Friday, July 31, 2009

Presents For Me!

In the last post I mentioned that I'm not a great fan of birthdays. However, like pretty much everyone, I am a fan of presents. Both giving and receiving. Actually, I think I enjoy giving more. I'm also a fan of giving myself presents. More commonly known as shopping.



Well on my birthday I took possession of a most lovely present indeed from The Viking. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. When I opened it we both sat there for about 20 minutes leafing through the glossy pages muttering "Got it, got it, heard it, that's shit, oooh, got it, want it...". Many tales came out of memories we had of listening to albums for the first time, all the way back through school. The different bands and styles of music we were into. He being a heavy metal fan and me loving the proper dance music days of the early 90's. How things change.

This book doesn't say that you've got to own all the albums, just have listened to them. To a certain extent that's true. I wouldn't want to own Christina Aguilera's Back To Basics or Kanye West's The College Dropout. However, there are a significant amount of albums in there that I don't own although I may have particular artists songs on compilation CD's or Best Of's. Anyway, I thought it would be a nice present to myself if I opened up the book at random and purchased whatever was on the 2 pages in front of me. Because of the book layout, I'd either have to buy 1, 2 or 4 albums a week. Thanks be to the God Amazon. For he shall come to my rescue.

So today, because I'm ill and because it's Friday, I clicked "Add to Basket" on the following random albums out of the book:

The Genius Of Ray Charles by Ray Charles
Here's Little Richard by Little Richard
Very Best Of The Monkees by The Monkees (sheesh, original album titles eh!?)
Here Are The Sonics by The Sonics (ok, enough already!)
Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, Vol 1 & 2 by Ray Charles

All in for about £30, which isn't bad in my book. Next time I think I'm going to go for some Elvis. I figure that I need to build up my collection of 50's and 60's music too, broaden my horizons and all that jazz. I'm going to have to start leaving music off my Touch as it'll be full. Which is kind of working now...this being the 3rd one in about 2 1/2 months. After numerous telephone calls, several of which were over an hour long, the last one coming in at a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes we are almost at and end of the sorry saga. That's going to make for a very interesting blog post. Apple are this close --><-- to either being really great, or really cack.

Anyway, do you know this book? Have you got it? Are there any albums you think are missing or ones that would stand out in your own 1001? Leave some words below!

(Oh, and if you do have it, check out the picture of Weller on page 403 for the All Mod Cons album by The Jam. Fecking bloody awesome. I REALLY want this on a BIG canvass!! If anyone has this image in a really decent resolution I'd love a copy!)



Currently listening to One More Time by Death In Vegas. Give it a listen, great tune.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Crisp Sandwiches For Breakfast

So last weekend was my birthday*. Yet another year to add to the numerous that have already fallen by the wayside. Birthdays have never really interested me, even at a young age and I think it may have something to do with cake, but I can't be certain.

Spending so much time on my own during the day, with nowt but my trusty paintbrush to keep me company, I tend to find my mind wandering and I started mulling over how my life has changed. Mostly without me even realising it.

When I was really little the majority of my life was spent pooing, eating and sleeping. I have a funny feeling that I'll be returning to this pattern of existence, although I'm hoping not for another 50 or so years. Forward a bit and I'd progressed. I started to realise that life contained priorities, challenges and responsibilities (although these words had yet to manifest themselves into my vocabulary, which at the time consisted of mainly "Why?" and "No"). The discovery that dirt mixed with water made mud had a profound impact on me and I soon set about the challenge of making the perfect Mud Pie. Countless seconds were spent mixing until I finally had a decent looking slop. Obviously I knew that I couldn't cook it (oven is "ouch") so I figured that raw tasting was the way forward. I shortly decided that I wasn't going to make it as a chef.

Then came Lego. The most ingenious invention ever to have graced the planet. Armed with my Imagination I proceeded to construct the largest Lego tower I had ever seen. Being around 4 years old, large Lego towers were few and far between, so it didn't take too long. But why stop at a tower? Expansion was the key. Garages, guns, moon bases, small odd looking animals, faces, plates, and even a Lego massager (my Mum had a sore back and I thought it would help) were all on the list of things to build. I was a God, there was nothing I couldn't make. Even if the end result did look a little angular. But that was a triviality I didn't have time to address (until I got some sloped shaped bricks for Christmas, and then everything had sloped edges, even things that were supposed to be straight).

By the time I reached 5 I had discovered money. My Great Nan saved her copper coins (1/2 pennies, 1's and 2's) and gave them to me when I went to visit her. Although they were only the really shiny ones. Sometimes I would have about 20 of them waiting for me and I would spend hours counting them, making shapes out of them on the carpet. I also knew you could give them to people and you would get stuff in return. Important stuff. Like sweets. I used to visit the little Indian lady that owned the sweet shop below where we lived and give her some of the coins in exchange for Cola Bottles. This arrangement worked really well and I liked her for it. One day I heard her talking to her husband in a language I'd never heard before. Nothing she said made any sense. I thought I'd write her a thank you note for providing me with sweets in exchange for metal discs. I wrote down a whole bunch of stuff that looked like she sounded (squiggly lines in essence) and gave it to her proudly stating that it was a thank you note in her language. It was only in later life that I realised why she looked so miffed. But she was lovely and just smiled and said thanks. My career as a serial spender was off to a flying start.

Adult conversations often confused me. They were faster than my own and rarely contained words that I understood, like Toys or Presents. One day I tried and Adult conversation with my Action Man. Mostly I came up with "Hmmm, yeah", a nod of my head and a noise akin to "Rar rar rar". This seemed to satisfy Action Man, so much so that he then set about waging war with the Transformers. I've since realised that Adult conversations are overrated, mostly full of rubbish and still contain a lot of words I don't understand. They are also rarely about Toys or Presents.

Now that I'm older I no longer build fishes out of plastic bricks, or try to hide a complete head of broccoli under my fork. I worry about having enough work to pay the bills and think that cheese is too expensive. I notice that the city I live in is incredibly dirty and am puzzled as to what my Council Tax is spent on. It concerns me that I think society is becoming more decadent and am fed up trying to remember that rubbish day is a Thursday. I'm bored of having to do the washing and I loathe having to shave for fear of being mistaken for a homeless guy. I understand that there is a great gulf between the rich and the poor of even my fair country and it saddens me. No longer can I get away with cutting up some plain paper and drawing a rather poor Queen's head on one side, then passing it off as real cash. And have people accept it with a "Aww, isn't that sweet".

Now I'm older I've come to realise that being a kid was very good fun indeed. Talking to yourself, imagining that you were 6 types of robot, was perfectly acceptable social behaviour. Sitting in a cardboard box that you had drawn spaceship controls in, with a borrowed black mascara, for 2 days straight was considered a fine display of creative intelligence. And having odd socks and shoes on, an inside out jumper and backwards trousers was never frowned upon, purely because you had actually managed to dress yourself without help or supervision.

*Insert slightly premature old man's voice here* "Cor, I remember when I was a kid...."

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*Well, it was last week when I started writing this, now it's 2 weeks. I'm such a slacker.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Belleruche - How Honey Would Sound If It Could Sing


Occasionally I come across a tune that I instantly fall in love with. Normally in cases like that I'll see if there's an album attached to the relevant artist and take steps to give my money to the sweet God of Amazon.

This case was no different. Although the album took a little longer than usual to arrive, our postal service decided to go the way of Toronto's trashmen and went on strike (less smelly, but still inconvenient). Today I came home to the neatly packaged Turntable Soul Music by Belleruche. So, was it worth the wait?


In a word, yes. It's rare that I listen to an album all the way through straight off the bat, but I've had this playing constantly for the last couple of hours. It's that good. The 3 piece group, comprising of Kathrin deBoer, Ricky Fabulous and DJ Modest, turn out a wonderful mix of soul, funk and jazz with a few other flavours and a definite sprinkle of their own magic. Within seconds of putting the album on the kitchen stereo, all of the occupants were nodding their heads and shaking their booties. You just can't help it. Kathin deBoer's voice is out of this world and to be frank, because he knows best, it makes me want to do inappropriate things to my speakers. And it's not often I say that!

If you don't own this album then get out your plastic and order yourself a copy pronto. I promise it'll be one of the best purchases you've made.

Such high praise, inevitably, means that a Belleruche song makes it to Song Of The Week. With so many to choose from it makes it a hard decision. Alice, Minor Swing and The Itch are some of All Mod Cons favorites...but I think it's only fair that Northern Girls goes up as it was the track that I first heard.

Below are the lyrics for your singalong pleasure...

Keep on telling you
Keep trying to get through
That big old head
Seems to be wasted breath

What more can I say
I'm not in love with you
Let it go let it go
And I'll be kind to you

I tried the simple things
Didn't return your calls
I was busy every day
Never any time at all

But you needed a bigger clue
I got town 'cause I didn't want to hurt you
But you keep pushing, keep pushing me away

You keep on hounding me
Keep on finding me
You keep on trying me
I can't get away

You keep on hounding me
Keep on finding me
You keep on trying me
I can't get away

Tried to be a friend
Wasn't out to offend
Well I love being with you
Suppose that why you got confused

I thought that we made it clear
I was never to change my mind
You've become so precious dear
But you've got to leave this behind

One day I hope you find
Someone who loves you too
So you'll let me be
And you'll forget you've ever had

A bruised and broken heart
That can't forgive and can't forget
Driving us both spare and mad
Well you're driving me away

You keep on hounding me
Keep on finding me
You keep on trying me
I can't get away

You keep on hounding me
Keep on finding me
You keep on trying me
I can't get away

Keep trying to get closer
Keep trying to get a hold of
Keep on trying, you're driving me away
Keep trying to get closer
Keep trying to get a hold of
Keep on trying, you're driving me away
Oh you're driving me away

You keep on hounding me
Keep on finding me
You keep on trying me
I can't get away

You keep on hounding me
Keep on finding me
You keep on trying me
I can't get away

Keep trying to get closer
Keep trying to get a hold of
Keep on trying
You're driving me away

Keep trying to get closer
Keep trying to get a hold of
Keep on trying
You're driving me away
Oh, you're driving me away


(I really can't leave it at that...here's the link to Alice. No video, just a still image, but PLEASE give it a listen!!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Week Has Been...

Argh.

At one point I stood in my garden, hands firmly wedged in my pockets and looked up at the silently rumbling clouds passing overhead. Intermittent raindrops fell out of the sky ruining an impossibly good hair day. I had hoped that the splashing water might clear the confuggle that was rattling around inside what was left of my brain. Nothing else had worked. It's amazing how complicated things can turn out when all you're trying to do is help people.

I know that what I'm going to do tomorrow won't make much sense to those around me, and my close friends may say I'm even stranger than they thought I was. But it's a sacrifice that I'm willing to make. And it'll make me feel better. Whilst helping several people out at the same time. And I'll remain the better person for doing so.

Bob Marley probably said it best...Let's get together and feel alright. One Love is this weeks Song Of The Week.

Peace people.

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One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Hear the children crying (One love)
Hear the children crying (One heart)
Sayin', "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
Sayin', "Let's get together and feel all right."
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One love)
There is one question I'd really love to ask (One heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?
Believe me

One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One love)
So shall it be in the end (One heart)
Alright, "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
"Let's get together and feel all right."
One more thing

Let's get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (One love)
So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One song)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
There ain't no hiding place from the Father of Creation

Sayin', "One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right."
I'm pleading to mankind (One love)
Oh, Lord (One heart) Whoa.

"Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
Let's get together and feel all right.
(Repeat)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Technologicus Deadicus

My love affair with technology is a love hate one. I love it, but it hates me. With a fury more ferocious than a bag full of bees being used as a football. Every single piece of gadgetry that I have owned has either gone wrong or been utterly destroyed within weeks of me getting my grubby little mitts on it.

Every mobile phone I have received has had to be returned within a week, each upgrade has gone back. Twice. My new laptop has had Vista reinstalled. Three times. My first ever iPod ended up 3mm thick and comprised of several little bits of shiny silveriness after just 2 weeks when a van hit it. Whilst attached to my waist (fortunately I didn't end up in little bits of pinkness, just 1 bit of blueblackgreenyellowredness). The only piece of technology that I'd managed to sustain a healthy working relationship with was my replacement iPod, a meaty 30gb video jobby. I even took extra methods to protect it with a full aluminium case which saved the day on numerous occasions.

I recently came to posses the current numero uno in iPod ownership, the 32gb iPod Touch. My hopes, unbelievably, were high when I held the sleek iconic body in my hands. The marvellous screen flickered into life like a billion Ants waving Zippo lighters at Caterpillar bongo gig. I spent ages getting all the artwork for every album just because I wanted to see the whizzy round covers thing in all its glory. Transferring all my music wasn't a chore, never has watching a little grey line move from left to right on my screen created such tension in me (I don't get out much). I whooped in glee like a Girl Guide baking her first batch of cookies to sell at the local Church Fete as music filtered into my ears. The smooth feel to the touch screen was incredible, as was the speed of everything happening, flipping between screens was a joy to behold. And then the music stopped. Just like that. The little arrow said it was playing, but the time said it wasn't. One of them was lying. And the time never lies. I had to give it a manual push to get it going again. Several songs later it stopped again. Typical.

Several calls to Apple later, including a call centre in Greece, some unknown country, somewhere in the UK and finally the US. It wasn't until I spoke to the woman in America that I finally got a solution. I explained what was happening and she immediately arranged for the iPod to be picked up and a replacement to be delivered. And it happened. Within 3 days. God bless America and her customer service.

With the new one in hand, everything was starting to look all sexy and bosh again. Then Apple in its divine wisdom *coughbollockscough* said that it was going to release a new iPhone and new software. This new software was supposed to be even faster, slicker, and have a whole bunch of new bits that I'll probably never use. And unlike iPhone users who got it for free, I would have to fork out £6 on it. Why? I've no idea. To scam us and make more money probably. My new iPod was working fairly ok, so I didn't need the new software. But that little sign saying "New Software Available" just screamed at me. But I'm like a 5 year old with Goldfish Memory Syndrome hooked up to an electric chair with a Big Red Button and a sign saying Do Not Push. I just can't resist buttons, and it seems I'll never learn that I always get some sort of shock.

£6 has got me a beautiful looking piece of equipment controlled by a million Gremlins all out on a day trip to Wet 'n' Wild, with Starbucks on tap. I love rating my songs, I like things to be organised, playlists fill my day with wondrous treats aplenty. It used to be a case of "Rate, Flip Screen, Swoosh the time slider wotsit, Flip Screen, Rate (repeat)". That fast to rate songs. Lovely nerdy bliss! Now is a different story. It's more like:

  • Rate
  • Push Screen & Pause For 3 seconds
  • Screen Flips & Music Plays
  • Wait 6 seconds & Play Music For 2 Seconds & Pause For 2 Seconds
  • Screen Now Active
  • Swoosh time slider wotsit
  • New Track Plays But Screen Stays On Previous Song
  • Wait 6 Seconds Before New Song Appears
  • Pause Whilst Time Stays Still For 3 Seconds
  • Push Button & Rate
  • Repeat If You've Got No Will To Live
This process is even more mind numbing to do than read or write. I promise you. The battery icon also seems to be having a personality crisis and can't make up its mind whether to be Mr Full Juice or Mr I'Mdoingbuggeralljustchargeme. Needless to say I'm not allowed to put the old software back on. there's no option for that. There's also no email feedback option on the Apple website that I can find. And none of this appears on their FAQ's either. I just want to be able to explain to someone what's happening, for them to give me and answer. Which preferably includes the words "I'm really sorry, here's the old software and your £6 back". I've also used up my only phone call to Apple. 1 phone help, unless you pay more. Tossers.

What's really disappointing is that it's made me realise that my iPod isn't what it seems. When I first opened the box I saw something incredible, something glorious that was conceived by Elves under the guidance of a Jedi Master using stardust from the distant galaxy of Alpha iPodi. Fused together and hammered into shape by bars of every song ever written. What I've actually got would test the patience of the God Walkman himself and feels like it's been made by dyslexic goats.

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Song Of The Week is Fools Gold by The Stone Roses.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Post 100.1

I have severe brain strain going on. So much so that I think the internal workings of my bonce now resemble what appeared on my plate at the local greasy spoons cafe last week. It wasn't pretty. Or particularly edible.

This is my 100th post (on this blog) and for some reason I've felt that I should be writing something rather splendid in order to celebrate this milestone. I didn't want to go the route of Here's a summary of the last 99 posts. I wanted to do something the stood out from the rest, maybe a unique story or something that people might read and say "Wow, that's really well written". A post with purpose. I think insightful is a good adjective.

Everything I saw, spoke about, heard or read was given the analytical treatment. Nothing quite seemed to match up to what I thought would achieve any of my desires. Everything appeared inadequate. Or more boring than watching paint dry. And I've done more than my fair share of that. Trust me, interesting it ain't.

Which got me thinking (whilst watching yet another coat of paint dry) why do we put so much emphasis onto things like this? Why does the fact that I've written 100 posts even need to be mentioned? I don't think there's anything special in this one. I happen to think post 96 was much better.

So, theories on a postcard please. And if you read here on a regular basis, please feel to leave 100th post comments. Especially those that haven't commented before!