Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Seven Ages Of Gordie - #2

My Age:

What Happened:

How I Coped:


Learned to read and walk.
Reading was brilliant. Walking was crap. Discovered that falling over and cutting myself used to really upset my mother.

My father told me not to upset my mother. So I didn't.I decided to stay indoors. Discovered a world in which I felt much more at home. Warmer, too...

Monday, 29 September 2008

The Seven Ages of Gordie - #1

My Age:

What Happened:

How I Coped:


I was born, prematurely, into a place where a lot of people were trying to hurt my mother. Then my mother was sent away, and I was put into a box and looked after by people who communicated with me by pinching my feet.

Decided I had got off the wrong station,
and was probably from another planet.
Adopted policy of stubborn refusal.
Said 'NO' to everything.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Friendship Is Light

This is not how I feel today, unfortunately, but it's how I try to be.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Music From Mathematics

Last week, I blogged about the Human League, two of whom were computer operators in the days when computers filled an entire room.

This is the IBM7090 mainframe, which was sold from 1959 until 1963. It was the second generation of transistorised computers, and a typical system sold for $2,900,000 or could be rented for $63,500 a month. The picture was taken in the NASA mission control computer room, where a pair of 7090 was used to help America's first manned space flight, Friendship 7, piloted by John Glenn.

In 1961, the IBM 7090 became the first computer to sing and compose music, and have a record released.

"With the development of this equipment carried out at the Bell Telephone Laboratories, the composer will have the benefits of a notational system so precise that future generations will know exactly how the composer intended his music to sound. He will have at his command an "instrument" which is itself directly involved in the creative process. "

If you've ever seen the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" you might remember the HAL9000 computer, and the scene where Dave Bowman dismantles HAL and the computer's consciousness starts to disintegrate.

Eventually, HAL regresses to infancy, and sings the song "Daisy Bell(A Bicycle Built for Two)". That song comes from the IBM 7090, and is Side 1, Track 3 of 'Music From Mathematics'. The IBM 7090 also impersonates a honky-tonk piano.

M.V. Mathews and the IBM 7090 - Bicycle Built For Two

Found at bee mp3 search engine

HAL: "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you. It's called 'Daisy'..."

Friday, 26 September 2008

Warriors In Love

Thanks to Leila at Ramblings of a Confused Mind for bringing me this wonderful quotation from Paulo Coelho.

"To a warrior, there is no such thing as impossible love.

He does not allow himself to be intimidated by silence, or by rejection. He knows that - behind the icy mask people wear - there is a heart of fire.

That is why the warrior risks more than others. He tirelessly seeks a person’s love - even if this means hearing, many times over, the word
‘NO’ , returning home defeated, feeling rejected in body and soul.

A warrior does not allow himself to be overwhelmed in his search for his needs. Without love, he is nothing."

Paulo Coelho

I was the son of a warrior, and I grew up listening to my father talking about war, and wondering what it meant to be a man in peacetime. I knew that my father protected our family, and I knew that I loved him, but I didn't understand about masculinity and love.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Funny. Sexy. Drunk. Italian.

My Age:

My Strange Habit:



Impersonating Dean Martin

Got called 'mad'.
Became a lot more popular.

Dean Martin: Funny. Sexy. Drunk. Italian.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Going back to the house at Sandygate Lane.
In search of demons and strangeness and truths.

"Ce ne'st pas l'histoire qui se repete, c'est la geography qui ne bouge pas"
It's not history that repeats itself, it's geography that won't move.
(Graffiti, Geneva, 1982)

"Celui qui ne bouge pas ne sent pas ses chaƮnes"
He who doesn't move, doesn't feel his chains.
(Rosa Luxembourg)

Fourth post of the day. As you can tell, I am distracted.

I'm writing. For work. Serious stuff. Going Aaaargh! And reflecting on my nature.

Am I the same person I was when I was thirteen?

Yes... and no. I am his heir.

His executor. I get to unlock the treasure chest of everything that young man put away. I get to play with it, use it, bring it out into the light, fulfil his dreams.

Fulfil his dreams?

I get to decide which of his dreams were worth anything. For I hold the key to his dreams.

That's a responsible job, isn't it?

Went Through A Stage

Peggy Suicide Bomber Llama Bomber Looe

Julian Cope has a new single out.

As we've come to expect from the Arch-Drude Julian, it's got a political message, and a great sing-a-long chorus. It's also enhanced by a Bob Dylan style harmonica solo.

Correction: make that a Bob-Dylan-on-drugs-played-by-Cate Blanchett style harmonica solo.

All The
Blowing-Themselves-Up Motherfuckers
(Will Realise The Minute They Die
That They Were Suckers)

Buy it on Amazon

In short, it's completely bonkers.
Why can''t Richard Dawkins be more like this?

Nightmare By A Rocking Cradle

I am an underachiever.
I'm not being myself.
I'm not in my flow.

The darkness drops again;
But now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W.B. Yates - The Second Coming

It's been a long time since I hated myself.
It's been a long time since I hated my life.
I may be vulnerable to depression
But I've stopped feeling sad;
I've stopped feeling afraid.

The family of demons that took up residence in me, and shaped my life and ensured I survived, have quit their lodgings, and I know they left the place untidy, but they won't be coming back.

Am I happy?

Yes... But

I'm living my days in a spirit of pure avoidance and distraction
I will not be myself.

I stubbornly refuse it.

This must be what got me through my childhood.

"I am going to be a hero. Just not today."

I fancy a big house
Some kids and a horse
I can not quite, but nearly
Guarantee a divorce
I think that I love you
I think that I do
So go on Mister,
Make Miss Me Mrs You

I love you, I love you, I love you ,
Honest I do
I only make jokes to distract myself
From the truth.

I fancy a fast car
A bag full of loot
I can nearly guarantee
you'll end up with the boot

I love you, I love you, I love you ,
Honest I do
I only make jokes to distract myself
From the truth.

Sia Furler

Monday, 22 September 2008

This Used To Be The Future

I bought one of these for 50p

Thirty years ago this week, The Human League released their first single, and British synth-pop was born. (Ta - Da!)

Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh were working as computer operators. This was back in the day when computers filled entire rooms. They bought themselves synthesisers (one of them was a Roland, the other one a Korg, fact fans) and they formed a band. (Ta - Da!)

The name of that band was The Future.

They weren't very good.

Then, in 1978, along came their friend Phil Oakey, with his Northern nasal baritone and his beautiful lopsided hair. They changed their name to The Human League and left The Future behind.

Phil Oakey

Their first single was rather arty and pretentious. It was about silk stockings - but not in a Cyd Charisse way... oh no... Fifteen years after Dylan sang Blowing In The Wind, and seven years before Morrissey sang Meat Is Murder, The Human League kept the tradition alive with the only protest song ever written about silkworms. [*]

"Listen to the voice of Buddha
Saying stop your sericulture
Little people like your offspring
Boiled alive for someone's stocking
Buddha's watching, Buddha's waiting"

Filthy murderers: that's what you lot are.

Johnny Rotten called them 'trendy hippies' in the NME. He was wrong on both counts, but apart from that, he was completely right. David Bowie called them 'the future of pop music'. (He was just wrong. Sexy girls were the future of pop music. They still are. Eventually, The Human League got some sexy girls, and had some hit records.)

I'm sorry to say Phil Oakey now has a lot less hair. (Less hair than Perfect Virgo for example.) There isn't enough to ask his hairdresser to style it lopsided anymore.

So instead, here's a picture of Angus Young from AC/DC. Angus still appears on stage in his school uniform, even though he's 53.

Parental advisory: lock up your mum.

[*] Unless you count 'Animals Are Cut In Two' by Half-Handed Cloud. But that doesn't mention any species by name. And it's not very good.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Song For My Father

I paid all my dues
I picked up my shoes
I got up and walked away
Oh, I was just a boy
Nobody else to blame...

I’ve worked hard and failed
Now all I can say is
I threw it all away
Oh, I was just a boy
Giving it all away...

Sail away, sail away,
Ooh, I know better now,
I know better now
Giving it all away

Ooh, I know better now,
I know better now
I’ve given it all away...

Went out in the world
Too much for my nerves
Only myself to blame
Oh, I was just a boy
Nobody else to blame...

I’ve done all I can
Now it’s out of my hands
I'll stand on my head and say
Oh, I was just a boy
Giving it all away...

Performed by Roger Daltrey
Written by Leo Sayer and Dave Courtney

How The Internet Works Or Not

Did you realise, if you Google

Jam milk bottles

the top entry in the results is...

Ellen MacArthur's blog!

A pirate's life is the life for me

Now please be good enough to read the post below this one, which is about Billy Elliot, The Jam, and milk bottles, and is dedicated to my mum. Thank you very much.

Song For My Mother

I think I'm old enough now to say these words and mean them. (And I didn't boil over, and it's now the weekend.)

Stop apologising
For the things you`ve never done,
Because time is short
and life is cruel.
But it`s up to us to change.

("Dance, you little twat")

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Death Letter

Today is an anniversary in my life. Today was the day my step-daughter died. She used to call me 'Daddy'. It was her idea, and it worked very well for me.

Around four in the afternoon, we were allowed into the mortuary at the hospital where she died, and I remember holding her and hugging her, and talking to her, and trying to figure out how to love a dead person.

Blues music. It's what I need at moments like this.

I got a letter this morning
What d’you reckon it read?
"Hurry home because
The gal you love is dead"
Got a letter this morning
What do you reckon it read?
It said, "Hurry, hurry!
"Because that gal you love is dead"

I picked up my suitcase
Took off down the road
When I got there she was
Laying on the coolin' board
Yes, I picked up my suitcase
I took off down the road
When I got there
She was laying
'Lain on the coolin' board.

Look like ten thousand people
Standing 'round the burying ground
Didn't know how much I loved her
'Til they began to let her down
Ten thousand people
Standing 'round the burial ground
Didn't know I loved her
'Til they began to lay her down.

Ain’t it hard to love somebody
When that someone can’t love you?
And you know that she ain’t comin' back
No matter what you do?
You know it's hard to love somebody
When that someone can’t love you.
You can't find satisfaction
And you don't care what you do.


Every One Of These Sentences Is The Expression of an Illness

This man is my hero, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I'm thinking of him today because he once found a copy of one his own books (the Tractatus) belonging to a friend (Moritz Schlick, the founder of the Vienna Circle), and he wrote on the flyleaf:

"Every one of these sentences is the expression of an illness."

This week, I've been writing. And last week too. My whole bloody life has been writing. And I have felt so inarticulate. I've been feeling constipated; not literally but verbally and intellectually.

I come to my blog to try and express something. I go to other people's blogs to read them and leave comments. Not much happens. A joke, a cartoon, a fragment of a song.

Somewhere inside me, I have a PhD. And once I have written it, I have a life beyond it. (Go me!) Today, every one of my sentences feels like the expression of an illness.

I first discovered I could write when I was six years old. Until then, I'd read books, devoured them avidly.
Is there anything left?
Maybe steak and eggs?
Waking up to washing up
Making up your bed
Lazy days
My razor blade
Could use a better edge.

Books were wonderful things.

As soon as I had a school teacher who encouraged me to write, I started telling stories, and didn't want to stop.

But that was then.

I've been talking to my Friendly Neighbourhood Wise Woman about the hell of writing for almost a year.

A couple of weeks ago, she suggested that maybe "constipation" wasn't the right medical metaphor for what I'm doing.

She thinks I am giving birth to myself.
Will we still be writing
In approaching years?
Stifling yawns on Sundays
As the weekends disappear?



I think I can work on that...

We could stretch our legs
If we`d half a mind
But don`t disturb us
If you hear us trying
To instigate the structure
Of another line or two
Cause writing`s lighting up
And I like life enough
To see it through


Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Today has been a Fucked-Up Day

I actually decided I wasn't going to post this one,
but then ILTV posted a nice U2 lyric and I thought again.Blogging - it isn't just there for the nice things in life.

Today has been a fucked-up day
Today has been a fucked-up day
Today has been a fucked-up day
Looks like tomorrow'll be the same old day

Today has been a fucked-up day
Today has been a fucked-up day
Today has been a fucked-up day
Looks like tomorrow'll be the same old day

There's people runnin' up and down the line
With grocery bags on they heads
And dollar bills pasted onto their faces
Squeegee in their hand

Woo, woo, woo...


In The Repository of Dangerous Things

I'm simmering today...

I may boil over before the weekend.
I hope not.

The Repository of Dangerous Things is a defunct webcomic by Amanda Hardy. If you like the look of it, please click through.

(click to enlarge)

I am easily distracted, and I want to believe oversimplified advice from people I probably shouldn't trust.

I wonder... how would I do with Janet?

Aw, what the heck. Maybe I should lose all interest in self-control for a wee while. After all, what good did it ever do me, apart from keeping me out of prison, and saving innocent lives?

That's When You Fall - #1

Down Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford & Fitzroy, Madame George

Marching with the soldier boy behind
He much older now
With hat on drinking wine
And that smell of sweet perfume
Comes drifting through
The cool night air like Shalimar

And outside they're making all the stops
The kids out in the street collecting bottle-tops
Gone for cigarettes and matches to the shops
Happy takings Madame George

That's when you fall
That's when you fall
Yeah, that's when you fall.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

Jenny has a sweet tooth, but an acid tongue.

I went to a cobbler
To fix a hole in my shoe
He took one look at my face
And said, "I can fix that hole in you"

I beg your pardon?
I'm not looking for a cure
I've seen enough of my friends
In the depths of the godsick blues

You know I am a liar
You know I am a liar
Nobody helps a liar

Because I've been down to Dixie
And dropped acid on my tongue
Tripped upon the land
Until enough was enough

I was a little bit lighter
And adventure on my sleeve
I was a little drunk
And looking for company

So I found myself a sweetheart
With the softest of hands
We were unlucky in love
But I'd do it all again

We build ourselves a fire
We build ourselves a fire
But you know I am a liar
You know I am a liar

And you don't know what I've done...

By the rolling river is
Exactly where I was
There was no snake-oil cure
For unlucky in love

To be lonely is a habit
Like smoking or taking drugs
And I've quit them both
But man, was it rough

Now I am tired
It just made me tired
Let's build ourselves a fire
Let's build ourselves a fire.

Jenny Lewis

My 10cc Top Ten

If we all post a 10cc Top Ten, Sarah Palin will explode!

I read it in Betty's Utility Room, so it must be true, because Betty's is the Digbeth Coach Station of blogging, innit.

I don't like chain letters, but this one is easy-peasy and too good to miss.

  1. (Do The) Sacro-Iliac
  2. The Dean and I
  3. Wall Street Shuffle
  4. Silly Love
  5. Rubber Bullets
  6. Art For Art's Sake
  7. Somewhere In Hollywood
  8. Bee In My Bonnet
  9. Worst Band In The World
  10. One Night In Paris

Here's a new dance that you all can do
Baby, baby, what's he gonna do?
Sit back and relax 'cos it's good for you
Baby, baby, what's he gonna do?
what's he gonna say?
He's takin' my breath away

Well if you're tired of doing the Boogaloo
And you're afraid of doing the Swim
'Cos you think you will drown
In the noise of the record
And the klutz on the floor
He ain't there anymore
'Cos all you wanna do
Is be alone at the bar
All you wanna do is be alone at the bar

You wanna drown in your cocktail
You wanna leave with the laundry

If your mind is trippin'
But your disc is slippin'
Here's what you gotta do -
In any tempo and any rhythm

C'mon Mac do the sacro-iliac
C'mon back do the sacro-iliac
I said c'mon back do the sacro-iliac
Well it's easy
Here's the new dance that you 'll wanna do
So easy
Don't want to annoy ya with my paranoia

Now I'm doing the dance that is good for me
Baby, baby, what's it gonna be?
I ain't no Astaire, but I've a right to be
Baby, baby, when's he gonna learn?
Where's he gonna stay?
He's taken my breath away

Well I'm bored with the beat of the Shing-a-ling
And the Lindy is leaving me cold
'Cos I've never been freaky or funky or laid back
And the lush on the floor
Isn't me anymore
And I never ever wanna be alone
At the bar
Never ever wanna be alone at the bar

So C'mon Mac do the sacro-iliac
C'mon back do the sacro-iliac
Won't you c'mon back do the sacro-iliac
C'mon back do the sacro-iliac
Won't you come on back do the sacro-iliac

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Gift from God


I woke up this morning with so much interest and enthusiasm for what I had to do, that I found myself saying

"Don't waste this! It's a gift from God..."

Our regular expert was not available.

Then I thought: "I wonder how I could say what I'm feeling right now without invoking some kind of monotheistic deity that I don't believe in?" So I figured I'd blog about it.

Unfortunately, Hot Vimto's regular theology and religious affairs expert was not available to offer her advice, so I had to make do with Scarlett Johansson instead.

An inadequate substitute

I know, Dear Reader, there's simply no comparison. But this picture of Ms. Johansson, believe it or not, is the number one match on Google Images when you search for "there is no God".

So, in the absence of a proper theologian, she'll have to do. Credit to Fox News for the picture, and another crazy blogger for the interesting choice of caption.

Now, maybe a higher power is at work here? (See, I never said I didn't believe... I just said I didn't believe in... what I don't believe in, okay?) Because Scarlett, apart from making 'Lost In Translation' and being strip-searched at Heathrow with my best friend (he looks like Bill Murray, allegedly) has also recorded an album of Tom Waits songs.

And Tom Waits has received the thumbs up from the Pope. It makes no sense to me at all, but here's the news.

The Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal, the contents of which are subject to Vatican approval, says that Waits represents “the marginalised and misunderstood”.

Father Antonio Spadaro, 40, who normally writes about literature but is emerging as a Roman Catholic authority on pop music, said that Waits, whose songs include Dragging a Dead Priest, had lived a youthful life of “drugs, alcohol and sex” as an outcast on the streets of California.

He therefore understood “the lower depths” of society, and was able to convey the desperation of those on the margins. His past also enabled him to express their “capacity for hope and instinct for happiness” in “authentic songs devoid of vanity and false illusions”, Father Spadaro said. "

So, maybe that'll be alright then?

"Devoid of vanity and false illusions"

I'm not even going to mention what you get when you Google
"a gift from God"...