Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Joe Scott's Take On....Albums of The Decade

When we first launched LOT, two of the categories of mooted blog filed under 'try to avoid' were "lists" and "overly musicy stuff". So, it serves as a chilling reminder of just how weed-infested, cobwebby & neglected it has been round here that I am combing those two taboos to throw my sentimental geek muso posing hat into the already swarming ring that is "end of decade run downs". The only selection criteria being: I have to own the full, proper, released album - here IMVVVVHO ;

2000. Album Of The Year: Heartbreaker ~ Ryan Adams
Easily. A total classic, would have a strong claim to being album of whichever year it was released in (except 94). Contains several songs that need to be 'rationed' because they're so powerful, as well as some that could be listened to over & over again. I am unabashedly in love with RA (as the numerous appearences further down bely) and see brilliance in pretty much everything he does, but he's never bettered this debut.

#2 QOTSA ~ Rated R
#3 Eminen ~ Marshall Mathers LP
#4 JJ72 ~ (epon)
#5 The Cure ~ Bloodflowers
#6 Belle & Sebastian ~ Fold Your Arms....
#7 Radiohead ~ Kid A
#8 Placebo ~ Black Market Music
#9 Idlewild ~ 100 Broken Windows
#10 Oasis ~ Standing On The Shoulders...

2001. Album Of The Year: The Strokes ~ This Is It
A fairly rare case of the NME rave-o-meter going doo-lalley and being completley right to do so. Basically eleven brilliant singles back-to-back.
#2 Ryan Adams ~ Gold
#3 BRMC ~ Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
#4 Mull Historical Society ~ Loss
#5 Manic Street Preachers ~ Know Your Enemy
#6 Rufus Wainwright ~ Poses
#7 Kosheen ~ Resist
#8 Ed Harcourt ~ Here Be Monsters
#9 Thursday ~ Full Collapse
#10 Mushroomhead ~ XX

2002. Album Of The Year : Interpol ~ Turn On the Bright Lights
Not quite as clear cut as the first two, but a worthy winner. Very murky & mysterious, Joy Division atmospherics with early-REM-style mumbled vocals, but deceptivley 'big rock' playing - like the massive solo on The New.
#2 The Vines ~ Highly Evolved
#3 Nelly ~ Nellyville
#4 The Libertines ~ Up The Bracket
#5 Idlewild ~ The Remote Part
#6 QOTSA ~ Songs For The Deaf
#7 Ryan Adams ~ Demolition
#8 Eminen ~ The Eminen Show
#9 Go Go Market ~ Hotel San Jose
#10 Paul Weller ~ Illumination

2003. Album Of The Year : British Sea Power ~ The Decline Of BSP
Gets over a slightly slow start to come in at track four with Something Wicked and then doesnt drop off from lovely, melodic, witty songs at any point. With the gorgeous A Wooden Horse, has probably the best last track of the ones I've picked.
#2 Ryan Adams ~ Love Is Hell 1&2
#3 The Strokes ~ Room On Fire
#4 Ryan Adams ~ Rock And Roll
#5 M83 ~ Dead Cities Lost Islands...
#6 Hot Hot Heat ~ Make Up The Breakdown
#7 Radiohead ~ Hail To The Thief
#8 The Thrills ~ So Much For The City
#9 Blur ~ Think Tank
#10 Cooper Temple Clause ~ Kick Up The Flames

2004. Album Of The Year : The Radio Dept ~ Lesser Matters
A dreamy, warm, heart-wrenching Swedish indie masterpiece. Starts with the lyric "...stick around for as long as you like, we will be here,spend some time in the sun..." and ends 43 almost perfect minutes later with "...this life that I embrace, despite amusements I chase, I'll see you some day, see you some day" and is just as wonderfully twee continuoulsy between.

#2 Delays ~ Faded Seaside Glamour
#3 The Veils ~ The Runaway Found
#4 Youth Group ~ Skeleton Jar
#5 Morrissey ~ You Are The Quarry
#6 John Legend ~ Get Lifted
#7 NERD ~ Fly Or Die
#8 Girls Aloud ~ What Will The Neighbours Say?
#9 The Fades ~ Social Misfits
#10 REM ~ Around The Sun

2005. Album Of The Year : Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ~ Howl
By a mile, despite some other belters this year. From a cracking 1st album to a slightly iffy and unimaginative 2nd where they'd barely turned anything down below Jesus & Mary Chain screeching guitars, for some obscure reason BRMC decided to 'do a Bob Dylan'. Instead of it being a horrible, forced experiment - it turned out to be utter, stone-cold genius. Just as oddly, they pretty much switched back to the default sound after this - the only valid reason could be that they knew they just wouldnt be able to make anytjing this good again in their folky,religious,righteous mode.
#2 An Emergency ~ Irony Nein Danke!
#3 Bloc Party ~ Silent Alarm
#4 Editors ~ The Back Room
#5 Idlewild ~ Warnings/Promises
#6 We Are Scientists ~ With Love And Squalour
#7 QOTSA ~ Lullabies To Paralise
#8 Ryan Adams ~ Cold Roses
#9 Nine Black Alps ~ Everything Is
#10 Ryan Adams ~ 29

2006. Album Of The Year : Film School (epon)
Bought on a whim after a review in something said they were like 'if Morrissey was singing for Interpol...but it was dreadful' , turned out to be nothing like Moz, not much like Interpol and not the least bit dreadful. '11:11' and 'On and On' are probably the only stand-out tracks individually but the whole piece sits together so well.
#2 Arctic Monkeys ~ Whatever You Say I Am...
#3 The Pipettes ~ We Are The Pipettes
#4 The Long Blondes ~ Someone To Drive You Home
#5 Nelly Furtado ~ Loose
#6 Nicky Wire ~ I Killed The Zeitgeist
#7 John Legend ~ Once Again
#8 We Yes You No ~ Everything
#9 Guillemots ~ Through The Windowpane
#10 James Dean Bradfield ~ The Great Western

2007. Album Of The Year : Club 8 ~ The Boy Who Couldnt Stop Dreaming
Controversial choice maybe, but for being so,so much better than it had any right to be this deserves it. A Swedish couple who dropped their trip-hop, chill-out style and decided to dress in turtle-neck, dowdy knit-wear & 'go' a bit Beth Orton, if she was in the Sugababes, and wrote in a slightly clunking, English-not-as-first-language manner. "I've got what takes to be on my way. With a pen and paper... I say!". One of the most played albums out of everything I've ever bought. Fantastic stuff.

#2 Rihanna ~ Good Girl Gone Bad
#3 Klaxons ~ Myths Of The Near Future
#4 Timbaland ~ Shock Value
#5 The Horrors ~ Strange House
#6 Nine Black Alps ~ Love/Hate
#7 Sophie Ellis Bextor ~ Trip The Light Fantastic
#8 Seventeen Evergreen ~ Life Embarasses Us
#9 Ryan Adams ~ Easy Tiger
#10 Candie Payne ~ I Wish I Could Have ....

2008. Album Of The Year : The Last Shadow Puppets ~ The Age Of The Understatement
Again, a change of style - from the Arctic Monkeys/Little Flames stuff that had gone before,- but once more, really nicley done. Having already been into both of them and being a massive Scott Walker fan, this was a bit of a gimmee really. A fairly telegraphed switch it may have been ("about as subtle as an earthquake I know") but it would have been esay to just do a 'trubute to the 60s' album, and add nothing, but they really managed to put modern & personal feelings & lyrics into the style. And it sounded beautiful right through.

#2 These New Puritans ~ Beat Pyramid
#3 The Cure ~ 4:13 Dream
#4 British Sea Power ~ Do You Like Rock Music?
#5 Ryan Adams ~ Cardinology
#6 REM ~ Accelerate
#7 We Are Scientists ~ Brain Thrust Mastery
#8 Katy Perry ~ One Of The Boys
#9 Scarlett Johansson ~ Anywhere I Lay My Head
#10 John Legend ~ Evolver

2009. Album Of The Year : God Help The Girl (epon)
Could be described as a concept album, and a brave revue, collaborative scheme - or as a Belle & Sebastien album with guest singers, but either way it is outstandingly good. I think of it as being a bit like The Bell Jar or 'Girl Interupted' if they were set in a somewhere grim & Northern in UK. Contains some applause-worthyly quirky lyrics ("too verbose! You come too close! Sir, please step back & think!", "I read a book a day, like an apple", Hiding 'neath my umbrella, agreeable kind o' fella") and is probably the indie-est thing ever. Again, has been played to death.
#2 Manic Street Preachers ~ Journal For Plague Lovers
#3 Yeah Yeah Yeahs ~ Its Blitz!
#4 The Horrors ~ Primary Colours
#5 Idlewild ~ Post Electric Blues
#6 La Roux ~ (epon)
#7 Arctic Monkeys ~ Humbug
#8 School Of Seven Bells ~ Alpinisms
#9 White Lies ~ To Lose My Life....
#10 Rihanna ~ Rated R

2010. Album Of The Year : Chew Lips ~ Unicorn
Just holds off the temptation to give the Manics a Jack Nicholson's Oscar style nod for their second belter in a row, but this is more of a sound of 2010-record to finish on. 'Karen', 'Slick', 'Seven' & 'Gold Key' are the pick off this and hopefully they'll go onto great things. (see review from March this year)
#2 Manic Street Preachers ~ Postcards From A Young Man
#3 Delphic ~ Acolyte
#4 Band Of Horses ~ Infinite Arms
#5 Klaxons ~ Surfing The Void
#6 Amy MacDonald ~ A Curious Thing
#7 BRMC ~ Beat The Devil's Tatoo
#8 Interpol ~ (epon)
#9 We Are Scientists ~ Barbara
#10 Joshua Radin ~ Simple Times

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Weekend Without Makeup

Just a quick one to draw everyone's attention to some fine & worthy words from the Liverpool Echo editor Alistair Machray when he relaunched & rebranded the fine, august publication...coming up for two years ago this was.

And...This was welcomed almost unanimously across Merseyside because... even its loyalists would have had to admit through gritted teeth it had a got a bit tabloidy & OTT at times.
There was of course all that stuff about Frank Bruno playing knock-a-dash in Walton.
That story was hyped & reported in quite a coarse manner.... I think he alarmed Pete Price at one point during his anti-social spree, Bruno in his distress at coming to his senses and realising - horror of horrors - he was in Walton, and he knocked over some bins in the entry. Pete then hit back in a ferocious & characteristically catty column, rejoining "I don’t mind being disturbed in the dead of night by a ferocious bashing in the back-passage....but this was unacceptable...I used to know Elvis. We did Widow Twankey together in Bournemouth in the 80s...”
Quite lurid and indicative of the 'old Echo' style at that time. So, the statement was very reassuring, including as it did words like this...

"(A) new emphasis on being positive and telling readers the truth". Just what the doctor ordered.

Even more so the next bit, because people from Liverpool can be pilloried by the wider world (wools), teased and stereotyped by outsiders (wools) very easily - we can all imagine the type of sneering mock-up of a local Liverpool newspaper would be like :
a headline about some superstition-based new dreadful threat to the area...then something about Liverpool FC...preferably some mawkish angle about how great they used to be...absolute must would be a Beatles link - the spuriouser the better...and then some more about LFC and how great they're going to again any minute now.

So it was heartening to know that people weren’t going to be treated like sops for who any of the above would be good enough. In the article Mr Machray says how much he respects the readers and that the “truth project” would ensure that the writers & editors "don’t push it and betray the trust of our readers. They regard accuracy as being ahead of sensationalism.”

He also has a blog, which is prefaced by another commendable & praiseworthy statement , where he raises the stakes in an effective 'call-out' to any other media moguls who may think they're doing a good job;

"I'm Alastair Machray, editor of the Liverpool Echo. I believe, I truly believe, it's Britain's best paper in Britain's best city."

Britain's Best Paper. Quite a claim. Britain’s Best City. Again, no mincing of words. You sense that he was driving at giving as he sees it the best citizens in the country a level of journalism befitting that status;

They’d been condescended and considered ignorant for two long - now they were going to be treated as adults.

In another soothing and sound comment he explained that he knew that maybe the previous regime had dumbed-down unacceptably at times (I think they even allowed some really dubious, and basic-level 'gay' 'bum' type attempts at humour - and it was just insulting to people's intelligence. Readers deserve better than that.) It was time to grow up and engage the readership on a more intelligent level;

“Readers look to the Echo to tell them the truth about what’s happening when the rest of the world is throwing information at them from all quarters.”
And this was really crystallised yesterday I think. All the fine, noble words above were realised and the long, brave drive to a higher ground was finally concluded with this front page;

There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Guest Spot ~ Niall Scott goes to Detroit

When people speak of Liverpool in the 1980's, they often make reference to the massive unemployment of the era, and in Alan Bleasdale's (for better or for worse) famous portrayal of struggling in 'The Boys From The Blackstuff', the city gained an image that, if slightly exaggerated, was fitting for the times. In the series, in fact, one of the most poignant & resonant lines is when Liverpool is referred to as dead... "it's dead now, isn't it, just dead".

That and when Graeme Souness was in it, obviously.

Having been traveling round various parts of the States, it's been hard to detect where exactly the financial meltdown of recent years has been hitting for the most part. Seen somewhat superficially through a tourists eyes, New York seems it's usual black hole of consumerism, Boston is a thoroughly well off port and Chicago seemed as in fine shape as you could find a modern city. However, in Detroit, once the USA's 3rd largest city up until the 1950s, the image of business as usual fades alarmingly.

Upon arriving in the bus station in downtown area, I was immediately greeted with 'I can tell you're from out of state, why would you want to come to a DEAD town like this' by a man. This was followed by the even more ominous quote of 'Boy, that bus don't exist no more, and if it did you don't want to get on it'.

Moments later, still completely disoriented, I was approached by a crackhead ( no more generous a description can I afford the man) who was morbidly confused as to why I should come to Detroit voluntarily. He was friendly enough but I was happy to be rescued from his ever- increasing animation and urine soaked garments ("no, that's cokey- cola, honest" ) by a white middle class couple who could see I was out of my comfort zone and took me to a safe haven of a rather swanky hotel and bought me a beer.

I talked to Alan, the man of the couple (obviously) and he told me that, walking downtown where he worked, he no longer sees the bustling street of a metropolis morning - but the slow, weary trudge to work of those fortunate enough to still have it.

According to him, unemployment in inner city Detroit is an almost unbelievable 25%; Think of our current 8% and then you get some perspective on the predicament Motown finds itself in.And like Liverpool in the 70s-80s, it's problems stem from the over-reliance of it's economy on one particular area. In Liverpool's case, the decline of the shipping industry effectively killed the city's lifeblood of the docks and ports upon which it was built.

And the literal and economic car crash of the American motor industry has had a similar, if not graver, effect on Detroit.

This would perhaps not be as poignant if both cities did not also share the fact that their economic low-point came shortly after their cultural and fashion booms.

The rise of Motown and Beatlemania went almost hand in hand, but whilst the clubs and bars and streets of both towns were filled with excitement, their economies were being undermined by the fact that they only really had one sector to fall back on. In other words, both places were victims of their own success, and once the main supports had gone, the rest collapsed in itself.

Liverpool has for now escaped the harshest effects of the global depression this time around, mainly because it was fortunate enough to be heavily invested in right before the major meltdown, but if you really want to see the real victims of this, Detroit is one of the places where you will find them.

And if I ever doubted the effects of economic dereliction andhow deep-seated they may or may not actually be, as I have sometimes done (believing there to be more than a hint of truth in Stewart Lee’s summation “ Liverpool, where cloying nostalgia passes for entertainment” and being bemused by my city’s obsession with wallowing in ‘fondly remembered’ “shittier times”), then this really opened my eyes.Oh and the couple, they were nice and all, but the man said the city now has 'too many Indians' . I did overlook this casual racism in the spirit of their generosity in taking me in..............
.........................................................but they did also exude a swinger-ish vibe.

One drink.


Fun Rock Radio interview with Niall Scott

That was 2Pac featuringScarface with ‘Smile For Me Now’...shit never gets old. So, we got a great – a real treat today...we’re gonna catch up with Niall Scott who’s you’ll know he’s Stateside at the moment..but we’re gonna catch up with him...a few Q&As with him...then a kinda, sort of report he’s done about Detroit. It’s quite straight-up, serious shit there, so we’ll go over to him for the ‘how you beens?’to soften up for that - after this from Satyricon...

Great to hear from you! Where....where are you speaking to us from?
“I’m on my bunk, wearing a Yankees hoody and shorts...with a mango”

Ha! Crazy shit. So, hey,’ve been on tour in the US for the past couple of months now – this is the first time you been over right? And you started off in –where else? - Enn Why was that?

“Mix of awe & excitement...tinged with doubt...struggling & yomping along the streets”

Cool. The stand-out moment of your time in the big apple?
“Walking through Harlem and being offered drugs”

Sweet! So you’ve committed to the rock n roll dream then?
“I just ate bacon and drank three straight cups of tea.”

So, sticking to the British diet – or indulging in the local stuff...?
“Hershey’s is not as bad as it’s made out. A jam & peanut butter bagel I had in NY been incredibly delicious. Macaroni for tea was a highlight...”

Quality. Anything you, ah, you weren’t so hot & heavy for food wise?
“The alleged Garlic Bread at camp Wah Nee was inedible....the vilest humus ever made..Tasted of sweat”

Class. Hows the..the weather been over there...cos y’know here aint been a great summer any mea-
“Very warm. Stifling & sticky. It’s no wonder the summers in the city are meant to be maddening because at the top of the Empire State Building there is no wind at all. Just heat”

So, you left New York and went we don’t get this kind of thing so went to a kind of Summer Camp yeah..?
“A mainly Jewish kid’s summer camp – America’s fifth best – they raise the flag & bring it down everyday, have pancakes for breakfast.....”

Woah, is that quite hard to deal with?
“...I’m just going with it”

Right. And you work there, right? - As a kind of ‘spiritual guide’ & ‘life mentor’ to the kids?
“Support staff. I’ve surprised myself how easily I’ve gotten used to it”

Ace. And where is this....this camp is in Connecticut I’m being told...where exca-
“Torrington. Small Town. 2 Malls, nice library, pretty town square..trees, a fountain , a statue, the stars and stripes....and a big fuck off gun...”

Wow! “FIRE!” haha, no, but seriously, man, give us some idea the kind of social life at wah Nee...
“Some nights they take us to a country club where you can get cheap beer...very American...sports-based lads playing beer-pong and girls playing truth or dare. We went, as a camp to the local baseball team – New Britain Red fell a little flat with the kid-friendly angle...”

You gotta hate that! So the’ve got on with the youths yeah?
“There was a big game of manhunt...I hid in a suffocating heat for eight minutes before I was kicked by a six year old”

“I think I’ve made a good impression so far all round”

Cool. So, listen, man ....we got...we gotta wrap this up in like two minutes so just a couple of quick final thoughts – I know you got loads more stuff planned , you’re going through Boston, Chicago, Washington...and we got your Detroit review to follow on, so general vibes..?
“.....walking...scenery.... scrabble....border-line legal ...Rude Boi in the gym...nauseating but strangely hypnotic talent shows....good fun.....gyrating, prancing, lip-syncing, cross-dressing.....not to perv! ...I genuinely was just being friendly...”

Whoa, whoa, okay...we get you man, problem! So this is still a music station, you got a request before we link into you Detroit report?
“Party In The USA. Still a tune!!”

Amen. Keep safe man! This is Miley.....

Monday, 30 August 2010

Fields Divided One By One

I know someone, and I shant name names for he is a litigous so-and-so - but he knows who he is, has repeatedly denied ever eavesdropping on conversations between other passengers on public transport. He would spin this as a symbol of his self-contained & unobtrusive nature and see it as a good habit to have. But its wrong wrong wrong and I’m sure he has missed out on a vast catalogue of half-heard nonsense because of his disinclination to pry. I am personally a fully committed follower of the ‘ha-ha – I know I talk some shite, but that is just ridiuclous’.
Of course, he is wise in one sense as if you don’t keep your wits about you and accidentally vocalise views on the over-heard chatter. For example, if the two girls in front of you on the bus are nattering and listing the flaws in appearance, attitude & intelligence of an unknown & unseen ‘Gabriel’ without at any point indicting that their views were in any way intended for an audience wider than each other, it may cause an awkward moment when you fill in a lull in their chatter to point out to the person you’re sitting beside that “that Gabriel does sound a bit of a hank though doesn’t he?”. Its jolly poor form – and not just in being swayed by such a one-sided & presumably biased take on the fellow’s qualities.
So, I accept that in practical terms it is not always useful – but that doesn’t mean that the aforementioned non-listener is morally justified in his choice. He has convinced himself that it is through sound intentions that he chooses to do this – but it is not. It is clearly because he is a vain, arrogant, ignorant being – who couldn’t possibly imagine some ordinary contributing something that was more involving than his own thoughts. Either way, it is becoming a rare decision in the post-iPod era.

Whilst plentiful advantages of & reasons for the popularity of iPods/mp3 players have been posited : unique storage ability, ease to upload, the bonus of being able to omit the stone-cone ‘flickers’ from albums off entirely, the way that listening through headphones can enhance the music & allow you to pick up on beats, lyrics and sounds that you just don’t notice otherwise , being able to flit between different extremes and genres without having to swap disc, the way they allow you to provide a soundtrack & cinematic element to even the most mundane journeys....but surely the real driving force behind all innovations in this area is to make it easier to detach yourself totally from screffy middle-aged loons cradling small dogs on the 79 trying to chat-up patently unimpressed (though equally canine laden) young girls by rambling on interminably about the various new cross-breed trends that he is soliciting & apparently making “good money, like, very good money” from.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one seeing through his subliminal message ‘luv – if a shitzu/poodle mix is going for £600, what price a semi-Greggs pasty encrusted beard/tracky/cap combo wool bullshitter mixed with a ruthlessly bottle blond , tanned to the max, scornfully short-tempered blousy scouse madam-type eh?’
That was but a 10 minute jaunt too – so the prospect of a 2 hour plus train journey from Morecambe to Liverpool and a ‘packed up’ mp3 player would have filled me with a strong sense of dread if it was not for these honed observational people-listening “skills” and a healthy dollop of nosiness. By any standards though, the over-full , baggage saturated, claustrophobic cafe-coach was a ‘must see’ for sheer oddness

The first to break cover was the bright orange of hue & ‘flamingly camp’ de facto leader of a troupe identifiable from the back of their uniformed garishly green hoodies as “Scottish Street Dance Future 2011”. He was furious. Furious about “everything” but mainly what he protested as the inefficient first-class ticketing policy. From the list of foul-ups he described to the impotent coffee-vendor it did seem as though he & his liege had been handed some pretty dodgy cards along the way, but really, nothing could be done, there had clearly been a mix-up and there were clearly too many people on the train, but it was the same for everyone – although standing up squashed against a wall probably is even less enticing if you’ve just spent the weekend throwing shapes on the cold, unforgiving Glasgow concrete. However valid his grievance, it seemed inherently wrong for this totem, this bastion and advocate of improvisation and will o’ the wisp off-the-cuffism to be reduced to the level of a quibbling fusspot in front of his protégés. Will they be able to take him at face value next time he espouses freedom of expression and lack of respect for the status quo and fusty old-school mores of street dance? Can he be the taboo-busting inciter of street mayhem & busting moves after they’ve heard him say “it’s frankly wrong? We were fully led to believe an upgrade to 1st class was a possibility so planned & packed accordingly – now, we don’t even get a seat. It’s just not on!”?

His concerns were eclipsed shortly afterwards, as Preston beckoned, by a conversation that even the most studiously set-to-ignore ears would have picked up at. The ticket-checking chappie described to the cafe monitor that passengers in coach 2 had overheard (see?!) two girls talking between themselves and the conclusion that had been drawn was that these two were running away from home and had escaped Blackpool without telling their parents that morning. You’d like to think that they both had orange-tipped bindles in the luggage holder, just to add to the effect – and if that didn’t mark them out as runaways the description ticket-man gave – “borth ten or eleven – caked in make-up & borth reading books, you’ll spot them alright” – confirmed all worst fears. He then in a nakedly shithouse move declaimed all responsibility for this by saying that there were police baited on the station at Preston but he’s be at the other end of the train by then so could the poor guy from the cafeteria bit ‘keep an eye on things’

Sadly (especially as by just mentioning it with no conclusion it’s a bit pointless) our carriage’s view of ‘Operation Platform’ was blocked by further additions to our already crammed temporary dwelling. Entering the fray were a very large West Indian woman - with a heroically huge haul of enormous shopping bags which had to be shuttled onto the train one at a time, she then left them in a heap and marched on stand at the other end of the coach – and two strikingly attractive girls in festival-style skimpy clothes and willies. One of these (the ‘fitter one’ to use a scientific term) immediately ordered a coke from the now returned & beleaguered cafe attendant. Then she insisted on having a straw – both were eventually foraged but she was unimpreseesd and unaware of the chap’s previous travails & haranguings described his admittedly drawn-out service as “useless! Abso-fuckin-lutley chao-fuckin-otic!!” which is I have to say very nicely nuanced as sweary rebukes go.
This struck an irate chord with the bonded-through-indignace group further down who took up the reigns of rancour; “and they say it’s the best train in the world” scoffed the dance director – a title I think only he had ever afforded the 12:43 Virgin Trains Lancaster-Wigan service, and one it would struggle to live up to at the best of times, let alone on a packed, hot, argumentative Bank Holiday run.
As we trundled towards my appointed dismount at Wigan, the baggage-heavy lady decided that she now needed her gear to be nearer to her and that the easiest way to achieve this would be to ask everyone else to relay the overflowing bags to her. Despite the now deep-rooted tetchiness and general bemusement at this, everyone chipped in and shuttled them betwixt ourselves with only very minor disgruntlement displayed.
It was testament to the organisational mastery over his ensemble which the dance guru can seemingly summon at will - in the midst even of disarray, in transit, and left me feeling confident that things were going to work out just fine for SSDF’11. But she was quite bossy & if it had been me making these impositions on a group of fed-up strangers I would have been a bit less direct & a bit more polite.

Just as I was about to alight at sunny Wigan this was picked up on by one of the girls who had joined the train at the previous stop (‘the not as hot one’ to keep the same intelligent descriptive system introduced earlier) who asked me “who does she think she is? Did yer hear the way she spoke t’kids?” ....and the only response I could think to give , in a tone of voice that slightly suggested such snooping was somehow above me , was ‘sorry, I didn’t hear...I wasn’t listening to what was going on....’.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope

I cant imagine many people have more antipathy for the snidley blame-avoiding, elitist-serving, Cameron-fronted charade that is the Conservative-LibDem alliance than I have.

We're now rolling into the third month already of their reign & whilst there wasnt the immediate appearence from the earth of barbed wire segregation boundaries & our new leader didnt instantly go on TV and brazenly dispense with his "callow charm" act & announce : 'the north & working class are screwed. Straight away. You knew this would happen. For various reasons, you've let your guard down a bit - the door has been clawed open , you've let us back in & now we're back in we're going to remind you why you were so keen to lock it so tightly when we last got bundled out.....What did you expect ?!' but I think people would have preferred his honesty if he had.

Without going on and on and on -because other people are more knowledgeable on the intracacies and can convey them better than me - the worst aspect has been the insidious control of the media & ability to divert attention from their policies. Fair enough, maybe people in general arent gagging for a full update on Michael Gove's latest speech or craving for a prime-time expose on the wrongness of getting rid of the Child Trust Fund, it is hideoulsy dry territory, but I think it's far more newsworthy than what does get used as 'headlines' - and y'know it is The News.

This is extremely rich I suppose, coming from the most media manipulative man in the world , with a huge agenda , but you have to agree with him

The point of this space-filling , holding, unrevealing post is to point out the that creeping tentacles of Government-approved censorship have reached even the most seemingly pointless knooks & crannies. The first shot below is from March :

I stand by every word, (you have to click on it to see it properly, the alignment is askance) although I cant remember what made me bother to chase it up in such a smart-arse wanker-y way, and the schedules (or lack of!!!) would suggest I was right. Also usefully shows that I was just as tiresomely anti-tory before they actually got back in. I'm sure Andy Coulson didnt personally prune the fan-page, but this is how it appears now, with no deletions on my part :

It Makes You Think.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Last Exit On Yesterday

You’re reposed on the couch, weary but satisfied after a long day down the pits, negotiating with hostages , hunting criminals, treating patients, saving babies from fires - or if you really are truly selfless & like to put something back in your work ; sorting out that tricky SIPP spreadsheet.

You've done the philanthropic, makin' the world safer, sounder & sexier thing - now its 'me time' . Film on. Drink, phone, everything you could need for the next two hours within easy reaching distance. Doesn’t matter if you fall asleep half-way through – it’s all about relaxing & being static, snug, settled.....

Disaster. So the DVD starts skipping a bit, and it’s a pain, but really - ARSED to get up? Once you make that decision to ‘intervene’ you know what you’re committing to:

its dragging yourself up, traipsing across the room , creaking & stooping down to the DVD player....stop it, eject it, give it that perfunctory rub against your top , scrutinise the surface of the disk...never see anything.....well, may as well give it one more rub ....before returning it to the mysteries of the machine ...oh, god but then its impotently jabbing at “ffwd>>” to try cut past the stupid, interminable ‘video piracy is worse than cannibalism’ nonsense....for some reason the DVD will decide that the default setting is with Polish subtitles on....*sigh* and that means having to locate the remote control....which you never put anywhere as a rule, it just gets lashed down indiscriminately when you can’t stomach another Transformers and slink off to bed at 3:18 am......that could require turning the light on...and the further plod across the room implicit there... ah! But ah! now you think about it - logically, it would have been on the couch next to me just then before all this skipping nonsense trudge the way back over there.....then remember ; you picked it up & lugged it across with you just a minute, that necessitates a grudging re-tracing of those same bitter, cold steps....

Even then it’s a bane finding where you were up to.....doy you re-view the just watched bit to ease back that a risk though...that bit of disk might be the diseased bit....or jumpa bit forward to get safe distance from that toxic glitch....but then, you could miss a crucial detail hopping forward a scene and it will just irriate for the remainder of the movie...'yeah, it was passable, but why was that crooked fisherman in a wheelchair for the last half? what can have happened at that tribunal hearing??' Is this even worth watching? Should I get another drink now seeing as I’m up??


In short, it’s E – F – F – ORT.

But joy unconfined! In the 3 seconds it’s taken for the above to go through your mind & the pros & cons of taking decisive, swift early action and letting it know who’s boss vs. Frowning at it , being terribly put out but staying quietly passive & hoping somehow it all works out okay to be weighed up ; YES! Its rolling smoothly again! Clear skies here we come!.....Chamberlain at Munich.... We might have just avoided the worst-case scenario through sheer slothfulness! Tsk, it must have merely been a one-off scratch on the disc.

Ha-ha, what a canny, if not defiantly brave in its own undynamic way, move that was to remain plonked right where you were.

But there lingers a nagging doubt. Once the picture jerk genie is out of the bottle, can it ever really go back in again? Well, it does seem to have ....then literally as you exhale with relief that the whole polishing rigmarole has been averted....
DAMN DISK starts a-skippin’ & a-jumpin’ again.... there’s less resistance this time you accept you’ve been complicit in making this more of a chore than it neccasrtily needs to be - 'i may as well clean it or its just going to be constantly stopping & starting & I wont be able to realax, it’ll ruin the whole thing, and i’ll be arguing with myself about getting up or not.....its just going to be massivley got away with it once but that was a fluke, alright then up we ge-'

... But once more, on the absolute brink of de-couchment, the picture clears....
'Hmm. i'll give it one more chance......I know very recently I was duped & lulled into a false sense of security in remarakbly similar circumstances....but y’know , this time it really, really seems to have gotten over that hump....ha! what a fool I was to be considering such hasty & unnecessary stirring!....another win chalked up for the loafer’s mantra; 'if in doubt; recline & stretch out’ .... It truly does seem to be spinning about in there & playing as smoothly & easily as a velveteen jellyfish being slid athwart an extra-lubricated downhill ice-rink, ushered by a crack curling outfit lest there be the slightest hint of friction ....grease in our time! Yep it really does seem fine now...’



Just clean it straight away kids! Appeasement doesn’t work in the long run.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Black Dog On My Shoulder

So, I was meandering home from work via a circuitous route to take in the sun , and I ended up walking through a park. Lovely scene as you’d expect with the populous winding down & easing into the warm weekend. One of the features of the park (sort of by the Women’s Hospital/ Crown Street area...) is the assault-course / ‘exercise station’ layout wherby there are about ten stop-off points with bases that allow or encourage you to do exercises.

Never seen anyone utilising these, although I have really not carried out too rigorous observation either....I hope someone does though because its a good, inclusive idea – and its really not going to ever be me. Anyway, there were kids playing football, tramps passed out on the benches, dogs on the loose – your classic park scene. One dog in particular caught my eye because he was collarless, and looked very unsure of himself, pottering about with even less sense of purpose than the most unmotivated , no-real-plan mooching pooch can usually summon. Even his sniffing was unconvincing & didn’t seem heartfelt. Nice looking chap he was though, dark brown & black mottled with the gormlessness all good dogs really make work for them.

“i’d love a dog” i mused and then pottered on and out of the park.

As I crossed Crown Street and turned back to mine along (i think its called ) Brampton Drive it quickly became apparent that i was the only person on the street & my path was blocked by two 7/8ish year old girls, one on a phone. I don’t know if everyone’s first thought in these situations is “oh, here we go...this ten second stroll is now going to be horribly drawn out perjury” at the slightest possible hitch in smooth passage, but for better or worse it was mine. Of course I had my headphones on and was blasting out the summer sounds – at this point it was ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ ratcheted up to 20 (not 11 – because the settings on my MP3 go up to 20 AND because Spinal Tap is the most over-rated thing of all time) and clinging to the hope Belinda Carlisle’s glorious emoting would somehow make these urchins vanish.

But no, that so often used “plan” let me down here, as the closer i got the more obvious it became that the kids’ were mouthing at me. Again, it probably doesn’t reflect well on me as a person that my gut reaction was ; they’re abusing me. Me – a respectable man waltzing along in my shirt, tie & work garb, with some classic 80s power rock booming out – what could they really have taken against?? Why would they any young ragamuffin hate me and want to spend their time heckling me with immature taunts?
Having resigned myself to just shuffling past & taking their barbs & insults, the nearer I was it didn’t look right- they were definitely speaking rather than cursing at me and unless they were disguising it brilliantly, there really seemed a lack of malice. Another big internal sigh – okay, lets see what’s going on. Headphones reluctantly , resentfully removed....if they spit at me & laugh I’ll kill them....

They were obviously upset about something & grating on each other in their distress. What’s going on ? I asked, because the last thing that should happen would be that this dynamic took on a prolonged aspect. “we’ve lost our dog...(I’m tidying up the speech on their behalf here, imagine lots of pauses & mumbling if you want)....miss’er ...we’ve lost our dog (they never said miss’er either) ...he’s collar ...mum is looking for him....she cant see him..”
So...yeah? You see the link coming? Delighted to be of some help (after in my head discounting the revenge of withholding the information in retaliation for their earlier perceived meanness) I reassured them that barring a quite big co-incidence I divulged his probable location. The one holding the phone had obviously been keeping in touch with her roving search party during this and she excitedly relayed the news : “oh......mum...I’ve just had an idea.....I just thought....have you looked in the park? He could be there...”

Scheming, acclaim-hogging little cow! “HER” idea!? Brazen too – I clearly heard the whole betrayal. Naturally I was taken aback by her nerve. Some front.
If the mum, on the receiving end, if the call was recorded on her phone, because she’d been on the line the whole time , and if that was analysed minutely, using the most high-tech NASA style sound examination techniques , like they do in the (not the cartoon, which is unimpeachable) iffy Transformers movie & the much better Luther ( current popular reference point reference shoe-horned in, check!) I could prove it too & have Lil’ Miss Smart Arse discredited & broken down in the dock under weight of scientific proof and wailingly admit who the real ‘idea’ stemmed from here !

But i didn’t. I didn't seize the phone & embroil myself in further debate. I smiled, plugged the headphones in and walked away.
It did occur to me that, if your dog goes missing & you live 500 metres from a park – should it really take a complicated pseudo walkie-talkie system, the intervention of a sceptical, hesitant stranger & your (lying, serpentine) daughter to come up with the suggestion that he might have got there??

Anyway, I hope they found him & got him back. But the moral of the tale is, over-ridingly ; whatever you do, you never get the credit!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Okay, so it’s early days with this whole blog malarkey. It would be fair to say the page hasn’t really established itself in the public psyche quite yet but it’s not being too pre-emptive to assume that its only a matter of time before we’re being referred to as a “popular social agenda-setting site” by news programmes in the vain pretence that it’s not a monopolised genre, and being blamed for any vase that gets knocked over at a party by the Liverpool Echo & Daily Mail. If you Google “face” and “book” now there seems to be an infinite number of pages (I literally couldn’t keep going long enough to find out when it would stop – it very possibly never does...) where each suggested destination is realtedto that particualr site. The idea that you could be searching for a website giving information on how to reserve a ‘goodie’ wrestler for your baby shower , or advice on how to disconcert a young deer & you simply can’t type , are no longer considered by the search engine. With an eye to the future, here are some WebPages that you can currently access by looking for “Litany” & “Tittery” – bookmark them whilst you can as this blogs omnipresence will soon shunt them back to search results page 168,000......
• After he brays his ha ha ha laugh, the kiss-asses all titter along in suck-up.... Litany of destruction/ Let me sing your song/ Regurgitated depression/ ...

Links to a dark, dark piece of writing by a chap called Stefan Case - who , coming on like the demoralised teenage brother of Ross Winn , starts virtually pitch-balck & puts any lingering embers of candles-light out well before the end – sample sentence “hatchet embedded in a skull, brain matter oozing” . One of the more atmospheric “emo-finds-it-all-too-much-and-loses-it” descriptions it is too, if very difficult to pin down to a coherent stance other than a fantastically sneering level of nihilism that is just on the cusp of being laughable and yet quite sympathetic. A real let-down is the fact that Deathrocker's "Thrill 'Em, Then Kill 'Em doesn’t appear to be an actual song or band anywhere except in Stefan’s head. We are told at the end of the article that he moved to Italy in 2002 & was suffering from a case (!) of writer’s block.
Alas, nothing further is thrown up by Google & this appears to be a one-off blast of black-hearted cynicism that can only be applauded. We hope Stefan is well wherever he may be & would welcome some more ‘possible Michael Pitt starring screenplay’ work from him ....remember kids ; “"Health-'n-Hygiene's the lamest class I've ever taken.”.
One of the only times we get to say the Litany (or a shortened version of it) ... the first Pentecost (inc. rude joke about 'wind' – titter, titter) Prayers ...

Bit of a change of tone, as we now visit the blog recording the activities of ‘The life of a very ordinary chorister in a very ordinary choir in a very ordinary Church of England parish. ‘
And to use a phrase that has been parroted to an inch of its life by idiots - even by the standards of an advertising slogan; it does what it says on the tin. At first I was naggingly unsure whether the whole thing is a mock up but on further investigation I am pleased to say that the rather literal actions relayed are in fact genuine &winsomely innocent to boot ;
Lots of good hymns with reference to the Trinity, and Tchaikovsky’s Hymn to the Trinity as an anthem. Rather disconcerting when one member of the congregation got up and walked out – obviously could not have been due to our singing??? I got to the coffee table at the back of church in time to have a choccy biscuit – there is a God! Time to set the video recorder to ‘Songs of Praise’ before leaving for Evensong....
This charming catalogue of ‘Chorister’s activities seems to be going strong after nearly 7 years , with the most recent entry declaring ; It was a very happy Easter & Festival Evensong was also a joyful occasion. This is exactly what the choral community need to get their public relations back on track after the recent ‘wobbles’ emerging from the Vatican ....such matters are quite rightly overlooked on this site (it’d be like forcing David Attenborough to talk about waterboarding of prisoners or having to listen to your Nan’s views on auto-asphyxiation ; you’d rather believe they were blissfully unaware of such goings on) in fact the revelations of ill-behaviour couldn’t seem further away as we are made to feel warm & cosy and almost see the steam & smell the Parsnip Soup as we are transported to the Parish Centre for lunch with an “old school friend who is now a priest. I kept remembering what she used to look like at the age of 11, so didn’t concentrate too well on what she was saying”.
• ... will bring about the predictable titter of amusement in most people, Even so, it can be subject to a litany of abuse from the so-called experts. ...
David Mitchell recently wrote brilliantly about Godwin’s Law
Which states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”, but surely just as intractable a rule of superhighwebnet perusal is that whatever combination of words you browse for, the third result will always be a ‘conspiracy theory’? To point out the batty-ness of the farthest corners of these potholes of paranoia is a fairly passé & pointless task (and nearly as smart a tactic as linking a far more coherent blog for immediate unfavourable comparison) – equally to dismiss all Conspiracy Theories as crackpot, revisionist & bitter would be incorrect...The Titanic conjecture stands up well and well..... Collina anyone? - But this one is noticeable & laudable in just how rigidly it conforms to all the stereotypes & how rapidly it unravells;
American based
Calm, almost benignly balanced opening, distancing self from those other loopy, loud-mouthed loose-cannon conspiracy crazies; UFO Magazine don’t tend to jump on too many bandwagons
Use of the phrases NASA footage / supposed 'cover-up' / our own investigation in quick-fire succession
Craftily difficult to disagree with self-revision of the official line; we’re not convinced that they are ice crystals.
Internecine, personal arguments muddying the waters still further;
Funny seeming that I was offered this very same footage for £2000 from John... and if you read the attached letter below, Don actually mentions that he would send a money order? So who's ripping off whom? – Dave!
Gossamer-thin dismissal of evidence provided, essentially saying “No! ...but but but ...just no!!”
But I know that is a lie because you have seen and heard it and so have others
Total casting-off of earlier restrained line ( USE CAPS IF POSS) to explain how ‘they’ have destroyed, tampered with or nixed the evidence (as anecdotal as you can);
Lose all facade of authority & reveal inner self-esteem issues (STILL CAPS);
All this in one easy to devour page! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM. Litany (debut album out… .... a load of old shit about ASOMVEL not being total dross? TITTER! TITTER! ...

Metal band from “south” that plays “dooms metal & that”. Only seems to be one song available on their MySpace (“The Agony”), but vfm-wise your quids in as it rumbles & throbs its way ominously through a good 9 and half minutes. Frankly, I think its utter gash but will give the lads credit of two fronts
~ The artwork is just brilliant (bottom right corner = what? Anything further to ‘an armadillo in a nun’s habit making advances on an angel’??)
~ They reference this song;
Titter, titter” came the onomatopoeic response. .... Sidney fled for the mop bucket, and the patients launched into their daily litany: ...

A collection, a buffet selection if you will, of creative writing, poetry & stories submitted by the general public. What on earth gives people the impression that the freedom afforded by the internet means there is an audience out there desperate to here other no-marks inexpert ramblings...?! Anyhow, this particular search claws us into Windows Of Madness , part seven of a baker’s dozen collating Leo Vine-Knight’s narratives of his time as a part-time psychiatric nurse and focusing in this instalment on his illicit relationship with “Kate” a retirement home worker of some description based near Leo’s hospital (“Her flat was even closer, and so were we...”) . Notable, in my humblest of opinions for a particularly toe-curling venture towards the choppy seas of ‘eroticism’ (is there a more eye-rollingly off-putting description than “Like co-stars in a Michael Douglas film, we bucked”?). Almost immediately afterwards our contented holidaying lovers are interupted as we cut to “a solitary black dog barks at the sea” and if you don’t get this allusion, consider the title and expect things to go somewhat awry from here, then..... well, read on. But dont expect it to make much sense.

• - Index › Dakka Fiction Warhammer 40K Forums - 40k Webcomic
Liked the JJ comic though, made me titter! ... spread Your divine light to protect me from the darkness" Litany of Protection Imp Inf uplifting Primer ...

And to round off, we have an unqualified triumph. The original forum Google ushers us towards is unpromising (War Hammer sadly not being a voluminously trousered Geordie tribute act), the initial comments from the Dakka Dakka hard-core to Darius in Bilbao’s tentative posting of his web comic being less than glowing; I don't get it / text is quite hard to follow :( / maybe the humour is not ready for us Americans! / And back to don’t get it...
Whether these early reviews were just missing something, perhaps their initial criticisms helped iron out the kinks...or maybe Darius has contrived come up with such an idiosyncratic mix of sci-fi, corny jokes, excellent art work & just-off-kilter English that the result was bound to confound a lot of people.
That last bubble again; “Oh! For my greater Wood! Hot Chocolate Cream with Jelly sandwich...Fuck the trial we have to investigate that!” Being fairly green & little versed in the world of anime, fantasy et al and baffled by the devotion and seriousness afforded to it, this mightn't be the most ringing endorsement; but this really is fantastic. As I understand is obligatory in such circles, there is an “18+” collection of FanArt & FanFics to supplement your bread & butter galactical adventures.
A juvenile delinquent
A girl with a childhood trauma
A carnivore monster with no respect for the life
All of them in the Warrior`s Academy

So there we go, a fairly disparate melange of topics covered & something to aim for & hopefully eclipse. Our fairly achievable manifesto ; to provide, in different ratios as the situation suits, ungodly anarchy & kill-em-all mob rule, prim English traditional ceremonialism , rabid , wild & confused conspiracy theories, over-wrought , moon-shakingly loud bad metal, horrid sex as a backdrop to descent to insanity & borderline incomprehensible cult iconography. Nothing more, nothing less - and in the process become bigger, more renowned, addictive & hated than Facebook. Then split up!