Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Scads of Ads

It's funny, isn't it, when you get an idea for something and you go to execute that idea and the end result turns out to be vastly different from the original intent. This blog post is a case in point. I had intended to make this blog post about the TV ads this Christmas, the good, the bad and the downright stupid. But in researching the ads themselves I discovered something weird. Specifically concerning the John Lewis ad, a particularly fetid piece of homespun schmaltz concerning a 7-year-old boy and his wait for the big day. Here's the offending article:

 The problem I have with this commercial, sorry, I mean problems, plural, are that first of all they are using a song by a woman with a weird name (Slow Moving Millie - I mean really!) and that it is a song that happens to fall into a category I have talked about before on the ol' blog - namely, the "Songs That Should Not Be Messed About With Under Any Circumstances". The Smiths' classic 'Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want' reduced to a heartstring-tuggin' anthem to get you to buy your Christmas crap at John Lewis rather than Littlewoods or House of Fraser. My third problem with this commercial is that it's s**t.

But this is where it gets weird. The thick plottens...

That eloquent chef Gordon Ramsay has a wonderful show on UK's Channel 4 called Cookalong Live. Gordon, noted for his wordsmithery, and also his sense of humour that perhaps not everyone appreciates, did a promo for his new series of Cookalong by spoofing this commercial. The Cookalong ad mimics the original, and uses the original Smiths tune as well as the cover. It shows a little boy impatiently waiting for Christmas to come.

But, while the boy in the John Lewis clip stares out of the window wearing 3D glasses and dressed as a shepherd, Ramsay’s lad comically wears crash helmet and is later dressed as a pirate.Both children take a chocolate from an advent calendar, but only the Channel 4 ad shows the little boy grimace at the taste.The adverts both end with the eager youngsters rushing to give their identical, red gift-wrapped presents on Christmas morning.

However, whereas the John Lewis boy wakes his parents up with a smile, the other pyjama-clad kid walks into Gordon’s kitchen and is promptly told: “You’re late. Get peeling.” The unimpressed youngster then smashes the parcel on the floor in protest as the tagline for Gordon’s Christmas Cookalong Live appears.

However, you will not find this video on YouTube. Or so I thought. There's been a lot of legal wrangling going on, with Warner-Chappell Music being the source, apparently. One day it's up, next it's gone, with very little in the way of explanation. Even the C4 website doesn't have it any more.  However, the problems seem to have been resolved as a new upload is here. You can always bank on 'Net users to quickly copy things and repost them.

Ramsay wasn't the only chef to get in an ad for Christmas. Sainsbury's spokesperson, the ever-smiling Jamie Oliver, starred in one of the better Christmas ads this year. This is Jamie's last one for Sainsbury's and it's nice, featuring a corker of a track from George Formby.

However I now present to you in no particular order, the craptastic ads for Littlewoods (the Advertising Standards Authority received tons of complaints about it, saying that it was 'killing Santa'), the Boots 'Here Come The Girls' one (it's difficult to believe that the Here Come The Girls refrain doesn't have some sort of Pavlovian effect on half the population these days - its very sound much like the foreshadowing of some horrific catastrophe. Me, I'm inclined towards punching myself in the neck, but voiding of stomachs, noses, bladders and bowels are all well-known side-effects of hearing this tune. There seems to be some sort of Great Escape theme to this, so I'm hoping there's a bonus ad that involves them all being taken out to the woods and shot.), and the Stacey Solomon Iceland crapvert. Enjoy.

So there you have it folks. Christmas ads, the good, the bad, and the Littlewoods.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Transition Town Tenterden Upcoming Events

Hi Folks, 

Just a quick line to let you all know that the January meeting of T3 will take place on Tuesday, January 24th 2012, at 7pm inside Number 75 restaurant. Hope to see as many of you as possible!

Also please remember that Hike & Bike Wednesday still takes place every Wednesday evening from 5:30 onwards at the White Lion Hotel. Feel free to pop in and join us for a drink and a chat about our upcoming and current projects!



Friday, December 16, 2011

Puzzler: Macca's Star, or Lack Thereof

So last time I asked you: Who is the only Beatle NOT to have a start on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame? the answer, somewhat surprisingly, is our old friend Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft, Sir Paul McCartney. WTF? I hear you cry. But ah, 'tis true.

It's in the works, though. It's actually been planned for quite some time, in fact.  It seems his Paulness has been dragging his feet somewhat about setting a date for the dedication ceremony. When it eventually does occur, his will be alongside George's one, Ringo's one, and The Beatles' group stars at 7080 Hollywood Blvd., outside the Capitol Records building. John's is at 1750 Vine St.

In researching this post I came across a lovely photo of Sir Macca at the dedication ceremony of George's star.  Here he is in all his Paulness kneeling and polishing George's name.

This is actually an unlikely poignant moment. After the star was unveiled by Olivia and Dhani, Olivia touched the name of George on that star with her right hand, and rubbed her forehead with the ‘dust’ off her late husbands name. That is a Hindu tradition of reference – rubbing the dust off the foot of a revered person (usually a Hindu priest, or a Holy person) on your forehead, as a means of anointing yourself with the dust of a Holy person (or perceived to be Holy).
Dhani did the same thing a moment later, touching the name of his late father on that star.
The next second you could see Paul tapping Olivia on her right shoulder, and he leaned over towards her, seeming to be whispering to her. The next second Olivia nodded her head.
And before you knew it, Paul stepped forward from his previous position, behind the third person, to the right of Olivia, and knelt on George’s Hollywood star and started wiping it with his white handkerchief, right on George’s first name!

Paul was showing his respect towards his Beatle Brother in his own way – recognizing that Olivia and Dhani just ‘anointed’ themselves with the dust off George’s Hollywood star in Hindu tradition. At the same time, he is not pretending that he bought into George’s Hindu faith, hence he invented his own way to demonstrate his love and affection for George while amusing Olivia and Dhani in process.

And Tom Hanks was right on – this moment was indeed a Kodak moment.

So then - next question.

Which movie contains songs written by Tom Hanks?

Underwear! Underwear!

File under: gratuitous pluggery, as my friend Clark Brooks would say.

Go to the page at and be in with a chance of winning some luxurious undies. Why the heck not? It's not every day you get free silky knickers in the mail, is it? Who wouldn't want to feel that visceral thrill of seeing the post-person marching up your front path with a mysterious package in their gloved paws, and thinking to yourself "Oooh! I wonder what that could be? Sumptuous undergarments, perchance?" Who could resist the opportunity? Tell 'em I sent ya.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, #33

Down By The Jetty (LP)

Dr. Feelgood

Dr. Feelgood had been touring the pub-rock circuit for a good three years when they released their debut album Down By The Jetty, an LP that has influenced rockers such as Paul Weller, Bob Geldof, Richard Hell and Blondie with its bluesy, ballsy guitar-driven rock. Guitarist Wilko Johnson insisted to first-time producer Vic Maile that all the tracks be recorded live in the studio, and so the LP sounds like a mono recording, with everything in the centre of the mix. This adds to the LP's quality rather than detracts.

The influence of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates is obvious, as well as John Lee Hooker. In fact, the band covers Boom Boom  on side 1.
Over the years the Feelgoods have undergone many lineup changes, but their biggest blow was dealt in 1994 when frontman Lee Brilleaux died of cancer. Every year since, a special concert is held on their home turf, Canvey Island in Essex, in Lee's memory. In 2009 Julien Temple's Feelgood biopic Oil City Confidential premiered, with Brilleaux's mother as guest of honour. Reviewer Nick Hasted said: "Feelgood are remembered in rock history, if at all, as John the Baptists to punk's messiahs."


School Rant

So I was walking today past my old alma mater, Homewood School. Now when I was there in the late 70s/ early 80s it was just called Homewood Secondary School. These days they call it Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, as if it's some sort of mini-college or something. Well, perhaps it is. Why do I say this? Read on and find out.

Just outside the school gates runs a footpath that goes down between the school sports field and the back entrances to the houses on Silver Hill. The back entrances of the houses usually have fences with gates and a couple of them have back steps. Pay attention to all this, it's important.

Back in my era the students were not allowed to leave the campus during school hours unless they were in the Sixth Form, and even then only during lunch hour. You just knew if you weren't a 6th Former and you wandered near the gates, you were being watched by a teacher. You sensed it, you could just feel a pair of eyes burning holes in the back of your skull. It was just common knowledge that you were asking for trouble if you tried to bunk off.

These days things have changed. First of all, no-one, not even teachers, can smoke on site. So the gate always has a member of staff or two standing outside in all weathers having a crafty ciggy. There's even a wall-mounted ashtray there, for pity's sake! Not only that but students smoke there too. What is wrong with this picture? For one thing, given that the price of cigarettes and tobacco products is astronomical (over £6 for a pack of 20 - that's about $9 a pack), where are schoolkids - 16 and 17 year-olds - getting the money to smoke with? Their parents must have more money than sense.
Back when I attended, teachers smoked in the staff room. We all hated being given something from one teacher to take to another if that teacher happened to be in the staff room. You opened the door, instant Wall O' Smoke. And heaven help you if you were discovered smoking at school. My friend Jim told me he was once hauled up before Mr. Hughes, the Head of Music and Head of Upper School, because he was caught smoking. As soon as he entered Reg Hughes' office, he was hit with the Wall O' Smoke. As he sat down to receive his telling-off, apparently Reg offered him a B&H.

Second thing that bothers me is the fact that at any time during the school day you will see schoolkids walking up and down the street in packs, but enter the campus and it's deserted. I just want to go up to one of them and yell "Does nobody actually GO to school anymore?" Someone in the know tells me that only 6th Formers are allowed off school grounds, but I'm sorry, they can't all be 6th formers, can they? How many bloody 6th Formers are there? I mean, I live with a 6th former, and some of them look a lot younger than him. Just today I saw three such examples, a right group of herberts, strolling down the footpath. One of them had one of those gelled-up fauxhawk hairdos, looking like a reject from X Factor, replete with a goofy smile and sunglasses. Yes, sunglasses, on a cloudy day in December. What a twonk. He and his cohorts sit down on somebody's back step, in full view of people playing on the sports field, and break out their rolly ciggies, and brazenly start smoking. And I'm sorry, this kid could not have been more than fourteen. And judging by the faces of the other adults I encountered while walking this route, this sort of thing is not uncommon, and to some little old ladies, fairly intimidating.

There are so many questions that jump into my mind. Firstly, why are the school not taking a harder line on this sort of stuff? Why is there not tighter security? And why do these kids walk around with apparent impunity, acting like they own the place? Why are they not in their damn classes, being taught stuff? Does the teacher even notice they're not there? And what's with this misplaced sense of entitlement that they all seem to have? Because you just know if someone actually did something about it, if the school took away all this impunity and adopted a less laissez-faire attitude, then they and their parents would piss and moan and scream about how their poor little angel's rights were being trampled on. The society we have become is one of gimme-gimme all the time, and with world economies collapsing, climate changing and resources depleting, this gimme-gimme culture has to change, and it's with the kids that it has to start. A bit of social responsibility and willingness to learn. I know I sound like an old fart, but goddammit, if I had to stay there all day, then they should too.

If it was my school to run, I'd lock the damn gates from 9 am to 4pm.  Tough but fair, that's me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Every Day I'm Puzzlin'

So it is time for another fab groovy and hip edition of The Musical Puzzler, the only place where you can learn stuff you never knew you didn't really need to know but were forced to find out against your will anyway.

Last time I asked you about Phil Collins, a man whose name when mentioned can provoke sighs, groans, moans, or extreme violence. I happen to rather like the guy, but more for his work with Genesis and his first album, and also his acting, than for the great bulk of his solo work. It should not be forgotten that he is also a pretty damn kick-ass drummer, and for that I can forgive him all manner of things. however, the question concerned his acting career, or rather the early part of it when he was nobbut a lad. The question was what movie did he appear in as an extra at the tender age of thirteen? The answer was A Hard Day's Night.  Don't believe me? Here's a still from said flick.

It's really him!
So, new question:

Which Beatle is the only one without a star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame?

Friday, November 25, 2011


Today marks the 46th anniversary of my mother being anaesthetised and having a C-section, resulting in yours truly. To say the least my start in life was somewhat inauspicious, and I nearly did not make it. The doctor that performed the emergency Caesarian was somewhat inexperienced in the technique, but he was the only doctor available and it was now or never, so he just had to get her opened up and me out. As a result there is a scar on my scalp that grows ever more visible due to my receding hairline. In a few years I will be able to seriously freak people out by showing it to them.

They do say that with age comes experience, and hence wisdom. So, what can I say that I have learned over the last 46 years that classifies as wisdom? What pearls of essential knowledge am I able to pass on to future generations? Well, I am not sure - I haven't written that bit yet. But I'm about to try. Here goes:

  • Liquor to beer - in the clear. Beer to liquor, never sicker. Unless you happen to be drinking snakebite, or Pernod. In either of those scenarios, all bets are off.
  • Sometimes, nothing beats a good hot shower.
  • Nouvelle cuisine is just a fancy way of saying 'tiny portions of pretentious food'. Do not eat it.
  • The best birthday cards are the ones that are funny - and have money in them.
  • A sink is always better without dishes piled up in it.
  • At some point you will look back on your life and be able to pinpoint key moments when you made the wrong decision. Try not to dwell on these moments, and try not to repeat those same mistakes.
  • When you are feeling down, watch a Mel Brooks movie. Nothing beats a damn good belly laugh.
  • Be what you is, cause if you be what you ain't, then you ain't what you is.
  • Always remember to stop and eat the toast.
  • Never trust anyone that does not like toast. Or Mel Brooks movies.
  • You do not have to be hungry to eat cake, dessert, chocolate or cookies.
  • Few things in life can make you feel sexier than a well-tailored suit. 
  • Never, ever wear UGG boots.
  • Go buy box candy at the dollar store, stash it in the bottom of your handbag or purse underneath your other stuff, and then go to the movies. You'll thank me later. 
  • Never get a tattoo with words in it. 
  • Sing out loud in the grocery store. You'll enjoy it, and people will either join in or leave you alone. Either way, it's fun.
  • The joys of a good single malt cannot be underestimated.
  • No matter how cool it may seem to smoke a big cigar, it will make your mouth feel like the bottom of an ashtray. 
  • Guns don't kill people - people with guns kill people. Melt the guns.
  • If you ever start to feel bad about yourself or your family, watch an episode of Maury or  The Jeremy Kyle Show. You'll start to feel better.
  • A hot toddy is by far the most pleasurable way to treat a cold.
  • Nothing beats getting in between crisp cold sheets and warming them up.
  • Go see a real mountain at least once in your life.
  • If you cannot afford to eat at your favourite restaurant, do NOT go there and do dumb stuff like splitting a salad or asking for a glass of water with extra slices of lemon and Splenda so you can make your own 'lemonade' just to save money. The waiters will hate you. Stay home and eat beans on toast. 
  • Never be ashamed to shop in a thrift store, flea market, jumble sale, charity shop or boot fair. Life is too short for snobbery.
  • They say you should dance like nobody's watching. I say you should too, but make sure you do it in front of a crowd for maximum effect. 
  • Stay away from carbonated beverages, unless there is alcohol in them.
So there you are. Some gems from the ol' Hickmott brain. I hope you can find them useful. And as my birthday is exactly one month before Christmas, I decree that it is now OK to sing Christmas songs in public. I like to sing them from about July onwards, but once you get to Nov. 25th, you need not worry that people will look at you in a funny way. Unless, of course, that was your ultimate aim to begin with.

This is the 401st post on The World Of Jeff! Here's to another year of nonsense.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's In A Name

People are strange. This we know. I'll give you an example. I was walking home from town today and as I was walking, this little girl, who could not have been more than five or six, was scooting along the pavement on her scooter, as kids are apt to do. She was being pursued by her mother (at least, I assume it was her mother - could have been her aunt or even her grandma, I suppose) who was struggling slowly under the weight of a shopping bag (she was quite thin and wearing heels, so one shopping bag was about her limit), trying hard to catch up to the girl or make her stop before she reached the end of the path. The mother was yelling the girl's name at the top of her lungs, "DEIRDRE!!! DEIRDRE, COME BACK HERE!!! STOP!!" and of course, as kids are also apt to do, little Deirdre was completely ignoring Mum's/Auntie's/Granny's cries and scooting away merrily with a little smirk on her face.

As I passed the flustered parent/grandparent/relative I turned my head to see her catch up to the girl.
"How many times have I told you blah blah why do you always do that blah blah when will you ever blah blah that's dangerous blah..." her voice tailed off and I thought to myself, "I'll tell you why your kid doesn't listen to you, missus. It's because you named her Deirdre. And now she is punishing you for your idiocy."

Why do people do such thoughtless things when naming their kids? It is 2011, not 1965. Deirdre never was a very cool name and now it's even less cool. One hears the word uttered (and for those of you on the other side of the Atlantic, I don't mean the American pronunciation Dee-drah, which is now almost exclusively an African-American name - I mean the English pronunciation Deer - dree) and the only thing I can think of is that miserable woman with the huge ugly glasses from Coronation Street. Deirdre frickin' Barlow.

I don't have an answer to this one, folks, but why have folks recently taken to naming their kids very uncool names? Answers, suggestions etc. in the box below.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm A Mince Pie

When I was younger my mum had (probably still has, actually) some big colourful weighty tomes about health and the like. Lots of explanations about the human body's inner workings with loads of pictures to help the big words along. I remember one section of one of these books that talked about body shapes, and the big words for the shapes such as ecto-mesomorph and endomorph.  According to one website, Ectomorphs  are those people that are relatively thin, lean, fragile looking, and flat chested if they are female. Skinny about covers it.
Endomorphs are the big folks that only have to look at a slice of cake in order to gain a pound or two.
And Mesomorphs are those bastards that have no trouble building muscle and losing weight whenever they feel like it. Of course, these descriptions are rather oversimplified, but you get the idea. But apparently even this is way too complicated for the average man in the street (or in the kitchen, come to that) to understand. We're all pretty thick, really, aren't we? At least according to The Daily Mirror (chhhptooey!) we are, or that's the conclusion I am drawn to by reading an article in their rag today. The article is charmingly titled Blokes are shaped like parsnips, puddings, Yule logs or candles  and apparently we chaps have four main body types. I quote:
While girls are curved like pears or apples, blokes are now classed with the less ­complimentary categories of yule log, Christmas pudding, candle or parsnip.
And the best of the lot is the parsnip – with broad shoulders and tapered waists. But only 10% of men are shaped like David Beckham and TOWIE’s Mark Wright.
The research by high street clothes chain High and Mighty found almost half of blokes are a Yule log shape, including X Factor presenter Dermot O’Leary and talk show host Jonathan Ross, with shoulders and waists that are similar widths.
Almost a quarter fit into the Christmas pudding category, with comedian James Corden and Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles. And a fifth are candles like Doctor Who star Matt Smith and footballer Peter Crouch. 
High and Mighty’s Gill Politis said: “When it comes to body shapes, it is men who struggle the most to find clothes that fit them in all the right places. They need to take their time more when shopping and make sure they try things on.”
Parsnips look good in jeans and well-made shirts but Yule logs’ clothes can be too tight or too loose, while candles can end up with baggy-looking tops and trousers too short.
 Well, all I can say is, I'm a bit like the Yule Log AND the Xmas pudding - so basically I am a festive dessert.

Sounds about right.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wash The Matter?

Our shower is not working properly.

I realise that that in itself is not necessarily the most stunning sentence I have ever uttered, but it did occur to me today that because I have friends on both sides of the Atlantic, not to mention other points on the globe, it can mean different things to different people.  For example, if an American person reads the above sentence they might perhaps assume that it's leaking, or that there's no water at all, or the drain is clogged.

However, here in Britain, it can be translated as "there's no hot water" which might put an expression of deep puzzlement on your average American's visage. Let me explain a little.

In America, where I lived for 18 years and so feel that I am somewhat qualified to talk about these things, showers are commonplace. I certainly cannot think of a single house I lived in (and I lived in a lot - apartments, duplexes, condos, big fancy three-storey houses, trailers, townhouses) that did not come with a shower. Even the poxiest little tin box-trailer that I lived in for a month or so had a shower, despite the fact that it had no air-conditioning (this was in midsummer in Georgia), the bedrooms were barely big enough to fit a human sized bed in, they'd let you have a washing machine but not a dryer, was in a seedy trailer park in a terrible area of town, all the neighbours gave you that "say-hello-and-I'll-kill-you-in-your-sleep" look and the landlord's agent frequently answered the door in his bathrobe.

All of them had a shower, and that is because installing a shower when building a house in the States is easy, because all the houses are fairly new in the grand scheme of things, and they are built on a wooden frame, which means that the interior walls are just wood and gaps. Even installing a shower where there previously was none is easy because you just have to know where to knock a hole in the drywall to get at the pipes and run a T-joint and a pipe where you want it. The showers are plumbed in to the main water supply just like your sinks and taps. So if your shower is not working properly, and it's not clogged or leaking, then there is a problem related to the entire household water supply.

Here in the U of K, Merrie Olde England, things are a little different. Showers are a relatively new concept. Sure, we've known about them for a long time. We've watched American TV shows for decades. We remember Pam waking up and finding Bobby in the shower. But because a lot of our houses are a lot older, and they're mostly made of solid brick, anytime you wanted to have a shower put in you'd have to do an awful lot of knocking things about, which could get expensive. The cost of doing it was prohibitive, so we contented ourselves with baths. The first house I ever lived in with a shower installed was a house I rented after I got married for the first time in 1990. However, after I moved out of there I did not see another shower installed in a house until I moved to the States over a year later.

When I was at school some of my mates had houses with showers, because I seemed to have friends who were a bit more posh than myself (and I'm not using any kind of reverse-snobbery here, it's just a fact), but that was purely because the school system was different back then. Back then you just went to the nearest school to where you lived, unless your parents had enough money to send you to a private school or even a boarding school. You had no choice until you were in your second year of secondary school (age 12 or 13). These days if you want to go to the school just down the street from you, there's a whole system of applications and interviews involved, and even then you might not get in, which is why you see kids going to school on the commuter trains more and more. This totally blows my mind. How screwy is that? But I digress. As I often do.

Okay, I was talking about showers. I love showers, I am a shower guy. Don't get me wrong, baths have their place, in fact sometimes if one has had a hard day at work or whatever, a nice hot tub can be very relaxing. But you are not washing yourself in a nice relaxing bath. You are not scrubbing yourself, using the pumice stone or using the loofah. You are just soaking. But if you come home from a tiring day and you have plans to go out for the evening that require getting changed into a fresh set of duds, you are not going to have a bath, are you? You aren't going to waste precious time running the water and getting the temp right (testing it with your elbow) just for a quick dip. No, you are going to turn on the shower and hop in and be done in five minutes flat. Plus, you really can't sing in the bath the same way you can sing in the shower.

 Also, showers use less water than baths, so I am a bit biased, being a bit of an eco-lefty-commie-pinko-greenie bugger. But beyond that, I like showers better because they just feel better, I feel like I'm getting cleaner in the shower because of the constant scrubby-rinsey sensation of the water (and if the shower has the 'needle' and 'pulsate' settings, so much the better. And 'needle+pulsate', pure heaven.) whereas sitting in the tub, you scrub, you rinse, congratulations, you are now sitting in a hot puddle of your own grot. Eww.

I view taking a bath the same way I view visiting a swimming pool. Don't expect me to take any exercise or use sudden movements. I hate swimming because why would anyone in full possession of their faculties want to get into some nice warm water and then be expected NOT to relax? Which is why you will not find me in a pool, but you might find me in a jacuzzi if there is one available.

So what we are left with in the UK now that showers are more and more commonplace is the electric shower, one where a little box is fitted onto the wall of your bathtub, attached via the wall to your cold water pipe, and a little electric heater inside the box does all the water heaty-uppy business. That's what we have. And that little water-heaty-uppy device inside our little shower-box-on-the-wall is, to put it bluntly, knackered. No matter how much you turn the dial on the box, the water never gets above tepid. Which is fine in the summer, when the last thing you might want is a hot shower. But now it is November and we have taken the proverbial plunge and acquired a new shower. We just have to have it installed. Which then puts us in the strange-sounding position of having to have a shower installed by an electrician.

Monday, November 14, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, #34

Autobahn (LP)


In 1970, Florian Schneider and friend and fellow musician Ralf Hütter formed Kraftwerk (which means Power Station, in case anyone was wondering). The pair had met as students and had played together in a band named Organisation who released one album on RCA entitled Tone Float.

Kraftwerk's first three LPs were mainly experimental art-rock, very free-form and without any catchy hooks. Strictly muso stuff. Then in 1974 came a record that not only changed the way Kraftwerk sounded, but changed music forever.

At this stage in their career Kraftwerk were still using traditional instruments as well as the newer MiniMoog and the ARP Odyssey. Florian was, after all, a flautist and violinist, and the previous three LPs had seen them use these extensively, treating them with effects and creating an electronic flute also.

The 22-minute "Autobahn" on side 1 was different to say the least. The record company edited it down to a 3-minute single and it reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Kraftwerk had arrived, and electronic music, which up until that point had been just a novelty, was here to stay. It is widely acknowledged that Kraftwerk's music has directly influenced many popular artists from many diverse genres of music.
Their musical style and image can be heard and seen in later electronic music by such modern legends as Gary Numan, Ultravox, John Foxx, OMD, Human League, Depeche Mode, Visage, and Soft Cell, to name a few. Kraftwerk also influenced other forms of music such as hip hop, house, and drum and bass, and they are also regarded as pioneers of the electro genre. Most notably, "Trans Europe Express" and "Numbers" were interpolated into "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, one of the earliest hip-hop/electro hits.
Joy Division and New Order were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk. Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was a fan of Kraftwerk, and showed his colleagues records that would influence both groups. New Order's song "Your Silent Face" has some similarities with the track "Europe Endless", and had a working title of KW1, or Kraftwerk 1. New Order also recorded a song called "Krafty" that appeared as a single and on the album Waiting for the Sirens' Call. New Order also sampled "Uranium" in their 1983 songs "Blue Monday" and "The Beach".
David Bowie's "V-2 Schneider", which was released as the B-side to the "Heroes" single, and also features on the album "Heroes", is a tribute to Florian Schneider.

Here's the Fab Four.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, #35

Very occasionally here on 100 Records,  I have reason to disagree with the inclusion of a certain record. I started posting this list and will not deviate from it, but now and again, a record crops up that I just can't stand.  Now, I like prog rock, just not all of it. To my mind a lot of it is just pure self-indulgence. I love Genesis, love Emerson Lake & Palmer, but Yes are one of those bands that I find to be totally up themselves. However, a lot of people would disagree, so...

Close To The Edge (LP)

All I have to say is that many other sources find this album to be utterly brilliant. In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came No. 3 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums". It is also listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. voted it the greatest progressive album of all time in 2006. Guitar World ranked it No. 67 in their (Reader's Choice) list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. As of 17 December 2010, it is ranked as the 72nd greatest album of all time on Rate Your Music.

The story of the album is very tiresome indeed, talking about Jon Anderson and Bill Bruford's basing it on Siddhartha, which I once tried to read and my will to live grew significantly shorter. Blah blah spiritual awakening, blah blah symbolism, blah blah serial lifetimes of the soul, you get the idea. 

Anyhoo, I suppose I should let you listen to some of it and judge for yourself, but I gotta tell ya, give me Brain Salad Surgery any day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Puzzle On

Last time on the Puzzler I asked you to cast your minds back to the early 80's and a little charity gig known as The Secret Policeman's Other Ball. A chappie called Sting took the stage and did a couple of blistering acoustic renditions of Roxanne and Message In A Bottle,  and later on in the show he was joined on stage by a backing band for a version of Dylan's I Shall Be Released.  I asked you who was in that band. My good friend Ruprecht correctly answered that they were none other than Bob Geldof, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Donovan. What a line-up! Here's the vid, and you can see that the full band consists of many more than just those five. Midge Ure, for one!

Alright. New question. Phil Collins was a child actor before entering into music, and was in the London stage production of Oliver! at the tender age of fourteen. He also appeared in two films. Well, I say appeared, but his scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  was cut. What was the other movie in which he was an extra?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's The Deal?

A few years ago, when I lived in the good ole US of A, it came to pass that there was a serious drought in terms of good telly to watch. Somewhere in the middle of the '00s, just after we'd endured about a year of nothing but post-9/11 news updates, there seemed to be absolutely nothing but reality TV on, and of all those reality shows, the reality game shows were the worst. This is when I first encountered the ghastly Deal Or No Deal. On the face of it, it's not a groundbreaking concept. In fact it's just a rehash of older shows such as Take Your Pick or  Let's Make A Deal. But the fact that they can find people so deluded as to think that they have any sort of control over what's going to be in the boxes/suitcases frankly staggers me. I am no maths whiz but even I can remember covering probability in school.

 It was bad enough watching this show in the States, where Howie Mandel, a talented comic actor and stand-up comedian, is completely superfluous to the proceedings, which, if you've never seen Deal, is a debacle of epic proportions. 

He used to have a full head of flowing locks.

26 leggy airbrushed lovelies in matching outfit stand next to 26 identical  metal briefcases on some sort of tiered step affair which looks like it might have been used to help the celebs get to their seats in Hollywood/Celebrity Squares. (Sorry, but writing a blog with international followers requires that I keep everyone informed so that they don't lose the plot. You haven't lost the plot, have you? Good. Then I shall continue.) These Botox poster-children then stand with plastic grin affixed firmly to the front of their phizzogs awaiting instructions from the numpty who has been picked to play this ridiculously childish game, egged on by their family members and the baying mob in the studio. They are required to decide upon cases to open, each containing a number representing a monetary amount, from 1 cent up to a million dollars. Every so often they are interrupted by a phone call from the banker, who supposedly sits silhouetted in the gods and occasionally offers the contestants a sum of money in exchange for stopping the game. 

He usually sports a much more vivid shirt than this.
In the UK it is presented by Noel Edmonds, ex- DJ and presenter of such classic shows as Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and The Late Late Breakfast Show. The cases are red boxes, and there are only 22 of them. The leggy lovelies are replaced by a group of random people who are either people known to the contestant, people who've played before, or people who are waiting their turn to play. Or just people they pull in off the street, who knows really? The maximum prize is £250k, but other than those differences, the concept is the same.

The main issue I have watching this show is how addictive it is. You simply can't pull yourself away from it even if you hate it. I find myself talking aloud to the TV, telling the woman to take the deal. "He just offered you £11,500 missus! You're not going to get a better offer than that!" And predictably, she says NO DEAL, and 5 minutes later regrets it when there are only four amounts left on the board and they are 1p, 50p, £3,000 and £5,000, and the banker offers a paltry £600. Still she resolutely marches on, believing in the power of lucky numbers, "Ooh, my son's birthday is on the 14th, I'll take box number 14 please Noel." Brilliant idea. 

Trouble is, nobody really has a mind like a computer. And that's what you need in this game. You need to be able to instantaneously
  • Add the amounts left on the board; and
  • Divide that by the number of boxes left; and
  • Figure out if the banker's offer is better than that. 
If it is, I advise you to take it. But what with the host's incessant babble, the banker's constant interruptions, the audience and your family members yelling and carrying on, not to mention being on national telly and your lunatic belief in the power of luck, or clairvoyance, or divination of some sort, and that you have any control over inanimate objects, it's no wonder people make these dumb mistakes. You want my advice if you're thinking of going on Deal? First offer the banker makes you over £10 grand? Take it. Pay some bills with it or something. You're in debt already, aren't you? Why else would you agree to go on a stupid game show?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Is it just me? Or does anyone else find it odd that this man

Jezza himself, a man who has a well-documented gambling addiction which he is in recovery from, has a weekday talk show sponsored by several different online bingo websites? Anyone find that odd? Or is it just me?

Is it just me or does anyone else find it even odder that this guy

the Jezmeister, is now presenting his Maury-Dr.Phil style daytime trash TV talk show in the USA, where there are surely more than enough of his kind of show? Or is it just me?

Is it just me or does anyone find it truly bizarre that this man

the Sultan of JezzaVille, the man with not only a gambling addiction, is now presenting a game show entitled 'High Stakes'? Or is it just me?

Good on ya Jeremy.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Feelin' Lucky, Punk?

I am going to do something I have yet to do in this blog. Don't worry, it's nothing dangerous or controversial.

I am going to write a gig review. Last time I wrote a gig review was in 1993 after seeing Depeche Mode at the Seattle Center Arena, and that was a helluva show. The support band was The The, which was a total surprise, and a very pleasant one at that. But I am not here to talk about The Mode or The The. I am here to talk about The Lucky Ones.
Haven't heard of The Lucky Ones yet? Where have you been?

The Lucky Ones are a self-described 'power trio', who take classic tunes from a variety of eras and genres and strip them down and rework them for unlikely instruments including melodica, ukulele, kazoo, guitar and 1950s-style cocktail drums. I first encountered them last year while perusing the musician pages on Myspace. After listening to some of the tracks on their page and taking in their eclectic styles of dress (Brad in plus-fours and golfers' flat cap as a country gent, or in 1940s B-movie suit and fedora, Adam in 1920s pinstripe with Homburg hat, Jayne with her array of 1950s polka dot cocktail dresses with the foofy underskirts) I decided I must see them.

Luckily for me, they're a local band, and I noticed they were due to be playing at The Woolpack in Tenterden and so on the appointed date, I dragged Laura along to see them. What a great gig. I discovered that not only were they as good if not better live than they were on record, but that drummer and vocalist Brad was that rare thing, a genuinely funny American, from Connecticut no less, whose off-the-wall comments between songs had me in stitches. At one point he was reading the pub's menu aloud and complaining about the way British people say 'Basil'.

At that gig we befriended The Lucky Ones and decided we must see them again as soon as humanly possible. To tide us over in the meantime we purchased their CD, 'Fruitcake', which was chock full of their brilliant musical eclecticism.

One cold day early in the year we cajoled my sister to take us down to Hastings, the band's birthplace, to see them at The Hastings Arms. It was cold and it was breezy but the band were on top form and had the tiny pub rocking. She was an instant fan.

We then saw them in March at The Swan in Wittersham which I have to say was an odd venue. The central bar has one side with pool table and jukebox, one might say the 'yoof' side, and the other side in which the band were to play was more of an older persons' side where there were restaurant tables. The people at the bar seemed almost oblivious to the band and Brad was struggling to get the attention he usually commands. The pub also did not turn off the jukebox while they were playing which I thought was a bit strange, not to say rude. A bizarre gig but enjoyable nonetheless. They are a well rehearsed combo and were as tight and in control as ever.

Time passed by and many opportunities to see TLO came and went. We just had too many other things going on and were unable to see them. Finally we saw that the Luckies were playing another local tavern, The Crown in St. Michaels, an afternoon show on the 9th (today). So it was that we showed up just after they'd started, and they were excited to see us. After they'd finished the song we'd walked in on, Brad mentioned our arrival over the PA and alluded to the fact that I am on the computer a lot (am I?).

Their set was bursting with old faves and newer ones... "Billie Jean", "Don't Get Me Wrong", "The Old Bazaar In Cairo", and one of my particular favourites, their mashup of "Funky Cold Medina/Honky Tonk Women". At the interval they came and talked with us (Brad and Jayne particularly, Adam's a bit quieter) and Brad even bought us a refill on our drinks (but keep mum about that one or he'll have every Tom, Dick and Harry angling for a pint), and he told us that they were playing an afternoon gig here and then zooming off to St. Leonards for another gig tonight. They're probably playing right now as I write this.

The reason The Lucky Ones are so entertaining is not just because of the brash Yankee drummer who is always ready with an off-the-cuff quip, able to make new lyrics up on the spot to suit the moment, location or mood, nor is it only due to his remarkable syncopative skills behind the kit. It is not just due to the superb guitar-and-ukulele picking and strumming techniques displayed by Adam, nor is it the singing, dancing and melodica-playing powerhouse Jayne. It is not due to their highly educated and educating choices of songs, betraying their vast archival musical knowledge (who'd have thought you could hear Althia and Donna's 'Up Town Top Ranking', Johnny Cash's 'A Boy Named Sue', Altered Images' 'Happy Birthday' and Doris Day's 'The Deadwood Stage' (from Calamity Jane) from the same band, let alone at the same show?). It is all those things and more, for The Lucky Ones are a band who personify the phrase the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They are my new favourite band. Ain't I lucky?

Check out some of their tuneage on their page at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Return Of The Musical Puzzler

So a while back I asked you on The Puzzler for the name of Stewart Copeland's punk rock alter ego. I sensed that not many of you knew, except for my sister, who knows pretty much everything.

Copeland released precisely four singles under the pseudonym of Klark Kent, with only one ("Don't Care") breaching the UK Top 50, peaking at 48. He released a 10-inch Kryptonite green vinyl Klark Kent EP in 1980, and a 1995 CD entitled Kollected Works  contains all the EP tracks and all the b-sides from the singles.

I actually rather like the Klark Kent stuff, I always liked The Police tracks that Stewart wrote and Klark's songs all were very similar.

Here's "Away From Home".

So what's the new Puzzler? Well you may ask.

Copeland's Police cohort Gordon Sumner, aka Sting, just turned 60. Does that not make you feel old? Boy, it does me. A tad over thirty years ago Sting performed solo for the first time at The Secret Policeman's Other Ball in London, where he sang 'Roxanne' and 'Message In A Bottle'. Later in the show he sang Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" with a backing band.

Who were the members of that band? (Hint: They're all rock luminaries.)

100 Records That Shook The World, #36

Catch A Fire (LP)

The Wailers

Not 'Bob Marley and The Wailers'. Just 'The Wailers'. Sure, Bob was the principal singer and songwriter, but it was still a triumvirate, with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh doing just as much as Bob. Bunny and Tosh would appear on just one more Wailers album, Burnin', the following year before both departing for solo careers. Catch A Fire was their first major-label release. The original master tapes were flown from Jamaica to England where Chris Blackwell twiddled some more knobs, added some more guitar and keyboard parts, released it and made a heap of money. After that, everyone knew the name of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, and Bob Marley and The Wailers.

The first 20,000 pressings of the LP came in a silver Zippo-lighter sleeve with just the band's name and title on it. The sleeve worked just like the lighter, with a hinge on its edge so the top half could be flipped back to reveal the record.

 However, these had to made by hand and it was just too expensive. So the more familiar sleeve with the portrait of Bob smoking a joint replaced it, and this actually said 'Bob Marley and The Wailers' on it.

The album itself is a classic, containing as it does the songs "Stop That Train" and "Stir It Up", which went on to become a worldwide smash for Johnny Nash. Catch A Fire was the album that turned Bob and The Wailers into international reggae superstars, and nothing would ever be the same again.


Hi, Brow (updated)

Over the last two or three years I have gradually become aware (or been made aware, one or the other) of the fact that my eyebrows contains unnaturally long individual hairs. I never really regarded this as a problem, but that was because generally speaking, they laid flat and all pointed in the same direction. But recently, over the last 18 months or so, they have begun to stick out at odd angles. When this first occurred I dismissed it as a one-off. But gradually I have come to accept that fact that they are going to keep doing this, at ever stranger angles, until my brows no longer look like brows but rather resemble an osprey's nest tucked into a craggy cliff face. I accept it, but it disturbs me somewhat. It does tend to mark me out as a geezer. At least I don't have ear hair. Yet.

However, something occurred yesterday that made me quite comfortable with the whole bushy eyebrows concept and in fact made me wonder why I'd been fighting it for so long. Just like napping. When you're a kid, grownups try to make you go down for a nap, and you fight it, because you don't want to miss out on all the excitement happening all around you. But when you're an adult, you start to realise the value of naps. A little mid-afternoon snooze for half an hour or so is good, just to recharge the old batteries.

It all started when Laura, like so many other people (usually women - mum, girlfriends, etc.) before, approached me with that glint in her eye (no, not that glint - get your mind out of the gutter, willya?), the one that says, "I'm going to do something painful to your face. You will not appreciate it, but it is for your own good. Squirm all you like, ain't nobody gonna help you!". Usually it's accompanied by the glint of something metallic in their hand - tweezers, scissors, straight razor - and the smile of someone who didn't  attend medical school.

Laura came towards me wielding tweezers, bent upon plucking some eyebrow hairs. I protested, and offered my usual way of avoiding the treatment by saying that if she were to give me the tweezers I would head to the salle de bains and do it myself. She was having none of it. I tried to reason with her, saying that self-inflicted pain was more tolerable than other-person-inflicted pain. In response to this, she set about me forcefully and removed some abnormally long hairs, and this is what truly disturbed me, because I myself had only recently plucked some eyebrow hairs, and the ones I left in were nowhere near that long. After she had finished with her attack I ran upstairs with the tweezers to look in the bathroom mirror and saw that there were more extremely lengthy barbs set in my brow. I removed some of the longer ones and then forgot the whole episode.

Until... about two hours later, when Laura, myself and my sis were in Sis's car, driving around and delivering things to various people. After one such delivery, I ran back to the car with a spring in my step, opened the door and promptly bashed my eyebrow ridge on the top of the door frame. I then realised how much more it hurt and throbbed than that sort of thing normally would, and then I had an epiphany. I realised that it was precisely for this reason that old geezers let their eyebrows get all tangled and bushy and overgrown. Protection. Cushioning. A built-in eyebrow pillow. So from now on, I resolve to never worry too much about all those long hairs in my eyebrow. They are there for a good reason.

However, don't expect me not to panic when the ear hair starts. That's just plain wrong.


It appears I spoke too soon. She approached me with the tweezers again today, and removed a sizeable hair from my right lug'ole. It is official. I am old. I am looking for online suppliers of bath chairs, ear trumpets, slippers and bedpans as we speak. I am also trying to put in for my bus pass early, to avoid the mad stampede.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Come Back Willow Smith, All Is Forgiven

Folks, as you know, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting talent. Previously on these pages we have discussed the delights of Tinie Tempah, Willow Smith and Dizzee Rascal, but I was alerted yesterday by my dear sister to a song that, once I heard it and dissected its lyrical genius, nay, poetic beauty, I felt I simply must share with a waiting world. Folks, I was stunned. Gobsmacked. Taken somewhat aback. (CAUTION: SARCASM ALERT!!)

The disc in question is one by that purveyor of pulchritudinous pouting, one Miss Nicki Minaj and features the wonderful wordsmith Mr. Eminem. The tune itself is curiously entitled "Roman's Revenge".

My sister alerted me to this after witnessing some young preteenyboppers prancing around to said platter on a kids' dance show, and became perturbed by the chorus, which apparently had something to do with feeling 'like a dungeon dragon'. 

Now, I have heard of the game Dungeons and Dragons, and as I recall, the dragons don't actually inhabit the dungeons. Or do they? Have to go and check. .... dum de dum... la la la... nope. Can't find anything that says that. Undoubtedly out there in  geekdom, somebody will jump all over this and tell me who and what lives in which dungeon where, but this is irrelevant and getting us off track.

Anyway, on to the lyrics. They are without doubt the wor... well, I'll let you decide for yourself.

I am not Jasmine, I’m Aladdin
So far ahead, these bums is laggin’
See me in that new thing, bums is gaggin’
I’m startin’ to feel like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
I’m startin’ to feel like a dungeon dragon
Look at my show footage, how these girls be spazzin’
So f**k I look like gettin’ back to a has-been?
Yeah, I said it, has-been
Hang it up, flatscreen
(Haha) Plasma
Hey Nicki, hey Nicki, asthma
I got the pumps, it ain’t got medicine
I got bars, sentencin'
I’m a bad bitch, I’m a c**t   Charming young lady!
And I’ll kick that hoe, punt
Forced trauma, blunt
You play the back, b***h, I’m in the front
You need a job, this ain’t cuttin’ it
Nicki Minaj is who you ain’t f***in’ with
You li’l brag a lot, I beat you with a pad-a-lock This is utter genius at work folks!
I am a movie, camera block
You outta work, I know it’s tough
But enough is enough

Raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Like a dungeon dragon, like a dungeon dragon

Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Like a dungeon dragon, like a dungeon dragon

Then Slim Shady drops in to say a few words, most of them rather fruity and quite pervy.

I ain’t into S&M, but my whip’s off the chain
A little drop of candy paint drips off the frame
Twisted-a** mind, got a pretzel for a brain
An eraser for a head, f***in’ pencil for a frame
You don’t like it then peel off, b***h
Every last woman on Earth I’ll kill off, and I still wouldn’t f@%k you, slut  He's single, girls!
So wipe the smile on your grill off, I swear to God I’ll piss a Happy Meal off
Get the wheels turnin’, spin, and wheel off
Snap the axel in half, bust the tie-rod
Quit hollerin’ “Why, God?” He ain’t got s$&t to do wit' it
Bygones’ll never be bygones, so won’t be finished swallowin’ my wad
I ain’t finished blowin’ it, nice bra
Hope it’ll fit a tough titty, b***h
Life’s hard, I swear to God, life is a dumb blonde white broad
With fake t**s and a bad dye job
Who just spit in my f***in’ face and called me a f***in’ tightwad
So finally I broke down and bought her an iPod
And caught her stealin’ my music, so I tied her arms and legs to the bed

He then gets even more peculiar. The faint of heart should not proceed.

Set up the camera and p***ed twice on her
Look, two pees and a tripod!
The moral to the story is, life’s treatin’ you like dry sod?
Kick it back in its face, my God
It’s Shady and Nicki Minaj, you might find the sight quite odd
But don’t ask why, bitch (Ask why not)

The wo-world is my punchin’ bag and
If I’m garbage, you’re a bunch of maggots
Make that face, go on, scrunch it up at me
Show me the target so I can lunge and attack it

Like a, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
You fell off, off, they musta bumped your wagon
You musta went off the back, I’m ’bout to go off the deep end
I told you to stay in your lane, you just choked in traffic

At this point it is almost a relief that Nicki Minger returns.

(I-I-I-I-Is) Is this the thanks that I get for puttin’ you b****es on?
Is it my fault that all of you b****es gone?
Shoulda sent a thank-you note, you little ho
Now I’ma wrap your coffin with a bow
(Ni-ni-ni) “Nicki, she’s just mad ’cause you took the spot”
Word, that b***h mad ’cause I took the spot?
Well, b***h, if you ain’t sh****n’, then get off the pot
Got some n****s out in Brooklyn that’ll off your top
I-I-I-I hear them mumblin’, I hear the cacklin’
I got ‘em scared, shook, panickin’
Overseas, church, Vatican
You at a stand, still, mannequin
You wanna sleep on me? Overnight?
I’m the m****f***in’ boss, overwrite
And when I pull up, vroom, motorbike
Now all my ***** gettin’ bucked, overbite
I see them dusty-a** Filas, Levi’s
Raggedy-a%&, holes in your knee-highs
I call the play, now do you see why?
These b@&$%es callin’ me Manning, Eli
(Manning, Eli!) Ma, ma-ma-ma-ma, Manning, Eli
These b****es callin’ me (Manning, Eli)

Here comes Marshall Mathers again. Look out.

A-a-a-a-all you li’l f*$£@ts can suck it
No homo, but I’ma stick it to ‘em like refrigerator magnets
And I’m crooked enough to make straitjackets bend
Yeah, look who’s back again, b***h, keep actin’ as if
You have the same passion that I have
Yeah, right, still hungry, my a**
You a**d**ks had gastric bypass
Ain’t hot enough to set fire to dry grass
And ’bout as violent as hair on eyelids (Eyelash!)
Go take a flyin’ leap of faith off a f***in’ balcony
‘Fore I shove a falcon wing up your fly a**
You know what time it is, so why ask?
When Shady and Nicki’s worlds clash
It’s (high class) meets (white trash)

Raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Like a dungeon dragon, like a dungeon dragon

Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Raah, raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon
Like a dungeon dragon, like a dungeon dragon

Grown men! Grown men!
Stop it, stop it!
You’ve gone mad, mad, I tell you, mad!
You and this boy Slim Shady!
What’s goin’ on?
They’ll lock you away!
They’ll put you in a jail cell!
I promise!
Take your mother’s warning, Roman
Back to bed! Run along!
Let’s go! Come on!
Wash your mouth out with soap, boys
(Boys, boys, boys, boys, boys, boys…)

Surely I am not the only one who is slightly perturbed by all of this? There are so many questions raised here. What's a dungeon dragon? And what the hell did any of that actually mean? And I think most important of all, why was it being played on a kids' dance show with all those expletives in it? Who is Roman? And why is it that the delightful Mr. Em wants to pee on people and put parts of birds up their bottoms? This is not normal by any stretch of the imagination, and some people go to therapists for less. Still curious about this song? Here it is in all its bizarre weird tune-free sweary-up dragon-ness, if you aren't queasy enough yet.

Oil Be Darned

 How about those crazy Yanks, huh?

They arrested Daryl Hannah? And not, as you might suppose, for crimes against acting. (OK, Splash was good, but Clan Of The Cave Bear? really?) No, they arrested her for failure to obey a lawful order. What was the order? "Move your butt, lady!"  Because the ravishing Ms. Hannah was part of a group of protesters, protesting outside The White House against the proposed extension of an oil pipeline that currently runs from Canada to Oklahoma. What's that you say, Jeff? Isn't that an awful long way? You bet your sweet bippy it's a long damn way. And they want to extend it? Where to?  All the way to the Gulf of Mexico, mes amis. Sixteen hundred miles. For a thumping good read about all the technical details and environmental impacts of the project, go to

The Trans Canada Corp pipeline we are referring to is called Keystone XL, and it currently runs all the way from Alberta to Oklahoma. It has had 12 spills in the last year. That's one a month, Einstein. It runs from the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and would end up at refineries on the Texas coast. It runs through family farms, through ranches and over the Ogallala fresh water aquifer that supplies water for 20 million people and for a third of the nation's most rich farm lands and ranch lands. And here's the crazy thing. Those nice adorable lovely politicians, namely Senator Hillary (Big Legs) Clinton and some dude named Obama who just happens to be the flippin' PRESIDENT are going to allow this. You know why? Because of all the jobs that will be created. The Prez cannot be seen to be against the creation of jobs, and so even though we all know that he knows, and he knows we know he knows, that this is probably one of the worst things for the planet, for the USA and for his reputation, he has to do it because of pressure from the big oil companies who for too long have had the government in the palm of their hand, and pressure from the State Department who will remind him of his campaign promises to make a brighter future for all (i.e. more jobs). He knows it's bullshit, and he will just have to bow to that pressure and OK it. So am I saying that the President, who promised change, hope, clean energy etc. is a sellout? Well, sure I am, but only in the context that ALL politicians are sellouts. If there was one lawmaker out there who could just outlaw lobbyists, we'd be a whole lot better off. But until that day, one palm will grease another, and another and another ad infinitum and no real change will occur. So am I saying Obama is a bad man? Not at all. He's just another hapless idealist that suddenly realised that he wasn't going to achieve much despite his lofty ideals because he didn't understand going into it just what he was going to be up against. So now he shifts focus away from tighter environmental controls and towards jobs and job creation, because this is what his aides assure him is going to be key in getting him re-elected.

And don't get me started on the Canadians. It's their oil we are talking about, and it's not like normal sploshy oil either. It's viscous goo mixed with dirt and they have to use millions of gallons of water to separate the two. Like I said, read the article at and it'll give you a picture of what's happening.

Tomorrow: More crap that bothers me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

100 Records that Shook The World, #37

Raw Power (LP)

Iggy and The Stooges

Raw Power was the third Stooges album and pretty much got ignored by all save a relatively small group of hardcore fans when it was released in 1973. Among that rabid fan base were a few musicians that went on to create punk rock. The album, then, can be considered a true proto-punk article and Iggy truly earns the title of Godfather of Punk.

It has become one of the most influential rock albums ever, with musicians as diverse as Johnny Marr, Kurt Cobain and even Cee Lo Green citing it as one of their favourites. Most of them comment on not only how brilliant the lyrics are, how amazing the guitar playing is, and how powerful the album is, but also how fragile and 'rickety' it sounds. It's almost as if the band just played everything in one take and moved on to the next track. The truth is somewhat different.

After their first two LPs The Stooges had essentially broken up. Iggy's heroin habit was out of control. Bassist Dave Alexander was struggling with alcoholism. Iggy moved to London and was signed to Bowie's MainMan management. James Williamson, who had joined The Stooges as a second guitarist, was to join Iggy in London and record an album of new material. However, after unsatisfactory attempts to find an English rhythm section, Williamson suggested that former Stooges Scott and Ron Asheton join them in London. They flew in, and with Ron relegated to bass (he was the original lead guitarist) and Scott back in the drum seat they went into the studio.

Iggy produced it himself, in a 24-track studio. He only used three of the tracks - himself on one, the band on another, and the third reserved for lead guitar. Tony DeFries was the head of MainMan at the time and told Iggy that he had to let Bowie remix it or it would not get released. So into the studio they went again, Bowie and Iggy, and on hearing the tapes, Bowie reportedly declared, "Jim - there's nothing to mix". So he just went through the tracks one by one, tweaking the levels here and there, adding echo on certain parts, until they were both satisfied. The result was a classic LP and the lifelong friendship between Bowie and Pop.


100 Records That Shook The World, #38

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (LP)

David Bowie

Okay, there's a lot that's been written about this album, what the whole Ziggy concept means and the story that Bowie envisioned around the whole stage show, about the end of the world and how Ziggy gets chosen to 'carry the news' of the earth's impending doom by the 'Starmen', and how he ends up believing that he is some sort of prophet and ends up dying on stage as his body gets taken over by the Starmen , in a rock & roll suicide, heavy concepts and all that, but leaving those things aside... it's just a bloody brilliant album. Nuff said. Glam rock at its finest. Here's Dave for ya. Crank up those speakers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Box Me In

In the last Musical Puzzler, many moons ago, I posed the question, "What, prithee, is the connection between The Police and Wall Of Voodoo, apart from the fact that they are both awesome?" or something along those lines.

In fact, it was a trick question, because there are two, count 'em, TWO things that connect both those bands. One is that Miles Copeland III, older bro of Stewart Copeland and manager of The Police, was the owner of I.R.S. Records, a label upon which Wall Of Voodoo appeared. The other is this:

OK, new question: Stewart Copeland had (or has) a punk rock alter ego. What's the name of this character?


Can anyone tell me why they bothered to make another Spy Kids sequel? Oh yeah, money. I knew there had to be a reason.

Does it not freak you out when your kids play Guitar Hero, and all the songs are alt-rock classics from the 90s by bands such as Bush and Stone Temple Pilots and Blind Melon, and the kids playing the game have absolutely no idea what these songs are?

Why does my phone reset its wallpaper when there are too many photos on the memory card? I'd really love to know.

Why does it bother me that people are surprised when other people get eaten by sharks? Stay out of the ocean, dummy.

Why can I not find a pair of headphones that sit on my head right? Always used to in the 80's, but now I put a pair on and one of the speakers wants to sit at a 45-degree angle to my head. Sorry, but I refuse to wear earbuds. For starters, the name annoys me. Too similar to 'cotton buds'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

(Public) Transports Of Delight

The 312 bus route from Tenterden to Rye is a fairly short one - it only takes about half an hour, and Laura and I both fancied a few hours pootling around Rye, which is a gorgeous town full of interesting shops, ancient historical buildings, lovely places to eat and gorgeous views. So we looked up the timetable online and saw that the bus left Tenterden at approximately ten minutes past the hour all morning, so we knew roughly what time we were supposed to be up there at the stop. As we got there we double-checked the timetable and saw that the time had changed from 11:10 to 11:23. No big deal. So we're a few minutes early. So what?

Well, the reason for the change was that the route had been taken over from Coastal Coaches by Stagecoach buses. Again, no big deal. But the route was taken over a mere three days ago, on the 31st of July.

All the while we were ingesting this information, we had noticed that a rather loud-voiced lady and her two granddaughters were waiting at the stop, and the lady had been talking with other waiting passengers also. Loudly. Annoyingly. When 11:23 rolled around, she started in with, "Well, the bus isn't here girls! I don't know how we're going to get home! Tut-tut! Tsk tsk! We might have to call and get a taxi! Terrible service isn't it girls?!?" and this other vociferous woman was nodding in agreement with her, "Oh yes! Terrible service! We ought to write and complain about this atrocious abomination!!" and other such sentiments. A few more minutes went by, and they then enlisted the help of a rather stinky-looking fellow who appeared to be carrying his entire world with him (three heavy jackets - camo jackets -  on a hot summer day? really?) who also started joining in loudly, "Oh yes, we should definitely all of us band together and send floods of letters to their head office! And say things like I'd rather have NO service than service like THIS!!" etc. All the while Laura and I were thinking, "Shut up, it's a bus - they show up sooner or later."

After a short while, at about 11:40, a bus appeared along the High Street, looking suspiciously like the 312. Yes, it was the 312! Rejoice and be happy, for our charabanc has arrived! Huzzah!

Alas, it was not to be. The 312 parked itself across the street (which is normal - it drops passengers off there and then comes across the street to us, usually). The stinky fellow was dispatched to investigate the cause of the 312's tardiness. He came back after a few moments to inform the assembled throng that the bus in question was not the 312 any more but in fact had magically transformed into the 340 service to Hastings. The crowd were aghast. The lady with the grandkids was incensed, and so was her purple-shirt-wearing friend. So much so that when the poor humble bus driver came across the road to pick up riders for Hastings, the group, which by now was resembling an angry mob, approached him and quizzed the fellow as to why the service was so poor, and that they were all going to write to their MPs and the BBC and Phillip Schofield to get something done about it. Bah! Dear Sir, I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms etc., Sincerely, Angry of Tenterden.

The driver, anxious to keep to his by-now buggered schedule, picked up those who wished to travel to the wilds of darkest Hastings and put the pedal to the metal. Wisely, I feel.

At this the woman with the grandkids once again reiterated to her charges that she just did NOT know WHAT she was going to do to get them home, she'd HAVE to call for a taxi, etc. The kids, of course, were completely oblivious to all of this and were having a grand old time chasing each other and hitting the lamp post with sticks. We, on the other hand, were wishing she WOULD call a taxi and shut up.

Another bus rumbled up the High Street. This was the 340 from Hastings, which magically changed into the 312 to Rye as soon as he deposited his passengers on the other side of the street. As he came over the mob surged forward. Each and every one of them deemed it necessary to have an extended conversation about the state of affairs as they entered the bus and purchased their tickets. By the time it came to our turn to get on, we just looked at him and he at us, and we just made our purchase and sat down. Clearly what had happened was that the drivers, being from a different bus company than the one that had previously operated the route, were all learning the routes and stops etc. and this was naturally eating up time and causing the buses to be late. It's understandable. But the woman with the small people in tow sat at the back of the bus with the smelly chap and continued to treat the service with loud derision and complaints. Thankfully they got off in Wittersham, and the remainder of the passengers breathed a collective sigh of relief.

After a few lovely hours in Rye, we meandered back to the bus stop and waited for our bus. As it arrived, the driver went over to another bus in front where another driver was showing him the route he was going to have to take on the new bus. Then the other driver came over to our bus and took over. Meanwhile a couple of official-looking guys in hi-vis jackets, short-sleeved white shirts and carrying clipboards moved frantically from bus to bus to ensure that each driver was on the correct bus and they each knew the routes they were to take. On the way home the driver had to ask passengers that wanted to get off in Iden where the actual stop was as he was a tad unfamiliar with the journey. Again, these are all natural occurrences when you change bus companies literally overnight. It just seems to be the British way to complain unnaturally long and loudly about things that essentially we have no control over, and to tackle the people that are just cogs in the machine and cannot control what is happening any more than they can.

British people! Listen to me! Chill the hell out! It's just a bus ride. There'll be another one along in a minute.
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