five months and a bit.

that's how long it has been since i posted on this. that is, frankly, a bit of a disgrace. it is reconstructive surgery day (the day after boxing day... what? it'll catch on. you'll see) and i am seated on a seat in the family seat in t'yorkshire, groggy from the joy of cricket and its entailed late night drinking gin lime sodas.

it's a monday. and my previous stricture has lain down music as the topic du jour. and so, i share with you a playlist (spotify link). it's called ODDER/WETTER and hopefully has a couple ting that you don't yet know. i made it while pootling about on spotify on the related artists bit. the starting point was the tallest man on earth (youtube link), a swedish singer-songwriter with an early-dylan-shaped indentation in the part of the cerebral cortex responsible for english pronunciation. he is also an impressive enough folk guitar basher and in possession of the honour of being one of only two artists to which my wee brother has ever introduced me (the other is cold war kids). but the main thing about him is his wonderfully bonkers turns of phrase:
i know the leak is going to tell you
there ain't now puppy in your leash
so now he'll fertilize the roses
so I could stay the king you see

also, there's some first aid kit (swedish teenage sisters), slow club (sheffield folk) and scout niblett (nottingham miserabilist and bonnie prince billy acolyte). on which note, i got a phone call from my friend andy on a friday morning a couple of weeks ago. our mutual friend could not take up his ticket to all tomorrow's parties at butlins minehead and did i want a spot in the chalet at a knockdown price. yes. yes, i did.

now. a festival at butlins that i didn't expect? pretty cool, yes? but wait a second. that's not all. all tomorrow's parties (for the uninitiated) is a festival curated by a single band. one band get to choose all the other artists on the bill and usually play a couple times themselves. this one was put together by godspeed you! black emperor. lots of people don't know who they are and subsequently don't find that exciting. but i do and did. they are easily my favourite miserable canadian post-rock band and they should be yours.

much fun was had by all and i made some lovely new friends but the highlight was the fact that they'd picked weird al to close the main stage. ludicrous and beautiful. see you tomorrow.


back in the caledonian hinterland

good morning. i am very excited to be back in edinburgh, prepping for shows. however, as it is a monday, i cannot talk too much about them. i have to focus on music, as per my previous category rule. briefly then, the shows i am, or might be, doing are as follows:
as it is a monday, i thought i would share with you my favourite playlist off of from spotify what i made. i made it for a friend (andrew pugsley) and all of the songs were recorded in the fifties. awesome much? yes. there is some elvis and cash and jerry lee lewis, but the fun proper gets going with professor longhair and his shuffling hungarians. yes. hungarians. shuffling. that is the name of professor longhair's band. it may well be the best song ever.

i hope you enjoy it.


if you'd have known i were coming, you'd have baked a cake

wednesday. and my pre-assigned topic is comedy. useful, as i have a gig to plug. not that anybody reads this. but when this night goes down in legend, there will be record of its happening that can be regarded as basically factual.

the night in question will be in london (more's the pity) and, specifically, soho and, even more specifically, in the escape bar on brewer street. it has to start on time (seven of the pm), cos the venue are being weird and have started advertising their (actually wildly enjoyable) trannyoke night as starting before we usually end. oh well. we're moving after this one.

the night is called tom:foolery, and is an evening of entertainment where all said entertainment is provided by people called thomas. to date we have had the likes of tom stade, tom parry off of pappy's fun club (he is julius in this clip) and devastatingly attractive best newcomer 2007 tom basden. i am the resident tom:pere...

the next one, though, is massive. we will have tom craine, tom deacon, tom price and the majestic tom wrigglesworth. and more toms than that. i shan't mention them all, as you'll get tom blindness. but on the seventh o' this month at seven pm, do make your way down to soho.

PS, if you're called tom, you get in for a quid.


tuesday... what are they again?

i have, along with the coterie (d, h, i & n) just got back from the caledonian hinterland. it was a reminder of many things about scotland. firstly, it's titting cold. secondly, i love it. thirdly, glasgow is the best gig you can ever do. seriously, well done glasgow. it's our fifth year at your lovely comedy festival and we'll be back.
the title of this post refers to the fact i have failed to update this blog six times a week (!) as i thought i would do. and consequently, i have forgotten what tuesdays are supposed to be.

*quickly checks

ah, yes. language. further to the last post, i thought i'd share a love of mine. many of the people who know me will have been subjected, at some point or another, to some caterwauling in spanish. i have, for some time, been mildly obsessed with ricky martin. now, i've only got three ricky albums (that's a small number isn't it? a small number). my favourite things on these miesterworks are the spanish language versions of songs that were hits in english.
y en un rincón, caímos juntos
en un rito de pasión
y al tocar su pielsenti el calor
yo puse el deseo, ella puso el control,
she bangs, she bangs
she does, it would appear, bang. there's no real accounting for the fact i like this. the rest of my record collection is primarily white guys with white guitars. not that i'm proud of that, but it's true. if they've never done a dylan cover, then they probably don't figure highly in my most played artists...

i have sung these songs in spanish at karaoke, at karaoke circus and on my own while walking down hackney streets at night. they're proper good. but at least half of their appeal for me is the spanish language. they remind me that i have the ability to understand what someone speaking FOREIGN is saying. nuts. plus, the lyrics are often beyond stupid.

a case in point is the spanish version of livin' la vida loca (on other counts an exceptionally good song) where credulity stretches to breaking point.
la reina de la noche
la diosa del vudú
yo no podré salvarme
¿podrás salvarte tú?
la tela de la araña,
la uña del dragón
te lleva a los infiernos
ella es tu adicción...
te besa y te desnudo
con tu baile demencial...

it starts soberly enough with reference to the "queen of the night" (prescient, much?) and a "goddess of voodoo". so far, so silly. "i can't save myself" opines our ricky but wonders whether you could save yourself. then it really gets going... "the web of the spider, the nail of the dragon". we presume this is some sort of voodoo recipe, but it's never really explained. skip a bit about hell and we get to "te besa y te desnudo"... she kisses you and strips you. does she? ok. i don't remember that in the english. and then you're doing a "baile demencial" (an insane dance). just brilliant.

in all seriousness, though, good on him for coming out. it's been an open secret for years. i know a fella who overhead ricky martin bitching that george michael had stolen his boyfriend (this was back in 2001) so i've known since then. but i think we all knew.

but now you know that i love ricky martin.


language ii (and apology)

sorry. that's the apology bit done.

i speak, as the more e-agle eyed amongst you will have noticed, basic english. it is not even that much of an effort for me. it just sort of slips out. i have a thought and in no time at all it is sliding through my brain flume into the world on an english language lilo.

sorry. that's a new apology for the dreadful extended metaphor above.

in addition to this i can speak spanish. i learnt it, as one does, at an american school in bangladesh. my teachers were all native speakers: colombian, peruvian, mexican. and i got quite good - i was technically two years ahead of syllabus. but i was nowhere near being the best in the class. that particular honour went to the spectacularly bemonikered maurice ogaick, canadian, best swimmer in the team and all round good egg. he had initially learnt his español in argentina and we all sought to copy him as much as possible. well. i did.

so much so that when i returned to yorkshire for year eleven (tenth grade US readers (upper fifth posh readers (fourth year scottish readers))) and GCSE spanish, i was told that i had a distinct argentinian accent by the teaching assistant from sevilla. thanks, mo. as a sort of side note, i've always been pretty good at accents, both in a comedic sense and otherwise. to be taken seriously with a silly accent, here's a tip: rip the piss with a serious face. it worked when i was learning japanese.

my point is, i think, that the level of language teaching in this country is devastatingly poor. when i arrived back from teh abroadz, i sat at the back of top set spanish. when i was asked a question in spanish, i replied... in spanish. the entire class turned around to look at me with a mixture of amazement and disgust. i shut up pretty quick, sat at the back for a year getting worse at spanish and ended up with an A*. tut.

when i did a-level, i was so out of practice and my teacher so spectacularly rubbish i sort of lost interest until i got a job on the basis that i could speak spanish. it turned out i still could. no thanks to anyone in this country.

last thing... i've always thought that i'd love to have bilingual kids. but, chuck doesn't speak another language so it'd have to be me barking at the little one in pidgin spanish. not an edifying thought. hey, at least he'd have an argentinian accent.



after the lovely wateracre (of whom more when the next tom:foolery gigs start!) and further to my last music post, i don't really have an album of the year for oh nine. so i've decided, like him, to look at the stats. not as simple as it appears, really, as there is not really a huge amount of data. but, according to my iTunes most played AND released in oh nine, here is a list:
  1. bruises - chairlift
  2. one night in october - little comets
  3. always like this - bombay bicycle club
  4. jiggery pokery - the duckworth lewis method
  5. you're not coming home tonight - first aid kit
now, in terms of albums of the year... only one qualifies. i haven't listened to the chairlift album, but humphrey dreadful says it is poor. neither have i listened to the first aid kit or bombay bicycle club albums. i don't know why. and i haven't listened to the little comets album because it doesn't exist yet. (i am SO ahead of some curves). so by default, my album of the year is the duckworth lewis method.

but. i didn't listen to it that much. if we have a look at my stats for top five listened to tracks since we got this computer (in oh nine), none of them were released last year...
  1. the world's greatest - an incredible cover of an r kelly song (who incidentally has just come on my spotify... eerie) by the god that is bonnie 'prince' billy.
  2. hook - blues traveler
  3. let's dance - david bowie
  4. only wanna be with you - hootie and the blowfish (shut up!)
  5. alone again or - love
all wonderful songs. so, in search of more data, i went to my last.fm profile page. this includes music that i've listened to on spotify:
  1. dancing in the dark - bruce springsteen
  2. standing in the way of control - the gossip
  3. hook - blues traveler
  4. does this ean you're moving on? - the airborne toxic event
  5. frankie and albert - taj mahal
once again, not many of them were released in oh nine. in fact, only one: the airborne toxic event (which was released in the uk in january, but in america before that). it is, though, a phenomenal album. a lot of critics were super sniffy about it, saying they'd learnt the lessons of the strokes and arcade fire too well. well, give a fuck. it's a good record. and easily my favourite of the year. it's just odd that not a single album in the eleven months after january made an impact. here's a video of them performing one of the tracks acoustically. weirdly, it sounds a lot like this bob seger track to me. and if you've never heard bob seger, get a grip.



so. this is the second part of my essay. part one is here. i have no doubt that this is confusing and probably unsound thinking, but i want to write a book in the end. so i best get some sentences down.

i'd like to have a crack at the concept of bandwidth: not as in computers and the internet specifically, although that is a useful example. what i mean when i say bandwidth (and it's not my terminology, but i can't remember whose it is - which is ironic if you know the direction this essay eventually goes in) is the quality of information transfer...

it is about systems. and transfer of information in between. if you think of morse code it's likely to be among the simpler forms of communication we've got: a set of beeps stands for a word. on either end of the wire there is, hopefully, a person. inside this person is a veritable swirl of information: thoughts, memories and hopes. so... we have two systems connected via a very simple connection. this is two high bandwidth systems with a low bandwidth connection. it is my contention that interesting things occur, that is, we can learn most about systems, where the bandwidth is restricted.



certain photographs of yourself can set up camp in your brain. they stand for moments, thoughts and images.

while at university, i was heavily involved in the bedlam theatre. it's a fantastic place. due to a series of coincidences and contingencies, i was only really cast in comic roles. i wasn't unduly stressed by this, as i enjoy being funny. but, i did (and do) harbour ambitions as a real actor. my opportunity came about when an ex-girlfriend cast me as jesus. which isn't as twisted as it sounds. cj is (and always was) an artist and the show was an (overlong in retrospect) version of the york cycle of the mystery plays.
eli, eli lema sabacthani
the show was good, and the crucifixion exceptionally bloody. i released four different bodily fluids onto the stage every performance (sweat, spit, tears and vomit). one day, i came offstage after being up on the cross and was snapped by david. i think it was the last night of the show and we had used all the blood we had left.when i look back at the photo, i smile. it stands for the moment i was allowed to do a bit of acting at last, and for the six years i spent in edinburgh in general. but most of all, i think i look cool.

em em ex

just a quick one. not really together enough to write a full post. apologies! first thing in the morning, though.