Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zombie Time!

What makes this movie so creepy is (a) it's in B&W, which is always creepy, and (b) it's an indie low-budget flick, which is always creepy too. Oh, and the acting is just plain rotten, if you'll pardon the pun. So sit back, relax and get scared.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Evil Edna!!

Epic Fail

Ask your average 10-15 year old their opinion on pretty much anything, and nine times out of ten, the answer you will get is that it is either 'gay', 'boring', 'epically boring, 'epically gay', 'epically boringly gay', or 'an epic fail'.

Why is the English language being hijacked in such a fashion? I know when we were kids, we had our own words for things, superlatives mainly. Things were 'mega', 'crisp', 'juicy' or 'prime'. Not just super, not just great or excellent. We put our own spin on it. But at least we had opinions.

Today's kids only have two opinions, it seems. It's either gay or awesome.

When was it decided that the word sick meant great? I mean, am I just getting to be  an old fogey or are  "De Yout's of Today" (to quote Musical Youth) just talking gibberish?

It's OK. Each generation has its own way of talking. No-one says 'hep to the jive' anymore, no-one says things are 'swingin' or 'dodgy'. Back in the day, though, kids talked like that all the time. So that's fine. Have your own lingo.

But the word 'gay'... I have a major problem with that. Teens use the word 'gay' as a one-size-fits-all insult or put-down. Time was, 'gay' meant happy or pretty or jolly. Now it just means 'homosexual' and to most teens, it seems, that's an insult. Yet there are a lot of young gays out there, and there are gay organizations, too, so what do they think of the hijacking of this word? I can find nothing out there on the Interwebtubes about it. Plenty about the word gay changing from 'happy' to 'homosexual', but nothing about it being used as a blanket term of disdain. I would really love to know.

Trouble is, the whole damn world is just plain rude. No-one is taught to use the words please and thank you and  excuse me and  sorry anymore. The  eff word is now a handy substitute, as in:

"I want THAT ONE!"

"You want that one, what??"

"I want that one, YOU EFFING B***H!"

Back when I was a little kid in infants school, parents and teachers were still allowed to use corporal punishment if necessary. Teachers were allowed to call us stupid ignorant twerps, regularly gave us kids a slap on the leg or the bottom, parents spanked their kids in public, and it was just the way things were.

Then some highly educated people decided that this was all wrong and we kids were suffering irreparable damage and psychological trauma from all of this butt-swatting and name-calling. Eventually laws were passed preventing people from disciplining or correcting errant behaviour in their children by the use of the hand or hand-held implement. On the whole, I support this. There are some terrible examples of abuse out there, and by all means it should be stopped. But how many of us were severely traumatized by a slap on the leg when we stepped out of line?

Trouble is, we went too far the other way, didn't we? And we committed the error of letting the kids know that there were laws preventing people from touching them inappropriately. Because they then figured, as kids are apt to do, that they could now control adults by crying abuse, much like Michael McDonald's character Stuart on MadTV: "Don't touch me, I don't know you! Stranger danger!"

Back when we were kiddiewinks we used manners as a social tool: we knew if you did or said the right thing, the correct thing, you'd get the reward, or at least be left alone. Today's kids have no concept of manners. To today's children, the video game generation, the reward is to be found, much like in the video games, by constantly digging around and searching the same area over and over again until a reward of some kind or another is finally revealed. Kids will just keep pushing and pushing the same buttons till the parent finally caves and rolls over.

Basically, the concept of manners as we 40-somethings understand it no longer has a place in today's world. Manners were a way of making sure that people were kept at arm's length, and a form of bluffing your way into unfamiliar situations. Now we are all online and social networking, making friends with people we've never met, and the same social issues do not arise. We do not have to pretend to be au fait with where the salad fork is, or know how to address a letter.

Manners ensured that we knew the value of imagining one's impact on other people. Nowadays,  the famous Margaret Thatcher quote about there being no such thing as society has never rung more true. People have to virtually be bribed or cajoled into doing anything socially responsible. Case in point - the Keep Britain Tidy campaign from a few years ago...

I give up on this species. Epic fail.

100 Records That Shook The World, # 58

Purple Haze

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

"Uh! Ah! Uh! Ah!"

Anyone who knows rock music will be familiar with those four electrically generated guitar grunts (for want of a better term) that open Jimi's "Purple Haze", a spectacular tour de force of sound.

There is much debate over the song and how it came into being, what it was about, and whether Jimi was on LSD when it was written. Well, here's what I've gleaned:

  • The song evidently came into being when Chas Chandler heard Jimi playing the opening riff and encouraged him to put some words to it.
  • There is a strain of marijuana known as Purple Haze, but this was named after the song.
  • A man called Owsley Stanley manufactured LSD in 1965 (when it was still legal) under two names: Purple Haze and White Lightning. He was reportedly handing out Purple Haze tabs to people entering the Monterey Pop festival (where Jimi performed) in 1967 (when it was illegal) and some argue that Jimi was high on the tabs when onstage.
  • Jimi maintained that the song was inspired by a dream he had, which was in part inspired by the sci-fi novel Night Of Light  by Philip Jose Farmer, which used the term "purplish haze".
Whatever the truth is, it's a damn good song. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Is Halloween

What could be scarier than Marilyn Manson singing a cover of a song from a movie about Halloween by scary director Tim Burton who sports a scary frightwig hairdo? Not much, I'll wager.

Monday, October 25, 2010

100 Records That Shook The World, # 59

Jefferson Airplane

Surrealistic Pillow (LP)

Jefferson Airplane's second LP was recorded at a time when the Haight-Ashbury counterculture movement was at its peak and Airplane were its poster children, along with The Doors. Propelled into the limelight by the two singles 'Somebody To Love' and 'White Rabbit', Surrealistic Pillow became essential listening. Also fuelling its rise were rumours surrounding the involvement or non-involvement of Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia in its production. Whatever the true story is, the fact remains that it's a highly original psychedelic classic of the 60s.


And, just for grins, let's hear my favourite version. (Sorry Grace!)

Season Of The Witch

Julie Driscoll, the Queen of Mod, gives it some spooky shtick. Halloween's just round the corner folks, as if you didn't know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stephen Fry 'The Letter'

I know I've posted this before, but at this time of year, I think it bears repeating. Again and again and again. Stephen Fry is a comic genius, a gem, and a national treasure. Disagree with me at your peril.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Ghosts of Motley Hall

Some fab 70s style spookiness. Sunday evenings were pretty awesome when this was on! Arthur English and Sheila Steafel are superb!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Twilight Zone

I Am Andy Rooney

Here's what's on my mind this evening... TV.

Remember not so very long ago we lived in a world where a TV programme would finish and the end credits would roll and they would stay on the screen with the theme music playing till the very end? Apparently we are not allowed to have that anymore. No, kiddies, we have to have the end credits shrink down to the size of  a postage stamp, some promo for some stupid bloody piece of crap we aren't going to watch (but the TV company has spent a lot of money on so they want us to watch it) flies into the other side of the screen and some overpaid nonce announcer talks over the end credits of the show we were watching.

Remember those great days when it was time for a commercial, and the screen would say End Of Part One, then you'd see the station ident, then a few ads, then Part Two would begin? Why do we have to have these stupid bleeding mini-movies that make no frigging sense as station idents, then a shitload of commercials, another dumb arty-farty ident, then the rest of the show?

What is it that makes the station owners think we constantly need to be reminded of what station we're watching? Same applies to radio stations. We tuned to your station, mate, we know what we're watching or listening to, you don't have to constantly remind us of your brilliance by playing stupid station idents ("THIS IS HEART!!!") or little baffling short films. I cannot be the only one who longs for a cheesy Southern TV logo (The Station That Serves The South) unfolding with its little guitar lick, followed by Brian Nissen reading out the list of local transmitters.

It can't be just me who wants to hear "275 and 285, Radio 1!".

Oh and Radio 1, don't get me started. How come it's that old pile of crap station Radio 2 that is now the only listenable one? Every time I hear Radio 1 my brain goes into near-meltdown. I must be becoming an old curmudgeon. I thought (still think, actually) that I was quite hip. I think, though, that I stopped being hip sometime after 1997, since that was the last year in which I saw a concert (The Cure, Everclear, Sneaker Pimps and Green Apple Quick Step). All I ever do is complain about young people's music. But I'm afraid that this world (the entertainment world, that is) is getting a bit beyond me. I'm sorry though, I don't see the appeal of Grime or Dubstep or all that shouty Linkin-Park-Bullet-For-My-Valentine-type stuff. "Hey fellas, here's an idea, we'll play some hard-rockin' type riffs, then I'll sing a bit, then for no reason I'll just scream one of the lyrics at random." "Sounds awesome!"

Remember those lovely days of the 80s and early 90s when you could turn on MTV and actually see a music video?? I know I've harped on this recently, but it's making me insane.

And as for video games these days... anyone actually understand what the fuck they are all about? Or what the point of them is? Because even a shoot-'em-up game is far too complicated for an old'un like myself to comprehend, and I thought I was quite a smart guy. Bring back Galaxian and Defender, those I can understand.

Maybe I am just tired and cranky, but I've had it with this stuff. Ack.

Good night.

P.S. And don't even get me started on computer spell checkers. I just ran mine and it told me that 'spent' is not a word, but it's perfectly happy with 'nonce'. Well, up yours, Bill Gates.

Halloween Pranks

Saturday, October 16, 2010

100 Records That Shook The World, #60

The Doors

The Doors
I think it is fair to say that the self-titled debut LP of The Doors was a much-needed shock to the system of rock music, in a decade that had had more than its fair share of shocks. The band's 12-minute epic 'The End', their performances of 'Break On Through' and 'Light My Fire' on national TV, plus Morrison's December arrest on-stage for public indecency and obscenity in New Haven, Connecticut, did nothing to lessen the shock. Even though their career spanned a few short years, their popularity today is greater than ever, and it is for this reason that "The Doors" is included in this list.

The Ghost Train (1941) - Full Movie

A good old fashioned late night ghost story, starring Arthur Askey and "Stinker" Murdoch. Based on the famous play by Arnold Ridley (Pte. Godfrey from "Dad's Army").

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Let's Get Spooky

Make yourself a nice mug of hot cocoa, curl up under a blanket and prepare to be spooked by this classic German Expressionist horror flick, directed by the great Robert Wiene.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

Saturday October 13th 1990 was a day that I will not soon forget. Kristin and I had been at the William Harvey Hospital overnight, not very successfully trying to get some sleep. She had been having contractions since the day before and we were waiting for her to be dilated enough to go ahead and deliver. We awoke to the strains of Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart" on the radio.

She had tried pretty much everything they'd given her for the pain and discomfort - painkillers, walking the floors, and a device called a TENS machine, which was basically a little vibrating box that you strapped to the afflicted area (her lower back) with the aid of a velcro strap, and then dialled the twiddly knob on the side to the strength you required. Well, she'd had it turned up to 11 for a long while and still no relief. As we were walking past a window in one of the hospital corridors, she glanced outside and saw a children's playground with a slide. "Ooh," she said, "if I could just lay down on that slide, that would work." Well, unfortunately, she wasn't allowed outside but soon she was discovered to be dilated enough to go to the delivery room. 

First the anaesthetist came to give her some IV drugs. His name was Dr. Baig, as I recall, and as he inserted the needle into the back of her hand, a little blood shot out and onto the floor. The nurse looked at him and said, "Oh, Dr. Baig..." as if to say, "It's OK, he does this all the time."

After a while it became clear that the pethidine was not kicking in, she was still in agony. So they decided to do an epidural. While she sat up on the bed, leaning against me for support, they inserted the needle into her spinal cord, and the epidural started to work. It was at this moment that the pethidine started working too, and so now she was floating off in la-la land.

In came the consultant, Dr. Stewart, who we had not met until this moment, because he had been on annual leave when it was our appointment to see him, so we'd seen another man. Dr. Stewart looked at the chart, and said "Hmmm, Mrs. Hickmott, I haven't seen you before have I, why is that?"

Kristin momentarily snapped out of her drug-induced haze and looked him in the eye."You were on vacation!" she said, and with that, slipped back into druggie-world.

I don't remember much after that, it all began to happen so fast, but I remember all the grody bits that no-one wants to hear about. After a while, Charles Edward Arthur James Ross Odegaard-Hickmott was among us, and I was holding him, and Kristin looked radiant, and we were getting visited by friends and family.

And now it is exactly twenty years later. Charlie has grown into a fine young man, studying at Skagit Valley College and playing drums and making hordes of young female students swoon, no doubt.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rob Zombie - Living Dead Girl

Bad Meaning Good

Isn't it funny how in the States, when something's pretty good or fairly decent, they say it's not half bad.

"I'm no chef, but that pizza I made wasn't half bad."

Here in the UK, when something's good, really good, we say it's  not half good.

"That pizza I  just ate wasn't half good!"

 "Was it really?"

"Not half!"

 If someone cannot be bothered to do something in the UK, it is now common to say I can't be arsed.

If a Brit doesn't care about something, they say I couldn't care less. In the States, they say I could care less,  which means precisely the opposite. Weird.

In both areas, saying, "I don't mind" often means, "I'm not annoyed" (for example, by someone's smoking), while "I don't care" often means, "The matter is trivial or boring". However, in answering a question like "Tea or coffee?", if either alternative is equally acceptable, an American may answer, "I don't care", while a British person may answer, "I don't mind". Either sounds odd to the other.

In the States, A&E  is the name of a television network (Arts & Entertainment). In the UK, A&E  is the common term for Accident & Emergency,  the casualty (emergency room) department of a hospital.

The common term in the UK for the elasticated over-the shoulder devices worn by men for the purpose of holding up their trousers is braces.  Americans call them suspenders. Which is confusing to us Brits, because what we call suspenders, you call a  garter belt.  So for someone to describe Larry King to a Brit and tell them he wears suspenders is a bit disturbing.

And then of course there are chips. Chips  in the UK are fries, chips in the US are potato crisps. Except corn chips, which are just corn chips. And Sun Chips, which are Sun Bites  in Britain.

These are the thoughts that infest my dreams.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sing It, Ian

Love The Cult!!

21st Century Analog Man

I was at work the other day when Roger, the volunteer that helps me in the cafe, was in the back room which doubles as a 'green room' for the actors and performers that perform in the theatre. It's also an area that is used for storing certain items, among them the boxes and bags of donated secondhand books that we sell around the side of the building. Roger was sorting a few of these out for display over the weekend, and in doing so came across a box that was full of VHS videos. "Ah, " he said, "those are no good, are they. Nobody watches those anymore."

"Oh, I dunno, " I replied. "I kinda like videos."

 It seems in this country even more than the USA, that the prevailing attitude towards technology seems to be, "If it's old, it's crap." People seem to have the idea that because we have DVD, Blu-Ray, satellite TV and streaming video, and iPlayer and YouTube, then old-school technology is absolute useless rubbish.

I disagree.

Twenty years ago or more, VHS was in everyone's house and we used it all the time. We relied on it to tape our favourite shows, we rented vids from Blockbuster and we used it in our camcorders. It didn't seem very crap then.

The same attitude towards tapes and LPs exists here, too. Old-school does not fly in the world of audio. If you showed a kid a Sony Walkman, they'd think it was some kind of joke. "What's that, Grandad," they'd sneer, in that snotty teenager kind of way. "A portable telly?"

Not me. I love cassettes, VHS, LPs, transistor radios, turntables, DIN plugs, Nintendo 64 (strike that - Space Invaders), auto-reverse, 45, 33 1/3, damped eject, pause, rewind.... I am an analog kinda guy. I am also always on the lookout for a bargain. Always have been. The most bang for the buck. Ever since I got into some serious record-purchasing grooves at the clearance rack in Woolies as a young lad... ah, takes me back. And so it was with this attitude that I ventured forth into the box of VHS tapes that were destined for the bin. And here is what I came away with, in pretty near mint condition all...

All in all, a pretty superb haul, I trust you'll agree.

But what I want to know is this... why is this attitude so rampant in the good old GB? Why are we so desperate to chuck out anything that is not new? These things work just as well as before. So why get rid of them? A lot of people have tons of old VHS tapes kicking about and all they want to do is get the DVD versions and toss out the tapes. And, horror of horrors, they want to bin all the old VHS tapes they recorded movies and TV shows on in the 80s and 90s. Why oh why? A lot of those are probably quite rare, especially with the old commercials on them. I love looking at stuff like that and get quite nostalgic. Bless all those kind folk who take the time to put stuff like that on YouTube. I get quite misty just looking at an old ad for John Smith's Bitter or Hamlet cigars. I am sorry, but I love being of the generation that knew a tranny was not a cross-dresser. I am turning into quite the old geezer. And I like that. That's what we should all aim for - being an old curmudgeon, sprouting hair from all angles like Andy Rooney and harping on about the 'good old days' until these teenagers piss off and leave us alone. Oh, and pretending to be deaf, too.

The question is, what is the next item destined for the tech graveyard? Can't wait to get my hands on a freebie iPod Nano that someone's chucking away or a Segway destined for the landfill. Truth is, I love all this stuff, but if everyone else loved it too, I guess I'd still be paying full price for it rather than cleaning up at the bargain bin. So go ahead and throw it away, suckers. I'll find it. And enjoy the hell out of it.

Halloween Countdown, contd.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


As you all know by now, I am the sort of person that likes most types of music. I listen to a lot of music of different styles and genres, and it pains me immensely to complain about music, because the last thing I want to happen is to be labelled an old fart. But now I throw in the towel. Go ahead. Call me a geezer. The Sultan of Geez. The Geezmeister.

Why is this, Jeff? I hear you cry in dismay. Because I am officially confused. I can't deal with all the different subgenres and subgenres of subgenres of metal. Can't deal with it. Grindcore, speedcore, metalcore, mathcore, Nintendocore (no, I'm not making it up - Google it), call it what you will - to me, it's just loud guitars and lots of screaming.

It all started the other day. My darling girlfriend Laura wanted to play me a YouTube video by Welsh rockers Bullet For My Valentine. I am open to anything initially, so I sat and watched this video. She described me as having a pained expression throughout. Which I did. It's just shouty music. A bunch of young men in designer ripped T-shirts and ripped jeans in the rain, posing like seasoned rockers with their tight-pant-swagger, and then for no particular reason bawling like hoarse bobcats who've just had a plutonium rod shoved in their rectum. Hard.

All of this was a source of great amusement to Laura, who just had to up the ante by presenting me with a copy of a CD by a band called Atreyu (not her CD, I should mention - her daughter Amy's), and challenging me to listen to it for as long as I possibly could. Atreyu (named after a character in The Neverending Story, oddly enough) are exponents of metalcore,  which, if you're still interested, is a combination of death metal and hardcore punk,  apparently, and has at its heart an emphasis on what is known as the breakdown, in which the music slows to a good moshing pace and is then layered with vocal harmonies, dissonant minor chords and SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS!!!

Well, not being one to back down from a thrown-down gauntlet, I attempted manfully to listen to Track #1 from Atreyu's CD A Death-Grip On Yesterday (charming title, even more charming sleeve, containing Photoshopped pics of the band members in their carefully torn jeans and well-chosen grungy-looking T-shirts - ON FIRE), and after having studied the lyric sheet, pressed play.

15 seconds later, while shielding my ears, I pushed STOP.

Then I tried to make sense of what I had just been subjected to.

Then I tried to understand how the noise I heard could possibly be the same jolly lyrics I had just been reading.

I couldn't. It's just loud annoying shouty music.

And if they were the only band doing this kind of stuff, I would say "Bravo, Atreyu! I commend your originality!" But unfortunately there are hundreds of bands out there putting out slick, overproduced, well-marketed, neatly packaged shit like this all over the planet (Especially in Scandinavia and California, strangely enough).

This was not the only shock I was treated to. I then made the mistake of going online to YouTube and finding this, this, this...piece of... sacrilegious... stuff..

At long last, I have proof-positive that there is no God.

Alice Cooper - Feed My Frankenstein

Halloween Is A-Comin'...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spooky Countdown, continued.. October 7th

Kan U Spel? Part Won

I often wonder if people ever bother to proofread, or have someone else proofread, their work. I am not sure that it even crosses some people's minds to do such a thing, either because they are stupid, or because they are so supremely confident in their ability to spell, catch errors and punctuate correctly, that the idea does not even begin to consider the notion of the possibility of entering their heads. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt. I am sure they are all lovely people. But when a person does not double-check their effort, some amusing results can occur. Take, for example, the sign located in the small kitchen at my workplace, just above the draining board.

Firstly, we have the surreal assertion that item 4, whatever it was, is not applicable. Well, it's a good job we don't know what it is then, otherwise we might be tempted to apply it, and that would just not do. Then we are told that there is such a thing as a course filter. What kind of course, and how would you filter it? Main course? Golf course? Racecourse? A matter of course?

Now we are told that steam will be left out. A classic bit of double misspelling. Let's misspell  emitted  and make it omitted,  and then add an extra M just for a laugh. That'll confuse 'em.

Now I see the problem. The guy (or girl - I'm an equal-opportunity grammar snob) that wrote this sign must be the same one that writes the instructions for flat-pack furniture and TV/VCR combos.


Not only has some guy in Tenterden got an American vehicle, but it's a bloody great stretch limo...
Ford Excursion, if I'm not mistaken.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Halloween - The Countdown Begins...


I was stunned the other day when my girlfriend showed me a video on YouTube for a song that I had never heard. (Sound of needle skipping across grooves) "Wait! Hold the phone, Jeff! A song you've never heard? That cannot be!"

No, really. There are some. But that's not what's staggering about this fact.

"Well, what then?"

This song made the US Top Twenty. And was #1 in the UK. And is listed in the Guinness Book Of Records as the record holder for most expletives in a #1 song.


Yep. I'm talking about "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)" by Eamon. A song that starts out like your typical woo-woo-girl-shirt-off-oiled-chest-damn-u-fine-girl-R&B-Boyz-II-Men-Color-Me-Badd-type workout but rapidly degenerates into a stream of vitriol directed at Eamon's ho-bag ex-girlfriend, a spewing potty-mouthed essay of such hellish proportions it makes Snoop Dogg look positively tasteful. And it is this vile excuse for music that I blame for the awfulness that is music and TV today.

When I left the UK all those years ago, we had standards. You could only swear on TV after a certain time at night, and never ever ever  did you hear the word fuck on TV, even at 1 a.m. Otherwise you were bleeped out. These days, turn on the telly and George Carlin's "7 Words You Can Never Say On TV" seems like something quaint and twee, something sort of archaic and mildly whimsical that would be discussed over tea and finger sandwiches with your maiden aunt. It seems these days that you are allowed to say f*$%kin anything on telly, at any time.

Don't get me wrong. I am not averse to having a good old fashioned swear-up and curse-fest from time to time. I am not easily offended by simple words. But this is just a symptom of a larger phenomenon whereby everyone under the age of 25 seems to have been allowed to watch and listen to anything at any time of day or night, and what with all the satellite channels dishing out rubbish all the time, what they've been exposed to has made all of them as thick as a balsamic reduction of dog turds. That's right. When we were kids our mums would yell at us that the music we were listening to was too loud, had no words and was gonna make us stupid. Well, they weren't right, but they were clairvoyant. The music that people have been listening to for the last ten years or so actually is  making everyone stupider. Or should I say, more stupid. 

But it's not the only culprit. Oh no, not by a long chalk. Here's some other evidence of this global 'dumbification' (to use a Dubya-ism for a moment).

  • Texting. O RLY? Yes. Nd da ppl dat use txt-spk on their Facebook updates even though they don't need to.
  • The word 'blud', especially when used by people older than 18.
  • I hate to say it, but the Internet. And all the sad, useless crap on it.
  • Reality shows.
  • Talent (?) shows, and the people that participate in them. And the judges.
  • Jeremy Kyle's guests.
  • TV courtroom shows.
  • Tabloid papers and mags.
  • Wrestling.
  • Sharon Osbourne.
  • Extreme sports.
  • The success of people with names like Lil Jon  and Chingy. In fact, gangsta rap in general.
  • Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and all the other mutant beings over at FOX News.
  • Family Guy.
  • MTV, which should really change its name to NMTV (No Music Television) or perhaps SIDDSITNOETV (Stupid Idiots Doing Dumb Stuff In The Name Of Entertainment Television). Somebody getting kicked in the nuts is funny maybe twice. After that, it's just painful.
  • Steve Wilkos, Maury Povich and Tyra Banks.
  • Bush got elected twice. Twice!!
  • Lost, Sex & The City and Prison Break.
  • Fantasy Football.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! and Bakugan and Dragonball-Z and all that anime/manga shit. I'm sorry, but it all looks like Battle Of The Planets to me. Trans-mute!!
  • Supernanny, Wife Swap and Nanny 911.
  • Talk radio. All of it.
  • Sports talk radio, even worse.
  • Magazines like FHM, Maxim, and Nuts.
  • David Cameron.
  • Gordon Brown.
  • The fact that someone named Ed Balls has any bloody position of responsibility whatsoever.
  • Coach Trip.
  • In The Night Garden. No, I do not want to get aboard the Ninky Nonk, no matter what you say.

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Mixtape Madness

Oh man, what a great tape!!

A few nights ago my sister dug out a tape I had made for her 21st birthday party. Whether she had requested that I make it or I'd just done it to be nice is not clear, but make it I did, in classic Jeff style. As soon as we started to listen to it, it all came flooding back to me.

I had armed myself as usual with a stack of records, some mine, some Sis's (I can't be sure, but I think I had probably discussed the ones she wanted on the tape, although I could probably have guessed most of them). Sat myself down with my headphones on while in the same room my mother, my Sister and girlfriend Laura sat and watched TV. As I had a mic hooked up to the stereo I could mix in TV sounds as the music played, and at one point cajoled Laura into saying the words "get down" at the end of one track. Listening back to it 22 years on was a trip down memory lane for sure. OK, you're saying to yourselves, don't keep us in suspenders, Jeff. What was the track listing? Oh, dear reader, I knew you were gonna ask that question.

Uh-oh, hang on, those titles on side 2 are a bit long, there must be more...

Yep. Thought so.

Just in case you are having trouble deciphering the handwriting, the track listing is as follows:

Side 1
  • Cabaret Voltaire - Sensoria (12")
  • Red Box - Chenko (12")
  • Peter Gabriel - Big Time (12")
  • Soft Cell - Down In The Subway
  • The Cure - In Between Days (12")
  • New Order - Blue Monday (12")
  • Hipsway - The Honeythief (12")
  • Morrissey - Suedehead (12")
  • Marc Almond - The Boy Who Came Back
Side 2
  • The Cure - Hot Hot Hot!!! (12")
  • Blancmange - That's Love, That It Is
  • Soft Cell - Bedsitter (12")
  • Echo & The Bunnymen - People Are Strange
  • Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth (12")
  • The Smiths - Shakespeare's Sister
  • Intaferon - Baby Pain (12")
  • The Blue Nile - Tinseltown In The Rain (12")
  • Thomas Dolby - I Scare Myself
  • Aztec Camera - Jump
Pretty damn good if I say so myself. As I say, this groovy tape was made for my sister's 21st birthday party in 1988. The title of the tape (I gave all my tapes titles) was a quote from one of our favourite shows, the brilliant yet underrated Filthy, Rich & Catflap, starring Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson and Nigel Planer.
The quote was "...the most disgusting, debauched, depraved.... PAAAARTY!!". And no, the party wasn't any of those things. But the music was bloody good.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Sometimes, things happen or I witness things that make me lose my cherub-like demeanour. For instance... as you are all well aware, I am somewhat of a punctuation, spelling and grammar freak. I cannot bear misuse of the English language. However, I am willing to overlook it when it is accidental. I can even overlook certain abbreviations in this age of IMs and texting (or should I say txtng?). But what I saw today is just one example of what pisses me right off.

As you may be aware, the Hollywood legend Tony Curtis just passed away and of course several friends mentioned this on Facebook. In the comments underneath one such update was a reply saying the following:
gota feel sory 4 jami
As you can see, this is neither accidental nor is it a time-saving abbreviation. Would it have really been that hard to put an extra T in gotta, and extra R in sorry and the final e in Jamie? This is deliberate misspelling to be cool, much like writing the word 'teh' for 'the'.  I was having an in-depth conflab with my Sis about this over dinner, and she tells me she cannot stand it when people write '2moz' for 'tomorrow' and 'soz' for 'sorry' , but what's really aggravating is when they write 'tomorroz'. That's just plain thick. And don't even get me started on the overuse of the word 'da' as in 'Gud luk 2moz in da big test'. Ack!

We need to get our language back. This is just symptomatic of a larger problem, which is that much like people not knowing how to cook due to the preponderance of ready-made convenience items, and people not sending letters because of the ease of email, people are now not bothering to learn how to spell and punctuate because of the sheer amount of people texting and IMing and Tweeting and Skype-ing all over the place, assuming we all know what each other means. We all are limited to a certain number of characters and so we try to remove vowels and shorten words to get our point across, which is all well and good when texting, but on Facebook, where they'll let you write as much as you want, it just looks idiotic.

So that was the first thing that bugged me.

Then I received two pieces of mail from the Dept. Of Work and Pensions. As you may know, I recently started work at Smallhythe Place, and so I called the Job Centre folks the other day to inform them of this fact, and mailed the little booklet to them to reiterate this. Two days later I received my P45 and gave it to my employer. All good so far.
Today I get two letters, one slightly thicker than the other, so I open it first.

"Dear Mr. Hickmott" it starts. Good, they got my name right.

"About Job Grant

I am writing to tell you why we are unable to pay you a Job Grant."

What in the blue blazes is a Job Grant? I thought.

The letter went on to tell me in great detail all the conditions that I must satisfy in order to get a Job Grant. Now, bear in mind that I didn't know what a Job Grant was, hadn't applied for one, and now they're telling me I can't have one?

Turns out that I would have had to be unemployed longer than six months before I even could qualify for one. I've been unemployed about 7 weeks. And they KNEW this. So why would they even waste a stamp on this pointless information?

Then I opened the other letter.

"Dear Mr Hickmott



 We have looked at your claim again following a recent change.

We cannot pay you an allowance from 25 September 2010. This is because:

       you are working 16 hours or more per week."

Now, let me reiterate... I TOLD THEM THAT! I called them and told them I'd got a job, and here they are sending me letters worded so poorly that it sounds like they found out some big secret I've been hiding from them. "Ooh, we just found out you're working, so you can't have any more free money." Well, thanks, DWP, you mean I can't claim unemployment when I'm employed? How frustrating.

I wonder if they'd be interested in hiring someone to write their form letters for them, because whoever does it now is doing a piss-poor job. Hmmm, now that's a thought. That's a job-creation scheme if ever I heard one. Wonder how much that pays?

But hang on though, aren't we supposed to be becoming a paperless society? One where bureaucratic bumf such as the above letters is supposed to be on the wane? Not to mention the waste of postage. I want to know why this stuff still flops through our doors periodically. I want to write to my MP! No, wait, that's wasting paper - I'll email him instead! Second thought - I'll text him. How green is that, eh?
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