Monday, 28 October 2013

books about parrots

Once upon a time l used to be a voracious reader of philosophical novels and existential classics.  Now l am reduced to reading self published books about parrots.
I think it's time for my euthanasia pill.

toodle pip

Sunday, 27 October 2013

lou reed has died

Damn! I've just heard that Lou Reed has died.  One of my heroes, and someone who mythologised the seedy and decadent rock and roll existence better than anyone, especially in his Velvet Underground days. The man who inspired me to go to Lexington 125 to buy drugs when New York was still dangerous.
He was also a writer of tender love songs, a true poet, and a famously curmudgeonly character.
I for one (but amongst many others), will miss him.

toodle pip

Saturday, 26 October 2013

he kills coppers - jake arnott (plus some charlie brown)

'He Kills Coppers' was recommended to me, as l was unaware of  Jake Arnott's oeuvre (so to speak), but l must admit, it was a rollicking tale, and a change from my normal reading.
Three policemen are shot and killed (you could have guessed that bit) while the World Cup is being staged in London, 1966, and there's also a crackdown on vice around Soho, but corruption in the police force. Tony Meehan, (a would be newspaper reporter) is on the case and like Frank Turner,  the police protagonist, is very ambitious (but with a secret vice of his own).   The main killer of the policemen, Billy Porter, manages to escape justice, and the action leaps to 1971 and 1985, taking in football hooliganism, politics, changes in policing tactics, miners strikes, Margaret Thatcher (milk snatcher), CND, Class War, and much more inbetween.
All the more convincing for being a believable story that doesn't go over the top, probably because real events and people are used and referenced (The Krays and Richardsons, Lord Longford etc).  The cop killer himself that went on the run is based on the true story of Harry Roberts, who is still in prison for killing some policemen in Shepherds Bush, 1966, and who also went on the run, evading capture by hiding in Epping Forest. He used to be used by anti police groups as something to taunt the 'rozzers' with ("Harry Roberts is our friend - he kills coppers etc").
This was adapted for TV (as was Arnott's 'The Long Firm') so l may check it out to compare and contrast, although adaptations of books l have read usually let me down, as they are never as good as my own imagination and perception of them.  This goes back for me as far as the Charlie Brown and Peanuts movies, which annoyed me intensely because the accents seemed so wrong after devouring the books and hearing my own voices (l still do!).

toodle pip

Friday, 25 October 2013

george best - stylo matchmakers and blue suede adidas sambas

Much as l loved the great and good George Best, l got well and truly suckered into buying a pair of his endorsed  football boots (above) with my hard earned paper round money when l was a kid.
They were crap.
That didn't stop me buying a pair of the Ben Sherman George Best trainers that were modelled on them a few years ago (now stored away in  the original box).
As for my blue suede Adidas Sambas also purchased from paper round earnings....................
Magnificent.  I can still remember the smell of them when l took them out of their box.

A classic of the trainer world, despite their overuse during the Brit pop years.

I think it's time for a lie down.  l feel a bit giddy with the trainer fumes flashback and thoughts of Bestie.

toodle pip

Thursday, 24 October 2013

the mad system at the post office

Sometimes, the system really needs to be changed, and it's a good job l am easy going.
I wasn't at home the other day when the postman tried to deliver a book l had ordered, so he put a card through my letterbox like the one above, to say l could pick up the parcel from the local sorting office in Richmond, or phone for it to be redelivered when l am in.  As l was going to Richmond today, l foolishly called in at the sorting office to pick the parcel up in person.
Due to past experiences there with insufficient ID, l bought along my passport, driving licence and a document showing that l lived at the address the parcel was to be delivered to.  However, because l had lost my 'Sorry you were out card', they would not give me the parcel, even though they went and got it.  They did not doubt l was the person it was for, or that l lived at the address on it, plus it was right in front of me while the matter was being discussed.
Apparently, due to their system with the 'Sorry' cards, it would have to be sent out again, and if l was not in, they would put another card through my letterbox for me to pick up the parcel.  I tried in vain to explain that this was all madness, creating extra work for them and an inconvenient wait for me, but to no avail. Therefore, the parcel directly in front of me had to be put back and earmarked for delivery the next day, no matter what proof of ID l had, as that would mess up the precious system.  It's a good job l wasn't  doing something like going away on holiday the next day, as it would probably have ended up being returned to the sender.
Cynical old me thinks that maybe this is all part of a systematic plot to undermine the post office and make the organisation look pathetically inept and mismanaged, so l won't be upset at it being sold off,  with the belief that things can only get better with new owners.
It is pathetically inept and mismanaged, but then again, just because l am a cynical old cove, doesn't mean l am wrong about their plot.

toodle pip

EDIT   The parcel got delivered and l didn't even have to sign for it.  So what happens now if l find the original 'Sorry' card? Especially if l take it to the sorting office and say the parcel hasn't arrived?
I've a good mind to do this next time l get one (pretend l've lost it and then take it up once l've got the parcel).  That will fuck up their precious system.

Once again, toodle pip

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

university voyeur gets let off

Daniel Steven John, a postgraduate student at Durham University working on Dark Matter, has just been cleared of voyeurism, despite being caught in the act, and admitting he was doing so.
The defence was that he was not seeking a sexual thrill, and because John had been suffering from depression and contemplating suicide, he had been carrying out reckless acts for an adrenaline rush, hence the peeking under and over the toilets and showers of female students. He also said in his defence that he had stolen from colleagues, but then returned the items before they had noticed that they were missing.
Now depression can be a terrible ailment, but going by the newspaper report in The Northern Echo on 17th October, this all stinks to high heaven as far as l am concerned.
Firstly it seems as though there is no proof that he took any of his colleagues possessions, or that he contemplated suicide, as stated in his defence.  OK, he may well have been depressed, but does that excuse the voyeuristic behaviour, as, whether it was for a sexual thrill or an adrenaline kick, the victims still had to suffer, and who knows how many more unsuspecting victims there were? Does that mean that if l am caught drink driving tomorrow, l can blame it on depression and say it was for the thrill of the chase?  Shoplifting? Would l get away with that if l was trying to get a buzz out of outwitting the store detectives?  The list could go on and on, and l could bring up (or invent) all sorts of past misdemeanants that l had done and got away with, trying to obtain some kind of rush or meaning to life because l was depressed and had contemplated suicide (which sane person hasn't?).
There was apparently no fine, community order, suspended sentence, or an undertaking that he must receive treatment (which l bet he started after he got caught).
Methinks if he was not a (probably posh) post graduate student at Durham, and not had a consultant psychologist and a no doubt top lawyer defending him, it would be a completely different matter.
If 'crazy' Bazzer, Mazzer, Gazzer or Dazzer from down our way had done this, relying on their legal aid team (for however long that lasts) the outcome would have been completely different.
Pah!!  Once again, 'If that is justice, l'm a banana'

toodle pip

a woodcut of the moon

A rather splendid woodcut of The Moon, available to buy from tugboat printshop.  A snip at $550.
Rather sadly, l seem to have mislaid my bank card.

toodle pip

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

benefit fraud

This relates to the year 2011/12.  More benefit remains unclaimed, and don't get me started on the tax avoidance of the rich.

toodle pip

other life forms / possible masters

As l think space is infinite and therefore has infinity possibilities regarding life on other planets, I've also often thought that if we ever get to come into contact with another  life form, they may look like some of the creatures that have evolved on our own planet, that look really strange compared to even the strangest looking human.
Three examples are above.  The top one is a human head louse on a strand of hair, the middle one is a mosquito, and the bottom one a fly.
Just think of how quickly a fly reacts as you try to swat it. One day their larger space travelling relatives may be our masters (and l bet they will be pissed off).
You have been warned.

toodle pip

Monday, 21 October 2013

first day of office training

A novelty day at work today, as myself and another employee provided training for Fire Safety and Safety of Vulnerable Adults.  We had both done in house training before, but this was the first time either of us had to hire an office / training room, and then present the training there, using power-point and white boards.  All went well, and everyone went away brimming with enthusiasm, and with their heads full of knowledge, clutching their hard earned certificates as they disappeared into the sunset, skipping gaily. We on the other hand, went to the pub (I was persuaded to go).
I would however, like to point out that the above training picture IS NOT ME!! (I am much cooler)

toodle pip 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

various wagon wheel covers and the early bob dylan 'rock me mama' track

As l stated in my earlier post about Old Crow Medicine Show's 'Wagon Wheel' song, it's rapidly become a classic, and there are cover versions a plenty, so here...fill your boots.

The Bob Dylan unreleased early rough and unfinished version

Darius Rucker (from Hootie and the Blowfish)

Nathan Carter

Matt Anderson (great voice).  I thought my brother lived in Leeds.

Mumford and Sons (with others), having a good time.

toodle pip

the magnificent seven and some of it's foreign film posters



The Magnificent Seven is an overrated film as far as l am concerned, but seeing as it was just repeated on TV, l got suckered into watching it again.  Although l do like it generally, the main selling point is seeing such huge stars together in the same movie, even allowing for some overacting aplenty (Robert Vaughan and Horst Buchholz, l'm looking at you two).  There's also some cool and measured performances by Yul Bryyner, Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and Eli Wallach is always a splendidly swarthy and sweaty bad guy, but it's pretty slow paced in parts, and the ending seems to drag on, and then finish too suddenly.
The soundtrack is by Elmer Bernstein, which is one of the most stirring of all time, so a couple of hours can still fly by before you can manage to drag yourself up to put the kettle on (or maybe that's just my sloth like laziness).
I've only had the DVD of The Seven Samurai (the film it's based on) for about two or three years.  Maybe l should get around to watching that, as l have never seen it before, and it's meant to be much better.
So little time...

toodle pip.

hiding the elephant - jim steinmeyer

I've been picking up and re-reading Jim Steinmeyer's 'Hiding the Elephant' over the last month or so, a few pages or a chapter at a time, and it's just as interesting the second time around, as he knows what he is talking about, being a designer of  special effects and a magic consultant for the likes of David Copperfield.
Telling the tales of the Victorian (and earlier) magicians who paved the way for the current crop, it documents the original ideas for tricks, and the backstabbing, stealing and double crossing that followed the inventions, plus the intertwining lives, relationships and legacies of the masters.  Some such as Harry Keller, Howard Thurston, John Nevil Maskelyne, David Devant and Harry Houdini became famous and made a fortune, while others were cast aside as their illusions were stolen.
The 'Hiding the Elephant' title comes from an illusion that Houdini (and Jennie the elephant) performed many times at The New York Hippodrome, a place l would loved to have seen magic performed at. The size of it was staggering (the hall, not the elephant).  War battles could be re-enacted on the stage, while below, it held a huge water tank to stage sea battles.  It must have been staggering, especially for an audience years ago. You (or at least l do) also forget that they used smaller mechanical props such as butterflies and blooming flowers, and once they got the hang of using mirrors correctly, could make people appear and disappear. Then they started sawing people in half.
Levitation, ghosts, spiritualism, disappearing donkeys, women and cars, escapology and slight of hand, it's all brilliant stuff, but it has now made me want to read 'Carter beats the Devil' (by Glen David Gold) again. Damn!! You've got to put the hours in!
Here's Houdini and Jennie the elephant (not Nellie. She went to town and said goodbye to the circus)

And here's some old posters

toodle pip

Saturday, 19 October 2013

some of the albums l've been listening to today, and my favourite tracks from them.

Bob Dylan - Another Self portrait box set.  When the album 'Self Portrait' first came out, it was famously reviewed by Greil Marcus, who started with 'What is this shit?', as it was indeed crap compared to what Dylan had produced before. However, the album has grown on me over the years, and the box set (part of the bootleg series) has some decent out-takes, plus the Isle of man concert, but it's nowhere near as good as some of the earlier bootleg series releases. Not a release l will listen to all of the way through on a regular basis, but it helps keep me out of mischief.

Jesse Winchester's album suffers because it is dominated by Black Dog, the last song on the album, which is unlike the previous tracks on the record, but a magnificent piece of work (later covered by Babe Ruth amongst others). Otherwise it's a slightly better than usual country lp.

'No Such Place' is also a country type album, but a lot more modern sounding, and with better songs overall. Jim White's singing puts across a tale in a believable and emotive way, and the standout track for me is the first one, 'Handcuffed to a fence in Mississippi'.

Old Crow Medicine Show sound like an updated old country band, but once again, there is one standout track, the much covered 'Wagon Wheel', which has become a standard in a short amount of time.  I know Bob Dylan wrote the bare bones of the song (naturally l've got the unreleased version), but the way it has been added to by OCMS (and then performed) makes it into something special.

Dion is a long way from his hits such as 'Runaround Sue' on this record, and 'Born To Be With You' has a big Phil Spector production, coupled with a moody atmosphere and vocal performance.  Sometimes sounding a bit like John lennon's 'Rock and Roll' album from the same period, which is no great surprise, as Phil Spector produced that as well. It gets better with repeated plays, and like most of the music above, is probably best listened to late at night in a darkened room.

I've realised these albums make me look like a sad old git, so here's something noisy l revisited as well (I watched some of my DVD of it).  Nine Inch Nails at Woodstock, performing 'Wish' in the mud, the blood, and the beer.  One of my favourite shows, even if Trent Reznor was apparently not that keen on their performance (idiot).

Right - time for Match of the Day!

toodle pip

the stones - a tribute to the rolling stones

Damn!  I was thinking about going to see The Stones tonight, but after watching the football and prating about, it started pissing down with rain and thundering, so l couldn't be bothered, and stayed in instead, reading, listening to music and watching films (the usual stuff).
Ah well, better luck next time.  I'm off out tomorrow though, no matter what the weather is like.  I have to - l've run out of wine!

toodle pip

a shell shocked soldier from 1916

A shell shocked soldier from 1916.
He looks as happy as me on a good night out.

toodle pip

everybody loves a pirate

Who's this little scamp dressed up as a pirate?  Non other than the current president of the good old US of A (that's America to non  Americans) , who has just faced down the Republicans and the Tea Party. Yessireeee ladies and gentleman, it's non other than Barack Obama himself.  Because everybody loves a pirate.
On a related note, l used to be a bootlegger, rogue and rodgerer, and here's my new parrot talking back.   Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr me shipmates, a man and his parrot, what on Gods green earth could be more satisfying? (or could send them both insane).  Man or feathered beast - it's a battle of will and intellect (I think l am in trouble)

toodle pip

Friday, 18 October 2013

marilyn monroe touched up

The past is a foreign country, and who's to say what is true and what is not.  I have seen loads of tinted photographs over the many years l have been striding this puny Godforsaken Earth like a colossus amongst the little people, but the four tinted pictures of Marilyn Monroe above really emphasise how images / events can be manipulated by the artists / manipulators. All are obviously identical photographs, but the alterations made make you question what is real (or as The Beatles would say - 'Nothing is real').
Whatever the colours (or lack of them) Marilyn still looks pretty damn foxy, and l wouldn't have minded touching her up myself (so to speak).
Images courtesy of Shrorpy.

toodle pip

Thursday, 17 October 2013

harry houdini in scotland, 1920 (and kraftwerk)

Although it's not Sky breaking minute by minute rolling news material, I saw this for the first time the other day, and it's news to me (for whatever that is worth). It's a photograph of Harry Houdini in 1920, performing in Scotland, and it has only just been unearthed (last year) and displayed after 92 years, by The Scotland Herald. Prints are available to buy from their website, and although the photograph is trimmed, it's magnificent.  The assistants look like members of Kraftwerk, and it is (as far as l know) the first photograph of the Chinese Water Torture Cell that shows the straps on the front.  I always think of Houdini as an American performer from donkey years ago, but he performed in Scotland many times, and 1920 is not that long ago in the great scheme of things.

Here's Houdini being lowered into the Cell (but not in Scotland)

Just the sort of magic and escapology l'd loved to have been around to witness, as it was all new at the time. Sometimes l wish l was older than l am, so l could have witnessed more monumental events (but not that old).

And here's Kraftwerk (mit Autobahn)

toodle pip

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

the spastic society advert / poster

A great advert / poster from The Spastic Society (now known as Scope).  Very simple (no that's not meant as a joke), but it gets the message across in a direct way.

toodle pip