As a reward for your awesomeness, here's a teaser preview of a minute fraction of what's to come over the year ahead, three days before it technically makes sense:
(I should have remembered to lift my glasses.)
(Love the Canberra number plate and flux capacitor.)
And this new street has just appeared 500 metres from my house:
Peter Cullen is the name of the actor who played (and still plays to this day) the voice of Optimus Prime from Transformers. Amongst countless other gigs, he's also the voice of Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh, Murky Dismal from Rainbow Brite, Venger from Dungeons & Dragons, K.A.R.R. from Knight Rider and the narrator from Voltron. (Peter Cullen was also the name of a great Australian environmentalist. But I'd like to imagine that the street is named after Optimus Prime.)
(Thanks to Callum for his DeLorean.)
"We're going to write one album, sell sixteen million copies and then split up." (Nicky Wire, 1991.)
Twenty years and ten studio albums later... that clearly didn't happen. Nevertheless, Generation Terrorists, Manic Street Preachers' first album is still one of my desert island discs, and for its 20th anniversary Sony has made it even better. Or at least even longer, with two bonus CDs of demos, rarities, B-sides and one extra track on top of their already-drawn-out 18-track début.
As I wrote earlier this year: for some questions, I'll never know the answer. Like "where will you be in ten years' time?" Or "what's the actual definition of a sport?" Or "where does a snake's tail begin?" Like "do you drink soup or eat it?" Or "why is there a light in the fridge but not the freezer?" Or "who'd win in a fight between a shark and a crocodile?" But "What's your favourite song?" is a question I can answer (and often have answered) in an instant: 'Motorcycle Emptiness'. Track four and the high point of Generation Terrorists, 'Motorcycle Emptiness' is an anti-consumerism anthem, loosely based on Rumble Fish, one of S. E. Hinton's young adult novels that I read in primary school. Musically it's a combination of two very early Manics songs, one of which is included on CD 3. Bizarrely, the home demo of 'Behave Yourself Baby' is the Manics sounding like The Seekers crossed with Belle & Sebastian and a sixties girl group rather than the Guns 'n' Roses of Generation Terrorists, but it's where the Middle 8 of 'Motorcycle Emptiness' originated. 'Go, Buzz Baby, Go!' isn't here on the album, but it made up much of the rest of the song, and it totally sounds like Ratcat. Finally, there are a couple of stories about how James Dean Bradfield came up with the most uplifting guitar riff ever. One is that he dreamt it, the other is that (like the piano hook from Oliver's Army by Elvis Costello) he ripped it off Dancing Queen. Put it all together and you have the greatest song ever written, about youth culture as a product and as an alternative to the mainstream.
"We'll never write a love song, ever. Full stop. Or a ballad." (Nicky Wire, 1991.)
Yes, ultimately, they did both of those things, but on Generation Terrorists, 'Motorcycle Emptiness' flows straight into 'You Love Us' - not a ballad, and not actually a love song unless the line "throw some acid into your face" is able to be included in a love song. Live, this is one of those songs where the pogoing audience shouts along - does the crowd love the Manics or do the Manics love the crowd? (Both.) The better original Heavenly single release is now included on CD 2.
As became a Manics tradition, in the liner notes each track include a quotations from the likes of the Futurists, Rimbaud, Sylvia Plath, Camus, Confucius, Ibsen, George Orwell, Nietszche and Chuck D. For protest-singing punks, the early Manics music didn't always preach in a transparent fashion - between James's diction and Nicky and Richey's lyrics, some of the protests can be downright unintelligible. On the other hand, Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds is clearly about banking. It's either a Nostradamus-like prediction of the GFC, or Nicky ranting about the fact that the banks wouldn't give him a mortgage. One of the most intriguing things about Manic Street Preachers songs is that there's rarely any rhyme or metre and yet somehow it works. There's only one rhyming couplet in all of Little Baby Nothing - written to be a duet with Kylie Minogue but instead was sung with Traci Lords the then-24-year-old retired porn star. At the time the song was recorded, Lords had started her career in porn nine years before. The fact that a teen actress and teen porn star were both appropriate for the song is intriguing, but both of them fit. Kylie did finally sing her part live fifteen years later at the Brixton Academy.
Finally, for the 20th anniversary version, the Manics' cover of 'Suicide is Painless' is a nineteenth and bonus track. In a bizarre coincidence as I sat here writing this review, Channel Ten's The Project played James Dean Bradfield's guitar riff from that version of the song over a report on the mental health of employers.
Generation Terrorists is far from a perfect album. 'Repeat' lives up to its iterative title as both track 8 and track 13, and GT also breaks my own rule about albums not having cover songs on albums (their thankfully more concise version of 'Damn Dog', from the film Times Square.) The original album didn't even include 'Motown Junk', one of the highlights of early MSP and stronger than most of the tracks that made it in (it's now on CD2. Twice.) It's not even the Manics' own best album, or even in the top two. Like Caesar, the early Manics were hopelessly ambitious and hubristic. On vinyl, Generation Terrorists was a double-album that they wanted to release with a sandpaper sleeve so it would gradually (or instantly) destroy itself and the albums shelved beside it. That also didn't happen. What it was released with was a cover image of Manics lyricist and air-guitarist Richey Edwards' torso and bicep, his Useless Generation tattoo airbrushed into the album title. Interestingly the shot didn't include Richey's forearm where he'd carved the words '4 REAL' with a razor during the infamous interview in which Steve Lamacq claimed they weren't. In 1992, the Manic Street Preachers really were the pissed-off alienated youths they claimed to be. Their passion was real - they never set out to be anyone's second-favourite band.
So I now own two copies of Generation Terrorists. It's not sixteen million, but it's a start.
That’s Arcade in today’s Avengers Arena from Marvel. Yes, it’s The Hunger Games with super powers, and writer Dennis Hopeless is clearly not afraid of shining a meta-spotlight on the high concept. Sixteen young heroes in Murderworld have thirty days to kill everyone else if they individually want to survive. Or they could threaten to eat some berries or something. The characters in approximate reverse order of fame are Darkhawk, X-23, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Reptil, Hazmat, Mettle, Juston Seyfert (and his Sentinel), Cammi, Kid Briton, Nara, Ryker, Anachronism, Bloodstone (not Elsa), Apex and Red Raven.
And... some more of Arcade's meta-commentary, above. Avengers Academy only finished last month, and the concept of this new book is that only one of five of those Academics may survive. Since Page 1 of this issue is a flashforward to Day 29, we know that at least X-23 and Hazmat make it that far. X-23 is the female clone of Wolverine and Hazmat’s a living Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, so perhaps their longevity isn’t too surprising. Runaways fans (of which I have been one since 2003) are no doubt going to be rooting for Nico and Chase. And Ryker, the cute little Deathlok cyborg girl is set to be a new fan favourite regardless of whether or not she even survives another issue. Because of its serialised nature, Avengers Arena may actually be structured like a reality TV show: kill one character an issue. Two pages of this issue are devoted to breaking Scream’s first rule-to-successfully-survive-a horror-movie, so there may be some genre-logic to who will or will not survive.
If I ever got a job at Marvel, one of the concepts I planned to write about was a supervillain makeover crew, dedicated to taking villains who are a joke and making them an actual threat. Arcade was the first character on their list. And the best thing about Avengers Arena is that after thirty-four years of looking like a ginger seventies sideshow ventriloquist’s dummy, Arcade has finally been visited by Queer Eye For The Bad Guy. He let his hair grow long, lost some weight, bought a fitted suit and got rid of the stupid bowtie. He looks like a serious supervillain and a serious threat, which is what this series needs. Kev Walker’s art makes Arcade scary for the first time.
Well done, Hopeless and Walker - I look forward to issue #2. (Just as long as you don’t kill Ryker.)
Last week, I advocated that McDonald’s is the biggest toy distributor in the world. An incalculable number of Happy Meals are sold each day, and with a new toy or two every single week. For one week in the September of 1985, it was Solardyn’s turn in the commercial spotlight.
As suggested on his collectors' card above, Solardyn was actually the third of the Commandrons to be released - I'm reviewing him first as a tribute to Laramus-Prime's Solardyn Headshot design, which inspired me to embark upon this whole Commandron quest in the first place.
Solardyn's transformation is simple - stand him upright, flip up his face, flip over his arms and pull out his hands. In fact it's so simple that I'm not sure why it takes seven steps in the above instructions, except that they wanted to show off his awesome elbow articulation. On the subject of articulation, Solardyn's is so awesome that he can actually do the head-up-arms-forward 'Superman' pose from the opening pages of the comic book:
Okay, so the toy is just sitting there in vehicle mode, but believe me, he can do it. One of the most ingenious aspects of the Commandron design is that the pull-back motor mechanism is super-fast when horizontally speeding across the floor, yet substantially slowed down when walking upright.
Like all the Commandron toys, Solardyn is cream, red and blue with chrome hands, rubber wheels and a translucent brown plastic windcreen. Each of them is stickered with two grey, red and blue stickers for vehicle mode and one red orange and white sticker for robot - in Solardyn's case it's his face.
Solardyn came with 'The Copy-bots', issue #3 of the Commandron minicomics, the summary of which is:
"Will success spoil the Commandrons? The evil robot-maker Sylvester Slag has a fiendish plan in store for them: He’s unleashed a sinister quartet of Commandron replicas called Copy-bots! Capable of unlimited destruction, the Copy-bots are threating Metroplex harbour - and the Commandrons must race to stop them!"
Yeah... Probably the most interesting aspect of this issue is its cover:
It's a homage to the cover of X-Men #100 by Dave Cockrum and Dan Crespi:
Which in turn was coincidentally homaged by another comic book I own, Brute Force #4. Brute Force is one of the toylines to suffer even more than the Commandrons, owing to the fact that it never actually existed. In my other identity as Drancron, I supply some more information about that here.
Next week... another Commandron.
One thing that was not widely distributed however was the supplementary material in the form of cardbacks with collectors' cards and DC minicomics. These received a limited test market distribution, which meant that any canonical information about the Commandrons is scarce. And thus, for what appears to be the first time on the internet, I reveal and retell... DC and Tomy's origin of the Commandrons:
The planet Havon has been divided into isolated populations by natural disasters. Four doctors in the futuristic city of Metroplex have created intelligent vehicles as an attempt to deliver supplies, but three of them deem the project a failure. The fourth, Doctor Wu, secretly reprograms the vehicles to speak the language of Havon and rebuild themselves into transforming robots - the Commandrons: Motron, Velocitor, Solardyn and Commander Magna. With the help of four kids, the Commandrons become the saviours of Havon against storms, fog and fire. But can they defeat the evil Sylvester Slag?
SPOILERS! (Yes. Yes they can.)
Coincidentally, Metroplex would also be the name of a futuristic city (released the very next year) for the Transformers toyline. Tomy now owns the Transformers in Japan, since it merged with Takara in 2006. And the Commandrons were canonically retconned into the western world of Transformers in The Allspark Almanac II in 2010, where it is stated that Commandrons "were welcome" at Maccadam's Old Oil House. (No relation to McDonald's Family Restaurants.)
Join me on this blog over the next few weeks as I review each Commandron and his (or her) respective bonus material.
I was asked this by my sister this afternoon. As well as being a crucial part of the first sentence above, the word ‘why’ also happens to be one that Beth hears a supernumerary amount of times a day from my toddler nephew. As infuriating as that can be, ‘Why?’ is a question I never want Finn to stop asking. And that’s why I’m a teacher.
As the students I’ve taught would no doubt tell you, I tend to go off on tangents. When Beth and I were teenagers, we wanted to call our band Ampersand. See? Tangents. If I were talking to an adult, I would have to assume that he or she knows what an ampersand is. And assume that they know why it’s called an ampersand. And assume they know why it looks like an ampersand. And generally, if I had been talking to an adult, even if he or she didn’t know one, some or all of those facts, it’s unlikely that he or she would ask. Because we live in a culture where adults would, generally, rather be ignorant than appear ignorant. Where they have stopped asking ‘why?’ And I hate it.
As my wife would testify, my sentences still often begin with the phrase ‘Do you know why...’ There are two versions of these sentences:
A.) the ones where I know the answer and desperately want to tell her, or
B.) the ones where I desperately want to know the answer and hope she can tell me.
Unfortunately, she seems to have worked out how to defuse these questions, by habitually using these ingenious responses:
A.) “Yes” or “I don’t care.”
B.) “No” or “I don’t care.”
And I am foiled. But one of the best things about teaching is that I get to tell people things without feeling like I’m pontificating or being condescending or - hopefully - anyone else feeling like I’m talking down to them. I get to answer questions from people who still care and still want to know ‘why?’ I want to be able to engage with a generation of adults who care ‘why’ or know ‘why’ or can tell me ‘why’, and I don’t think that’s going to happen unless we help create one.
So that’s why I’m a teacher.
Why do you think an ampersand is called an ampersand? And why do you think it looks like this: &?
There are no wrong answers. The question is why you think so. Brainstorm! Here’s some thinking music from Belle & Sebastian (yes, you probably see ampersands every day! They’re in Barnes & Noble, Ben & Jerry’s, Black & Decker, and that’s just some of the ‘B’s!)
So what did you come up with? Great! (The ‘real’ answers are possibly just as apocryphal.) Ampersands began back when there was no printing press, so everything was handwritten, mostly in Latin. The Latin word for ‘and’ is ‘et’, and it (like our ‘and’) had to be written a lot. So people got lazy, and along the way it evolved into something that was easier to write: ET Et et &. Which is ironic, since these days most of us find it almost impossible to handwrite an ampersand, but we do pretty well with ‘e’s and ‘t’s. And why ‘ampersand’? Well, there was a time when &s were just called ands, and were treated as letters of the alphabet. As such, they would be rote chanted by students learning that alphabet, which ended with X, Y, Z, &. Now imagine singing the end of alphabet song if that were the case. “Double-u, ex, wy, zed and and.” (Or, if you’re so inclined “double-u, ex, wy, zee and and.”) Kind of confusing. So in the hope of ameliorating the confusion, teachers got students to end their alphabet with “and per se: and.” Meaning “and by itself: and!” And, as anyone who has ever heard a child sing the alphabet knows, like the origin of the ‘&’ itself, the letters seem to slur into each other (to the point where it sounds like there’s a letter called ‘elemeno’ between ‘kay’ and ‘pee’.) And that’s how “and per se: and” became “ampersand”.
That tangent was to demonstrate how teachers and students can change the world.
& that’s why I’m a teacher.
But opinions often summon up a focus group from Hell.
It’s best not to be distracted and stay focused on your goals,
And take my advice: don’t feed the trolls.”
So sang Billy Bragg last night at the Canberra Theatre in the modernised version of his 1988 protest song, ‘Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards’. The new lyrics also refer to European bailouts, the Occupy movement, The X-Factor and World of Warcraft and were a highlight of the show - a reminder that one of the great protest singers of the 20th century is still fighting for the 21st. On the other hand, as much as we might like to think it, some lyrics may not necessarily translate too well to the kind of Canberrans who can pay $85 for a seat and fill a 1000-seater auditorium. Before I get to the bit where my opinions could well lead to “the focus group from Hell,” the concert was one of the rare cases where between-track banter is as enjoyable as the music itself. And it all culminated in a crowd singalong of the extended version of ‘A New England’. Fantastic. And so...
1986’s ‘There Is Power In A Union’ is self-explanatory, about - as Bragg sang with his fist aloft to still-reverberating chords - ‘The union forever/Defending our rights.” When he croons, “Who’ll defend the workers who cannot organize/When the bosses send their lackeys out to cheat us?” he is rhetorically praising the British unions who fight for real issues with working conditions - danger, health, truly unfair pay, etc. On average, those of us in the ACT are the highest paid (and least unemployed) in Australia. By contrast, I spent four months this year working on the floor of an auto parts warehouse in Yorkshire for minimum wage. (That’s £6.19 an hour [$9.50AU], not the equivalent Australian minimum wage, which is $15.59 per hour.) Every day I listened to the grievances from workers who were not represented by a union and actually had some justifiable issues to complain about.
My only experiences with a union in my life have been with the Australian Education Union. It doesn’t appear to do much except be infuriatingly self-satisfied that every few years it rejects the government’s wage offer and encourages teachers to strike and sacrifices some aspect of conditions in order to settle for a salary that appears strikingly similar to the offer from the government in the first place. It certainly argues that money is the best way to attract the best teachers. Which is interesting, since I would have thought that money attracted people who like money, and not necessarily people who want to teach. I became a teacher because I wanted to educate students. I’m pretty sure no one ever became a teacher because they liked money, but I am willing to be corrected. So, yes there is power in a union, but there is also power in a chainsaw, a tank or a sandwich - it just depends what you choose do with it. (We do know there is lots of money in a union - just ask Craig Thomson. Allegedly.)
“Something to sell”:
- Current Mood:Champagne socialism.
This brings me to the gender nomenclature of animals. As I have a sister (or four), 'twas at an early age that it was (ironically) my father who taught me that one should never call a girl or woman a 'bitch' or 'cow'. Inversely, it is generally acceptable for women to call a man a 'dog' and potentially flattering to call him a 'bull' (or a 'stallion' - presumably because of their associations with virility and strength. Similarly, a male llama is a 'macho'.) It is offensive to call a woman a 'sow' or to call a man a 'boar,' although men are often called 'pigs' in a derogatory manner. It only struck me as apposite while I was typing this, but - at this very moment - my wife is at a hen's night (or - technically - hen's afternoon). I believe it is more appropriate to call a woman a 'hen' than it is to call a man a 'cock'. In bees, a female is a 'queen' or 'worker', while a 'male' is a 'drone'. I feel as if 'ewe' and 'doe' are relatively benign, as are 'ram' and 'buck'. 'Vixen' is a word to be avoided unless listing Santa's reindeer. A 'jenny' is a female donkey, and yet Jenny has been a highly popular female first name for over a hundred years. A 'jackass' is a male donkey. Barack Obama reiterated that Kanye West is "a jackass" earlier this year - the US president defending his prior declaration of this same statement in 2009. The fact that Obama was happy to say it again despite three years to potentially rethink it, suggests that it is okay for a man to call a man a jackass. Is it a sexist term? Would it be sexist if Julia Gillard called West a jackass? Or - despite having a female prime minister - are we still a patriarchy and is it even possible for women to be sexist towards the dominant paradigm? I suspect there are societal connotations to the linguistic fact that a female lemur is a 'princess' while a male is a 'dictator'. Ultimately, is calling Kanye West names okay just because he is a jackass?
In life, people are described as 'mules,' 'lovebirds,' 'cougars,' 'gazelles,' 'sharks,' 'swans,' 'bears,' 'doves,' 'baboons,' 'chicks,' 'nymphs,' 'foxes,' 'hogs' and more, and there is no general zoomorphic rule about what is and isn't acceptable, except to use common sense, something Dad failed to do in this instance. And - unless you're writing poetry - perhaps it's best to avoid metaphorically describing people as animals at all.
On Twitter, Leigh Sales retorted to my father's comment by saying she would "rather be a cow than a dinosaur," suggesting that in the hierarchy of 'isms,' ageism is more acceptable than sexism. Or at least good for a punchline. Personally, I've always wanted to be a dinosaur, but just so Leigh knows - even if she and Dad were both female dinosaurs, linguistically that would still make each of them a 'cow.'
(From the editorial of DC’s Secret Origins #40, 1989.)
Other DC cover elements for sure-fire sales included gaol cells, corpses, money and jewels. When reading the above, I was amused to realise that I’d subconsciously used a couple of those elements last year when I designed this one:
Although it clearly needs more motorcycles...
Well, technically I’ve had one, but only the left ‘column’ works, which means I can answer phonecalls and read messages but nothing else. I can’t call out or reply to those messages because of the lack of functionality rendered by the 83% of the phone’s fascia that doesn’t work. It may also have something to do with the fact that I’ve never put any credit on it. I can’t even ‘lock’ the phone, which is why I leave it at home to avoid the embarrassment of a woman in my pocket ordering me to “say a command!” Tonight it struck me that perhaps not carrying a mobile phone in this age might be seen as similar to leaving the house without any pants, but for me it works. (The phone thing, I mean. I generally do remember to wear my pants.)
I know that people reading this may be thinking ‘well in my business/life/household/etc. I couldn’t live without a mobile phone.’ And perhaps that’s true. Have you ever accidentally left your phone at home all day? How did you react? And when you got home how much had you missed? I think a lot of what people are usually tethered to all day can actually wait until they get home, but we like to feel like we’re not missing anything. And maybe there’s a certain liberty that can ensue from not having a phone for at least a day.
I also have no ‘landline’ phone, but I suspect that many of you may be less concerned by this, since a landline these days is a bit like the cigarette lighter socket in the car. You might almost never use it for its actual purpose but it’s a requisite launchpad for technology. So yes, on the subject of technology, not having a phone also means not having the Internet/a GPS/eReader/iPod/Twitter/Facebook/person
(For the unofficial prequel to this post, two years ago I blogged about the death of my previous mobile phone.)
I was thinking today about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Winston Smith lives in a world in which the larger-than-life Big Brother (who Winston sometimes doubts is a real person) is always watching. BB is everywhere and can apparently even tell what one is thinking. Winston and his lover Julia get naked in the scenic countryside where she gives him black market chocolate, the taste of which stirs thoughts that he was happier repressing. They rent a room where they believe they’re free to talk without Big Brother and read aloud Goldstein’s book of banned knowledge - The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Winston and Julia make love and wander around the flat naked and unselfconscious about it. They eat jam and their neighbour sings what she remembers of the nursery rhyme about now-forbidden fruits ‘Oranges and Lemons’ and on the wall of the apartment is a massive engraving of the Church of St Clement. It turns out that Big Brother has been listening all the time - there is a telescreen behind the image of the church. They are made to stand uncomfortably naked before the BB and the Thought Police before being forcibly removed from their haven and punished. Winston and Julia each blame and betray each other, but - in the end - at least they love Big Brother.
Since I studied this twice as a student and have taught it at least twice as many times as a teacher, shouldn’t it have come up at some point that the book is a retelling of ‘Genesis’? Because this afternoon, the idea struck me like a rat in the face.
- Current Mood:Victory Coffee And Saccharine
"So... you're the people who couldn't get Stone Roses tickets."
Last night, while Ian Brown swaggered to 70,000 fans in Manchester that, "yeah, as you see we still got it", another Britpop frontman took more of a self-deprecating approach. Mark Morriss's opener, 'Keep The Home Fires Burning', set the tone for the evening with its first lines: "Can I stay at your house? I'll sleep on the floor." This was an intimate gig at Leeds's Northern Monkey, before a crowd a thousandth of the size of the one at Heaton Park, and according to Mark, if he doesn't sing these songs, "no one else will." Which wasn't exactly true - by the time 'Bluetonic' rolled up, four songs in, the night had become a full-on singalong around the bloke with the guitar. Despite some "wooly" sound problems, Morriss marched on because he's "a professional". Some, possibly unkindly, inferred that this was a not-so-subtle indictment on the sound engineer - by contrast - being an amateur. To be fair to all, Morriss almost didn't even need the amplifier or microphone except to drown out the latest episode of Have I Got News For You (until he convinced the bar staff to switch off the television) and the always-unfathomable members of the audience who would rather buy tickets or pay a cover charge to talk loudly to each other, infuriating performers and punters alike (instead of... I don't know... talking to each other somewhere else for free?) Oh, and the guy who shouted "'Slack Jaw'!" after every song. Morriss counselled him to be patient.
As we approached the middle of the set, Mark announced another "new one. I have high hopes for this one." (It was in fact Barbara Streisand's 'Woman In Love', which The Bluetones had originally recorded as a b-side to 'After Hours'.) After 'The Day That Never Was', Mark told "'Slack Jaw'!" guy that every time he shouts that, the chances of it being played diminished (but the singer did inevitably acquiesce). It became a potential request-fest at this point, although Morriss claimed that he couldn't play 'Autophilia (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Car)' because "Every time he writes a new amazing song another amazing song leaves his head." He did give 'A Parting Gesture' a grand attempt, but after forgetting the exact chord progression it mutated into another singalong, this time of K.C. and the Sunshine Band's 'Give It Up'. After an amusing reggae 'Ziggy Stardust', it was time for Mark Morriss's signature song. Just as Judy Garland "sang 'Over The Rainbow' 40,000 times", 'Slight Return' is his 'Over The Rainbow' (Morriss meant this in the most pessimistic way possible, although he promised not to think of crossword answers while he mechanically went through the motions.) After a brief "Vegas" crooner version of the track, he sang The Bluetones' only Number Two hit (kept from the top spot by... sigh... 'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo.)
The planned encores had included a cover of The Shins' 'Pink Bullets' and 'The Fountainhead', but instead we had another 'request' - the appropriate 'Carry Me Home'. After one final 'Sleazy Bed Track' (possibly creating new Bluetones fans through its use as Scott and Ramona Flowers's makeout song in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) it was time to call it a night.
Despite his cynicism, Morriss created a truly crowd-pleasing gig (at least for the first few rows of the crowd that actually wanted to be pleased). Unlike some other Britpop frontmen's tedious solo shows of only 'new' material, the man knows how to put a set together. This was a night of a couple of new solo tracks, a couple of old solo tracks, a few covers and nearly a dozen Bluetones songs spanning fifteen years. Appropriately, I was originally introduced to the wonder of The Bluetones in the nineties by a friend of my sisters, who put a single Discman headphone in my ear and said "Listen to this* - they sound like The Stone Roses."
I've heard Ian Brown sing - Mark Morriss sounds better. And, in the end, he promised to relearn 'Autophilia' for next time.
I'll be there.
Keep The Home Fires Burning
A New Athens
It's Hard To Be Good All The Time
So It Goes
Woman In Love
The Day That Never Was
A Parting Gesture/Give It Up
Carry Me Home
Sleazy Bed Track
*(It was 'Are You Blue or Are You Blind?')
- Current Mood:Gin and Bluetonic
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's time, there was no 221b Baker Street. Baker Street ended at 85, then became York Place and finally Upper Baker Street. 41b Upper Baker St is where I believe a geographical 221b Baker Street would have been placed, had it truly existed. The Sherlock Holmes Museum is now numerically 221b according to the postal service, but it should really be 239 (since it's right between 237 and 241.) Below is 'Doctor Watson's room' in the museum:
Next we have some props from a life drawing night which celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens's birth. I'm not much of a fan of Dickens's fiction itself, but I am of his advances in terms of serialisation as a medium.
The ten year-old me used to write and draw lengthy fanfiction in which my Gary Stu companion character (cleverly named Jordan Morris) travelled in the Tom Baker-era TARDIS. I fulfilled one of his dreams:
And possibly one of his nightmares:
Almost impossible to find and on a rural backroad that is equally difficult to traverse is Arthur's Stone, a 5000 year-old Neolithic tomb onto which King Arthur allegedly slew a giant (there's a giant elbow shape around the tomb.)
I often hear people say that Stonehenge is a disappointment. It totally wasn't.
I've never seen so many hippie shops as there are in Glastonbury, but it's worth a trip just to see 'Avalon' - the Tor.
This is why you shouldn't piss off the Sheriff of Nottingham:
Sherwood forest, including a sign from the Nottingham Police which amused me, considering the location. Is it not okay to steal stuff from rich people's cars and give it to the poor?
My old home in Oxford, the town that invented Middle Earth, Wonderland and Narnia. Appropriately, considering my t-shirt, I bought my first Ben Folds Five CD (the 'Underground' CD single) while living in that house in 1995.
Finally, a photo from my flying Ford Anglia, without which the journey could not have been possible:
- Current Mood:Lemonade
The full expression is along the lines of ‘what you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabouts’ or, alternatively, ‘what you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts.’ Do you want to take a guess at what it literally means? Click ‘play’ below for thirty seconds of thinking music while I wait...
Did you get it? Something about... losing speed driving around roundabouts when you could be bitten by a radioactive spider and swing from buildings instead? Or... the money the government spends on making playgrounds comes from road tolls? Or... the kinetic energy you gain while swinging on a swing in a playground is lost when you go on a roundabout?
The reason the cliché is so misused in the 21st century is because it refers to a practice that you and I have never done - paying to use the kinds of swings and roundabouts that you find at the local park. To use a contemporary example, let’s say you go to Luna Park and don’t get an unlimited ride pass, you just pay for what you use. On some days the Moon Ranger might be more popular than the Tango Train. But there’s only so much money to go around, so although Luna Park might ‘lose’ money on the Tango Train, it ‘gains’ it on the Moon Ranger.
The phrase comes from P. G. Wodehouse’s 1910 novel Psmith in the City:
“‘How curious, Comrade Gregory,’ mused Psmith, as they went, ‘are the workings of Fate! A moment back, and your life was a blank. Comrade Jackson, that prince of Fixed Depositors, had gone. How, you said to yourself despairingly, can his place be filled? Then the cloud broke, and the sun shone out again. I came to help you. What you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabouts. Now show me what I have to do, and then let us make this department sizzle. You have drawn a good ticket, Comrade Gregory.’”
Which is still about as transparent as a brick, so a more comprehensible use of of the phrase might be the hundred year-old poem ‘Roundabouts and Swings’ by Patrick Reginald Chalmers:
It was early last September nigh to Framlin’am-on-Sea,
An’ ‘twas Fair-day come to-morrow, an’ the time was after tea,
An’ I met a painted caravan adown a dusty lane,
A Pharaoh with his waggons comin’ jolt an’ creak an’ strain;
A cheery cove an’ sunburnt, bold o’ eye and wrinkled up,
An’ beside him on the splashboard sat a brindled tarrier pup,
An’ a lurcher wise as Solomon an’ lean as fiddle-strings
Was joggin’ in the dust along ‘is roundabouts and swings.
“Goo’-day,” said ‘e; “Goo’-day,” said I; “an’ ‘ow d’you find things go,
An’ what’s the chance o’ millions when you runs a travellin’ show?”
“I find,” said ‘e, “things very much as ‘ow I’ve always found,
For mostly they goes up and down or else goes round and round.”
Said ‘e, “The job’s the very spit o’ what it always were,
It’s bread and bacon mostly when the dog don’t catch a ‘are;
But lookin’ at it broad, an’ while it ain’t no merchant king’s,
What’s lost upon the roundabouts we pulls up on the swings!”
“Goo’ luck,” said ‘e; “Goo’ luck,” said I; “you’ve put it past a doubt;
An’ keep that lurcher on the road, the gamekeepers is out.”
‘E thumped upon the footboard an’ ‘e lumbered on again
To meet a gold-dust sunset down the owl-light in the lane;
An’ the moon she climbed the ‘azels, while a night-jar seemed to spin
That Pharaoh’s wisdom o’er again, ‘is sooth of lose-and-win;
For “up an’ down an’ round,” said ‘e, “goes all appointed things,
An’ losses on the roundabouts means profits on the swings!”
The next time someone uses the phrase ‘swings and roundabouts’ in your presence, ask them what they think their sentence means. Or even better, before they get the chance to say anything just shake your head knowingly while throwing out the line “it’s Moon Rangers and Tango Trains”.