Friday, September 29, 2006

Following on from the Jay Z gig we have a kind of after show party with People Under The Stairs this Sunday at the Jazz Cafe. I'm sure it's going to be a whole different kind of vibe in a smaller venue, but I have a good feeling that they are going to rock the party right. And, even though no-one's listening, I want to say a big shout out (what, am I on 1Xtra or something?!) to Lisa at the Jazz Cafe who's got me on the guest list. Not that I'm any kind of cool cat with slick contacts in the music biz, I just forgot my ticket last time I was down and got an IOU for another gig after buying a replacement ticket. I used to have slick contacts in the music biz when I worked in the record shop. Anyone remember Chalky's in Oxford, Bicester, Buckingham or Banbury? No, thought not.

Talking of music, as I do, I just watched the documentary 'High Tech Soul - The Creation Of Techno Music', which was about the birth of Detroit techno. It started off really well with a nicely detailed history of the city itself, setting up the background for the culture that went on to spawn the techno we all know and love. But then it just kind of descended into a collage of interviews where one techno producer back slapped the other, ad nauseum with no real narrative or time line. It could really have done with a presenter talking through the whole genesis of the genre. Some universally respected producer, someone with some real pedigree, like 2 Unlimited maybe? Ha, I jest. Anyway, the best part was the Extras section where people like Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Eddie Fowlkes were slagging off people like:

Moby - "the most f***ed up individual I've ever met"

Boy George - numerous people expressing their dismay upon entering a techno club to see Boy George behind the decks. I can sympathise. Eddie Fowlkes went on to comment, "Why didn't he stay in England where you guys get the joke?". Eh? Do we get the joke? I don't; he's a Class-A (excuse the pun) knob head whichever country he's in. Have you seen the black paint he cakes round his throat to hide his triple chin? Yes, that's what all that black is. He's not wearing a turtleneck. He's wearing a turkeyneck. He is a spaz. A big gay spaz*

Actually, no amount of name calling can take away The Boy's techno credentials. I mean here he is (below) right at the beginning in the early days of '92/'93 when
Altern8 were blowing up big time.

Oh no, hang on, that's him doing street cleaning community service after a drugs bust in the US. My mistake

Neil Rushton - Who? Some "famous" promoter that helped break Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins in the early days, but who also skanked them and turned out to be a dick. One of Blake Baxter's mates got too close to Boy George at a gig promoted by Mr Rushton and was pushed away by two of his heavies. Baxter went to speak to Rushton, but was blanked. Even when Baxter told him his name and said, "You put out 2 of my records", Rushton said, "Sorry, I don't know you". Baxter then poured a litre Big Gulp over his head. Sweet

Paul Oakenfold (Oakey Cokey the Gak Monkey) - for just being an obnoxious git. The first Technob.
But not the last.

Don't buy it though. Rent it.
Join CD-WOW's DVD club for £14.99 a month and get unlimited rentals with 3 DVDs at a time.

Remember, it's ONLY a co-incidence! I've been trying to remember the name of the squat litle tree down by the river as I'm noticing more of them everywhere round here and it's not really one of your typical trees (ie not a sycamore, horse-chestut, oak etc). Anyway, Seal came back from clearing out her mum's loft on Thursday and brought back the pocket book of trees she had as a kid. I picked it up to have a look and out of 200 pages I opened it at the locust tree. Which was, you're getting ahead of me aren't you? No? Oh, alright then, it was the tree down by the river that I'd been trying to remember the name of. Psyche! Remember, it's ONLY a co-incidence!

And finally, whilst looking for a piccie of my old Tomahawk bike (think 'cheapskate parents' pass off for a Chopper) I found this
little beauty, which can be yours for $250,000. It looks like Judge Dredd's Lawmaster. Sweet.

*I have recently reserved the right to resort to the childish name calling of people who can't fight back. He would punch like a girl anyway. That's if the porker could even catch me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jumpin' Jay Hova's phat. My ears are still blinging. Er, ringing. Easily sliding in to No 2 in my Top 10 best concert's ever is Jay Z at the Royal Albert Hall last night. Pipped to No 1 by Kanye West only because Kanye's sound system was more balanced (you could make out the tunes as well as his voice) and he had seemingly boundless energy for the full time he was on stage. Jay Z was more static (I mean that in the physical sense, not the audio), but he's a cool cat with a different style, so it's not a criticism. Anyway, he packed in just about every tune from The Blueprint, Blueprint 2: Gift and the Curse and The Black Album and as well as being joined by DJ Green Lantern and Memphis Bleek for most of the show and sporting a 25 piece orchestra he also managed to rustle up a number of mad guest appearances from:

Nas - who swarmed on stage to Made You Look (the crowd went completely mental), then took it back to the old school with If I Ruled The World (imagine that) and then sent everyone over the edge with the anthemic Hate Me Now (peep the photo below to see the place on fire, sort of). Then Jay-Z came back on stage to show for sure that they'd put their little spat to rest. Mates? Yeah, mates. Aaaah.

Chris Martin - suddenly seemed to grow out of the piano stool and went on to accompany Jay Z and Nas on Dead Presidents then popped back on stage later to provide the awesome vocals to Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love). Sound a bit unlikely? I agree, but it was damn good.

Beyonce - we were crossing everything, twice, in the hope that she would want to appear at the first ever hip hop headlined show at the RAH and she did. With those massive thighs, crazy Tina Turner stomping and strutting and a funny walkaway spin round thing that you could imagine her doing if she walked away from you whilst having an argument and then you said something like, "fat arse" and then she span round and came back at you to break your back. Scary. She did Crazy in Love and Deja Vu with her backing dancers going Ker-azy behind her.

Gwyneth Paltrow - who, again, seemed to spring up from nowhere to provide the amazingly powerful vocals for Song Cry. Again, think that sounds gay? I agree, but her vocals were like Motown Aretha. Undeniably rock steady.
And it was her birthday, so everyone sang her happy birthday at the Jigga Man's behest.

The whole gig was perfect and is one of only a handful that I can honestly say that I wanted to see again. Immediately. Towards the end Jay Z even took a bit of time out to turn the lights on the crowd to show his love for the fans. He went round the audatorium pointing people out that he'd noticed through the night. Saying, "Love the Brooklyn shirt man, that's my favourite tonight" and "Yo, number 12 up top" etc. Those that he recognised were going ballistic. I thought the guy in the black shirt (who was baring his chest and being mobbed by his mates) was going to go over the edge he was going so mad. Cynics and haters out there might say that it was a bit of a stunt, but I have never known any artist take the time like he did to recognise the fans that directly. Whether it was a stunt or not, he still did it.

The only partial irritation was the whirling Asian girl in front of Seal who obscured the stage view on some of the more lively tunes with her windmilling arms. Seal said, "There's always one isn't there? And they're always in front of me". I agreed, tutting like a Grandad, then I looked round and saw that we were about the only ones sitting down and NOT waving our arms around. I bet everyone else was like, "There's always one isn't there?".

And he played out with? Encore of course. "Let me get a encore, do you want more...?". Yep, I do. Roll on November 21st and the Kingdom Come album.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jay Z at the Royal Albert Hall tonight, "What more can I say....?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

There are things in the world that I do like, but it's easier to write about things that I don't. Or that annoy me. Or that are just stupid and ill thought out. Case in point (or rather, the reason I started started this post) being the current Specsavers ad running for their new hearing aid.

The ad is very simple. A woman in her 50s is reading a book in an airy, modern living room with cream sofas and a wooden floor. Cut to a long shot of the room, the woman's reading with her back to the camera and a pin drops to the floor in the foreground. She looks round at this noise (you see what they're alluding to yeah?) and then just carries on reading her book. She's obviously wearing a hearing aid, which goes someway to explain her initial reaction, but it's her inaction after hearing the pin drop that I find a bit baffling. It could be because:

1. Pins are dropping in her house all the time. From somewhere. Maybe she has an overcrowded message board full of things she shoud be doing rather than sitting on her arse reading trashy romantic novellas?

2. She has a poltergeist. Probably new to the spooking game and cutting it's (ghostly) teeth on small objects. She'll be paying more attention when she eventually get's a telekinetic steak knife through the sternum.

3. She has a playful husband\partner who's becoming a bit tiring, testing her rejuvenated hearing while she's trying to relax with her new trashy romantic novella:

Man: "Ha ha, tricked you darling"
Woman: "Oh darling, ha ha (twat!)"

4. She thought she heard something, but she wasn't really sure and anyway she doesn't care enough to get up off her arse and go have a look, even though it's in the same bloody room. I suppose that's a luxury of the hearing though; to be able to ignore sounds in the first place.

5. She didn't know what the noise was and didn't care. Although, she'll wish she had cared when the next noise she ignores turns out to be a heroin-addicted burglar going through her knicker drawer.

6. It is a poorly thought out advert from some coke fuelled bozo in Ad-Land that, quite honestly, a child could have put together.

The last one's most likely.

For proper good adverts, have a looksy (looksy?) here and here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

This mammoth entry should make up for the lack of postings.

Continuing a largely intermittent series of, Remember, it's ONLY a co-incidence!, here's the latest:

On Friday, about an hour before our monthly debrief meeting it occurred to me that I've never actually made sure my mobile is on silent whilst in the meeting. Imagine the embarrassment of a Level 42 ring tone accidentally broadcasting out of my jeans pocket mid session. Now imagine my smug little mug when 'The Manager's' phone not only went off 10 minutes into the meeting, but also that when he hurriedly cut the call off he also received a super loud beep (BEEP, BEEEEEP, BEEP!) text message alert, of which he claimed with nervous laughter, "I don't know who that is. It's definitely not from a 17 year old rent boy trying to blackmail me".

Lot of coverage in the media about global warming of late. The quick and simple solution to this. Don't buy newspapers or watch the TV. Global warming will quickly become a very low priority for you. Until you die of smog inhalation\drowning\skin cancer. Actually, to help do my bit I've stopped buying Bountys as I was concerned that my love of coconut (shipped from abroad on fuel guzzling jumbos or oil burning tankers) is helping to speed up global warming. I'm working on a coconut substitute which is simply artificial coconut flavouring mixed with wet rice. It tastes like shit but hey, we all have to make sacrifices. Actually, do we even grow rice in the UK? We probably will once East Anglia get's flooded due to climate change. Cornfields to paddy fields. See, chin up, we can adapt as easily as that.

I caught the tail end (excuse the pun) of the Scissor Sisters live in Trafalgar Square last Friday.

Hmm, sorry, but that lead singer makes me feel a bit ill. He was wearing a skin tight yellow jumpsuit with a conspicuous "dress to the right" bulge that I could have really done without noticing. He was, I think it's fair to say, poncing around the stage and it made me wonder if I would be allowed to say that he's what I would consider "bad gay". That overly camp and theatrically affected, irritating type of gay. A hand on hip, screechy, eye rolling, big bulge in your face type of gay. As opposed to, say, the "good gay" style of men like Rupert Everett or Stephen Fry. Or maybe Rock Hudson. Although he was probably more repressed, which isn't so good.

I had my hair cut on Saturday by "The Phantom Barber". Not only was his speech whisper quiet, his appearance bleached and pale, but his scissor (sister) action was almost intangible. I went down to my usual chop-shop and was initially pleased to see that there were very few people waiting for haircuts, which is rare, but then I noticed the new guy and was immediately unnerved and on edge, hoping against fate to not get him. He looked weird. Podgy-ish, 40-ish, pervert-ish. Coke bottle glasses (poor eyesight + razor sharp scissors = casualty), greasy, peroxide hair in a side parting with straggly bits over his collar. It looked like he'd tried to kill his hair but against all the odds it was still living and sending out feelers. One should always be wary of hairdressers with bad hair. It's the same principle as skinny cooks, broke accountants etc etc. Anyway, not being one to heed my own advice, when he came to muttering, "Next please", I sat down in his chair. Let the weirdness commence. To start off he mumbled something while trying to tuck in my daft apron\cape thing. This is the barbers cape that stops you getting hair on your clothes, not some kind of bizarre dressing up item that I brought with me:

Me: "Sorry?"
Phantom Barber: "Invisible to match the shirt".
Me: "Sorry?"
PB: "To match the shirt"
Me: "Sorry, I don't understand what you mean"
PB: "Camouflage"

I finally just about managed to deduce that he was commenting on my camo t-shirt and trying to make a joke asking if I wanted an invisible haircut to match my shirt? Not very tactful to a chap entering the thinning out stage of his hair-life. Anyway I kicked myself afterwards as I realised that I obviously hadn't taken this question seriously because the haircut he gave me did indeed turn out to be invisible to the human eye. His cutting style seemed to consist of lots of combing and then doing a couple of quick snips aimed in the general direction of my head, but not actually connecting with anything. As time dragged on, he was VERY slow, I looked down at my barber's cape numerous times and could see very little hair on it. The funniest part was when he squatted into a very determined position to use the clippers on my sideburns. He braced one hand on his opposite forearm and gently guided the clippers in to the sideburn, slowly, slowly. And this is where I'd swear that he was myopic because, after what seemed an age in which I was having to suppress an erupting giggle, he finally did a downward stroke, INTO THIN AIR! After about 30 minutes, during which I watched other punters step up, get their hair cut and then leave, he presented me with the view-by-mirror of the back of my head. He did it with a weird little flourish, like, "Ta da". Proud, like some faithful dog that's brought a headless rabbit into the house and dropped it on the carpet for you. I was late so I just paid and left, but I'd be surprised if he's there next month. If he is I might try and exorcise his ghostly form with my Bible.

Ah yes, the Bible. The Bible is mental. I'm attempting to read it all the way through, but it's heavy going being sent to sleep after every 5 pages with relentless "so-and-so begat so-and-so" paragraphs. Anyway, I haven't even got out of Genesis and it's already raised my eyebrows more times than Cher's plastic surgeon (I thangyou). So begins a new subsection, "God a problem?" (gotta problem? geddit?). So here goes:

God a problem?

1. The whole creation of Earth thing
2. Adam living for 930 years
3. Cain's wife - which is just part of the whole issue of men trying to populate the Earth without having sex with their sister or mother.
4. The flood, the Ark, the bull shit
5. Lot offering his virgin daughters to the men of Sodom so that they would leave his two angel guests alone!
6. The same daughters then sleeping with their own father so that his seed would continue after his wife gets turned into a pillar of the community, sorry, pillar of salt.
7. God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. Which he is just about to do before God stops him.
8. Jacob's children being slain by God for a. saying something God didn't like and b. spilling their seed on the ground rather than getting some old dear they didn't like pregnant. Good job God's not a-slaying these days isn't it?

Re point 3 - this website tries, and fails, to prove that there is a Bible-friendly explanation for the appearance of a wife for Cain. The argument is teetering on a knife edge until you get to the section about Biological Deformities, then it slips and fatally wounds itself. The argument is that God's order not to marry your close blood relatives came in in Moses' time as the effects of the Curse (God's curse - cheers) and sin were really taking hold. Hmm, sin? Surely sin is a psychological state of mind or an act that breaks some kind of moral code? If so, how does it affect a physiological\biological substance such as one's DNA? I'll give you a clue it doesn't. From the website:

"Cain was in the first generation of children ever born. He (as well as his brothers and sisters) would have received virtually no imperfect genes from Adam or Eve, since the effects of sin and the Curse would have been minimal to start with"

This doesn't make sense to me. If you treat sin (and the Curse) as a kind of infection, surely it will be most strong in the bodies that created it? God is supposed to have directly cursed Adam and Eve and therefore mankind. These were the original two bodies that broke the moral code of God's law and so were infected with sin (and the Curse) from "the source", so to speak. You can't draw a parallel with, say, current day viruses also getting "stronger" over time as these are not "strong" in that sense of the word, they just cannot be killed by current vaccines; they have adapted themselves to resist the drugs that are trying to kill them. Anyway, what they skirt around with regards to this issue is that brothers had sex with their sisters. They try to defend this at a later date by arguing that we're all brothers and sisters originating from the primary divine couple Adam and Eve. Well I suppose if you don't believe that theory from the start, the rest of the argument is pretty moot anyway.

"Enough about all that, where's the comedy?!" You want to laugh at something, try reading the Bible, it's a hoot :0)

Friday, September 15, 2006

I had a mini Peperami today and noticed that the ingredients listed it as having 108% pork.

Thinking that this was an impossibility I e-mailed the zany Peperami Careline and was eager to hear their hilarious explanation for the crazy factoid. This was the response I got:

"Dear Jason

Thank you for contacting Peperami.

Labelling laws for processed meat products like sausages require us to state the amount of raw meat as a percentage of the finished product (including all the other ingredients like spices, salt etc) as sold. This law applies to both cooked and uncooked sausages.

Usually, sausages are sold uncooked, so the meat percentage will be less than 100% for an uncooked sausage, as one would expect. Of course, when you take an uncooked sausage home and grill it, water will evaporate and fat will drip out - so the cooked sausage will weigh less than when you started - which in effect is the same as what we do with Peperami.

Peperami is sold as a cooked and cured sausage - during cooking and curing, weight is lost through evaporation of water, fat and other constituents of the meat. This means that the weight of the raw meat we put in before cooking and curing exceeds the weight of the finished cooked and cured Peperami that is sold, and this is reflected in the percentage value given in the ingredients list.

This is why, by law, we must calculate the percentage of meat in the product as follows: (27g uncooked meat / 25g finished sausage) x 100 = 108%

I hope this helps clarify our position in the matter.

Kind regards

Claire Connor
Peperami Advisor"

Well, what a bloody bundle of laughs they are!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I'm in a funny mood today after watching Channel 4's "The Falling Man" last night. I've really not been into any of the 9/11 anniversary events as I think I got a pretty good idea of the horror of it all from watching it all unfold live on TV when it happened. I was working at the Environment Agency and we had a number of TVs in the Flood Control room to keep abreast of weather reports. They were very quickly taken over by coverage of the attacks and I remember everyone was pretty much distracted for the rest of the day by what happened. Apart from one manager, who I distinctly remember being at a loss to understand why we were all getting so shocked, upset and worried. I think he actually said, "It's not the end of the world, is it?". I suppose we don't really know for sure yet. Anyway, the program focussed on one of the people that either fell or jumped from one of the burning towers that day. The photo started an, understandably, emotional debate about the rights and wrongs of printing such an image in the newspapers. I won't go into depth as I think most people could argue the fors and againsts of such a thing quite extensively. However, my view is that the newspapers that did print it were right to.

To my mind, any kind of anger or horror or upset caused by that photo should be channelled in a positive, constructive way against the people, their ideals and the events that led up to this innocent man falling to his death. In a world of image saturation, it is rare to come across really striking, haunting images such as this one and I think that rather than shut your eyes to it, literally and metaphorically, the emotion should be harnessed and used as an energy to address the problems of the world that lead people to commit acts of gross terrorism. Especially if in addressing the terrorists motives we look at what we have done: what we are doing to make them who they are and what drives them to do these terrible things in retaliation.

That was one heavy, difficult program that I'm glad I watched.

I think it was because of the grounding, emotional impact of the program and the lingering thought processes I had that made me react so strongly to the e-mail I received later in the evening. It was one of the daily "update" e-mails from Cool Hunting, which was informing me of a new deluxe backgammon board made by, and for sale from,

Maharishi, if you don't know them, are an ethical fashion company based in London dedicated to reclaiming the camouflage pattern from the miltary and trying to remove all the negative and violent associations that it might currently have. They are pacifists, eco-conscious, importers of cult Japanese toys and produce some very stylish and highly desirable clothes, accessories and artworks. Now this very grounded "company with a conscious" has, as I said, produced a Bonsai Championship Backgammon Set, "For long train rides or rainy days...". I'll give you the
link so you can check out the full sales patter.

Why am I mentioning this thing at all? Because the price tag on it is a bankrupting £1200 that's why. "For long train rides"?! Anyone that has enough money to blow £1200 on a board game isn't going to be taking a train anywhere my deluded friend! Learjet maybe, or a "mega yacht". But not a bloody train! Anyway, what really jarred with me was that they felt there was a market, a need even, for this gross extravagance and exhibition of opulence in a world currently bursting at the seams with needy people and urgent issues. For example, this is what you get for £1200 in the real world:

1. 200 Indian children to go to school for a year with hot meals included
2. 17 schools in Ghana to be kitted out with books, sports equipment and resources
3. hot meals for a month for 400 chidren in Ethiopia
4. etc etc you get the idea

Like I say, I think this only really got my back (gammon) up because I was so raw to the woes of the world after seeing the 9/11 programme, but it's still not going to stop me e-mailing them my thoughts. I'll let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm off my indie holiday now and I'm back on "4 to the floor" breakbeat. Yes, whistle possee, you may blow. I eventually got the hang of SoulSeek and managed to download a lot of DJ Icey mixes and tracks and pretty much the entire catalogue of 2 Bad Mice and Kaotic Chemistry. I also signed up, finally, to the Fabric First members club, as next months CD is mixed by the Stanton Warriors. Their Stanton Sessions Vol 2 CD being the current soundtrack to my morning and evening bike rides to work, and very effective it is too - 4.5 miles in 17 minutes.

I have a few threads to pick up and a startling new one to sew (?).

Firstly, the kestrel has finally left us for good. Here it is in its former glory:

I think it was most probably binned by the "Idiots", the taxi driving family next door but one. I'm not really sure how a cat kills a kestrel, but maybe the kestrel had landed whilst killing a smaller bird and an opportunistic pussy thought he'd have a go - a sort of Black Hawk Down scenario. Going by that premise, I think that our next door neighburs (the Salvation Army members that eloped from their original partners and made the front page of The Sun in 1998 - true) assumed that the bird had been killed by one of the Idiots' cats, so they left it. Even though it was on their property. Rotting in their garden. But hey, at least they stuck to their principles: it wasn't their mess to clean up :-
The other sign of insanity in the neighbourhood was the appearance of these bizarre posters in the window of one of the bungalows opposite our house on Monday night:

For those of you without telescopic vision I will note the wording on each poster:

1. The system...demonic chanting and lasers to rob and murder
2. We thought it was worth money, we stole it from a pensioner
3. I intend to sue the council, the police, the air force, the government, the system users for conspiracy to rob and murder me
4. Satan's monkeys will kill you
5. You have no rights on this hell on earth planet
6. Your leaders have gone insane but they won't put them in the asylum to rob them

I thought the first one was a gig poster for a new techno group. Now, you might think that reading these rantings made me pull the curtains that bit tighter and check that the locks, chains and bolts on the front door were secure before going to bed with a baseball bat and the Abingdon Police Station number programmed into my phone's speed dial. Actually, much to my own surprise, I found that I was more concerned for the well being of the "nutter", who has at least enough sense about him to operate a PC and printer. I deduced from the posters that he most probably has been a victim of a confidence trick or maybe even a burglary. Anyway, I was going to go over last night to check everything was alright (although clearly it wasn't!), but the posters had been taken down, so I might leave it a day or 2 and then do my good neighbourly duty to check they haven't been murdered in their bed. By lasers.

I still have to report on the ear candle exercise, but I'm a bit bored of it now so maybe I won't, which is a shame because I was going to use it as a cover to fake the existence of arse candles for dealing with constipation.

The only other thing to report is that, following my proclamation of hatred for the Rocky Horror Picture Show recently, I came face to face with a fan on Tuesday evening and with typical English cowardice made a number of non confrontational comments in response to her exhortation of it being, "absolutely brilliant". When the subject came up initially and I made a face she actually said, "don't you like cult films then?". This kind of question interferes with my brain logic as it's based on the premise that the film is "cult", and gets lumped in with Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver, The Godfather etc, whereas I think it's just "shit". I think I muttered an apology along the lines of "I don't really like musicals". But then it got worse and she said, "Oh, but it's so much more than that. Didn't you do the dressing up and have RHPS parties an that?". And inside myself I was cringing and screaming, "NO I BLOODY DIDN'T!!!!". I hope that my face was saying something along the lines of, "I want to remain friends with you, so please stop saying you like the Rocky Horror Picture Show!!".

And lastly, I followed a woman up the stairs today that smelled of steak and kidney pudding. Maybe she had one in her bag? And then I did a poo that looked like a brown lemon, which really hurt.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Phew, I'm stuffed now after eating my hat-shaped humble pie. Apparently, Robbie Williams' low chart entry last week was based on download figures ONLY. This week the single is released fully and the CDs have duly been flying out. He is now sitting pretty at number 4 in the Top 40 singles chart. I think, especially after recently being taken in so blindly by the current "ear candle" craze (separate story), I will return to treating all vigorous and emotional claims and reports with the suspicion and scepticism that I used to. I'm still embarrassed by him, but it would appear as though his fans aren't quite so.

But I've been thinking about the reasons behind this strange new practice of splitting up the single sales, which initially presents the artist as a shadow of their former selves entering at an unusually low position on the first week of release. Maybe this is a new strategy by the record companies in their attempts to whip up interest and hyperbole surrounding the artist prior to the release of their new album?

Instead of seeking out and coveting titles such as, "Highest new entry" or "Straight in at No 1" (SIANO), they're now angling for, "This weeks highest climber" (TWHC), a more common occurrence in "the olden days" of the Top 40, before the saturation of radio and TV pre-release promotion began to ensure a No 1 entry. I can see that the title of TWHC could become a useful device in the publicity machine's arsenal. It imparts a sense of struggle, achievement and finally domination of the charts, specifically over the bulk of it's other lesser, weak and embattled inhabitants. Maybe the buying public have become rather non-plussed at DJ's exclamation of "Straight in at No 1"? Such a high entry, with no visible effort involved (all the work being done "off-chart") could be perceived as the equivalent of someone easing into a top position or role with all the secret hand-shaking of a well connected ex-public schoolboy. The old Etonian graduating straight into a cushy Army officer position while the regular conscripted privates have to prove themselves through demonstration of skill, guts and hard work in order to climb the ladder (chart) of success and recognition.

Also on my mind today is the question of why did our next door neighbours leave a decapitated kestrel on their lawn for a week?

1. It was there as a deterrent to other kestrels, or falcons in general
2. It was a sacrifice
3. It was a new kestrel each day
4. They threw it away, but their cat kept returning it
5. They think it looks pretty, ergo, they are mad
6. They are lazy and don't find the thought of a decomposing bird on their lawn a problem

My money is on number 6 (thankfully), as on Sunday when I looked out of our bedroom window it had gone. I later found though that they had simply chucked it over their hedge onto the grass in front of our houses. How frigging lazy is that? So now you want us all to share in the odour, unpleasantness and risk to health by moving the dead bird 4 metres North off your property? Cheers, idiots.

And, I have finally found out where the bare-chested stomper lives. This is a chap that can be seen, shirt off in all weathers, stomping into Abingdon from Drayton, pretty much every morning with a rucksack on his back. He's silver haired and leathery, almost a bit Tolkein-esque, and stomps purposefully (angrily?) into town each day to do, "I don't know what". He looks past retirement and although it is very commendable wanting to keep active to ensure good health, it still seems like slightly unusual behaviour. Maybe this can be explained a little following my discovery of where he lives.

A couple of months ago I noticed that one of the houses along the cycle path that I use had some new fences erected along what looked like the gravelled area of their drive. The fences run alongside the road with a gated entrance\exit for the cars to pass through. A couple of weeks ago I further noticed that there was a lot of splintered wood on the cycle path and stones and churned up grass by the verge. Looking across the road to the apparent origin of the debris I saw that the fences had been smashed down. What was unusual was that the debris and damage was outside of the property and indicated that someone had driven through the fence out into the road and up the verge on the other side. Last Monday I saw the Silver Stomper closing the door to the garage on this property, his property, pull his rucksack on and stomp off toward Abingdon. Knowing where he lives and seeing the car damage set a little chain of thoughts going in my head.

Theory: He has tried and failed to get to grips with cars and driving. There are no bus stops where he lives and so he has to walk into Abingdon. He's getting on a bit and his wife has badgered him to try taking the car instead. He tries to drive in. On starting the car in the morning he finds that he or his wife left the car in first gear. It starts up and drives through his new fence, smashing it to pieces. He goes back into the house, kills his wife in a fury with his bare hands, chops her up and transports her, a piece at a time, to Abingdon to feed to the ducks on the river.

Right now I'm listening to Return To Forever's Romantic Warrior as part of a diverse musical appreciation exercise and I really wish I wasn't.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The penultimate question in a job application for the National Deaf Children's Society:

"How did you hear about this job?".

Just me, or is that slightly tactless? Surely, "How did you learn about this job?", might have been more appropriate?

Eek, I know there was vitriol in the last post but I am actually embarrassed for Robbie Williams this week as I discover that he entered the charts at number 30, which I think equates to something like 7000 actual sales...that is phenomenally bad, not just by RW standards. Although worryingly we also have the much respected, eagerly anticipated (etc etc) new Muse single in at a barrel-scrapingly low 38. General malaise in the singles charts methinks, as predicted every single week by regular music chart pundits.

Interesting thing Wikipedia, it tells me that Mark Ronson, hip hop producer and friend to Jay Z, Ghostface, Nate Dogg, Sean Paul etc, produced 3 tracks on the new RW LP - what?! are you doing?!! My god, take off your street cred now, fold it up neatly, put it in a shoebox (or a Rudebox), add a handful of mothballs and store it away in your Gran's wardrobe, you sad old git. Even if you did get paid a massive wedge of cash.

On the subject of the Jigga Man, I just remembered that we're going to see
Jay-Z at the Royal Albert Hall on the 27th September and we are going to be blinging it massive; popping Cristal corks from the Royal Box and sipping on Hennessey, Remy and VSOP, boyeeeeeeee!!!

Went to Oxford on Saturday and I think the chap that does the motionless Native American Indian performance (riveting it is) has split up with his statuesque squaw\girlfriend, cos she isn't there anymore. Not surprising really though is it? I can't help thinking that he was the one with the idea: the instigator. When they first got together he was probably very normal and charming; took her out, bought her nice presents, laughed at her jokes etc. Then as time went on she caught glimpses of unusual behaviour in their relationship. A dreamcatcher here, a pair of suede moccasins there, buffalo steaks for supper and the smoking of an unfeasibly long pipe afterwards, sentences prefixed with the word "Um" and peppered with "heap big" and "forked tongue" references. Before she knew it she was taking part in his bizarre Red Indian fantasies, dressed as a squaw standing and facing open ridicule in the middle of Oxford. He probably told her to dismiss the ignorant "white man" and just accept the coins with which he could buy them "smoke sticks" and "fire water" from the traders. Probably.

Unless she was abducted? Maybe an evil Yankee Cavalry Captain statue kidnapped her (in slow motion) because the brave refused to scout for him and he can't tell anyone because he has to be a statue and then when it comes to half past five he'll suddenly break character, fall to his knees, bereft and crying and howling her name into the startled masses of shoppers in Cornmarket Street? Then he'll track them down the Botley Road using footprints and broken twigs, catch up with them at the Park and Ride and scalp the Captain with the replica tomahawk he got from eBay. Maybe.

Nothing else has happened.

Friday, September 01, 2006

34 goddamn, mother freakin' mozzie bites in one day. And so far I have exerted superhuman self control over the urge to itch every single one of the bastards until each irritated mound is decapitated, bloody and left weeping a clearish orangey liquid. Sonofabitch.

On a lighter note, Toby walked into a lamp post tonight and cut the top of his head. Although only a small cut it still pissed blood down his face causing him to clutch his head and stumble around in a deranged manner, preventing us getting a good look at what had happened. He wasn't really in shock, just yelling a lot, so when he calmed down and the blood had stopped leaking out, I picked him up. Careful not to get any blood on my nice Kozyndan rabbit t-shirt, I later found that he had sheep shit on his trainers which ended up smeared over my nice new Ozeki jeans. Cheers.

He's been in the wars a fair bit recently actually on and off. On holiday at Cawood Castle near York at the weekend and, in the medieval spirit of things, I bought him a sword. He was playing at being Darth Vader chopping down some nettles round the back of the castle with his "light saver". I warned him that if he struck them down they, "would become more powerful that he could possibly imagine". He didn't listen to me or my Obi Wan paraphrased warning and the thrashed nettles caught round his sword, whipped back and stung him on the hands and back of the head. He couldn't hear me saying, "told you so" as he was crying too much.

Oh Jesus I've just remembered about that new Robbie Williams single, "Rude Box". Holy shit, what a load of toilet. I suppose I wasn't really that shocked when I saw the video and what he was wearing, it was a more a resigned acceptance that I would be groaning with embarrassment less than 5 seconds in. He's sporting an 'old school' break-dancer Adidas tracksuit (metallic green no less, with 'rasta' red, gold and green collar and cuffs - eek) with a low cut tee (gay) and Adidas trainers. He looks as embarrassing as Prince Charles trying to body pop back in 1847 or whenever it was. He looks like your Dad wearing your clothes. He name checks TK Maxx. He looks like a COCK!! I forgot, he also samples Sly and Robbie's (pun?) Boops. One of my favourite hip hop\breaking tunes from my middle teens forever destroyed by the Take That coke monkey. What the hell is he trying to do? You've got to get a peek at the video. It's like he wants to make hip hop and breakdancing safe for the 30 something mums that buy his music or something. Perhaps he's on a musical genre crusade to run all types of (scary) music through the RW filter and make it safe for the unadventurous masses. A homogenising, creeping monopoly of all music everywhere. "Scared of all that new 'yoof' music you've been hearing about, but still want to show the kids that you've got 'it'? Then worry no more, simply hand your musical judgement over to Robbie and let him sterilise the most worrying and dangerous of music genres into their various alternatives: Robbie Metal, Robbie Hop and Robbie Reggae.". I really don't like Robbie Williams and I hate all that, "Oh, but he's a good entertainer though". What? You mean he can't really sing or dance, but he can leap and grunt in an entertaining way. Like a monkey? A coked up ex-boy band monkey with no-one to love and no-one loving him except super safe 30 something mums boogieing whilst hoovering. People drop into conversation sentences like, "Oh yeah we're going to see Robbie Williams at the weekend" and they think that that's fine. To me it's akin to saying, "We're just off to a Rocky Horror Picture Show weekender dressed, hilariously, as characters from the film, please feel free to urinate on us". Actually, don't get me started on the frigging Rocky Horror Picture Show either!!!