Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Calling All Aussies

Jeff the Pommie here. I was just taking a quick look at my Feedjit map and I noticed in my hits from Oz that I had one from Melbourne. The only reason that I sat up and took notice was that I have an uncle and aunt that live near there, in a little town called Loch, Victoria. They used to live in Rowville, but then they moved. They own the Victoria Street Gallery on, um, Victoria Street. If you're from Loch, or in Loch, or even in the gallery, or know the gallery at all... tell 'em I said hi, and that it's about bloody time they started reading my blog! Oh, and Happy New Year!

P.S. R.I.P. Rowland S. Howard, former guitarist of The Birthday Party.

Almost Time for Auld Lang Syne

"Auld Lang Syne" is a strange wee tune, isn't it? This song is a poem written, or more accurately, collected by Robbie Burns in the 1780's. But what does it mean anyway? Well, for starters it might help us to understand if we actually used the right lyrics. That's always been one of those little nit-picky things that's got on my Englishman's nerves since I came to this country - to hear tunes I grew up with sung with altered lyrics, such as "Ring A Ring O' Roses" being sung as "Ring Around The Rosy". There's also the thing where Christmas carols that were familiar to me being sung with different tunes. "Away In A Manger" and "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" are the two that immediately spring to mind. But I digress. (Copyright me, 2009).

The lyrics to the first verse of Auld Lang Syne that are used in this country are as follows:

Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne.

"Auld Lang Syne" literally translates from the Old Scots as "Old Long Since", meaning "long, long ago."  Burns' original first verse is:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

Why the addition of "days of"? It's completely superfluous.

And the complete rewrite of the rest of it is just out of sheer desire to make it accessible to the uneducated masses of the Western world, as far as I can see. Here's the lyrics to the original:

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot,
sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


What in the blue blazes is all that about, I hear you cry? Well, here's the literal translation.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Now, here's the Westernized version, as performed by The Barenaked Ladies:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of Auld Lang Syne.

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear,
For Auld Lang Syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne.

And here's the hand, my trusty friend
And gives a hand of thine
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne.

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear,
For Auld Lang Syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne.

Heavily shortened. My goodness. About the only American artist I can think of that had the raw nerve to sing the original Scots version (and even then, not in its entirety) was Billy Joel (you'll find it on his 2000 Millenium Concert CD - Disc 2, track 6). Rock on, Billy.

Now, as you know, today is New Year's Eve. In Scotland it is known as Hogmanay. This has its roots as far back as the Norse celebration of the Winter Solstice and the Gaelic celebration of Samhain, a sort of crossover harvest/New Year thing. In most of Scotland, and some parts of England, the most widespread practice is a thing known as 'first-footing' where just after midnight on January 1 the first guest in the house brings a symbolic gift, such as salt, whisky, coal, shortbread or black bun (a rich fruit cake - and we all know, I like fruit cake, not fruitcake). Each of these represents a different sort of good luck which is intended to last through the whole year. Then they all eat and drink and party.

Anyway, with the old Year drawing to a close (and good riddance, I might add), and the New Year already on the horizon, may I present you with one last Christmas tune...

And a New Year/Christmas tune from the one and only Bobby Darin.

Ciao, folks. See you on the flipside.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Got Stung (wow, an Elvis reference!)

The other day I was watching Bee Movie starring the voice of Jerry Seinfeld, and it sprang to my mind that there are two personal records I hold - one, that I haven't thrown up since June 1980, and two, that I have only been stung once. Well, twice if you count getting bit by a ladybird.  didn't know they could do that, but evidently, they can.
I got stung by an insect that is known as the common wasp in the UK and in the States as a yellowjacket.

It was in the dog days of summer. I was at my friend Rupert's house, and I was having lunch with him and his older brother. As I recall, there was quiche involved. I love quiche. But I digress. But as you all know, that's my M.O.

We noticed a wasp in the window, buzzing sleepily around in the heat, but we really didn't give it another thought, until it buzzed lazily through the kitchen, doing little circles in the air, meandering like the River Cuckmere, and finally coming to rest on the top of my head, nestling in my curly hair (which may surprise the friends I've made in Georgia, since for years I've kept my hair short).

Rupert stood immediately, moved behind me and made attempts to flick the bug out of my mane. His brother was dispatched to fetch the antiseptic, in anticipation of the worst. Wisely, as it turned out.
Rupert's flicking finally met with success. The wasp fell out of my hair and straight down the back of my shirt. I had about 2 seconds to become accustomed to this fact when it hit me. A searing pain right between my shoulder blades, which was not to be equalled until many years later when the doctor removed some skin tags with some sort of archaic metal hot wire. But I digress. Again.

Anyway, I believe I uttered some sort of oath in fluent Swahili. I don't remember. Well, actually, I do, but I'm not going to reprint it here. I pulled at the collar of my shirt and released the clumsy insect, which executed another lazy dance across the kitchen, bopped its little waspy head on the window and plopped onto the sill.

From that day to this, I have not been stung by anything. I've been burnt, bitten, cut, had my foot attacked by Nigel's maniac hairy poodle Coco, had my finger smushed in a door hinge... but no more sting.

Takin' Me Back

In the late '80s my buddies - Nigel and Frankie - and myself were in a musical outfit known as Exquisite. Nigel and I wrote all the songs, I did all the keyboards, percussion and drum programming, Nigel did all the guitars and occasional keyboarding, and Frankie, whose real name was Nick, and who bore a striking resemblance to Patrick Swayze, did the backing vocals. My sister Carolyn, AKA Muff, was our cheerleader/manager/roadie/sound tech. We would rehearse in a place called Shrubcote Hall (no longer there) and we recorded demos in my bedroom and living room. We played exactly one show, at a party, and, despite the crowd of partiers being more intent on drinking and smooching than anything else, it was killer. Our yellow ex-GPO van (a Dodge Spacevan which we nicknamed "The Dodgy Van") which we had emblazoned with our logo in black spray paint on both sides, was not only a tour bus, it was our everything van. Nigel had put a bunch of carpet and cushions in the back, and occasionally slept in it. We went everywhere in it. We drove to Somerset in it to record a session. We once drove up to London to an art opening. Nigel worked for a picture framer and got some free passes. We made out with girlfriends in the back of it. On more than one occasion we went to the Crypt.

The Crypt was/is a nightclub in Hastings, East Sussex. It was in the basement of a place called The Electric Grape. It has played host to a lot of bands over the years, including Coldplay, The Fall, and Furniture. It was about the best nightclub available to us at the time, living as we did in Tenterden, Kent, a picturesque place that is actually a town but city folk referred to it as a village. We Tenterdonians loved to correct the tourists. There were precisely three night spots, other than pubs, which were within easy driving distance. Dusty's, in Ashford, was crap, or at least it might have been OK if it hadn't been in Ashford and full of Ashford types - offspring of East End London's postwar overspill. English rednecks, basically. The Oasis in Rye was again, Ok, but a bit boring. The Crypt was better in that it had better beer (Hook Norton) and it was in Hastings, by the sea, with a beach - the perfect place to sober up. Nice stiff breeze and the waves crashing, some fast food.... perfect.

We actually had to do that for Nigel one time. He was our driver. He was also broke, and the only thing he'd consumed all day was the beer in The Crypt. We were packed in like sardines, watching a band called The Fires Of Molech (who evidently had listened to too many Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus records and now imagined themselves to be Gothic). It got awfully hot in The Crypt with all those bodies in there. After the band finished, it was time to dance. The Crypt was the place where I became comfortable with dancing in public and developed my own sort of style. After a while, I glanced over at Nigel. He was easily visible. Standing nearly six-four with a shock of blond hair made lighter by the sun, in a black T-shirt he looked like the pint of Guinness in his hand, leaning against the wall looking all cool. Putting out the rockstar vibe. As we danced I saw him slowly sink lower and lower until he was sitting on the floor with his knees up. Never spilt a drop, mind. We quickly picked him and his beer up and took him out of the club into the cold night air. I could see steam rising from Frank's shoulders as we stepped along the pavement. We went to the nearest fast food place, which happened to be Kentucky Fried Chicken, and ordered up a load of grub, took it to the beach with us and made sure Nigel was fed and sober. He was our ride home.

Those were the days. Great times.

And what is my reasoning for writing about this today? Well may you ask.

mp3's. Or rather, the collection of CD-Rs I have on a spindle. Full of mp3s from my many years of burning CDs. I was going through them, and listening to stuff from those days, lots of House and Techno. I started dancing around the room. I was amazed at my ability to keep going, given that I'm chubby, don't really exercise, and am 44 years old. My dance style is built around the two halves of the body, upper and lower. This is because of my asthma which I've had to varying degrees since I was quite young. What I do is get my groove on, then if I get out of breath, instead of stopping, I keep my feet more or less stationary, keep a little bounce in my knees and sway my upper torso, and do something with the shoulders and arms which is less tiring than hopping about. Then when I have my breath back I start doing stuff with the legs again. I was dancing around, thinking firstly how I still had the moves, the old magic (yes, I know - self-delusion is a wonderful thing, isn't it?), and also I was thinking about those days. The sounds of Mr. Fingers and Lil Louis came flooding back to me. Let there be House!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Tunes: The Last Hurrah

Just time for a few quickies. Let's start with The Alarm.


Max Headroom...

Death Cab For Cutie, rapidly becoming my favourite band....

The ever-awesome, and still smokin' hot after all these years Kate Bush...

Who could forget The Ramones....

The Tractors...


Cocteau Twins. I am still in love with Elizabeth Frazer. I could just float away on her voice.

Aimee Mann...

And lastly, Brian Setzer. Phew!

Bah, humbug!

No, that's too strong, cause it is my favourite holiday...

Somebody really took some time with this!


Just having a little look at my Feedjit hits map and noticing that I have a bunch of hits in the US, UK and Canada, some in Australia, and some in parts of Europe. But Asia... nothing save a couple of hits in the Philippines and Taiwan. Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen... nothin'. South and Central America - nada. Africa... not a sausage. Antarctica, you're not even trying.

This is indeed a sad state of affairs. I want this to be a global blog. I want to be internationally read. I want The World Of Jeff! to be literally that. The World Of Jeff! (Here's where I do my sinister laugh and the camera pulls back to reveal me sitting with a cat in my lap and I say something like "Excellent! Everything's going according to plan! Mwahahahahaaa!!")

I realize, then, that the onus is on me to give this blog a more global appeal in the future. In that spirit, then, let me post this:

Christmas In The Trenches

In November 2006 at Bonhams auction house, Chris de Burgh,the singer of "Lady In Red", paid £14,400 for an original 10 page letter from an unknown British soldier that records events and incidents with the Germans on the night of the famous 1914 Christmas truce. The following is an excerpt:

"This will be the most memorable Christmas I've ever spent or likely to spend: since about tea time yesterday I don't think theres been a shot fired on either side up to now. Last night turned a very clear frost moonlight night, so soon after dusk we had some decent fires going and had a few carols and songs. The Germans commenced by placing lights all along the edge of their trenches and coming over to us—wishing us a Happy Christmas etc.

They also gave us a few songs etc. so we had quite a social party. Several of them can speak English very well so we had a few conversations. Some of our chaps went to over to their lines. I think they've all come back bar one from 'E' Co. They no doubt kept him as a souvenir. In spite of our fires etc. it was terribly cold and a job to sleep between look out duties, which are two hours in every six.

First thing this morning it was very foggy. So we stood to arms a little longer than usual. A few of us that were lucky could go to Holy Communion early this morning. It was celebrated in a ruined farm about 500 yds behind us. I unfortunately couldn't go. There must be something in the spirit of Christmas as to day we are all on top of our trenches running about. Whereas other days we have to keep our heads well down. We had breakfast about 8.0 which went down alright especially some cocoa we made. We also had some of the post this morning.
I had a parcel from B. G's Lace Dept containing a sweater, smokes, under clothes etc. We also had a card from the Queen, which I am sending back to you to look after please. After breakfast we had a game of football at the back of our trenches! We've had a few Germans over to see us this morning. They also sent a party over to bury a sniper we shot in the week. He was about a 100 yds from our trench. A few of our fellows went out and helped to bury him.

About 10.30 we had a short church parade the morning service etc. held in the trench. How we did sing. 'O come all ye faithful. And While shepherds watched their flocks by night' were the hymns we had. At present we are cooking our Christmas Dinner! so will finish this letter later.

Dinner is over! and well we enjoyed it. Our dinner party started off with fried bacon and dip-bread: followed by hot Xmas Pudding. I had a mascot in my piece. Next item on the menu was muscatels and almonds, oranges, bananas, chocolate etc followed by cocoa and smokes. You can guess we thought of the dinners at home. Just before dinner I had the pleasure of shaking hands with several Germans: a party of them came 1/2 way over to us so several of us went out to them. I exchanged one of my balaclavas for a hat. I've also got a button off one of their tunics. We also exchanged smokes etc. and had a decent chat. They say they won't fire tomorrow if we don't so I suppose we shall get a bit of a holiday—perhaps. After exchanging autographs and them wishing us a Happy New Year we departed and came back and had our dinner.

We can hardly believe that we've been firing at them for the last week or two—it all seems so strange. At present its freezing hard and everything is covered with ice…

There are plenty of huge shell holes in front of our trenches, also pieces of shrapnel to be found. I never expected to shake hands with Germans between the firing lines on Christmas Day and I don't suppose you thought of us doing so. So after a fashion we've enjoyed? our Christmas. Hoping you spend a happy time also George Boy as well. How we thought of England during the day. Kind regards to all the neighbours. With much love from Boy."

100 Records That Shook The World, #91

I Got A Woman

Ray Charles

In an Atlanta studio in late 1954, Ray Charles set the blueprint for the offshoot of R'n'B music which would become known as Soul (after Charles' later hit, What'd I Say).

Ray was on the road with his band and listening to the radio when he heard a gospel hymn called "Jesus Is All The World To Me". Using this as a starting point, he and trumpeter Renald Richard penned the song by changing the lyrics and using a jazzy rhythm and blues beat. The result was to become iconic.

It hit #1, Ray's first, in January of '55. It was the first of many. Rolling Stone ranked it #235 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some More Tunes 'n' Whatnot

Even Jim Reeves can come up with a classic Christmas belter. Come on, you know the words.

Then there's The Kinks....

I'd love to know what the budget was for this next video. I'd also love to know where Twisted Sister found two such fine actors.

Just love the wooden acting. Speaking of having very little talent, no Christmas list of same would be complete without mention of Eilert Pilarm. This guy is an Elvis impersonator in Sweden. He appears to be completely unaware of the fact that not only does he look nothing like the King, he has trouble remembering lyrics, and appears to possess no musical ability whatsoever. The sleeve of his Christmas album, Eilerts Jul, is frequently mentioned on "Worst Album Cover" lists. Here's a slice:

Later. mes amis.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dancin' With Ol' Santa Claus

Christmas tunes: there are still a few, shall we say, 'stragglers' that have yet to be gone over. Country is a genre I am not over-keen on, but occasionally one hears a little gem such as this:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tuneage for your Christmas Day

For the big day I'm posting a tune which was never intended as a Christmas song, "Stop The Cavalry" by Jona Lewie. It was written as an anti-war tune and in fact was a summer hit in France, but the record company heard the line "I wish I was at home for Christmas", and that, along with the brass band arrangement, prompted them to release it in early November in the UK. It was only the death of John Lennon that prevented "Stop The Cavalry" from reaching number 1 or 2 for Christmas, due to re-releases of Lennon songs being in those spots. Here's the video. Have a good Christmas and I'll talk at ya later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Payolas - Christmas Is Coming

Well, finally I did it. Remember a little while back when I was waxing lyrical about a song by Canadian band The Payolas entitled "Christmas Is Coming"? Here it is. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas

I can't really broach the subject of Christmas music without addressing the songs of Stan Boreson. When I was married the first time around I lived in Washington State which is, without doubt, my favourite place to be. I have not been there since a short visit in 2003, so I am kinda Jonesing for some WA in my life.  Christmas was not complete without my father-in-law Gordon, who grew up in Alaska and whose parents were Norwegian, pulling out his copy of Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg's "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" album and playing it at least once or twice. The first time I heard it I thought "what the heck is this??" but on repeated listening it grows on you until you find yourself singing the songs in the shower.

Stan started out with his funny songs when someone dared him to sing a traditional American song in a Scandinavian dialect. He has been a popular performer in the Northwest for many years and has recorded many albums and made many TV appearances.
The best tracks on this CD are the title track, and "Uncle Sven Is Coming To Town", "Ragnar The Flat-Nosed Reindeer" and "Ho,Ho, Ho, Don't Ever Go", the latter being an ode to the joys of putting up a new antenna on your roof during the winter.

So get out your pickled herring and a bottle of Akvavit, pull up a chair, crank up the old PC and sing along with "Walking In My Winter Underwear".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Get Some (More Songs) In

It's getting mighty close, people. It's the 19th. Thursday will be Christmas Eve. We are short on time. Let's get a few more cool yule tunes in before the big day. Okay?

Let's start with XTC. One of my favourite bands ever. Recorded this track under the pseudonym "The Three Wise Men".

Jethro Tull...

The Greedies was a band comprised of memebers of Thin Lizzy and The Sex Pistols. here's "A Merry Jingle".

What would Christmas be without Slade? Incomplete, that's what.

Tom Petty...


Can you name all the members of Band Aid? And can you believe how YOUNG they all look? Last night was Charlie Gibson's farewell from 'World news Tonight' and Sting sent a message to Charlie. With a thick bushy beard! he looked like Captain Birdseye! Contrast and compare....

Here's the alternative video version...

Mexican Elvis, El Vez...

James Brown. Hey! Good God!

Captain, Dave, Rat et al...

And after all that excitement, chill with Lou Rawls. Oh, that voice!

Jingle Balls-Up

My friend Marissa just posted this to her Facebook page: "Dear Aretha: I love "Respect" and "Think." I even loved your duet with George Michael. However, your versions of Christmas songs like, "O Tannenbaum" and "O Holy Night" leave me feeling ... well, scared, uninspired and sorta Grinchy. Please don't record anymore Christmas songs."

I could not agree more. There are certain artistes out there that just shouldn't do Christmas music. Here's my little shortlist:

Barry Manilow. Now Barry, it must be said, has given the world some great songs. That fact is undeniable. But to hear him beat the living daylights out of "Jingle Bells" as I was unfortunate enough to the other night is like Chinese Water Torture. He takes the Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters arrangement and recreates it note for note, even down to the clarinet solo, and then layers his crappy lounge singer-type vocal on top. So the feeling I got was like this: Oh, great, Bing! What the? Who dis? Barry?!?! That idiot!!!

Kenny G. Another talented musician with a talent for reducing good tunes to miserable dirges. Next.

Michael Bloody Bolton. May I refer you to my 'Kenny G' comment.

Pretty much ANY Contemporary Christian artist. I don't even have a comment for this one. More like a dry heave.

Barbra Streisand. Lord preserve us!

Natalie Cole. Your father was a great singer. You are not.

And lastly, if I can make a comment to all the radio stations out there that are now embroiled in playing holiday music 24/7: Be More Selective! Use Good Judgment when selecting records to play! Just because a record is a 'holiday' record does not mean it is a GOOD holiday record. Just because a song is a 'holiday classic' does not mean the performer did a 'classic' rendition of it. Some people just make holiday records simply for a paycheck, I'm convinced. Ugh.

100 Records That Shook The World, #92

Rock Around The Clock

Bill Haley and His Comets

Bill Haley was originally a country artist, but after he recorded a version of Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" and had some success with it, he changed direction and started to record rhythm & blues songs with a country-western tinge. This was the best move he could have made, and it made his name legendary. This new sound of Haley's came to be called Rock And Roll.

The band was originally called The Saddlemen, and after the success of 'Rocket 88' and its follow-up, 'Rock The Joint' in 1952, the name didn't seem to fit the style anymore, and so when a buddy of Haley's suggested the Comets as a play on words with Halley's Comet (using the alternative pronunciation), the name stuck.

In '53, Haley and The Comets had more success with "Crazy Man, Crazy" and "Pat-A-Cake" but it was in 1954 that things blew up for them. First, the band moved from the small Essex Records to the nationally-known Decca label. "Rock Around The Clock" was originally released as the b-side to "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man In Town)". Although the record made the Billboard charts, it did not set the world on fire until the song was used in the movie Blackboard Jungle in 1955, after Haley's version of "Shake, Rattle & Roll" had been a hit internationally, and late 1954's "Dim, Dim The Lights" which was the first record by a white artist to make it into the R&B chart.

The record was chosen for the soundtrack of Blackboard Jungle by Glenn Ford, the star of the film, who along with the film's producers, picked it from the collection of his son, Peter, to represent the kind of music the kids of 1955 were listening to. On the 9th of July that year, "Rock Around The Clock" became the first rock and roll record to hit number one on the Billboard charts, and stayed there for eight weeks. It had been hanging around the UK charts since January '55, peaking at number 17, then later in the year, re-entering and hitting number one in November. It then hit number one again in January of '56.

A small side note: the guitarist Danny Cedrone, who performed the guitar solo on the record, was a session player and not a full member of the Comets; he died in a fall down a stairway in June 1954, never living to see his contribution reach legendary status.

Here's Bill and the boys.

Weird, and a little creepy

Maybe it's just me, maybe it's just because I'm not a Southerner, but there are certain things about this region that I just do not get. I don't know if these are specific to Georgia, to Gainesville, or to the South as a whole, but I do not understand, and I am not sure whether it has to do with me being a transplant, or whether other Southerners would say, "Hey, you're right -- that is weird."

I never understood the whole open-casket thing. I never understood fancy caskets anyway. The guy's dead- why does he need cushions and a waterproof box? But to stand in a room with dozens of extended family members milling around and saying hi to each other like some sort of family reunion when there's a dead body in the room.... weird.

But this morning I had cause to walk past the local cemetery here in Gainesvegas, and I noticed something very odd. There were several gravestones with the family name at the top, and the husband's name on the left, and the wife's name on the right. That in itself is not strange - lots of people have family plots. But when the headstone is there with both names and dates of birth on there but only one date of death...

For those of you that are having difficulty following this... only one of them is dead, and the headstone is there so when the other one dies, they don't have to do anything but put in the date of death.

This means that whenever the widow or widower visits the grave of their beloved, they see their own name emblazoned on the stone. Talk about reminding you of your own mortality. "Well Walter, I guess I'm not long for this world either."

How did this start? I have a vision of some tightwad going to the stonemason and saying,"Well, I don't wanna waste money on TWO headstones... put both names on there and just fill in the date of death when I kick the bucket."

I had never seen this before. And the thing was, once I noticed the first one, I noticed about ten more.


Friday, December 18, 2009

They're dead, Jim

We have lost a lot of people and things this year. Here's an incomplete list:

Circuit City
Ted Kennedy
Michael Jackson
Billy Mays
Microsoft Encarta
John Updike
Andrew Wyeth
Gourmet Magazine
Farrah Fawcett
Bea Arthur
Dan Seals
David Carradine
Dom DeLuise
Dominick Dunne
Ed McMahon
Harve Presnell
Henry Gibson
Max Factor Cosmetics
Home Depot Expo Design Centers
James Whitmore
John Hughes
Karl Malden
Les Paul
Jonathan Frid
Marilyn Chambers
Maurice Jarre
Mary Travers
Liam Clancy
Louie Bellson
Mollie Sugden
Natasha Richardson
Keith Waterhouse
Nick Adenhart
Adam Goldstein
Patrick Swayze
Patrick McGoohan
Roy Disney
Ricardo Montalban
Pat Hingle
Ron Silver
Soupy Sales
Walter Cronkite
Wendy Richard
Steve McNair


Blatant Stupidity

"I want to climb right inside you
I want to rip your brains apart
Adjust the malfunction
And make you see through these eyes..."
--Nigel Day

Have you ever heard someone talking and what they are saying is just sooooo dumb that you want to hurt them?

That happened to me today. I happened to be present for a conversation between three guys (all of whom shall remain nameless lest this come back to bite my bum) who were discussing DUI classes. A young fella said he didn't understand why he had to go to DUI class, since when he was arrested for DUI, he did not have a license to drive.

Let me run that by you again.

He did not understand why he had to go to a class for people who were arrested for DUI, since when he was arrested for Driving Under the Influence, he was not in possession (and, in fact, had never been in possession) of a driver's license.


"I done tole my Probation Officer," he said, "I ain't never had no drivin' license. So how come I has to go to a class where the ultimate goal is to get yo' license BACK?"

I thought, dang it, I came out today without my Amateur Lobotomy Kit.

I said, "But you were driving... without... a license?"


"And DUI?"


I decided I was going to try to enlighten this Mensa candidate. This, as you probably have guessed, was like a broken pencil. Pointless.

I said, "The point is, then, that you should not have been in control of a motor vehicle anyway. But you were. The fact that you didn't have a license doesn't matter. They treat all DUIs the same."

"But I never had no license. So how come I has to go?"

It was at this point I decided that continuing this discourse would be like sado-necrophiliac bestiality. Flogging a dead horse.

There are some people in the world that don't want to learn, and cannot figure it out for themselves. All we can do for these people is pray for them. And hope we don't ever see them behind the wheel with an open container.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


It occurs to me that Christmas (Yuletide, Crimble, Xmas, etc.) is coming up on us fast. It's already the 17th! Lord! It'll be here before we know it. As usual, I haven't done any shopping or mailed a single card. Too broke, too lazy. Christmas Eve is only a week away. So when it comes to Christmas songs, we have a lot of ground to cover. Pull up a comfy chair, hook up the speakers to the PC, and settle in for a night of holiday tuneage.
First up... a classic from The Waitresses.


Fab Macca (Wacky Thumbs Aloft)

Cocteau Twins....


Dave Edmunds...

Roy Wood....

The Goons...

Nat "King" Cole...

and lastly, I wanted to find a funny track entitled Christmas Sucks. It is credited all over the Web as being by Peter Murphy and Tom Waits. It's not, but they did such a good job imitating them that people can be forgiven for thinking it's Tom & Peter. It's actually by Porn Orchard & The Opal Foxx Quartet. Here is a link to a website where you can hear it. Scroll down to the section marked "Bummed Out Christmas" and it's right there. Christmas Sucks!


I am all for traditions, especially at Christmastime. I think traditions are a great way to keep the excitement and anticipation going and I am all for coming up with new ones. Back when I was married the first time my then mother-in-law would always serve Christmas Mush on Christmas Eve. Sometimes known as Norwegian Rice, this stuff is so good and warming and delicious that even after my wife and I parted and I remarried, I carried on the tradition and make it every year. Want the recipe? Here ya go. You will need:

1 gallon whole milk

3 cups uncooked rice

Some half & half or heavy cream

Lots of time

Just bring the milk to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Next, parboil the rice in water, drain and add to the milk. Keep at a simmer and stir every few minutes to prevent sticking. Do this for several hours, adding more liquid (milk or cream) when necessary until the concoction is like rice pudding, but a little smoother. Serve warm with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Oh yeah.

NB. this may not be the true  method, but it's the one I use, and it works.

So that's one tradition. Another one that I started doing a few years ago is a little off-the-wall, but bear with me.

One of my favorite albums is the classic Low  by David Bowie. Listening to this album and the way it sounds produces in me a bleak, wintry feeling. So therefore, listening to this album first thing on a cold, dull, overcast, bleak, wintry Christmas a.m. seemed to fit. And so, every Christmas morning, or as close to it as possible, I try to listen to at least side 1. (I can hear all these teenagers going, what does he mean, side 1?)
Listening to "What In The World", "Breaking Glass", "Sound & Vision", "Be My Wife" etc. with a steaming mug of Christmasy-flavoured coffee is one Yuletide tradition I cannot do without.

I told you it was off the wall.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Wheel's On Fire

This post was originally deleted after my in-laws read it and decided that it was just me trying to make myself look like the All-American Handyman SuperDad or whatever, and so I took it down. As you can see by reading the self-deprecating humour contained within, I was just trying to write about something that had happened to me that semed to contain ( at least to me) some innate humor. This humor, however, they did not see and instead chose to tell my dear wife that The Spawn Of Beelzebub (i.e. me) was trying to make himself look like the Dad and Husband Of The Century. How this is possible when the piece contains the phrases "one of the few 'manly' tasks I am able to do" and "I, being a born procrastinator", not to mention "I'm just too consarned lazy."

I have just performed one of the few 'manly' tasks I am able to do without too much aggravation, provided I have the right tools. I took off the flat front tire of our family car and put on the (hallelujah!) full-size spare. It was not without its moments, though. Let me back up and tell you the full story.

A few weeks ago the tire in question (I suppose I should say 'tyre' being an Englishman, but I've lived here so long...) started to need air on a fortnightly basis. One day I spotted the culprit... a large nail fully embedded in the tread. As it was still only needing air once in a while, I, being a born procrastinator, put it off. I knew eventually we'd need to replace it, but I'm just too consarned lazy.

Two days ago I came out the front door and noticed we were almost flat. So I shot down the road, carefully on the turns of course, to the local gas station for a fillup and some of that special air from the machine. It must be special because it costs 75 cents. Probably imported. "Air-vian", perhaps? (Pause for collective groan).

This morning the tyre was slack again. I had two choices... put some more air in, or just do some grunt work.

The jack, which is in a little compartment in the cargo area, had obviously never been used, which, for a ten-year-old car, is amazing. The reason I knew this is because the little nut & bolt combo used to secure it wouldn't budge. Neither would the one on the side of it that secures the jack handle to the jack. I had to employ the use of something to whack it and get it started, now let me see, what shall I use... I looked around and the first thing that came to hand was my heavy KitchenAid can-opener. Whack, whack, whack! Beautiful! Alton Brown, of Food Network's "Good Eats" is always talking about the joys of kitchen tools that are 'multitaskers'... well, Alton, there's another use for can openers.

The spare was, in addition to being full-size, in pristine condition. Nice deep tread. After a few minutes I was joined by the girls, curious as to what I was doing. They enjoyed watching me leaning on the jack handle as I tightened the lug nuts, asking lots of unanswerable questions, such as "Why are they called lug nuts?". I am afraid I was a little short with them in response.
"Did I invent the car?" I fumed. They just laughed as their sweaty father got more and more terse.

As I said at the beginning, I am able to change a wheel. I am also able to jumpstart a car, pump gas, and run it through the car wash. Beyond that, professionals have to be involved.

So, my day got off to a lovely start. But at least I won't be paying for any more of that imported air any time soon.

Repost: War Sess Ter Shire Sauce And Other Delights

The following post was deleted (not by me, I might add) and I finally found a cached copy of it. So now, I re-submit for your enjoyment.

Monday, August 31, 2009

War Sess Ter Shire Sauce and other delights

Hi folks, Monday is here and it has been another eventful weekend. Working as I do at the good ole Outback restaurant, and having the blessed fortune to be born English, and having lost a good part of my English accent by virtue of living here in the good ole U. S. of A., many people I serve at work either don't notice that I have an accent or can't figure out what accent it is. Of course, being at an Aussie-themed restaurant further confuses them. I get asked a lot if I'm Australian, or from New Zealand, but mostly I get this:

"You've got an accent, haven't you?"

Why, yes I do.

And then I have to tell them my life story. I bemoaned this fact in an earlier post, but I guess I enjoy the fact that they pick up on it. It helps them to remember me.

Anyway, because I had the great pleasure of talking to a couple of Brits in the restaurant over the weekend, I thought today I would do what I promised earlier, and help a few of you American folks out with correct pronunciation. I'm talking about oregano and basil and things of that nature, but I guess the one I am talking about mainly is the one in the title of this post: Worcestershire Sauce.

Working at a steakhouse I get asked for this benign condiment quite frequently; but each and every person that asks for it has never been to England, and definitely hasn't been to Worcestershire, because if they had, they'd know how to say it. They all try to pronounce every letter in the word (I'd like some of that Warsestershy-er sauce please), and as every red-blooded Englishman knows (I'm looking at you, Nic), that just isn't the way the English language works.

I will now enlighten you.

Say wuss, as in, "Don't be such a big wuss."

Say tuh, as in, "I'm goin' tuh bed."

Say shurr, as in, "That's a big ten-four fer shurr."

Now put it all together. Wuss-tuh-shurr.

That's all there is to it.

Now, let's get to oregano. In America this is pronounced oh-regg-a no. In English, orrie-gar-no. Basil is bay-zul in America, bazzle in England. And we English don't know what arugula, eggplant or zucchini is. We instead have rocket or roquette, aubergines and courgettes. Oh, and big courgettes are marrows. We don't have SNAFUs; we balls it up. We don't rappel down a mountain, we abseil. There are no Kaiser rolls, there are baps. We don't use ballpoint pens, we write with biros. We don't know jack sh*t, we know bugger all. We wipe our arse with a bog roll and our rubbish gets picked up by the dustman. The list goes on, even to the extent of books and movies bearing different titles here and in the UK. For example:

The UK album The Electric Light Orchestra by ELO was titled No Answer in the US, which was the result of a misunderstanding by an employee of United Artists records who had tried to phone Harvest Records for the title but got no answer, and left a note saying so.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are known in the UK as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as the term ninja was viewed as too violent an image for children.

In the UK no-one knows what White Castle is, so the movie was renamed Harold and Kumar Get The Munchies.

Sheena Easton's song 9 to 5 was retitled Morning Train (Nine To Five) in the USA in order to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton song 9 to 5.

The hit TV show Man vs.Wild was titled Born Survivor: Bear Grylls in the UK. The title was changed due to the fact that he was not well known Stateside, whereas in Britain he is widely popular. Oh, and on a personal note: that guy is NUTS!

And the most well-known title change... J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone" was titled "Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone" when first published in the UK but the US editor felt that the original title original title "conveyed an incorrect idea of the subject matter".

There are many more examples of this kind of stuff on an excellent Wikipedia article titled American and British English differences.

Anyway folks, that's about all for today. I'll post some more as and when I think of it.

Cheerio, tatty-bye and hope your day is absolutely top drawer.

Posted by Jeff Hickmott at 7:36 AM



Ruprecht said...

Rupe always refers to it as "What's This Here Sauce?"

Works every time .....

August 31, 2009 10:34 AM

Wildhair said...

I miss my Brit lessons. Bugger off! Are you taking a piss? hehe

August 31, 2009 5:26 PM

Jeff Hickmott said...

Don't take the mickey, gobshite.

August 31, 2009 6:00 PM

ketsu said...

I enjoy the fact that, because you referred to Wuss-tuh-shire sauce, there's an ad for Lee and Perrin's at the bottom of this page for me.

So. Much. Awesome. :D

<3, Bucky

August 31, 2009 7:56 PM

100 Records That Shook The World, #93

Shake, Rattle & Roll

Big Joe Turner
"Rock and roll would have never happened without him." -- Doc Pomus

He was six-two and three hundred pounds, hence the monicker "Big" Joe. Known as The Boss Of The Blues, his original nickname had been The Singing Barman in Kansas City. Turner had been performing all his life, singing wherever he worked, working with boogie players like Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Ammons.
He was spotted by Ahmet Ertegun of the then-fledgling Atlantic Records in 1951 at the age of 40, while working with Count Basie. He was immediately signed to the label and recorded several hits for the label, blues numbers such as "Chains Of Love" and "Sweet Sixteen".
In 1954 he recorded "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and it was a huge success. The Bill Haley & The Comets version was a bigger success, but their version had cleaned up the risque lyrics considerably. Turner's version includes the lines "get outa that bed, wash yo' face an' hands" and "you're wearin' those dresses, the sun comes shinin' through!, I can't believe my eyes, all that mess belongs to you."  However, Haley's success encouraged many listeners to seek out the Turner original.
Turner found himself all of a sudden a bona fide rock star at age 43. He continued recording tracks in a similar style as well as more blues songs, and another massive smash, "Corrine, Corrina" came out in '56.

Through the '60s Turner concentrated on performing with smaller combos, returning to his roots. In 1983 he released an album with Roomful Of Blues entitled Blues Train. The same year, he was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame. He died in 1985 and was inducted posthumously into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.


There are a lot of songs out there that express belief in Santa Claus. There are also lots of websites out there with opposing views: those that believe, in their own way, and those that rabidly do not, some going so far as to say that Santa is in fact the Antichrist. These are, I'm sure, the same people that believe that Halloween is Devil Worship.

As for me, I do believe in Santa Claus. To me, he embodies the warm spirit of friendship and giving that sadly only seems to exist at this time of year. Santa is the symbol of a worldwide festival that has the ability to transcend race, religion, faith and creed. If we could all believe in the ideals that Santa Claus represents then perhaps the world would be a happier, more peaceful place.

A Lovely Meal, Over In Seconds

"Fast food! I don't know why they don't just flush it straight down the toilet, cut out the middleman! That'd speed things up a bit, wouldn't it?" -- Ben Elton

I have come to a conclusion. An epiphany. A satori, if you believe in Zen.

I hate fast food. But not all of it.

Every once in a while I get the craving for a burger & fries, and having given in to the call of the fast-food joint, I feel satisfied after the first couple of bites. Then the bloated feeling comes on and that is swiftly followed by the "Oh-crap-why-did-I-do-that" feeling. Then comes buyer's remorse. Unfortunately, having consumed the damn thing, I can't get my money back and go spend it on a Power Bar.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the way I do. McDonalds operates in over 100 countries. And I give them credit, I like their food better than Burger King, Wendy's, Krystal or Checkers. Sonic is kind of an even par with Mickey D's for me.

At least McDonald's burgers actually taste like burgers. Burger King puts way too much mustard on the burgers, for one thing. And they go on and on in their commercials about that 'flame-broiled' flavor. The next time I want to taste lighter fluid I'll go to a Walmart and buy a bottle and a straw. Thanks.

Wendy's says their beef is always fresh, never frozen. Even if that's true, why have they got to be square? And the cheese you use is nasty. It is more like Velveeta. It's too sticky, not like real cheese. Even then, Wendy's wins out over Checkers in that the cheese at Checkers is just that horrible cheese-sauce-in-a-can that the 7-Eleven likes to call nacho cheese.

Krystal's burgers are not terrible, but they are miniscule, so that just sucks.

The food I like at McD's the best is their breakfast food. The Sausage McMuffin with Egg is my favorite. For breakfast fast food, my top 3 are McD's, Bojangles, and Chick-Fil-A.

In different countries around the world, McDonald's food is designed to reflect the different cultures, which leads to some interesting menu items. Here's the link:

McDonald's Food Around the World

That's it, I'm moving to Norway.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Christmas Time Again

Today's festive tune comes from the band Extreme.

Christmas Time Again

Have a good one, y'all.

Stuff that bothers me (today)

Okay, there's more than one topic on my mind today. First, let's talk about

Oil Changes.
Is there some unwritten rule out there that says you will not know the true cost of an oil change until after you have it done? I attempted to find out the cheapest place for an oil change using the power of the internet today and was disheartened to see that although there are plenty of coupons out there for $5 off, $6 off etc. there are no places that will tell you exactly how much you are going to pay. All you want to know is this: How much cash will I have to fork over for a simple oil change? But at most places, you will have to physically go there, have the work done, and then let them tell you some random number. I can find out the price on most other things, toys, watches, GPS systems, a ribeye steak, ahead of time. I can even hop on the 'Net and find out the best deal. But for some reason, the true cost of an oil change, as with most automotive services, has to remain shrouded in mystery. I believe it is time the American people decided they were tired of this BS and said "either tell us the price upfront or we'll quit driving and bring the country to a standstill." Hey, it could happen.

What is up with trash? Or, to be more specific, what is up with all the trash that people throw out of their cars? I do a lot of walking, and so I tend to notice what is in the gutter or on the sidewalk (or grass verge, as there are not near enough sidewalks). Today for some reason there seemed to be a lot of those little floss picks on the street. You know, those little one-use-only pieces of floss with a handle that has a pointed end you can use as a toothpick -yet another American creation designed to keep us lazy ("I need to floss, but I don't wanna be opening all kinds of containers and stuff.... I know, I'll just put a little piece on a handle and sell 'em 20 in a bag. Make millions."). Are people just flossing their teeth a stop lights and just tossing these out the window? Why, because you need to keep your teeth hygienic but you don't want to dirty up your car? Lazy bastards.

Music. Specifically, rap.
I used to like rap. Back in the day (the '80s, let's be honest) rap was good - Run-DMC, Grandmaster Flash, Whodini, Digital Underground, De La Soul, and Public Enemy made good music. In the '90s, you had the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg & Tupac. But now anybody with a drum machine and a shiny grill on their teeth (I'm sorry - how is that attractive?) with a bunch of mean-looking friends who can grunt obscenities in time to the rhythm while you run off at the mouth about how gangsta you is and how you be down wit da whateva and talk about guns and cars and hoes etc. seems to be able to get a recording deal, shortly before getting busted for DWI, PCS, and aggravated assault and sharing a cell with other rappers and football players. Lawdy hush ma mouth! Anyway, I simply feel that rap has been distilled time and again until it is now nothing more than a joke, a parody of its former self. Rap is played, playa. As is Top 40 music in general. I'm sorry, Rihanna, but I don't know what that was you were singing (?) on the AMA's, but it wasn't a song. And Lady Gaga? Take away the shock value, and you have a very dull artist.
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