleon Dynamite

So there you go. Thanks to FizzyBeverage for sending me the CD. It's actually really hard to put together a CD blind like that and send it out to someone you don't know at all - so I hope I don't sound too harsh. What else can I add except to say that I like this one well enough to have listened to it through three or four times now. I've bought CDs I've listened to less than that!

Maybe we should do one of these things over here sometime? Who'd be up for that?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

you got the money, I got the soul....

Blog of the Week #19 - Never Trust a Hippy

"Blogging about Nottingham Forest, local democracy, internecine bickering on the left while mentioning bits about my work as well. Not in that order."

Politics. Music. Sport. Sounds good to me. I first stumbled across this blog as a result of Paulie's thoughtful post on Nottingham's recent unveiling as the crime capital of the UK. Further browsing revealed posts on Eurovision mixing freely with posts about John Stuart Mill.

If you needed any more reasons for going and having a look, then perhaps I should add that I'm reminded (just a touch) of our very own Urban Fox and (the much missed) Red One, with a bit more Nottingham Forest thrown in for good measure. Well, for measure anyway...

From his profile I can also see that Paulie also likes "co-operatives, cooperatives, co-ops". Me too! They often have unexpectedly large and varied wine selections. There are so many to choose from, but if I absolutely had to choose my favourite, I think it would be the main West Bridgford branch. Not only do they have a post office counter that conveniently opens at 8am, but they also have an oddly good in-house PA (at last time of checking, it was Marvin Gaye and the new Flaming Lips album). It's always good to meet a Co-Op fan.

At least, I assume it was the well-known chain of convenience stores he was referring to.... and not to an enterprise or organization that is owned or managed jointly by those who use its facilities or services.... which now I come to think of it would be more in keeping with some of the other interests he lists..... politics, democracy, social movements*


Blog of the Week.

* read Paulie's comments on the Co-Op retail chain here. He's not a fan.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise, The American Mystery Deepens, The Thoughts of Chairman Tao, Neil Gaiman, Wonder(ing) Goddess, Helfire]

Monday, May 29, 2006

Those summer days spent outside corner cafes

I looked really, really hard for Mary Magdalene and the Sacred Feminine. Honestly I did, but she's just not there. I'm afraid that I am left with no alternative but to tell you that Dan Brown has been talking out of his arse.

Oh - you knew that already?

I don't know if you've ever been there, but the Louvre is massive. I'm sure it's perfectly possible to spend weeks on end in there and still not have enough time to look at everything. You certainly can't do it all in a day. In fact, it's so damn big that I'm sure they have to send out search parties every night to rescue any tourists that have managed to get lost between the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. I'm sure 'twas ever thus, but I do get annoyed in galleries when I am trying to look at some work of unsurpassed beauty and I keep getting jostled by people who are entirely fixed on a single destination. In the Louvre this is the stampede to get to the Mona Lisa (although thanks to Dan Brown, there is now also a significant knot of people in front of the "Madonna of the Rocks" talking sagely about Mary's non-existent threatening hand gestures). Perhaps it's just me, but I don't even think the Mona Lisa is all that. She's actually rather small and pretty unremarkable if you ask me. There are other pictures by the same artist in the same gallery that are much more interesting.

There's no accounting for taste, eh?

Still. As well as Da Vinci I managed to get a good look at art by Vermeer, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Monet... as as well as the veritable deluge of medieval annunciations, pietas, madonnas with child (medieval artists apparently only having about 6 different scenes that they liked to paint).

It's an amazing place. We spent three hours in there - as much as I could take in - but I will be going back.

Of course, Paris is a pretty cool place in its own right. We stayed in a lovely little hotel near the Pantheon, ate in a very nice traditional brasserie near the Sorbonne and did a whole lot of wandering around.

The city is quite a pleasing mix of the old and the new. It's very obviously a modern, bustling capital city, but it's not hard to close your eyes and imagine how the city must have looked in the past. There's the obvious monumental architecture: Notre Dame, the palace of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Pantheon, the Sorbonne, the Pont Neuf... but there also seems to be a bit of history buried around almost every corner - from Metro signs to a little building for a concierge glimpsed through a doorway to an appartment building.

We were only there for a day and it wasn't enough. I still haven't been up to Montmartre and had a look at Sacre Couer either. Another time. We did manage to get to the Rodin Gardens though... keep your eyes on Stand By Your Statue for more details (or have a look at flickr)

Then we headed out towards the Loire to spend some time with C's parents. Very relaxing - good food and excellent wine. Generally I spent my time lounging around reading a book, but we did find the time to go on a tasting expedition to Sancerre where we bought ourselves a few bottles to be laid down in C's dad's cellar until they are ready.

Sadly this is not the cellar in question, but rather the view through a little window in the town of Sancerre itself.

And then back to a rainy Birmingham and home...

Hey ho.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

wham bang mon chat "Splash"...

Well, that's more or less it from me for the next couple of days. Tomorrow morning we will be boarding a plane to head out to Paris. C's parents live out in France, so I've made this journey many times before... the difference this time is that it's C's birthday tomorrow, so we are going to linger a little while in Paris. We are booked into some swanky hotel for the night, and the plan is to have a nice meal on Thursday and then spend most of the day on Friday wandering around the Louvre (perhaps looking for signs of the Divine Feminine....or perhaps not, eh?) and possibly the Rodin museum before hopping onto a train to head down to Orleans and the Loire.

We'll then spend a couple of days with C's mum and dad, generally taking it easy... but also going out to Sancerre on Sunday for some wine tasting.

Nice food. Beautiful scenery. Good wine. Excellent company. Sounds good, non?

A bientôt mes petits choufleurs. A Lundi soir.

I am, I am, I am Superman and I can do anything...

Check out this article by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rogers on the myth of Superman:

"Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two Jewish kids from Cleveland, created him as a character in a newspaper comic strip. But the strip didn’t sell, so they reformatted it and flipped it to a publisher hungry to buy content for one of the first comic books. When the story appeared in the premiere issue of the anthology Action Comics, kids went crazy for it, as if there had always been a Superman-shaped hole in the world and it now was filled....Other heroes are really only pretending: Peter Parker plays Spider-Man; Bruce Wayne plays Batman. For Superman, it’s mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent that’s the disguise – the thing he aspires to, the thing he can never be. He really is that hero, and he’ll never be one of us. But we love him for trying. We love him for wanting to protect us from everything, including his own transcendence. He plays the bumbling, lovelorn Kent so that we regular folks can feel, just for a moment, super."


Personally, I've never been that bothered by Superman. I find characters like Batman and Spider-Man are much more interesting because, although they have some amazing abilities, they are not all-powerful. It is their fallibilty and their weakness that makes them interesting. Superman isn't even human, never mind fallible or weak.

Anyway, as Gaiman points out in the article... Batman has the Joker and Spider-Man has Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin. Poor old Superman never even had any good super-villains to fight, and generally had to make do with natural disasters or a bald, but seemingly very persistent, burglar.

I saw the trailer to the new film the other day. Instead of making a fresh start, it looks as though they are going to follow on from the end of the old films starring Christopher Reeve. It's an interesting idea and I suppose it's a positive sign that the new film was directed by Bryan Singer - the director of the first two X-Men films. Even that bit of news just serves to remind me that I find the X-Men much more interesting characters as well. They've always seemed to have more depth. Apparently Superman is faster than a speeding bullet and can jump tall buildings with a single bound. Oh really? Well that's interesting. Did you know that the relationship between Professor Xavier and Magneto could be read as an allegory of the relationship between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X?

See what I mean?

And yes. Of course I will be going to see the new Superman film when it comes out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

boot the grime of the world in the crotch dear....

Blog of the Week #18 - Helfire's Blogging and Stuff

Look. I know it's only been about 5 minutes since I said that I wouldn't be doing one of these tonight.... and here I am.


Anyway. I bumbled across this blog a couple of weeks ago when Hel Fire was good enough to leave me a comment about something. I dutifully followed the link back to her profile and on to this blog (she has a few on the go).

Oh my.

Unless I'm very mistaken, here's someone deep, deep in the the clutches of a Morrissey obsession. You may think differently, but I was charmed. Without wanting to sound as though I'm starting to view the world through a sepia tint, I was also reminded a little of myself when I was 19 (albeit they didn't really have blogs then, and I don't think that if they had I would ever have had the patience to use so many different coloured fonts).

Hel Fire went to see Morrissey for the very first time the other day... and her review is a corker. She travelled up to Manchester from Exeter for the occasion! She crowd surfed! She fought for a piece of our hero's shirt! She broke her glasses! Devotion above and beyond the call of duty and I salute her.

That on its own would probably be enough, but as I have also just stolen her DVLA thing, this frankly seems like the least I can do.

Anyway. I like her. Blog of the Week.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise, The American Mystery Deepens, The Thoughts of Chairman Tao, Neil Gaiman, Wonder(ing) Goddess]

I want my sun-drenched, wind-swept Ingrid Bergman kiss...

The Beautiful South @ Derby Assembly Rooms, 22nd May 2006

You may not be aware of this, but Derby is strangely adjacent to Nottingham. I say ‘strangely’ because I have lived in Nottingham for many years and I have never once set foot in Derby for social reasons, even though I used to live about ten minutes away from the Derby park-and-ride bus service. I’ve been there with work once or twice, but otherwise I have never particularly felt the need. That all changed last night when I made my way to the Derby Assembly Rooms to watch the Beautiful South in the company of the delightful C. and the delovely Lord B.

I suspect I may be fairly typical of many people who like the Beautiful South: I’ve got the greatest hits album and I think they’re a decent band, but that’s about it. Well. Actually I may well have copies of both of their greatest hits albums, because the newer one featured some essential tracks – this being a purchase predating iTunes. If I looked hard enough, I think I might also find that copy of their debut album that I picked up for buttons at some point and probably haven’t even listened to. Before yesterday, I’d never paid to go and see them live. I’d stood outside the acoustic tent at Glastonbury whilst they were on and wondered if the bars were still open, but I wouldn’t say that I’d really paid them very much attention. In summary then: the Beautiful South are decent band with some decent songs, but they’re certainly not amongst my favourites. I don’t even have any on my iPod. I love them so much that I haven’t bothered to even rip their greatest hits.

Are they really anybody’s favourites, do you think?

But the thing is, they’ve got the songs haven’t they? Together they have written some of the smartest, wryest, funniest songs to have made it into the charts in the last twenty years: Song for Whoever, Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud), Don’t Marry Her, A Little Time, Perfect 10, 36D, We Are Each Other, Old Red Eyes Is Back…. They’ve got a string of really good songs.

And tonight it felt like they played them all.

Oh sure, somewhere along the line they managed to squeeze in 5 or 6 from their new album (“Superbi”), but they were well mixed in and sounded just fine (current single “Manchester” sounded especially good). The band looked pleased to be there and they looked like they really got a kick out of playing their way through their back catalogue – which is more than can be said for a lot of bands. They had a proper horn section and everything! They sounded great.

They were fantastic fun, and I didn’t even let the fact that I’m currently coughing and hacking my way through a chest infection spoil it for me (although it did possibly ruin the night of anyone standing within ten feet of me… especially if they find they’ve caught it off me). Nor did I get too distracted by the fact that I was stood directly behind a six foot four inch woman with no sense of rhythm and a worrying tendency to sway wildly out of time with the music whilst wielding a meaty looking bag on her shoulder in the general direction of my chin…

Without doubt the most entertaining gig I have been to in a long time.

8.5 / 10 Superb(i)


no blog of the week tonight. I hope you're not too upset. I might do it tomorrow, or I might just pass it up until next week. We'll see how it goes.

Annie are you ok? Are you ok, Annie?

I see that statistics have “proved” that Nottingham is the crime capital of England and Wales. A think tank has apparently ranked urban areas with populations of more than 100,000 using police data on burglary, murder, rape, robbery, car crime and gun crime and produced a league table. Nottingham managed to come top in murder and car crime, but belied its reputation by only coming fourth in the gun crime category (which was topped by Bradford). Nottingham city officials have gone predictably ballistic about this, pointing out that 88.92% of all statistics are made up on the spot, and that London has ten times as many murders a year as Nottingham….

All I can add to this really is the benefit of my own experience of Nottingham. I’ve lived here now for nine years and the city seems very far from being the crime capital of the UK to me. Sure, the city centre can be a bit rough after closing time at the weekend, but that’s hardly unusual in this country, and it’s actually very rare to see fights breaking out. I’ve always found it a very pleasant place to live. I’ve never been burgled either. In fact, the only way that crime has really affected me directly in that nine years is when my car was broken into in January. Nottingham is apparently top in England for car crime, and the car park by the football pitches where my car was robbed has been named as the car crime hotspot in Nottinghamshire – which I suppose makes it the hotspot of the hotspot, if you know what I mean. Given that I’ve been parking there every week for the last seven years, I actually don’t think that one break-in is all that catastrophic really. It wasn’t nice, and I’d like to hope it wouldn’t happen again, but how many of you have had your cars broken into in the last five years? It could have happened almost anywhere.

Alright, so my experience of Nottingham is probably swayed by where I live: much of my time in Nottingham has been spent in the middle-class suburbs of West Bridgford in the Rushcliffe area of Nottingham. I think I’m right in saying that Rushcliffe glories in having one of the lowest crime rates in the UK, so perhaps it’s not that surprising that I’ve been as lucky as I have been. Maybe my view would be radically different if I lived somewhere like the Meadows or Lenton.

Even so, I struggle to see how anyone gains from smearing cities (or schools or hospitals or anything else) through the publication of these kinds of reports. What are the government hoping to achieve exactly? Is Nottingham really four times worse a place to live than Southend in Essex? No, of course not.



Beautiful South review from last night to follow.....

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?

In case you were wondering, I did manage to get past page 50 and finish off the Da Vinci Code. It's poorly written, badly researched nonsense. Of course it is. The plot is certainly ridiculous...but..... it does roll along quite nicely, and once I'd got over that initial hump, I was able to stay interested enough to get to the end. It might be damning it with faint praise, but I've certainly read worse. That's not to say that I intend to read any more: people have been busy telling me that "Angels and Demons" is a better book, but I reckon I'm done with Dan Brown. One is more than enough, thanks. The plot's ok, but really I can't think of another book I have read that is so badly written. Dan Brown seems to only have a passing acquaintance with the English language and its proper usage. Rather distressingly, that doesn't seem to have got in the way of the book selling something like 50m copies worldwide. I'm fairly sure that with sales like that, Dan Brown can afford not to give two hoots for stinging critiques of his style.

Or is it just good that people are reading at all? (this is usually the argument wheeled out in defence of the Harry Potter books - don't worry too much about the quality of the book, just be pleased that kids are reading anything at all). Maybe I'm just jealous. I should stop reading and criticising this tripe and focus instead on writing something of my own instead. I'm not greedy - I don't expect to sell 50m copies.... one or two million would be plenty. I don't want Tom Hanks in my film though.

Actually. My view on the book has softened somewhat since I went to see the film last night. The film manages to include all of the bad things about the book, whilst at the same time removing the driving plot that keeps the book moving and keeps you turning the pages.... The film is wordy, pretentious, overly long and dull, dull, dull....

Seriously - don't bother.

The film makes the book look good. What else can I say? The church are wasting their breath complaining and campaigning against this film. They should let it stiff on its own merits.


I'm off to Paris on Thursday, and I'm planning to visit the Louvre for the first time. What's the betting I can't get anywhere near the Mona Lisa?

there's no one you can't beat...

I'd been wondering about these....

...and then I saw this:

Tee hee.

(originally spotted here)

Friday, May 19, 2006

feel the magic, hear the roar...

Earworms of the Week

10. "When Will I Be Famous" - Bros

No, I don't know why this one has popped into my head either. Perhaps it's because Big Brother has just started over here, and apparently contains as many freaks as usual. The twist this year is that one competitor will enter the house as a result of finding a "Golden Ticket" inside a chocolate bar. Apparently it's already on Ebay (ah... it's been removed. Shame).

I kicked my habit last year when I didn't watch any of it for the first time. I'm not planning on starting this year.

9. "Dry Your Eyes (featuring Chris Martin)" - The Streets

Courtesy of Mark (again!). I have a feeling that Mike Skinner originally had Chris Martin in mind when he wrote this song, and it certainly seems to suit his voice. I still think Leo the Lion does it better though.

8. "The Youngest Was the Most Loved" - Morrissey

I'm still pretty unconvinced by "Ringleader of the Tormentors". I was listening to it again this afternoon, and it seems ok, but only ok. It's been ecstatically reviewed of course, but don't reviewers often compensate for the good album they missed by being overly enthusiastic about the next one ("Be Here Now" springs to mind, as does "The Great Escape")?

I was supposed to be going to see him play at Birmingham Symphony Hall tomorrow night too.... until SeeTickets decided to release my tickets back onto sale because they made a boo-boo and promptly sold them to someone else.


(I have read that his setlist is a bit lacklustre as well, although I loved this review from someone seeing him for the first time. She crowd surfed! She grabbed a piece of his shirt! She broke her glasses! Quite a debut.)

7. Theme from Grandstand

Purely for the wailing guitar solo that bursts out unexpectedly about halfway through.

Check it out here (link is top right, but you also get a great picture of dapper Des on there too).

6. "Burning Benches" - Morning Runner

I've rambled about this lot enough this week, to be honest. Great song.

5. "Sweet Jane" - The Velvet Underground

Brought to mind by my piece in the Art of Noise A-Z this week. It's a great song in its own right, of course, but it is made brilliant by Lou Reed's "Just watch me now!" about halfway through.

4. "Skip To The End" - The Futureheads

June 3rd is going to be a busy day for me:

--> it's the second day of the Trent Bridge Test match (fancy dress day!)
--> an old friend is having a wedding party at her house
--> the Futureheads are playing at Rock City

I will be dressed as a World War II RAF pilot for at least two of these, and expect to be thoroughly legless for all three.


3. "SOS" - Rhianna

This is the one that samples Soft Cell's "Tainted Love". I'm not entirely sure that I like it, but it's certainly as catchy as hell.

2. "Steady as She Goes" - The Ranconteurs

The opening single from Jack White's side project and a wilfully retro little number (like their website, which is ace). It's not big, and it's not clever... but it rocks.

I wasn't that impressed with the album on first listen, but it's really grown on me over the last twenty-four hours. I bet they are excellent live too.

1. Theme from Thundercats

This was kind of a spin-off from having the Grandstand theme in my head, and is all to do with guitar solos. Is it the greatest theme tune to a cartoon ever, or just the greatest theme tune ever?


More news on the blood doning front today too. I had a nice letter and a certificate thanking me for all my contributions over the last few years. They also asked me if I'd like to become an ambassador for the National Blood Service.

Well, what can you say to an offer like that?


Thursday, May 18, 2006

blood runs through our veins....

In the UK, you don't get paid to donate blood. This means that everyone who donates is not only giving up their precious and much needed blood, but they are also willingly donating their time. This is probably a legacy of coming from a medical family, but I think it is a fantastic thing to do and I have happily been submitting myself to the National Blood Service's needles since I was eighteen years old. That means that - barring the mandatory break of a year after I got my tattoo - I have been giving blood for 14 years.

My blood type is A Rh+. This is good for two reasons:

1) It is the second most common blood type (after O+) and occurs in 35% of the population. This means that it is always in demand and that it is especially important to donate regularly. This makes me feel good about donating it: I know it's not likely to be hanging around for long or to ultimately go to waste. Apparently about half of the people needing blood at any one time need this type....

2) The fact that it is so common means that if I unlucky enough to need a donation, then hopefully it shouldn't be too hard to find someone with the same blood type (and yes, I do realise that the two points are slightly paradoxical!)

The whole donation process takes about 30 minutes, and because they bring their van to my office, it provides a welcome opportunity to escape from my desk three times a year and have a sit down and a nice cup of tea. Oh, and to donate a pint or so of something that costs me nothing and might just be useful to someone else.

I've just got a letter through the post that's put a stop to all that:

"Unfortunately, according to our rather strict criteria, you are not eligible to donate blood. I have therefore withdrawn your name from our panel of donors. If your situation changes, please contact us again and we may be able to reinstate you.....etc."

I reported the WTs to them about a year ago, and because they are quite rightly cautious about the blood that they take from people, they put me on hold whilst they investigated what to do with me.... and now I know. I have a neurological disorder of some kind that remains essentially undiagnosed. You wouldn't have thought that this would affect my blood, but you really can't be too careful can you?

So that's that.

I know that it probably shouldn't, but this makes me feel a bit shitty: one more little way in which this thing has affected my life.

Curse you WTs!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It was me who always spluttered every time we spoke

Morning Runner @ The Marcus Garvey Ballroom, Nottingham - 17th May 2006

The Marcus Garvey ballroom is located somewhere out in the wilds of Lenton in Nottingham. It’s the kind of place where you leave a car at your own risk, so Lord B and I parked up a mile or so away in the rather more salubrious environs of The Park and walked through the warzone to get to the gig. Once we were through the metal-detector at the door, we headed up a couple of flights of stairs and emerged blinking into what is actually a pretty decent venue. It’s maybe a bit more battered and a bit less glamorous, but the Marcus Garvey Ballroom reminded me quite a lot of the Blackpool Empress Ballrooms: it has a large barrelled roof, a wooden floor and reasonable acoustics. It’s bigger than I imagined too – certainly larger than the Rescue Rooms, and perhaps if it was rammed to the rafters would nearly be a match for Rock City. It wasn’t rammed to the rafters tonight though. In fact, there was really only a scattering of a couple of hundred people, and barely anyone at all behind the mixing desk. I know it was the night of the Champions League final and an English team was competing… but I would have thought that more people would have made the effort. Still. The atmosphere was decent enough, so we bought a couple of pints and settled down to watch the support act, who were in full swing when we arrived.

I’m not familiar with The Fallout Trust, but they have a name that is perhaps unfortunately close to Fallout Boy, and even more unfortunately don’t have any songs that are anywhere near as good as “Sugar We’re Going Down”. I suppose they were decent enough, but I couldn’t really get over the fact that their lead singer looks like one of the most awkward front men that I have ever seen. He had a touch of the awkwardness of Ian Curtis about him, but none of the mesmeric talent. In fact, he looked like he had been plucked out of the Maths department, dressed in a pair of ill-fitting slacks with the braces hanging down and popped onto the stage with a microphone. Still. What do I know? According to their flyers, no less an organ than “Artrocker” declares that their debut album (“In Case of the Flood”) was “…a slinky, polished and well-produced collection of pop songs”. And perhaps it is. Perhaps it is.

Morning Runner came out onto the stage at about 10pm, and I was instantly struck by how much more charismatic a stage presence they have than their support. It’s funny: their singer seemed shy and tended to mumble and hide behind his fringe when he was talking to the crowd, but he still effortlessly had a much greater hold on my attention than the gawky guy from The Fallout Trust. They’ve got the songs too. To be honest, I’ve not listened to their album (“Wilderness is Paradise Now”) very much, and I’m only really familiar with the single “Burning Benches”, but they were good. They have a pianist, so inevitably they get compared with Coldplay and Keane, but the truth is that they don’t really sound like either of those bands. They have a harder, more guitar based sound, for one thing. In spite of their mainly melodic sound, they also have a faint tendency to wander into what could almost be described as heavy metal wig outs – something I approve of greatly. They certainly inspire passion in their audience: I kept finding myself mildly distracted during the course of Morning Runner’s set by the guy standing just in front of me. He had a shaven head, was pretty hefty and was wearing an off-white polo shirt with an upturned collar. In short, he looked a bit rough…. But he was also utterly captivated by the band. He had a look of blissful rapture whenever they played a slow one, and bellowed along to the louder ones. It was quite a sight. More thugs should listen to sensitive music. Perhaps it should be part of their rehabilitation. If more violent criminals listened to people like Thirteen Senses, Morning Runner or Keane, I’m sure the world would be a lot nice place.

As far as I could tell, the setlist consisted of most of the tracks on their album and a clutch of extremely well received b-sides. They were on for about 50 minutes and then it was back through the metal detectors and out into Nottingham’s drizzly badlands to see if the car was still there. It was (although I might take a cab when I go to see Devendra Banhart at the same venue later in the year).

7/10 – made me want to listen to the album as soon as I got home.

no, no, no, it ain't me, babe....

...oh, and you might have noticed that I've changed my avatar

This one has served me pretty well for the last couple of years, but I thought it was time for a change.

Sort of....

Whaddaya think?

(Please note: hair not necessarily author's own....)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

she may be the song that summer sings....

Blog of the Week #17 - (Shout Out #1) .... Wonder(ing) Goddess

Ok. Something a bit different this week. Normally I scour the internet looking for sites that might be of some kind of passing interest. This was originally based on the theory in January that I should "Get out more". The internet is a big place, I reasoned. Much though I loved all the sites in my list of regular reads, I felt that there must be some *amazing* blogs out there just waiting to be discovered. I decided that I needed to start looking for them.

And that's more or less what I have done every Tuesday since then. It's hard work and good blogs are harder to find than you might think. The ones that I have picked here have been a mixed bag in the main.... but I'm more or less still reading all of them, so I think that the whole thing has been more than worthwhile, and I'll continue with more of the same on Tuesdays to come.

As I was thinking of various blogs that might feature this week, I suddenly realised that it would only be right to send some love out to some blogs a bit closer to home. So I came up with the idea of a "Shout Out": from time to time I'm going to name one of my old favourites as blog of the week. You'll probably know it already, but if you don't (or if you haven't been over there for a while).... here's your chance to get over there and show some love! All the people featured in these "shout outs" will be bona fide friends of this blog...... perhaps not people that I have actually met, but people I care about none the less.


Right. First up this week is Jenni. I first met Jenni (and Leah!) when Lord B asked me to help him out in an argument with some stroppy american about some form of politics or other. I obediently went over to The Democratic Goddesses of America... and promptly sided with the stroppy American, who turned out not to be in the least bit stroppy. Lord B was a little annoyed with me at the time for some reason, but I think he's got over it.....

The 18 months since then have been something of a rollercoaster for Jenni ..... but throughout it all she's remained (or at least appeared to remain) amazingly calm and sweet natured amidst the whirling maelstrom of family, exams, appartments and boyfriends (not to mention boyfriend's family, religion and other assorted baggage....).

Sometimes fearing the worst, but always looking for the best in people.

I don't know about you. I reckon the USA is going to need more lawyers (and perhaps politicians?) like her. She's a smart cookie.

So. Sorry if this all sounds a bit sentimental, but Jenni - I salute you.

Blog of the Week. Send her some love.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise, The American Mystery Deepens, The Thoughts of Chairman Tao, Neil Gaiman]

Monday, May 15, 2006

has absence ever sounded so eloquent? so sad?

Scott Walker is a real hero of mine.

I don't say that lightly and I don't say it about very many people. Ever since I was first introduced to his music by my friend Mark at university, I have been absolutely captivated by the sound of this beautiful, easy-listening voice singing these incredibly bleak songs of death and misery. Astounding stuff. As far as I'm concerned, there is no vocalist that can touch him, and only one other musician has affected me in anything like the same way.

With that in mind, it is with heavy heart that I have to say this.

I've been listening to "The Drift".

This is Scott Walker's first album in 11 years, and I knew that if it was anything like his last two albums (1984s "Climate of the Hunter" and 1995s "Tilt") then it was going to be challenging. Conventional song structure and such trivial things as melody, choruses and the like are apparently impediments to Scott's muse. This tends to make things hard (but not impossible) for the listener. Even Walker's voice has changed: the rich baritone of the 1960s has been replaced by something a lot scratchier and taut; almost operatic. It's a change that probably has something to do with age, but I think is partly deliberate too.

They are difficult albums, but they do reward persistence - even if they will never be albums that I will have on a regular rotation. On first listen, "The Drift" seems to be similar.

But here's the thing.....

I was listening to "The Drift" through my headphones at work. Not ideal listening conditions, but not terrible, and I listen to lots of albums for the first time in this way. Only, by the time I got to track 6 (of 10 on the album), an inescapable image had formed in my head as I listened to the music....

You remember The Fast Show? Do you remember those two characters with the tight polo-necks, pulled up trousers and bowl cuts? Those guys with the funny dance from the Isle of Man? Do you remember the music that played as they shuffled across the screen? (click here to see them in action)


That's what this album sounds like.

I'm sorry Scott. I really am, but that's the way it is. I can assure you that no one is more upset about this than me.

(They're from the Isle of Man....)

Friday, May 12, 2006

privately divided by a world so undecided...

It has been my dubious pleasure this week to play host to some kind of unpleasant eye infection. You know that feeling you get when your eyes start to feel a bit hot and begin to get a bit gunky? I woke up with that very feeling a few days ago. I wear contact lenses, so I'm no stranger to this and I knew the drill. I got myself down to the pharmacy and got myself some medicated eye-drops. When this didn't clear it up, I made an appointment to go and see the doctor on Thursday. Ah yes. Conjunctivitis. Here are some eye drops. Should clear up in a couple of days.

24 hours later and my right eye is so bloodshot it looks like I have been punched, and it is becoming extremely painful to look around. Hmmm. Not good. Call to the doctor. Is it normal for the eye to get a lot worse before it gets better? No?

"I'd better start you on some different antibiotics, and if it gets any worse over the weekend or begins to affect your vision, go directly to Casualty. I'll have a new prescription ready for you to pick up this afternoon."

Excellent. I tootle off to the surgery, pick up the new prescription and head off to the pharmacy to have it dispensed. My eye is hurting like a bastard by this point, so I head back to my car intending to dose myself up before I head back into work. Hold on.... I was kind of expecting this ointment to have one of those long tapering nozzles - you know, the kind that make it a whole lot easier to apply to your eye. This one has got a standard flat nozzle. Closer inspection reveals a sticker on the side saying "EXTERNAL USE ONLY. DO NOT APPLY TO THE EYE".


Off back to the pharmacist I go, who immediately holds the prescription and tells me to come back later once she has checked with the doctor. Several hours later I go back, and yes.... the prescription has been changed.

The patient information leaflet helpfully told me that "your eye might sting after using the drops". After inserting them and then spending the next couple of minutes dancing around the room swearing, I can confirm that this is indeed the case.....

Earworms of the Week

10. "Debaser" - The Pixies

"Slicing up eyeballs...." do I need to explain any further?

9. "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol

"Final Straw" was definitely my most played album of 2004, and over the course of the year I saw the band no less than 4 times. During that last show at Birmingham Academy though, the lack of new material was becoming a bit glaring.... this was the 4th time I had listened to basically the same set list, and good though they were, they were beginning to flog the album a touch (they were also about to release the umpteenth single from it...).

I wondered a little bit what would happen with the new album. The first two albums were a bit underwhelming, so it was only natural to wonder if "Final Straw" had been a fluke. Well, after a couple of listens, "Eyes Open" sounds pretty good to me. Lots of emotional singing and some big choruses... but with just about enough of an alternative edge to get away with it. This song in particular grabs me. Big, sweeping, epic, tearful.... it's nice to have them back.

8. "Everybody Knows" - Leonard Cohen

'Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost'

It's not a happy song. But then, Leonard Cohen isn't exactly the life and soul of the party is he?

Thanks to Mark for this one.

7. "Everybody's Gone to War" - Nerina Pallot

This one has been getting a bit of radio play and is quite pithy and tuneful. Obviously, as it's a female singer-songwriter, Bargs is hooked... and has been good enough to lend me the CD... hence its appearance here.

'If love is a drug, then I guess we're all sober'


6. "Back Again" - Boy Kill Boy

I saw this lot on the "Album Chart Show". Bad hat. Bad eyebrows. Fantastic record. Reminds me of "Sleep" by Marion, for some reason.

5. "Vicinity of Obscenity" - System of a Down

Obviously this has the usual nonsense lyrics (something about whores with bad feet, bananas bananas bananas terracotta pie....?? Answers on a postcard...)


4. "Farmer in the City" - Scott Walker

Walker's new album finally came out this week, but I haven't got round to buying it yet. Perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised that this one has crept into my head. It's taken from his last album (1994s "Tilt") and is about the least bonkers song on there. That's a relative term though.

"Do I hear 21? 21? 21?
I'll give you 21, 21, 21"

Nope. Me neither. It's hardly a conventional song at all, but he's a hero of mine and it's stayed with me for the last 11 years, so it's in....

3. "Panther Dash" - The Go! Team

Shambolic instrumental genius.

2. "It's a Hit" - We Are Scientists

This is one of the records that I instantly loved.... I think it must have been used as a backing track to something, because as soon as I heard it on the album, I knew it. Maybe I've simply absorbed it through a process of musical osmosis?

Good album too (cute cats on the cover....!)

I'm very much looking forward to seeing these chaps live in November though.

1. "Snow ((Hey Oh))" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Clocking in at a little over two hours long, "Stadium Arcadium" is more than twice the length of their next longest album. It's an awful lot to take in, and I haven't been able to process it all in a single sitting and have been listening to it in dribs and drabs all week. My first thoughts are that the second disc ("Mars") is better than the first ("Jupiter"), but that this is my favourite song by a country mile. Rhythmic, melodic and with a killer chorus. Takes the blissful brilliance of " The Zephyr Song" from their last album and takes you even higher.

Gorgeous song.

Have a good weekend y'all.....

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I don't wanna holiday in the sun....

I have to say that I've never really been that interested in getting a tan. Partly this is because I find sunbathing to be one of the most tedious activities on Earth and partly this is because I'm not in the least bit bothered by the way it looks. Oh, and apparently it's also extremely bad for you. Tanned skin is damaged skin, you know. Not surprisingly then, I find the whole trend for tanning a little bit baffling. It's incredibly narcissistic, isn't it? I've never really understood why, in their quest for the all-year tan, people will willingly go to a salon and submit themselves to damaging ultra-violet light, or why they will sit for hours slow roasting on a beach. Boring.

For me, pale is interesting (although, to be fair, I have a skin tone that could optimistically be called "olive", but would more accurately be described as "yellow", and with my hairline, it's always wisest to wear a hat in the summer months.....). Rightly or wrongly, there is a part of me that sees someone with a tan and thinks that they are preeningly vain (more so when I see a tanned guy than when I see a tanned girl, for some reason. I'm sure there must be some exceptions, but in my head, I always reckon that a man with a glowing tan is also likely to have a highlighted mullet and overly plucked eyebrows .... and probably likes the music of Westlife, Simply Red and Phil Collins. That's got to be true though, right?).

Until today, I knew very little about the mechanics of how you go about getting a serious tan, and I cared even less....... and then I had a conversation with Claire, the girl who sits opposite me at work. Claire likes a bit of sun, has just got back from a week in Portugal and is as brown as a nut and keen to stay that way.

The conversation started harmlessly enough: we had a bit of a chat about her holiday... but then, before I could blink, we seemed to be talking about sunbathing and how it is important to make sure you get "an all over tan". What this means --- I know this now --- is that you have to:

(a) get naked
(b) make sure that you frequently change the position of your body so that everywhere catches the sun.

Let's think about that for a moment.


Between the toes? Yes. Apparently that's important when you wear open-toed shoes.
Under the arms? Very, very important in a season with so many sleeveless tops. Don't forget the backs of your arms either.
Underneath the breasts? Obviously. This may entail a bit of strategic lifting and shifting.

Anywhere else?

Ah yes..... Between the bum cheeks.

Two questions immediately sprang to mind:

1) Does this mean that you have to adopt a "cheeks apart" position? (Yes)

2) Why on earth would you need to make sure you tanned *there*? Who would get to see in there? Who would care?

The answer to the second question is a bit crude, but I'm afraid there's no getting away from it. It is (of course) important to make sure you have an even tan between the cheeks of the arse just in case you end up having sex with someone and they are, um, entering you from behind.


Far from reeling from this revelation, my mind immediately jumped to the important questions: does this mean that there are some people in the world for whom a tan line between the bum cheeks is a show-stopper in bed? does this mean that there are people on sunbeds right now with their arse cheeks peeled apart so that they can get an even tan? Does this mean that cleaning a sunbed is one of the least desirable jobs in the world?

I tell you.

Every day is a school day, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

please turn on your magic beam....

Blog of the Week #16 - Neil Gaiman's Journal

Mark has actually linked to this for as long I can remember, but although I've popped over there sporadically, it's only recently that I've started to read it a little more closely. I suppose it's the natural follow-up to my recent discovery of Gaiman's incomparable Sandman comics.

I've actually been a reader of Gaiman's books for some time. I'm new to Sandman (having intended to read the damn thing for years), but I first discovered his writing through "Good Omens", which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett in 1988. I read it mostly because of his co-author really (I remain a big fan), but it's a really funny book that tells the story of an angel and a devil who try to thwart the apocalypse which is about to be inadvertantly started by the antichrist, who has accidentally ended up as a small boy growing up in the English countryside. OK, so I was 14 at the time, and I'm not sure that I've done the plot much justice there, but I actually read it again recently and it was still funny. Several years later I picked up "American Gods", intrigued by the promise on the dust-jacket that if I wasn't entirely happy with what I read, I could get my money back. There was no need. It's excellent. Really, really excellent: delving deeply into contemporary American culture and into Norse Mythology. From there it was all I could do to get my hands on another of his books: "Neverwhere". This one is aimed at a younger audience, but deals with how an ordinary businessman gets sucked into an extraordinary world existing underneath London... a place where there really is an Angel in Islington.


Anyway. His journal is slightly different to other celebrity blogs featured here in that it is updated pretty regularly, is thoughtfully written, interactive and is above all INTERESTING.

If you are familiar with NG and his work, then I suggest you go over and have a look for yourselves. If you aren't.... what are you waiting for? If you like comics.... go for Sandman. If you like books.... go for "American Gods".

As if that wasn't enough, he also appears to be a fan of the Pixies, and you can't argue with that.

Blog of the Week.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise, The American Mystery Deepens, The Thoughts of Chairman Tao]

Monday, May 08, 2006

music the great communicator...

I nipped out to the shops today to pick up the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album. Rubbish cover. Rubbish title. Great band. I've been listening to them now since they released "Mother's Milk" in 1989, and they just seem to have been getting better and better. I have a particular soft spot for "Blood Sugar Sex Magik", but "Californication" and "By The Way" are outstanding albums. The socks-on-cocks funk rock workouts have now almost completely gone, replaced with beautiful melodies and harmonies... and much though Flea may miss them, they're a much better band without them.

Anyway. That's not really what I wanted to talk about.

"By The Way" was released in 2002, and I played the CD to death. Literally. It is now so scratched and scuffed that it will not play in any CD player.... but because it died in the iPod era, I haven't missed it all. Why would I? I have it safely ripped and can listen to it anytime. I haven't even bothered to blow another copy onto a blank CD....but I have still got the original useless CD. It's in the box and on the shelf with the rest of my CDs. I don't really know why I've kept it.

Come to think of it, I don't really know why I still buy CDs at all. I've made a special trip to the shop today to buy an album on its day of release, and all I've done with the damn thing is take it home, pop it into my laptop, rip it and then put it away. It would have been far easier (and quicker) to have just downloaded the whole thing from iTunes. I download individual songs all the time (most recently "Back Again" by Boy Kill Boy), but to date I've only downloaded one complete album: "Minimum - Maximum" by Kraftwerk. To be honest, I only downloaded that because I heard that the CD was copy-protected, and as soon as the download completed, for some reason I felt the need to immediately copy the album onto CD.....

It's not as though I even particularly treasure having the CDs as a physical possession, and I don't spend hours poring over the booklets either. Part of me is a bit nervous about having my whole music collection on a computer, but that won't really wash as an excuse either, as I've got a back-up harddrive sat on my desk (chiefly because it would take hours and hours and hours to rip all of my CDs again).


Scott Walker's new album (11 years in the making!) also came out today.... but perhaps not surprisingly, the shop didn't have it.

Maybe I should download it.

As soon as I have a reliable way of listening to an iPod in the car, I'm not sure I'll ever buy a CD again.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

there's no end to the lengths I'll go to...

I've been checking my stats.

I only do this occasionally, but I do find some of the search terms that lead people here fascinating. As you might imagine, I mainly get people passing through looking for song lyrics or mp3s (most recently a spate of people looking for Dennis Waterman theme tunes....), but some of them are more than a touch disturbing.

With that in mind, a big hello to the person who surfed in here with the search term "MAN KINDNAPS LITTLE GIRL AND PLANS TO EAT HER" (the typo and the capitalisation are the searcher's own....)



(check it out.... I'm the only result!)

People are also still arriving here with search terms like "Piss in Sink" - a fact that never fails to make me proud.... Given that I'm currently planning a post on the phenomenon of people hanging plastic bags full of dog shit on the trees in public parks, I imagine I can only expect more of the same in the forseeable future.

The internet really is a strange and wonderful place.

Mostly just strange.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth...

This government is dying on its arse. It's sometimes said that governments have a natural lifespan, and it certainly looks like New Labour are reaching the end of theirs. It's one scandal after another at the moment, and the salad days of 1997 seem like an awfully long time ago. We have a lame duck Prime Minister and a country crying out for change.

But change to what?

David "Dave" Cameron has hardly set the world on fire, and although the Conservatives seem to be taking little steps forwards, they are hardly the government-in-waiting that Labour were in the run up to the 1997 General Election..... and it's probably kinder not to mention the Liberal Democrats as a serious political force at the moment.

So who are people going to turn to? Who do they vote for to register their disgust?

Sadly it appears that they are turning to the British National Party. At the Local Elections on Thursday, the number of BNP councillors doubled. In Barking and Dagenham they won 11 of the 13 seats they contested, and they now hold 46 in total. Given that there are something like 22,000 council seats, that may seem like small beer, but the BNP are definitely becoming more visible. Over the last couple of weeks I have heard them being discussed seriously on places like Newsnight and BBC Radio Five Live, and I can't remember seeing anything like this before on the mainstream media. They seem to be becoming newsworthy as a political party.

Lord Tebbit was even moved to write a letter to the Daily Telegraph debating whether or not the BNP were atually an extreme right-wing party (the end of the political spectrum that he holds dear) or were in fact left-wing:

"I have carefully re-read the BNP manifesto of 2005 and am unable to find evidence of Right-wing tendencies. On the other hand, there is plenty of anti-capitalism, opposition to free trade, commitments to "use all non-destructive means to reduce income inequality", to institute worker ownership, to favour workers' co-operatives, to return parts of the railways to state ownership, to nationalise the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and to withdraw from Nato. That sounds pretty Left-wing to me. Certainly the BNP poses as a patriotic party opposed to multiculturalism, and it has racist overtones, but there is no lack of patriotic Left-wing regimes; opposition to multiculturalism is now mainstream and racialism was not unknown even in the Soviet Union."

Now, Tebbit is clearly a clown. This is a party that would legalise discrimination on racial grounds. Whether they are extreme left-wing or extreme right-wing doesn't make a jot of difference.

Other policies include:

-> halt all immigration to the UK
-> abolish multiculturalism (quite how they would do this, they don't say)
-> pull British troops out of Iraq and use them to patrol Dover to keep out asylum seekers
-> introduce "firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home"
-> reintroduce National Service and to require everyone who has undergone it to keep a modern assault rifle at home. Why? "It's there to shoot burglars with if they want, it's there to shoot people who invade this country if they want, and if in the end a tyrannical government wants to usurp the rights and freedoms of the people it is there to use against the government as well,"
-> school canteens to be forced to serve one meal, and students to be forced to eat it (this will abolish anorexia, apparently)

and so on....

Rather worryingly, according to a recent poll, most Britons actually support their policies, only disowning them when they hear they are associated with the BNP. The Employment Minister Margaret Hodge actually got into a spot of hot water with her own party the other day for suggesting that voters were being "tempted" to vote for the BNP because they didn't believe that Labour was listening to their concerns:

"The political class as a whole is often frightened of engaging in the very difficult issues of race and...the BNP then exploits that and try and create out of a perception a reality which is not the reality of people's lives."

It's worth keeping in mind that people often use local elections like these to register a protest against the government of the day, and that they often cast votes for parties that they wouldn't dream of choosing in a General Election.... but the BNP definitely seem to be getting more exposure in the media than they used to, and I find this a worrying trend. Are they really becoming a viable alternative for people in this country? We're coming up to a World Cup, and I'm starting to see George Crosses hanging out of windows and attached to cars. There's a world of difference between a display of national pride like that and the desire to return to a "purer" England as voiced by the BNP... but I can't help but connect the two things in my mind somehow, and I'm worried that I won't be the only one.

Luckily for us, the average BNP politician is an idiot, and we can always hope that the more media exposure they get, the more everybody will realise this. Check out this clip of Nick Griffin, the BNP chairman, being interviewed by David Dimbleby in the wake of their local election gains. Dimbleby skewers him so effectively that I almost felt sorry for him.


Friday, May 05, 2006

'cos I used to believe what I read, so now I know that others will believe that it's true...

Evening all. I was going to post this up a whole lot earlier, but the sun was shining and the pub was beckoning to me... so I sort of let it slide.

I hope you don't mind too much, and that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.....

This week's Guest Editor was the second ever recipient of the much coveted "Blog of the Week" accolade... I actually originally offered her this gig way back in January, but for one reason and another it took us until now to finally make contact. As she's clearly a lady of great taste, it is with no little pleasure that I am able to finally unveil her to you as the leader of this week's homage to the God of the Earworm.

Ladies and Gentleworms.... without further ado... it is my great pleasure to hand you over to....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #39 - Mandy from I Have Ordinary Addictions

My first time guest blogging! Wow, it is a privilege and an honour. I feel special and awkward all at the same time... kind of like when I would win awards at school. I always felt proud of myself when walking up to the podium to receive the award, but I knew that once the ceremony was over, people would make fun of me for being a nerd. Ah, school days... how I miss you. On to my Earworms of the Week, loud and proud:

  1. "When You Wasn't Famous" - the Streets

    I've only heard the new Streets album two times, but I had already heard this single several times, because I had watched the video online. In true Mike Skinner style, it's funny and catchy, and you end up feeling a little sorry for poor Mike living the popstar's life. Great video too. I wish the Streets were more popular in the States, because I think our hiphop scene could stand a shot in the arm.

  2. "Big Guns" - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

    I could have chosen anything from this album, because all of the songs run through my head on a pretty constant basis. I love this album, and I think it has a pretty secure spot on my 2006 top ten list. Buy this album now. Buy it! The power of Christ compels you!

  3. "For the Price of a Cup of Tea" - Belle and Sebastian

    This song nearly makes my teeth hurt. That's how sugary it is. But come on, how often do you hear B&S singing about cocaine, sex, and making what I think is a silly penis size joke? Instant classic!

  4. "Bad Medicine" - Bon Jovi

    I've recently finished reading Chuck Klosterman's Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, in which Chuck describes growing up as a metal fan in the midwest. I love his writing, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading this book, since I've read his other two. ANYWAY (as Chuck would say), the book mentions Bon Jovi quite a lot, especially "Bad Medicine."Therefore, I can't get it out of my head. Apparently Bon Jovi have a new song out now, which I heard playing on MTV as I was getting ready for work the other day. It's terrible. I never thought Bon Jovi were great, but oh how they have fallen.

  5. "Sweet Child O' Mine" - Guns N' Roses

    Yes, this song is in my head for the same reason as "Bad Medicine." However, "Sweet Child O' Mine" is a far, far superior song. I've always loved this song, and I have really fond memories of singing it a cappella on a swingset with my pal Sean. While we were being filmed. I have that video somewhere...

  6. "Like Glue" - Sean Paul

    Sean Paul is everywhere right now. You cannot escape him! MTV and VH1 are playing two or three different singles in their current rotation, and my husband watches music videos every morning as we are getting ready for work. Therefore, Sean Paul is in my head all day long. Usually, the songs (which do sound an awful lot alike) jumble together in my head until "Like Glue" - his best song, in my opinion - breaks through. And then it stays. I blame liking this song on my time spent in India, where it was a huge single. By the way, the Sean in my "Sweet Child O' Mine" story is a completely different person than Sean Paul, whom I have never met.

  7. "Life Is A Pigsty" - Morrissey

    Terrible, terrible title for a song, especially a song this beautiful. Morrissey dusts off his best falsetto and puts it to use on this one, which I find incredibly fun to sing. Years ago, my friend Diana and I hypothesized that Morrissey would one day become a lounge singer in Las Vegas, à la Tony Bennett or Tom Jones. We determined this because nearly every one of his songs can be turned into a lounge song. Seriously, put on your best swinging voice, begin singing any Moz song, and insert your best smarmy "Hi, how you doin' tonight?"or "Where you folks from?" in between lines. It works. Anyway, his latest album, Ringleader of the Tormentors, clearly proves our hypothesis. It has become scientific fact. And I love him all the more for it.

  8. "The Wait" - Built to Spill

    I've been listening to the new Built to Spill album a lot, and I really like this song. It feels like I've known this song forever. In fact, I even looked it up to see if it had appeared on another record, because I felt like I'd always known

  9. "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" - Michael Jackson

    This has been in my head since my friend Mark played it while DJing for our friends' wedding party. What happened, Michael? You used to be so good.

  10. "I feel like Chicken Tonight" jingle

    Yes, the Chicken Tonight jingle. You see, I just made a fantastic garlic and citrus chicken. I guess the act of roasting a chicken put the jingle into my head, and it will not go away. According to Wikipedia, the actual Chicken Tonight product is no longer available in the US (but still popular in the UK and Australia). Maybe that's why I don't hear the jingle anymore. However, I do remember the TV commercials with the stupid people flapping their arms like wings. I like it when Super Furry Animals sing the jingle as part of "Calimero," their song about the little cartoon chicken.

Et voilà! My Earworms of the Week. Exciting, no? I hope you enjoyed your stay inside my head. Thank you, and come again. Exits to the right.


Thanks Mandy (nerds welcome here, by the way).

Another excellent list - and I know exactly what you mean about that bloody "Chicken Tonight" jingle, which (as you say) I have mentally accompanied in my head with the image of someone walking around flapping their arms about as they pretend to be a chicken. I haven't eaten the bloody stuff in about 15 years, but somehow the advert is still lodged in my brain. Actually, adverts often provide us with the most insidious earworms of the lot. Rarely a day goes by without me earworming that Tina Turner-alike jingle they used to use for the Bodyform adverts ("WOOOOOAAAAAH BODYFOR-ORM...bodyformed for Yooooouuuuuuuuu"). It's always a pleasure to see a list that contains a bit of Bon Jovi there too. Oooh! Suits you!

Good list. Good list. Thanks for playing!

Next week: who knows?

Have a good weekend, y'all.

[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, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped]

Thursday, May 04, 2006

and in my sleep I dreamt that you found me

It's 11pm and I'm knackered.

On Monday I stayed up until the snooker finished at 1am (Leah - for all you ever needed to know about snooker, looky here! It's not that I'm especially snooker loopy, but I was rather gripped by this)

On Tuesday I watched the first couple of episodes in the "Lost" second season, only to get to the end and have the announcer on Channel 4 say that I could get a preview airing of the third episode if I switched over to E4. I only meant to watch the first 5 minutes and then go to bed.... but obviously I ended up watching it all and then going to bed after 1am again. What's a guy to do, eh brother? (and is it just me, or is that the worst Scottish accent on TV outside of Willie in the Simpsons?)

On Wednesday I made the elementary mistake of suggesting it might be a good idea if we went for a quick drink after the concert. I ended up going to bed after 2am.

Unsurprisingly I'm a little tired.

Against all the odds, I have managed to be both reasonably productive at work today AND manage to play my way through a 90 minute game of 11-a-side football.

It's not that I usually go to bed early or anything, because I don't. I usually creep into bed at some point around midnight, and rely upon a bit of a lie-in at the weekend to catch up. Three late nights in a row (all of them schoolnights) has really knocked the stuffing out of me. I hate to say it, but I think perhaps I'm getting too old for this....

If you'll excuse me, I'm thinking I might go and hit the sack. I was idly thinking I might read a few pages of my book before zonking out though.... but is this really the time to be reading Dan Brown? I'm still stuck on page 50....

Oh dammit. It's now 23:30 and I'm still bloody well here.


Right. That's it. Bedwards.