Thursday, May 27, 2004

Songs of the 1990s #6. 

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
From Automatic for the People, 1993

What can I say about this song? Don't know. It sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it.

What's it all about? Don't know. Someone tell me.

Could have picked any number of R.E.M. songs. R.E.M. is one of those 'love them or hate them' bands, but I don't buy into all that shit, I judge music on its merits and R.E.M.'s music was very, very, very good.

This here is the place I will be staying.
There isn't a number. You can call the pay phone.
Let it ring a long, long, long, long time.
If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more.
If I don't pick up, pick up... The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil

Call me when you try to wake her up. Call me when you try to wake her.
Call me when you try to wake her up. Call me when you try to wake her.
Call me when you try to wake her up. Call me when you try to wake her.

There are scratches all around the coin slot
Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up,
But this machine can only swallow money.
You can't lay a patch by computer design.
It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

My trip to the surf shop. 

So I'm walking through this clothing shop, one of those really big shops with cool surf culture clothes - you can tell because they're all torn (do they really pay someone to rip all the clothes right after they've paid someone else to sew them together?) - and really loud music. Like REALLY loud music.

So I'm walking in and this girl shop assistant - she must have been nineteen - walks up to me and asks if she can be of assistance.

And the REALLY loud music suddenly goes: 'HEY ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS .... (something something something) ...'

The sales assistant girl like doesn't even notice. 'Can I help you?' she says sweetly.


'These are on sale right now!' she says sweetly pointing to the torn shirts and zipper seats that look like they're inside out because the seams are sewn to the outside.


So I check out the shirts and the torn tops and the retro sneakers and the board shorts and I find a cute hat for my niece's birthday and the girl wraps it up for me.

What happened to the Beach Boys?

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Songs of the 1990s #7. 

Not Dark Yet by Bob Dylan from Time Out of Mind.

The 1997 album had the critics raving and the cynics saying that Dylan sounded worse than ever before.

All right, he sounds like a croaking frog, but man, the production is something else. Daniel Lanois does amazing things. There are wurlitzers, hammonds, guitars of various kinds, you name it.

Lanois wrenches notes like hard cold crystals out of a frozen sky and scatters them about like glittering diamonds.

Oh yeah, Bob Dylan. I was forgetting who this was about.

The album has been described as the most depressing ever. I don't agree. Truly depressing albums are devoid of talent and just drone on until you voluntarily overdose or fall asleep, whichever comes first.

Nevertheless, the lyrics are sad. But they contain that kind of pathos that instils compassion, not self-absorption. That's what I think, anyway. Others disagree - one reviewer at Amazon said: 'Just make sure you don't buy it if you want to kill yourself because you probably will after hearing this album.'!

Not Dark Yet is a triumph by a unique balladeer with an ordinary voice who happens to have been regarded as been a superhero rock star for over forty years. If there's a disconnect in this, the problem is with the modern world and how it creates gods out of men, not with Bob Dylan.

He's just a troubador cranking out songs and minding his own business.

Most of the songs in my top ten send a shiver down my spine when I hear them.

I only have to read the lyrics of Not Dark Yet for the same effect. Here's the whole song:

Shadows are falling and I've been here all day
It's too hot to sleep time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal
There's not even room enough to be anywhere
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writing what was in her mind
I just don't see why I should even care
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, I've been to London and I've been to gay Paree
I've followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain't looking for nothing in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

'This may take a few minutes, if you have a large blog.' 


is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Monday, May 24, 2004

Songs of the 1990s #8. 

Birdman by Ride from Carnival of Light, released in 1993.

In fact the whole album is a complete blast with swirling guitars, a host of superb arrangements creating a wall of sound to rival Phil Spector at his best and supreme Hammond organ shimmering over the top like a golden shaft of sunlight.

Here's what Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times had to say recently about the album.

If Birdman were not in my 1990s Top Ten, one of at least six or seven other tracks from this very album would replace it. It's that good. Search it out.

Blackbird flying in the sky
Please don't look me in the eye
You are very very lucky
It's never easy to find me
The winter's coming now you've grown
The cold will numb you to the bone
It cuts you through so that you know
In pain the minutes go so slow.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Songs of the 1990s #9. 

Silent Worship, by Kenneth McKellar with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.

Well this is a stretch! Prussian-born George Frideric Handel wrote this aria a few hundred years ago for his opera Ptolemy (Tolomeo) which is one of around fifty Italian operas he wrote. It is set in Cyprus in 108BC.

Handel was such a cosmopolitan, three countries spell his name differently in order to claim him as their own! The above name was the spelling he took on when he moved to London.

The Italian lyrics were re-written in English by Sir Arthur Somervell. So don't talk to me about globalisation, Handel wrote the book!

So: an Italian song about Cyprus written by a German who became a Briton, translated by an Englishman and sung by a Scot.

The CD on which this track appears - a compilation - was released in 1996, so I'm counting it as one of my 1990s top ten. I can't find a link to the publisher, PolyGram Classics.

It is one of the finest love songs ever recorded. No-one ever to hear this could fail to be moved. Find it and fall in love again.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Where have all the little builders gone? 

In the early days of the internet it was common to open a page to find a notice Page Under Construction with pictures of little builders with hammers and saws.

Where did they go?

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Friday, May 21, 2004

Songs of the 1990s # 10. 

Music Arcade by Neil Young from his 1996 album Broken Arrow.

Neil Young without Crazy Horse, just an acoustic guitar. A hauntingly beautiful ballad that really bears repeated listening. This one slipped right under the radar, appearing on an album that received mixed reviews. It is one of his very best acoustic performances. When it came out, I used to sit back at night and play it a few times in a row.

Have you ever been lost
Have you ever been found out
Have you ever felt all alone
At the end of the day


I was walkin' down main street
Not the sidewalk but main street
Dodgin' traffic with flyin' feet
That's how good I felt
Took a spin in the laundromat
Played a game in the music arcade
Kept winnin' while the band played
That's how good I felt

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Thursday, May 20, 2004

It's 2004. Time I posted my ten best songs of the 1990s. 

There's no point rushing it. Time gives you perspective. A lot changes in ten years.

In the 1990s, my first marriage had finished, my children grew up and left home (I had started very early with children, my first son arriving when I was just a teenager), I lost my father, I re-married, I moved house several times, I changed jobs almost as frequently, and my son and his girlfriend had a baby girl (he started as early as I did!).

For me, just one thing stayed constant through that turbulent decade.

My dog - who stayed constant, loyal, loving, undemanding and uncomplaining. Displaying all the supposedly best characteristics of humans with none of the failings.

So who's the superior species? Humans have the power of choice to live the highest traits but choose not to.

Dogs don't have any choice but still they remain loving, honest and true.

And they never lose hope, always craving your company.

So we got through the nineties, my dog and I, and he taught me a simple but valuable dog lesson: 'stuff happens, then you fall asleep'.

My dearest loyal companion died of old age in December 2000, the very day before Christmas.

Where was I? My best songs, no - my most significant songs - of the decade. Of course, everyone does lists like these and it's all so subjective, so take it with a grain of salt. I'll probably change my mind anyway. As you do.

Tomorrow, I'll post the first of these.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

One more post about my cell phone then I'll shut the hell up. 

So. In figuring out whether all the functions of my dunked, washed and spun cell-phone (maybe I could write an opera and call it The Rinse Cycle) I had to actually discover some of those functions, having never used them before.

For example, my cell-phone rings in an annoying kind of electronic version of a sped-up Hallelujah Chorus - Beethoven would NOT approve. Neither would the composer George Frederick Handel - HA, got you there music buffs!

Anyways, I checked out the 'profiles' menu. I had seen it before but not taken any notice, thought it was a place to like, store black and white side-on photographs of my family so I could look at them lovingly on the little screen when I was away from home.

But no! 'Profiles' is for changing all your cell phone's settings, such as the ring tone. (Why isn't it called 'change settings?') So I found out my jerky annoying Handelesque ring-tone that had survived the washing machine was called Hurdy-Gurdy, and that I could change it to a number of other ring-tones.

Many of the others were just as annoying but I found a nice one called 'mangrove' that sounds like the soothing far-away frog sounds that come out of a swamp - while at the same time the phone vibrates gently, moving slightly from side to side, on the desk like some kind of primeval alligator stirring. Very swampy. Very nice.

I know, I could have read the instruction book back to front, but who gets around to it?

And can I just say: I know cell phones are getting smaller - but my fingers haven't shrunk any. I always mis-key.

You know what's going on - over time, having to work ever-smaller cell-phone keys will result in evolution causing human fingers to get smaller and pointier.

And then we won't be able to play the piano.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

It works! 

I don't believe it! See post below!

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

My cell phone went through the washing machine. 

It was in my jacket, buttoned up in a pocket.

Regular cycle, cold wash, Hurricane concentrate.

Then it sat on the washing line for a day or two, in the breeze.

Meanwhile, I was hunting high and low.

I'll be truthful. I had a quick look around my desk, lifted a few papers, moved a few books, couldn't see it, made a mental note to watch out for it, forgot about it.

Woke and sat bolt upright at 3.30 yesterday morning, went straight to my jacket, retrieved my cellphone.

Water was swishing in the screen.

You know what I'm confused about? Not that I forgot where it was. Not that I put it through the washer.

I can't think why I suddenly knew, in the middle of the night, while I was fast asleep, exactly where I had left my cell phone.

In the morning, I slid the back and front covers off, slid out the battery and the SIM card, and laid them all out carefully on my desk.

I don't think it's going to work.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Monday, May 17, 2004

United Airlines, Thai Airways, Air India, Qantas, Ted. Ted? 

I cannot believe there is an airline called Ted.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Sometimes I hear crickets chirping in my computer. 

It happens when my computer slows down.

And I don't like it.

Crickets belong outdoors, in the ground, on summer evenings.

Get the hell outta my computer, crickets.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I read a whole book on the Internet. 

And you thought I was stuck in the past like a curmudgeon.

No way.

When the present gives you stuff like this, I'm right into it.

I read John Buchan's Greenmantle all the way through at Project Gutenberg. It's all there in one continuous document.

It's an old-style spy thriller, about a western nation stirring up Islam prior to the First World War.

Go read it. Just don't hit the print button accidentally.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Why do people complain about feeling tired? 

It's a good feeling to be tired. I'd rather feel tired than hyper-alert all day.

I know why people complain about feeling tired: they have way too much stuff to do.


I'm not charging for this advice, by the way.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

I guess we'll never know. 

I often wonder what the famous composers of the past would think of modern music. It's hip to think they would disapprove or be less than impressed. For example, what would best song writer of all time think of this?

I think he would be blown away, yet some of the Amazon online reviewers don't like it. How does that work?

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Everyone's blog is turning funky. 

No idea why.

They all looked OK in the first place.

Are they doing it voluntarily?

Or is some guy in some Blogger Inc. studio somewhere in India or Cleveland or Buenos Aires or Walsall or the Moon - or wherever their headquarters is - painstakingly changing them all one by one?

I hope I don't have to change mine.

Imagine that - Joe Bloggs with like, cool graphics and funky type like some chic, hip magazine.

Nah. Can't imagine it.

Maybe there's template that is called Not Funky and is described as Suitable for Bloggers Who Hate to be Right Up to the Minute.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

I'm not doing this. 

No way.

I just heard somewhere that soon there are going to be audio posts.

I'm not doing that. I prefer to write and be written to, if that's all the same to you, my thousands of esteemed readers.

I mean, where will it end? Virtual reality?

Your commenter gets spirited into your room beside the computer and like, shakes your hand if they enjoyed your post or socks you on the nose if they didn't?

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I get to ask myself three questions ... and I get to answer them! 

That way no-one knows whether I'm being honest or lying.

(But then, even if I play it the conventional way, i.e, you ask me the questions and I answer them, no-one would still know whether I'm being honest. Oh my, stop that thought - my head hurts.)

Q. Where do you live?
A. In a nineteenth century horse-drawn caravan, currently stopped by a river in a field of golden daffodils.

Q. What are you having for lunch today?
A. I'm going to ask the freckled farmer's daughter with the golden curls over at the farm gate across the way if there are any fresh eggs and cheese today, and I'm going to fetch a loaf from the baker along with some oats for horsy.

Q. What's on tonight?
A. That question is so twentieth century. Nothing's 'on tonight' in the nineteenth century. Dinner outside if it stays warm, then inside to retire with a book and a candle, then to sleep, perchance to dream.

I wish.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Monday, May 10, 2004

It's coming true. 

Don't say I didn't warn you.

is it time for a nap yet? i think

I have to get out more. 

I was reading a blog.

Someone (I think it was Monkey but I'm not sure) commented that they hadn't seen a particular movie which someone else had presumed everyone in the whole world had seen, like twice or something.

This happens to me all the time. A person I am having a conversation with will say: 'Like when (character) said (quote) in (movie) ... ' and then stare at me if I don't immediately, like, parrot off the rest of the line and show immediate acknowledgemnt that I've seen the movie and know all the 'funny' bits off by heart.

Someone mentioned a scene out of one of the Star Wars movies.

I said I hadn't seen it, missed the run, was out of town, came in late that year or something.

They were staggered.

Then I said I hadn't actually seen any of the Star Wars movies.

They all but fell off the chair.

'What, not even on TV?'

Not even on TV.

'But ... why?' as if I'd like, murdered my mother or something.

I dunno. I just haven't. I don't object to Star Wars, well, the idea is a bit boring, but I just ... haven't ... gotten ... around ... to ... it ... yet!

Well. That got them reeling off all these movie names, trying to pick one I'd seen.

'Indiana Jones?'

Nope. Never seen any of them.

'Lord of the Rings?'

No. Read the book though.

'Superman? Titanic? Gone With the Wind?'

No. No. No.

'Toy Story? Ghostbusters? Pearl Harbour? Batman? Austin Powers, either of them? Men in Black?'

No. None of those either.

'There's Something About Mary? Forrest Gump? The Exorcist 1 or 2?'


'Surely you've seen Saving Private Ryan then? Surely!'


Finally they mentioned, I think it was ET.

Saw that when it came out, must be over twenty years ago. Mind you, I have seen lots of movies before and after that, just not the ones they mentioned.

Yes. I have to get out more.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I heard that song - Left Outside Alone - and a word came into my head. 


is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The radio woke me up. 

I was still half asleep this morning when I heard someone on the radio (why did it come on? I don't remember setting it) say that it is fifty years since someone ran a four minute mile.

World 'records' are only the recorded ones. Like someone happened to have had a watch near the finish.

Who's to say some guy hasn't run faster on his own, some time in history, being chased by a lion across a flat plain?

And what's with swimming? You hear about a new world swimming record every other day. What about some poor guy swimming out of a river to get away from an alligator in like 1281 or 10AD or 5000BC or something?

I tried to go back to sleep and eventually started dreaming about an alligator with a stopwatch around his neck marching in the Athens opening ceremony.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Monday, May 03, 2004

I went to the music store. 

I went into a big music store in the city.

I don't usually go into stores because I never know what to buy. How do you know you want something if you don't have it already? It could turn out terribly if you don't like it.

In the section of the music store labelled 'ambient', there was a CD album of tractor noises.

Like, wouldn't you take a trip to the countryside and stand next to some field if you want to hear what a tractor sounds like?

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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