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

Monday, March 31, 2008

je vais, je vais et je viens....

Now that all that kerfuffle about the French state visit to the UK last week is starting to fade away, it's just dawned on me that I don't actually know what Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy actually discussed.... perhaps that's not so surprising really, as the vast majority of the media coverage focused not on the politics of the visit, but focused instead on Sarkozy's new wife.

Well, can you blame them? Has there been a more glamorous first lady? Jackie Kennedy had nothing on Carla Bruni, but does Grace Kelly count?


Poor Gordon and Sarah Brown had no chance next to a couple as glamorous as this, and perhaps a bit of cross-channel one-upmanship was exactly what Sarko had in mind when he popped over for a visit (Brown getting lost on the way to his table at the state banquet hosted by the Queen probably didn't help him much on this score). The French President and his wife certainly made something of a splash over here, although you'd imagine that if he was hoping to be seen as a man of substance, then perhaps he might be a bit disappointed that all of the attention has been on his lovely wife and his apparently burgeoning midlife-crisis: some reasonably tasteful nude shots from Bruni's modelling past were splashed across the papers, we read about her relationships with Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Donald Trump (ick, ick, ick), some rich bloke and then the same rich bloke's son. We read that she thinks monogamy is doomed and that polygamy is the way forwards. We sniggered at the funny little French guy, thought that their marriage was a mildly interesting car-crash waiting to happen.... but swooned at the feet of his wife all the same.

Maybe Sarko will have the last laugh after all - apparently the opinion polls in France are showing that his tailspinning popularity rating have started to climb in the wake of his visit to the UK, where no doubt the French people were secretly quite pleased at how much of a fuss was being made over their first couple. Besides, I'm sure you can put up with quite a lot when you know that at the end of the day you get to go to bed with one of the world's most desirable women. Some consolation, eh?

Still, there's more to Sarkozy than this. Of course there is. There was a very interesting article in The Observer yesterday about the number of women in Sarkozy's cabinet - seven in a cabinet of fifteen. That's a very reasonable percentage, especially when compared to Gordon Brown's six out of twenty-three. The Observer, it has to be said, did take a certain amount of pleasure in pointing out just how much more glamorous these French ministers were than their English counterparts: Hazel Blears or Rachida Dati? or Ruth Kelly or Rama Yade? The comparison is unfair on everyone, of course, as these are all extremely capable women and we should be saluting Sarkozy that he has brought so many into his Government (Yade is only 31 years old, too. Can you imagine someone that young making the British cabinet? No, me neither.)

Carla Bruni, of course, has been spoken about in terms of the way she looks for the last twenty years, but why should she still have to put up with it? In the same paper as that article on Sarkozy's cabinet (which, to be fair, focused as much on how formidable and intelligent those women are as well as how glamorous they looked), Barbara Ellen wrote a column about the French State visit:

"This is not intended as an attack on Carla, though if it were, there would be no shortage of ammunition. She's a supermodel turned folk singer (donnez moi strength!); she has said excruciating man-pleasing things in the past such as: 'Monogamy bores me'; she has slept with Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and Donald Trump. Is it really necessary to go on?"

That is an attack though, isn't it Barbara? You're trying to make a cheap gag about models and how they are invariably rubbish when they try their hand at anything else; you are insinuating that her career as a folk singer must be appalling and God-what-the-hell-was-she-thinking? Well, for your information, as I don't imagine you've heard any of her music, Carla Bruni is actually a very accomplished musician.

"Quelq'un M'a Dit" is a wonderful album. In fact, it's one of my favourites. The follow-up album, "No Promises", isn't quite as good, but as Bruni is trying to put the poetry of people like W.B. Yeats, W.H. Auden and Emily Dickinson to music, I for one am prepared to cut her a little slack for her ambition. English isn't her native language, you know. Actually, neither is French. She's from Italy, but she speaks two other languages fluently. How many do you think Barbara Ellen can speak?

It's easy to sneer, isn't it?

Incidentally, Brown and Sarkozy discussed defence ties (with France apparently about to commit more troops to Afghanistan), stemming the tide of illegal immigrants through Calais, the probable expansion of nuclear power in the UK and the coordinated funding of school places for 16 million children in Africa. It wasn't all state banquets, football at Arsenal and smooching by the Thames (that one was Sarkozy and Bruni, in case you wondered. I don't think Gordon Brown was involved).

Having said that, those shoes are terrible, aren't they? I'm a tall man, so perhaps I don't understand these matters, but what exactly is wrong with having a partner who is taller than you? Is there more or less shame in having obviously stacked heels than in simply being short? Is poor Carla going to be consigned to flats for the entire duration of their marriage? Bugger nuclear power... this is what we really need to know.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

wherever I lay my hat....

When I was in town this morning, I saw a guy wearing an immaculate looking baseball cap standing around with an overnight bag at his feet. Nothing unusual about that, I suppose. It is the weekend after all, and he could easily either have just arrived from out of town to visit some friends or be a Nottingham resident about to leave on a visit of his own. It was the hat that caught my eye, I think. He was dressed well enough, I suppose, but it was obvious even to the casual observer that his look was entirely based around his hat. Now, I'm no connoisseur of these things, but the cap perched on the top of his head looked both big and expensive. It was obvious that hats were his thing.

As I walked past, I had a quick look down at the bag at his feet- as you do. Now, I don't know about you, but when I pack my bag for a weekend away, I tend chuck in stuff that is likely to be useful: a clean pair of pants, a book, a toothbrush, iPod.... stuff like that.

Not this guy.

This guy's bag appeared to contain nothing but three absolutely pristine, oversized and pricey looking baseball caps. Very similar to the one he was currently wearing on his head, only - y'know - different. Three. Together with the one already perched on the top of his head, that made a total of four baseball caps.

Now, I don't claim to know a whole lot about fashion, and that seems like a whole lot of hats for a weekend away, but a guy's got to accessorise, right? Besides, who can really say how many oversized, expensive-looking baseball caps is too many?


Friday, March 28, 2008

let the banners be unfurled....

Thanks to the Easter Bank Holiday, I've only worked 3 days this week, and I've only been in the office for a grand total of five-and-a-half out of the last ten working days... so why is it that this week has seemed to really, really drag? Why is it that the short weeks feel the longest?

Well, it's over now and the weekend is stretching out before me. The chips are in the oven and the pan is heating up for that nice piece of steak I've got. I've finished my mojito, the Mighty Boosh is cued up on Sky+ and I reckon I'm ready to go start my weekend....

Just one more thing to do before I disappear: Earworms.

Guesting for us this week is a man who asks all of the most important questions in life: who was the greatest front man of the 1970s? who was the greatest in the 80s? The 90s? The 2000s? The greatest full-stop? All questions, I'm sure you will agree, that it is absolutely vital that we answer. It's also good to have one of our American cousins doing this slot - our first in a little while, I think. They've always got a slightly different slant on things to us Brits, and it's always good to hear what's rocking their world.

So... ladies and gentleworms, without any further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #81 - Cody Bones

As usual, I always start each post about music by referencing my two favorite music blogs, Trolling the Underground, by Joe the Troll, and Swiss Toni’s Place by Swiss Toni. I’ve gotten more use out of these two blogs than most people realize. That’s why I’m honored to be the Guest editor again for Earworms of the week. BTW Joe, I’m going to get you to do this. I’m turning in this post a little early, as when it goes up, I will be on the beach in Florida enjoying a little spring break. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Onto the music

> See you again, by Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana.

Ok, I have a Thirteen year old daughter, and I can’t get this song out of my head, literally, I hear it EVERY day. I thought it definitely hit the requirement for an earworm.

> Shadow of a Day, by Linkin Park.

I’m a big fan of Linkin Park, ever since I heard The End. This song goes in a little different direction, but very catchy just the same, very listenable.

> Runaround, by Blues Traveler.

An Oldie, I know, but for some reason, it’s had some airplay on WXRT here in Chicago, and I truly believe it might be the catchiest song in the history of music. John Popper and the boys are fantastic.

> What Light, by Wilco.

If I might just say that I consider Jeff Tweedy to be a flippin' genius, and having seem him solo and with Wilco quite a few times, I never get tired of his work. Their new album Sky Blue Sky is fantastic, take a listen if you would please.

> Winterborn by the Cruxshadows.

One of my guilty pleasures are John Ringo novels, and numerous times he has his Marines enter battle listening to this song. I had to download the song and see what the fuss is about, and as it turns out, I don’t mind Dark Wave music at all, no sir.

> Working for the MCA, by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

First of all, I LOVE southern rock, and Skynyrd is the granddaddy of them all. Secondly, I have tickets to see them in April her in Chicago. Ok, Ok, I’m old, I know it, but they do rock. The melding of three guitars has never been done better, and Ricky Medlocke, from Blackfoot (Train Train) joined the band back in the 90’s as well. So what if they are a shadow of their former selves. It’s still Skynyrd.

> Whatever It Takes, by Lifehouse.

Another song that has been heavy rotation here, and I seem to hear it almost every day on the radio. A solid piece of work, IMHO.

> Rapper's Delight, by the Sugar Hill Gang.

I’m listening to my Zune library on shuffle and this song just came on. Whenever I hear this song, I stop, smile, reminisce, and tap my foot. The first Rap song I ever heard in 1983, wow, “. Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn, If your girl starts acting up then you take her friend.” Good stuff

> Makes me wonder, Maroon 5.

A very nice effort by a band I thought would be a one album wonder. Boy was I wrong. Powerful stuff, and enough appeal to hit young and old. A big winner in my book.

> 2112, by Rush.

One of the reasons I fell in love with the writings of Ayn Rand, was because of Neil Peart, Rush’s eponymous lyricist and drummer. I was reminded of this album by a friend of mine a few weeks back, and I had to give it a listen again. This is powerful stuff, and rather ballsy to put out a whole side of an album devoted to a future collectivist nightmare, that only weird Randites would get. Still amazing after all these years. A true classic.

With that, I’m out, see you after I get back. Thanks again for the slot ST.


Rush? Bloody hell! An excellent choice. That Hannah Montana thing also makes me think about our trip to Vienna a couple of weeks ago. Our friends' 10 year old daughter is completely mad on High School Musical. When we were there she had a friend round to watch it and to sing along in front of the telly, and it's clear that she hasn't really had any other tunes in her head for months. I watched 5 minutes, but to be honest I don't think I'm really the audience that they had in mind, and so I thought it was a bit shit. Still. It wasn't all bad news. We were listening to the radio in the car as the five of us drove into town, and what should come on by "Africa" by Toto. You know that bit in Wayne's World where they all go bananas listening to Bohemian Rhapsody in the car? That was us. With Toto. I'm not sure how many other 10 year olds know all the words to "Africa", but you have to take your hat off to her mother and Peter for teaching her....

Thanks for playing Cody.... I know you're lying on a beach in Florida and supping on another cocktail about now, and you probably don't much care one way or the other.... but it's another interesting list.

Have a good weekend y'all.

Coming up: the lovely J (4/4), YokoSpungeon (11/4 - I hope), Rol (18/4, maybe. Around then, anyhow)......then you? Drop me an email and it could be you up here with your name in lights.

Or something.

[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, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon, Troubled Diva, Graham II, Cat II, Statue John II, Sweeping the Nation, Aravis II, Olympian II, C, Planet-Me, Mike, Michael II, Eye in the Sky II, Charlie III, The Great Grape Ape, asta, Ben III, Earworms of the Year 2007, Cat III, JamieS & Wombat, Pynchon II, Briskate, Craig Cliff, Fiery Little Sod]


Thursday, March 27, 2008

and always the right way round...

Our beautiful cat gave us a bit of a fright the other day. On a normal day when we're at home, Minou pops in and out of the cat flap all the time. She likes to be outside, but she never wanders far, and she likes to know what we're up to. On Good Friday -- it had to be a bank holiday -- she popped out in the early evening and popped back in about 30 minutes later. I didn't think anything of it, but when I went upstairs, she followed me... but was practically dragging herself up the stairs. There was something wrong. She was crying and couldn't walk properly. Of course we took her straight to the vet. It being an evening and a bank holiday, we had to go to the emergency vet... that's the best part of £100 before you've even started, but what else are you going to do when your pet is in pain? (and anyway, she's insured..of course she's insured)

The vet examined her and decided that she hadn't been hit by a car - apparently cats instinctively put their claws out when they are hit by a car and as a result often have claws that have been worn down on asphalt. It looked as though our silly cat had fallen off something and landed awkwardly. Given that she's a tiny bit clumsy and overly enthusiastic, this wouldn't really be all that much of a turn up for the books. She was knocked out and X-rayed, and the vet was able to tell us the excellent news that she hadn't broken anything, but had strained some ligaments in the knee of one of her back legs. Strict bed-rest, apparently.

And drugs.

It's not easy to confine a cat to quarters, but Minou clearly had other things on her mind and was content to just curl up on a beanbag.

The drugs help. They really help. Within a couple of days, she was almost back to her normal self and clamouring to get outside.

I was very pleased to hear that I wasn't going to have to try and feed the cat pills (have you ever tried that?), but I was sceptical when the vet gave me the little bottle of Metacam solution and told me I was supposed to give this liquid to the cat. Apparently cats love it. Hm. Do you know what though? After a bit of initial suspicion about the syringe-like device you use to administer the dose, Minou really did like the stuff. In fact, she couldn't get enough of it.

I think she might be a junkie.

Metacam is an anti-inflammatory, and is supposed to help Minou's knee get better. I'm sure it does this, but what it also does is to knock the cat out. Minou does like a good cuddle, but she's not really a lap cat, preferring a short stop before finding a warm pipe or something to sit on. When this stuff kicks in though, she just zonks out and wants to do nothing else but curl up on someone's lap.

Well, I say someone's lap, but actually all she really wants to do -- much to C's irritation and in spite of her best efforts -- is to curl up on my lap. The other night she climbed up onto my lap no fewer than four times, to my wife's increasing outrage.... especially when on the fourth occasion, the cat had to climb across C's lap to get to mine.

What can I say? She likes me....

Besides, she always goes to C for a cuddle in the morning when we first wake up - I think because she's a lot less sharp and angular than me and offers a much more comfortable chest to sit on than my hollow pigeon chest. And do you hear me complaining? I look across when I wake up in the morning to see my wife cuddling my cat and not knowing which one of the pair of them is the more contented.

Anyway. She's a lot better now, but she's still wanting a nice cuddle in the evening, and as my wife has gone off to Russia on business until the middle of next week, I'll take all of the affection that I can get.

So yeah. I love my cat. What of it?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

watch out where the huskies go....

>>>>> ST's ALPHABETICON - Z <<<<<

Previously in the Alphabeticon: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, singles, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y

Nearly done now. This trawl through one particular set of shelves in one particular room in my house is almost over.


We're at Z, anyway.

541. Frank Zappa - Strictly Commerical

It's a compilation album, of course. Zappa was one of those guys who have recorded so much stuff that it's almost impossible to know where to start, and so the default setting is to explore with a decent Greatest Hits album and see where you take it from there. Given that Zappa's career incorporated rock, jazz, classical and all points inbetween, and that he recorded something like 57 albums in his lifetime and another 18 have been put out since his death, this seemed like a very sensible approach to take. Actually, I haven't got around to buying anything else. Even a greatest hits seems pretty overwhelming to me. Good, but way too much to take in really. Still, "Bobby Brown Goes Down" is one of the finest (and funniest) records ever made (just check out the lyrics or YouTube if you don't believe me), and you can't really go far wrong with things like "Valley Girl", "Dancin' Fool" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow". Nor can you argue with someone who Václav Havel, the president of Czechoslovakia and a lifelong fan, appointed as consultant for the government on trade, cultural matters and tourism. Sadly the US Government objected and Zappa was forced to become an unofficial cultural attaché. He's still well thought of in Eastern Europe today - there's a statue of him in Vilnius.

Missing in iTunes: Warren Zevon - I was sufficiently inspired by Craig Cliff's earworms the other day to pop out and buy a Zevon compilation on CD. It's not on this set of shelves, so it doesn't count for this list, but I'm enjoying his work nonetheless.

Next week: You thought it was over but it's not.... miscellaneous / other / ephemera. Ah go on, you love it. I'm going to do C's CD tower after this too, although since she gave her Blue CD to Oxfam yesterday (which she claims she was given in the first place), it's not going to be half as much fun as it might have been.... In fact, I think this might be the reason she turfed it out in the first place.


What's happened to my ZZ Top albums? I've got at least two kicking about somewhere. I saw them live too, you know, and they were ace.....

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

come with me friday, don't say maybe....

Not two months after writing that last little cry from the heart, life changed a little bit for the 19 year-old me. Well, it didn't really change much at all, but it felt like it had: I had a bit of a kiss and a cuddle with a friend's younger sister when she came up to visit for the weekend. It wasn't quite famine to feast, but it was a start. She was only a couple of years younger than us, and she was pretty cool (a whole lot cooler than her brother anyway), but when you're nineteen years old, two years feels like an awfully big age-gap. We got on from the very beginning, mainly by forming an alliance against her brother who (once he had taken her down the pub to meet his mates) seemed determined to play the part of the surrogate father, and frowned at every drink she had and every cigarette that she smoked. We got on like a house on fire. After closing time, we all went back to another friend's place where we all ended up crashed out. As I remember it, the kissing all happened whilst we were zonked out on the same bed as her brother. As you can imagine, nothing much happened, and I'm fairly sure that the thought of doing anything else never even crossed my mind. To be honest, I probably couldn't believe my luck. When I woke up, I remember feeling nothing so much as really elated. I had no expectations of it going anywhere, but what had happened seemed like enough.

A couple of days later, I wrote down how I was feeling.... and here it is, fifteen years later in all its horrible, inarticulate clumsiness.

Tuesday 30th November 1993


"On the day that your mentality tries to catch up with your biology"

Strange weekend, what do you make of it? Who can you tell here? No one. Drop hints like you want to - but that would be no use - especially living with someone like Roger and the perhaps dubious circumstances in which it took place. It raises the question though: am I living a lie? all this 'no experience' thing that dominates all my conversations and reaction against this last week shagging fest. Yes and no. Yes in that I haven't actually done it yet, but, well, let's just say I have finally had a first taste in a drunken fumble.

How do I feel? Well a little unsure of what actually happened and how she feels about it (if she can remember). What do I do when I next see her? Well, I know what I will do: either I will be all brash and confident, or all coy (depends on the situation).

Not exactly perfect, I suppose. In a way, it doesn't really matter. Nice now that it's happened. Just a harmless snog after all, but hey, can't even brag about it or face up to it like everyone else has to do.

On a physical level, full marks, I think. [I'm sorry about this, but this is actually what I've written here, and I'm not editing....] Wow - schwing - but did you take a child and make her old? [*cringe*. Step away from the Morrissey... he's done you enough damage already, I think] Don't think so and don't even say so... not as bad as perhaps it seems. Power trip? big bad student / man of the world [!!]. Well, she knew my history and perhaps that was kind of endearing. (He says).

I really feel like shouting it out, but although it doesn't feel sordid, in a way it does. Dirty old man takes advantage shocker. How the fuck would I tell HIM [meaning my friend and her elder brother] ? No way - anyone else and it would be all "nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Well-done-mate-better-late-than-never-it-means-nothing". But HER? Uh-oh. Different story altogether - perhaps she'll tell him, but perhaps not judging by the whole extra parent vibe and 'hoho mum, she was in a trolley" thang. Too heavy.

On the bright side though, that she really enjoyed it and wants to come back might tell me something. Maybe she knows!

Well, one for the record books anyway. I loosened up sufficiently for it to happen and that bodes well for the future - I mean, I'm getting on really well with Nicky and I didn't think that would ever really happen again after last year. God, what happened then? [answer: nothing much] At least I must have relaxed since then - something university has done for me!

Thought I'd write this all down for future reference - or perhaps for discovery! Unlike the last piece, less likely to show it to Leon though! Free love sex machine shocker!!


Behind that garbled outpouring, I can still detect some relief and some genuine optimism for the future.... It might not have been much in the grand scheme of things.... but I felt as though I had finally crossed a little mental rubicon. I'd proved something to myself. Perhaps I wasn't really a complete freak after all. I took a little more time and a lot of luck before I got any further than this, but one step at a time, eh?

Although, goodness me, I was still clearly very much in need of a slap and someone telling me to get over myself.

Her brother actually didn't find out about this little tryst until after we had both finished our finals, some 18 months later. It was a complete surprise to him, but he bluffed that he knew all about it... until he realised it was me that we were talking about and not someone else he knew called Tim.


I'm a whole lot wiser and articulate about these things nowadays. Obviously.


Let's hope there are no more manuscripts out there waiting to be discovered, eh? There's only so much of my teenage self quoting Morrissey that I can ask anyone to bear....

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Monday, March 24, 2008

unpacking books from boxes...

Whilst sorting through some boxes of my stuff that were turfed out of the roof in my parents' house move, I found a couple of bits of writing from my late-teenage years. They're both about girls, and they're both a little bit embarrassing, but as a historian and as a shameless blogger, I'm going to put them both up here, one today and one tomorrow. Besides, I've had a couple of super-strength homemade mojitos now, so what the hell? Finding this stuff was a bit like opening a window straight back into my past. I certainly remember feeling like this, but I don't remember writing it all down.

Dear oh dear.

Anyway, here we go. Please forgive my teenage self.


Notes on Being Single. 10th October 1993. [which makes me 19 and just starting my second year at University, I think. Bear with me. I was a slow starter.]

Is it just me and Morrissey, or is that when you're single the whole world seems to be a couple who are both laughing at you? It doesn't matter if almost everyone I know is either totally single or in a massively disfunctional relationship, I am still the only really, irreversibly single person that I know. Let me explain. I seem to be incapable of making any kind of sexual manoeuvre aimed at anyone - I deeply believed at school that when the girls arrived in the sixth form and we treated either like crap or like sex-objects or both that it should be different. Call me a fool, but I felt that first what you did was to befriend somebody and then things would lead on from there. The first problem that I encountered was that once a friend, I didn't feel it was worth risking the friendship. It might just be a chronic fear of rejection, but I think I really have something that blocks off such actions. I've even got to the stage where I surprise friends by even passing a compliment about such and such a girl who just walked past - of course I know what is pretty, what is ugly and what is fat etc., but I find it very hard to apply to the vast mass of people who fall into the middle category. I simply become indifferent and non-judgmental (another glitch in an otherwise massively judgmental personality.)

What if someone makes a move on me or if I hear of an interested party? Well, obviously, after the initial flattery I'll become deeply scared and avoid confrontation entirely until that particular feeling has died away. What to do? Even worse, many people say that I'm of serious marriage possibilities. As one friend said, I'll marry the first girl who gives me a blow-job [ha! wrong!] Well thank you, but no. The thought of being perpetually single without a single experience at University is deeply worrying, but so too is the thought of instant puppy-dog devotion and marriage.

Is it this deep contradiction that throws me into depression and bad moods? Certainly at such times, I tend to lash out at people who may most likely be my friends and will feel disgusted when a close friend has pulled / been pulled and feel that the whole thing is temporary and sordid. Even now I'm still a bit revolted by the behaviour of my male friends of 19/20 who are in relationships of more than six months and appear to want them to end for no especially good reason - are they simply bored of the sex and the commitment that surely goes with it? Do they think that they will instantly find someone else who will gratify their urges and want very little in return? What time is right to feel secure? What ask me for advice as (a) I'm on the girl's side and (b) what experience have I got?

At the end of the day am I just wallowing in self-pity? Am I just a sad bastard who should get off my arse and do something about it? Well, easily said, but I'm sure that I'm not asexual and whether I'm a subconscious devotee of celibacy, I can't tell. I've now put down pretty much everything that has been praying on my mind - why can't I communicate normally with most women? Can it be only a result of experience at public school? Surely not. Well, I'm sure I'll be pissed off, rude and grumpy for a few more days at least, so I guess I'll make the most of it before you show me yours and you laugh at mine [oh, God...]! I guess I'd just like to be understood.


So, there you go. Me as a 19 year-old in all of its unedited glory. What a strange, serious boy who has listened to far too much Morrissey and has some very strange ideas about girls and relationships..... so not much has really changed in the last 15 years then.

Dear oh dear. If only I could go back in time and give myself a good slap.

More tomorrow.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

A word about my weakness....

Right then. Before I settle properly into the long weekend (I'm not back in the office until Wednesday now... hurray!), there's just one thing left to do: Earworm time!

This week's Guest Editor is a proper, honest-to-goodness real life friend of mine - if you can imagine such a thing. I've known him for many years, and have spent many happy, woozy times in his company, frequently at Glastonbury, but also at assorted other places around the country and abroad. He's a scholar and a gentleman, and he's more than welcome at Casa Swiss any time of the day or night.

So, ladies and gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce for your earworming pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #80 - fiery little sod

Firstly, big thank you to Swiss Toni for handing me the keys to his place for a day. Will do my best not to trash the joint. A brief aside before we start - should the blogmaster now consider changing his moniker to Austrian Toni given his ongoing excursions to the Land of Waltz and Sachertorte? One to ponder. Meanwhile, let us begin.

> The Private Psychedelic Reel - The Chemical Brothers

Came to mind whilst iPod-less on a cold walk home. Brought back a memorable Glasto performance from a few years ago. Can something be private with 40,000 others there? It felt like it. Also a reminder that Tom & Ed have their melodic moments as well as their bombastic ones.

> Back When You Were Good - The Hours

- Permanent fixture on internal jukebox for the past month. Soaring intro, well-constructed lyrics that display passion combined with a touch of disgust. Embarrassed not to have investigated more of their work, but on the other hand, this remains my perfect vision of their music.

> Tonight - Hard-Fi

My band of the moment (if moments are allowed to last for months). Seen these chaps twice since last summer, including a bottom-kicking gig in Brighton just before Christmas - I hope they've managed to put the roof back on.... Latest album has barely been off the stereo since it came out and this tune sums it all up. Desperation of reality tinged with a vision of hope for things to come. Touch of West London poetry allied with an audience-participation chorus. Helps cross the boundary from the dark to the light times. Gentlemen, I salute you.

> Half a World Away - Oasis

One of their more thoughtful songs, seemingly not inspired by another bout of drunken rambling. True earworm this, as I awoke very early on Tuesday to find it already running through my head (how did that happen ??). Anyway, no complaints as I am pleased to hear it again. Still want to leave this city though.....

> Right Beside You - Sophie B. Hawkins

The presence of this is entirely due to having read last week's posting (and good wishes to Craig on his epic enterprise). Unlike young Mr Cliff, I was old enough when this came out to actually consider the prospect of being right beside her.... Classic combo of breathy vocals, multi-layered instruments and two-paced lyrics. Definitely one of her finer moments.

> Paddington Bear - TV theme tune

Bizarrely put in my head thanks to some sound-a-like hold music I have been exposed to whilst doing my job. Calming though, and redolent of tea-time TV when I was a kid.......they don't make them like that any more.

> It's So Easy - Guns 'n Roses

Did not even need to to hear the music for this to pop up. Just three critical words and I have Axl yelling in my ear. Where do I start? Received as a birthday present shortly after release, "Appetite for Destruction" is still the most gob-smacking first-listen album I can remember. With this song especially, the rude, shouty, sweary, Slash-driven ending still stands out. A fine tune, and if it's not on Guitar Hero, it damn well should be!

> Addicted to Bass - Puretone

First heard this tune delivered by a female singer called Bic Runga in Australia 10 years ago. This version is more recent but wins due to the magic, Mad Max-inspired video, twice the number of pretty girls and excellent delivery of some well-crafted lyrics. But, to be honest, the title says it all - I can't listen to this tune quietly and it is the kind of thing that will get you caught speeding on the motorway.....

> Police & Thieves - Junior Murvin

Sorry Clash fans, but has to be this version to float my boat. Oddly heard a snippet on Radio 4 of all places and found myself humming it the shower next morning. Definite earworm then and a touch of quality falsetto action to boot. Class.

and lastly.....(over so soon, sniff)

> Hounds of Love - The Futureheads

This is not an attempt to curry favour with the blog landlord, but a simple comment on how earworms work. Compilation album on car CD player at the weekend, easily repeatable musical motif, lyrics worth listening to. Job Done. I do know people who considered this cover sacrilege - Philistines..... All together now...."Oh, OH, oh, Oh...."

So that's it folks, my thanks again to ST and to all you readers as well. May I wish you all the best for a non-religious but chocolate-related long weekend. I'm off for a marmalade sandwich and a cup of tea, while the blogsphere is put back in the hands of professionals. Cheers.


Professionals? Blimey, that's wishful thinking. Thanks for providing us with such a high quality list though mate. As chance would have it, we seem to have been on a vaguely similar wavelengths this week too: I spent a couple of minutes this morning buying tickets for the Futureheads' gig at the Rescue Rooms in June. They're a damn fine band, and the new single sounds great. What the hell happened with their second album though, eh? I only heard a bit of Guns n'Roses on the radio last night too -- "Paradise City" -- and thinking what a damn brilliant album "Appetite for Destruction" undoubtedly is. One of the best ever. I also heard "Suburban Knights" on the radio on the way home today too - a song that is definitely one of my favourites of the last few months and it made me think how I should dig the album out again too. And as for the Paddington theme tune.... genius! I usually earworm the theme tune to the flumps, but that'll do!

Excellent work.

Right. Long weekend ahoy!

Coming up: Cody Bones (28/3), the lovely J (4/4), then you? Drop me an email and it could be you up here with your name in lights. Or something.

Have a good one, and remember kids, this is apparently a festival that is less about chocolate than it is about the brutalisation and execution of some hippy bloke. Happy days, right?

*reaches for the chocolate*

[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, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon, Troubled Diva, Graham II, Cat II, Statue John II, Sweeping the Nation, Aravis II, Olympian II, C, Planet-Me, Mike, Michael II, Eye in the Sky II, Charlie III, The Great Grape Ape, asta, Ben III, Earworms of the Year 2007, Cat III, JamieS & Wombat, Pynchon II, Briskate, Craig Cliff]


Thursday, March 20, 2008

he came dancing across the water....

>>>>> ST's ALPHABETICON - Y <<<<<

Previously in the Alphabeticon: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, singles, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X

We're staggering towards the finish line now.... nearly there.... stay on target.... I can see the end... stay on target.....etc. Not many CDs left to go on those dusty shelves now, but there are a few more yet.

Oh, and lest I forget to mention - this is not the alpha and the omega of my record collection. It is merely the section of it that resides in one particular room. Some of the ropier heavy metal appears to hidden somewhere else, for starters, as I didn't see any Whitesnake a couple of weeks ago, or any Warrior Soul. Well, it is what it is, and I've started so I'll finish.

536. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Sleeps With Angels
537. Neil Young – Decade
538. Neil Young – Unplugged

He's a genius obviously. "Sleeps With Angels" is the album he recorded in the wake of Kurt Cobain's suicide, and I think is a partial response to Cobain's quoting a Neil Young lyric in his suicide note ("it's better to burn out than to fade away" - man, imagine how Young felt when he read about that). It's an interesting record, but it's not as good as his seminal appearance on MTV's 'Unplugged', which at one point features the triumphant appearance of a musician playing the broom. Still, you can't really go wrong with "Decade", which is double album running through Young's most classic material -- "Needle and the Damage Done", "Like A Hurricane", "Cinnamon Girl", "Southern Man", "Heart of Gold", "Cortez the Killer". Respect to the man. Respect.

539. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell

It's alright, I suppose, but I have to admit that I've never really got them. And I struggle with the guitarist's hair. And I'm always a bit suspicious of any band who are as well known for the way the look and the way they dress as they are for the music they play. Put it this way, I didn't bother buying the follow-up to this.

540. Young Knives – Voices of Animals and Men

I love this record, and I'm currently very much enjoying the recently released follow-up ("Superabundance", which is in the car and thus not on this list). They are an unlikely looking bunch of slightly tubby chaps with glasses dressed mainly in tweed, and they articulate the quiet desperation of the white-collar worker - the accountants of the world - beautifully. They also occasionally rock quite hard, and their references are also oddly bucolic, taking in (amongst other things), the horses of the New Forest. A fantastic band.

....and that's your lot. Not a huge number of bands, but I do feel the quality level of this letter is pretty high. Above average, I'd say....

Lost somewhere in iTunes: Yo La Tengo, Yomanda, Young Marble Giants, Youngbloods...

Next time.... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And you think Z is the end?



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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

all that jazz....

Gilad Atzmon and the Oriental House Ensemble at Porgy & Bess Jazz Club, Vienna - Monday 17th March 2008

When I set out for Vienna last week, I was thinking that I would get to eat some cake, catch up with friends and perhaps take in a museum or two - I certainly had very little idea that I would spend an evening watching some improvisational jazz. Now, I like to think that my music taste is a pretty broad church, but when it really comes down to it, I like fairly simple guitar based rock music. I like lots of other stuff too, but really for me it's about the guitars. I'm not a big fan of classical music, and jazz is another one those genres that seems to make me feel instinctively nervous. It conjures up images of people with fussy little beards and funny little leather skull caps, all spouting pretentious rubbish about a honking saxophone. Add the word "improvisational" into the mix, and I'd usually already be halfway out of the door.

So how did I end up in a jazz club? Well, I actually spent a very pleasant evening in the Porgy & Bess jazz club the last time I was in Vienna. We sat at a little table and watched a rather good "world" music act and had drinks brought directly to our table. When my friend Peter asked if I fancied a night out there on this visit too, why on earth would I say no. We consulted the programme: Gilad Atzmon and the Oriental House Ensemble were playing. Okay, well, my knowledge of jazz isn't great, so I wasn't really expecting to be any the wiser. Peter translated the blurb for me. Improvisational jazz.... political... inspired by the politics of the german philosophers.... (do you think Nietzsche was really into free jazz? He doesn't really strike me as the sort). Ah, what the hell? Why not? So we went. We left the girls for a night in and hopped into Peter's rather cool 1978 Lancia and went to the club.

All the tables were reserved, so Peter and I took our places at the bar, ordered our Ottokringers and settled in for the evening. It's a lovely old building, with tables arranged in front of a reasonably sized stage with a bar running alongside. There are also tables (and another bar) arranged along a balcony overlooking the stage. There's lots of crushed velvet around the place, and it gives off the air of...er.... a European Jazz club. You are also still allowed to smoke in places like this in Austria (although thankfully not around where I was sitting), so you can still see smoke slowly tracking its way up a spotlight - which, as long as I can't smell it, is somehow entirely appropriate in a jazz club). Atzmon shuffled onto the stage with very little introduction and casually looked out into the crowd as his band (double-bass, keyboards, drums) joined him.

"It's great to be back in this room. It's probably the best place for Jazz in Vienna, if not in the whole of Europe. Those of you who saw me here last time probably remember me as a very political act. Well, I'm not political anymore. I'm too old and tired. Anyway. This song is called "Autumn in Baghdad"."

With that, he picked up his saxophone, and we were off.

Now, I don't claim to be an expert by any means, but this was clearly pretty good stuff. I don't know exactly how much improvisation around any one song the band were doing, but it was fascinating watching them play... at one point I saw the drummer select some drumsticks with big woolen ends on and then change his mind and replace them with a completely different set before he played his bit. Atzmon is no mean saxophone player either (he was wearing a Blockheads t-shirt tonight, and apparently he used to play with Ian Dury in the Blockheads, so I may even have seen him before). At one point he played a sax and a clarinet at the same time, which I imagine is really difficult, for all that he made it look very easy. The band played around with electronic effects too, Atzmon had two different microphones for his sax/clarinet, each with a slightly different effect, and he also had some kind of a board that enabled him to slide some weird electronic noises into the whole mix. Usually this was to pretty good effect, although just occasionally he would use it to make a jarring farting kind of noise, which when he did it, he would look over to the keyboard player like a naughty schoolboy before heading back to his microphone and some more saxophone. It was the kind of look that said "Did we get away with that one?". The audience, of course, were lapping it up. I looked around and you really have to laugh. I'm sure your average rock gig isn't much better, but there seems to be something about jazz that attracts a certain kind of person. The room was filled with people, mainly - but not exclusively - male, and often with beards and a tendency to nod or shake their head vigorously to the music. The "Jazz Club" sketch in the Fast Show skewers this brilliantly, and it's not very hard to see where they got their inspiration. The saving grace, though, is that the band did not seem to take themselves at all seriously. The drummer might have looked a touch autistic as he played (eyes tightly shut and head swaying), but I think he had an impish sense of humour. At one point the rest of the band left the stage to him to carry out a ten minute solo (seriously), and when they all filed back on, he kept his eyes tightly shut and pretended that he hadn't seen them, continuing on with his soloing. He didn't stop even when he dropped a drumstick, simply reaching for another and not dropping a single beat. It wasn't until the rest of the band started to chuckle at him that he finally dropped a grin and slipped back into the song for the rest of the band to seamlessly join in again.

It was also quite nice to watch an artist at work who clearly cares passionately about politics and the world and who tries to express himself in his music. Nothing as clumsy a political statement here as they almost always are in the world of pop - it was all a whole lot classier (although I read that he has kicked up quite a fuss with some of his more outspoken views, and has even been called a Jewish anti-semite). He played a song called "Burning Bush" that he assured us was about his first girlfriend, although I'm not so sure. He also played a fantastic, show-stopping number called "Liberating the American People" [YouTube], which he dedicated to all those Americans who travel (except to Iraq) as he's always found them to be wonderful, broad-minded people. It was a sentiment echoed in the band's encore of "That famous Palestinian" Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World", which Atzmon telling us that in spite of everything he was still convinced it could be.

It was a really good night.... although when we returned to the flat from our evening at the jazz to discover that the girl's had spent their evening with Susi teaching C how to crochet, it did feel a bit like we had returned to the 1930s.

Verdict: 8 / 10

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the warmth of your hand and a cold grey sky...

Sometimes, the best breaks of all are those where you do very little at all. Vienna is a wonderful city with a fantastic history and heritage, but I've just spent a very restful few days pottering about doing nothing very much in the company of a delightful Viennese family.

As well as wandering about, it's true that we did go to the Tutankhamun exhibition and the Haus des Meeres (a saltwater aquarium in the amazing setting of an old flak tower (one of several) that the Nazis built in the middle of Vienna).

I'm sure that both are wonderful attractions in their own right, but somehow seeing them through the eyes of a ten year old girl and an eight year old boy made them both that much more interesting. It was also kind of nice to be in the company of someone who understands that every set of stairs we come across in the course of our wanderings is something that should not simply be seen as a means of ascent or descent (as C. - bless her - tends to see them), but rather sees them for what they really are: an opportunity for a race.

It was a nice couple of days. I have eaten cake, schnitzel, chocolate, soup made from wild garlic freshly picked from the Vienna woods and goulash. I have drunk several local beers, some local wine and a drop or two of Talisker. I introduced an Austrian who had barely heard of the game to the full glory of the Six Nations (he loved it, he tells me) and also to the Manic Street Preachers. I also went to a jazz club and watched some improvisational jazz inspired by German philosophy and modern protest politics.... but more on Gilad Atzmon and the Oriental House Ensemble tomorrow, I think.

Mmmm. Nice.

We also came home to a nice note from the nice Cat Patrol people who have been popping round to look after the cat whilst we've been away:

"Minou has been a joy to look after. She has been here every morning and evening and has enjoyed her treats. Hope you had a great time."

A visit to the LB/Hen household reveals that they leave similar notes for everyone... but I do like to think that Minou may have another fan....

Bloody hell though. Easyjet aren't much fun though, are they? Would it kill them to print seat numbers on the tickets? Would it be too much to expect my fellow passengers not to push and shove?


Still, in addition to the usual pile of Viennese chocolate, C. has brought back some new recipes, a guglhupf mould, some ground poppy seeds (for cake) and some sweet paprika (for goulash). That sounds promising, eh?

A good break with some good friends.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

shucks, for me there is no other....

If you've ever attempted NaNoWriMo, then you'll know just how difficult it can be to write 50,000 words in a calendar month. That's 1600-odd words per day. For thirty days. It's hard work and it takes quite a lot of commitment and a fair old bit of effort. Mind you, the sense of satisfaction when you complete your 175 page book before the end of the month is fantastic. As is the sense of relief.

Now imagine if NaNoWriMo wasn't enough for you. Imagine that you set yourself a rather more stretching target.... say, to write a million words in a calendar year.

A million words. Just think of that.

That's about twice the length of "War and Peace". That's a lot of words.

To be precise, that 2732 words a day. Every day. For a year.

Well, that's exactly what Craig Cliff has decided to this year. He's going to write 1,000,000 words this year. He has rules, and everything.

You have to take your hat off to him really. It's quite a task.

Although 2008 is a leap year, so I suppose he does get a whole day extra.

Anyway. I first discovered Craig's blog when I stumbled across him whilst searching for recent posts on the Kings of Leon (and no, history does not record why I was doing that). I was instantly struck both by the scale of the idea and by the way that it was obvious that Craig was taking this seriously enough to have worked out charts and rules and to generally mark out exactly what he needed to do on a daily basis if he was going to do this. I mean, he's already written something like 196, 500 words.

So, it really is a great pleasure that I can contribute in some small part to this great adventure by having Craig feature here as this week's Guest Editor.... the words here count towards the total, you see.

So without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #79 - Craig Cliff from The Year of a Million Words

SwissToni has the distinction of being the first person to comment on the blog I set up to track how many words I write in 2008. Since then, I’ve become a regular reader here – got to love those swings and roundabouts – and I’m flattered to get the chance to share some earworms. Let’s get going, shall we?

> ‘Cold Day in the Sun’ – Foo Fighters

I’ve only ever bought one ringtone, and I’m not quite sure how and why this was it, but I remember liking this song the best out of all the softer songs on In Your Honor (note to all musicians: resist the temptation to make a double album at all costs). Flashforward to 2008 and ‘Cold Day in the Sun’ is still my ringtone. I don’t get rung much, so it hasn’t been a problem, but on Monday someone chose to ring me at work while I was across the other side of the floor. Man, is my phone loud. The looks some people gave me. It’s not like it was Slipknot or Daphne and Celeste. But since then, I’ve been hearing phantom snatches of Taylor Hawkins’ “It’s your cold day in the sun…” and coming down in a cold sweat.

> ‘Einfach Sein’ – Die Fantastischen Vier

You know a song is catchy when you don’t speak the language and it gets stuck in your head. I first heard ‘Einfach Sein’ when I was in Germany for a friend’s thirtieth birthday last year. He’s one of those people who will play the same song over and over again if you let him, and it being his birthday, we heard a lot of this song. The first couple of times, all I could really remember was the part when they say, ‘Harrison Ford,’ but on Tuesday I found myself singing, “Es könnte alles, so einfach sein - ist es aber nicht” as I walked to work in the rain (rough translation: “It could all be so easy, but it isn’t.”)

Thought of the week: Perhaps I would like more hip hop if understood less of what they were saying?

> ‘Moonage Daydream’ – David Bowie

“I’m an alligator, I’m a momma-poppa coming for you-ew!” What an opening. The first verse and chorus were on a tight rolling repeat all Wednesday. I don’t know why. I wasn’t complaining.

I think this is my favourite David Bowie song because a) I came across it by myself rather than hearing it on a classic rock station, and b) it’s glam, it’s over the top and it’s everything about the Ziggy Stardust album that is good.

> ‘We’ll Live and Die In These Towns’ – The Enemy

Because I was travelling for part of 2007, the first time I heard or saw of The Enemy was an interview they did on television. They were saying how all bands since Oasis were shit, and even then, they didn’t really listen to Oasis, just the Jam and the Clash. Then, maybe a week later when I heard this song, I was like, “What’s this, a Jam song I haven’t heard?” Sometimes originality in music is overrated. I like the song, and that’s enough for me.

> ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover’ – Sophie B. Hawkins

I think someone at work this week must have exclaimed, “Damn!” and set this song off in my head. For some reason I remembered the video as featuring Sophie B. on all fours, clawing at the camera suggestively for 4 1/2 minutes — a kind of counter-point to the demure Lisa Loeb in this video from the same era. The truth, however, is that neither the original (banned) version or the replacement come anywhere near my memory. I guess it got sexed up in my head because I was nine when it came out and she was a she and singing lyrics like, “I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear.” Nine year old boys, eh? What troubles me these days is the “Tonight I’ll be your mother,” part. Some things you never can never figure.

> ‘Nancy Reagan’s Head’ – Mission of Burma

“One Two Three Four / Five-Foot-One / Eyes as cold as stone…”

This is a counting song and I have a weakness for counting songs. Perhaps it’s my accountant side coming to bear on my musical tastes.

Mission of Burma were an early 80’s alternative band from Boston who did enough to have a chapter about them feature in Michael Azerrad’s excellent Our Band Could Be Your Life, which in turn, encouraged the band to reform in the 00’s. And to complete the circle, I discovered MoB through Azerrad’s book. Though a lot of their 00’s stuff lacks the choler of their earlier incarnation, ‘Nancy Reagan’s Head’ is plugged back into that same oomph.

> ‘Touch Sensitive’ – The Fall

This is my favourite Fall song because you can play it at a party and not leave people scratching their heads. That’s why it works as an earworm too. From the opening “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey,” to the “I know, I know, I know,” refrain, it’s catchy as heck.

Why was it stuck in my head this week? Cheap tissues. Yup, unremarkable as it is, I had a cold and constantly blowing my nose made my skin in that region touch sensitive. Get it? Yeah, I groaned too when I realised why I was humming this song.

> ‘7 & 7 is’ - Love

I guess this is another counting song (right at the end), but it’s the frenetic guitar and the “Boom bip bip, boom bip bip, yeah!” that always does it for me. Love are one of those bands that have been built up by music magazines over the years into something more than they were (a sixties version of Jeff Buckley, perhaps) — which is not to say they weren’t great and had some corker songs, just that it’s dangerous to include a Love song on any sort of list and not look like a plonker who reads too much Q. But ‘7 & 7 is’ is a special beast. It defies plonkerness. I hope.

> ‘Got Me Wrong’ – Alice In Chains

Specifically the Unplugged version, because I don’t think I’ve ever owned the ‘plugged’ version. Their Unplugged material is proof Alice in Chains were a good band, but a lot of their studio stuff feels dated now. The same can be said for most grunge, even Nirvana in my opinion (though again, Unplugged in New York hasn’t dated the same). But this song. When Jerry Cantrell comes in on the chorus, that’s the genius of AiC.

“That won’t last for-ever / Something’s gotta turn out right.” A sentiment I’ve clung to lately at work.

> ‘Splendid Isolation’ – Warren Zevon

What Scott Walker is for SwissToni, Warren Zevon is for me. This week I got a hold of Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings and it sent me off on another Zevon binge. So any number of songs could have made it on this list, but I think ‘Splendid Isolation’ was looping the most. It’s a deceptively simple song, but still manages to reference Michael Jackson, Goofy and Conspiracy Theorists. Ah! Genius.


Ah, now that's a list: Bowie, The Enemy, The Fall, The Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains.... the Kings of Leon were no red herring then, eh? Great list, and thanks very much to Craig for taking part. I wish him all the luck with his grand scheme, and if you all head over to his blog now and engage him in long and involved conversation in the comments, then you'll be helping him too - comments count, you see.

Thanks for playing Craig.

Me, I've been mostly earworming the Eels this week, especially Souljacker.

Anyway. I'm off to Vienna tomorrow to celebrate a friend's 60th birthday and to check up on some old haunts. I'll be back around these parts on Tuesday evening.

Be good children.

Coming up: fiery little sod (21/3), Cody Bones (28/3), the lovely J (4/4), then you? Drop me an email and it could be you up here with your name in lights. Or something.

Have a good weekend, y'all. See you on Tuesday.

[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, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon, Troubled Diva, Graham II, Cat II, Statue John II, Sweeping the Nation, Aravis II, Olympian II, C, Planet-Me, Mike, Michael II, Eye in the Sky II, Charlie III, The Great Grape Ape, asta, Ben III, Earworms of the Year 2007, Cat III, JamieS & Wombat, Pynchon II, Briskate]