Thursday, April 27, 2006

I just wanna get along

Soundtrack: The Breeders

'If you're so special, why aren't you dead?'

I'm back. Back from my long dark Easter weekend of the soul. Back from another break in Devon. Back from the weird flu thing I have recently been nursing. And I feel...

...OK actually. Not the best, but better.

More soon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kicking against the pricks

Soundtrack: planes; birdsong

Here's a candid blog post for a change, instead of a bland one.

In truth: I've been having a fairly bad time of it. This Easter hasn't been fun, mainly because I've been trying desperately to churn out job applications, in order that I can leave my shite job. This, despite the facts that I've booked a short break for us in Barcelona in a swanko hotel, that I've got our chalet sorted for Nightmare Before Christmas, that the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, I'm just totally miserable.

Now I'm fully aware that some of you may have been thinking that I haven't been much of laugh recently. But really, was I ever?! I'm so pissed off at the moment that I can't even be bothered to be bitchy. That's the honest truth.

I can't actually be bothered to do anything.

Now this is bound to come across as a bit 'poor me', but frankly, compared to some other blogs I read regularly, I barely ever complain about my lot.

I'm sure I'll come through this rough patch, but it's going to take time. Please bear with me.


Notable recent events:

My first great-niece, Jasmine, was born yesterday. My best wishes to Nephew Number 3 and his better half, K.

I had a lovely evening out with DL, the Bell of the Ball and Ms. Allsop. Far too much wine was drunk but it definitely put a rare smile on my face. Worth it for the conversation with DL about the Barlow and Baldwin detecive agency.

A nice smoothie and chinwag with the amazingly talented Miss JoJo, whose play is going to be performed in NYC this summer.

A spending spree in TKMaxx: which culminated, as ever, in a bag full of stuff which I realised had to be returned as soon as got it home. This time I bought some completely insane Pringle wear - which, as you may imagine, made me look like a cross between a legal secretary and a ladies' golf champ. My brain and taste had taken a holiday while I was in the shop. Which goes to prove, discount clothes shopping and depression aren't ideal bedfellows.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday fun

Just got this from RedheadW's LJ.

Go to wikipedia and put in your birth date without the year. Post in your blog with three events, births and deaths.

1773 - American Revolution: Boston Tea Party - Members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawks dump crates of tea into Boston harbor as a protest against the Tea Act.

1971 - Liberation War of Bangladesh & Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: The surrender of the Pakistan army simultaneously brings an end to both conflicts.

1997 - The Pokémon episode Electric Soldier Porygon triggers attacks of photosensitive epilepsy in hundreds of Japanese children.


1770 - Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer (d. 1827)

1775 - Jane Austen, British writer (d. 1817)

1928 - Philip K. Dick, American writer (d. 1982)


1916 - Grigori Rasputin, Russian monk (b. 1869)

1989 - Lee Van Cleef, American actor (b. 1925)

2001 - Stuart Adamson, British musician (suicide) (b. 1958)

Friday night's alright for straight edge

Soundtrack: Nick Cave; Bowie

Don't have anything to say about this week really. However, it's Friday and next week is a four-dayer, with added chocolate-related activity.

Off to see the mighty Evens tonight with a gang of lovely people. Looking forward to that immensely.

If you think I sound slightly bouyant, it's because this morning I've fixed up our chalet for Nightmare Before Christmas. Thank the lord for credit cards - if I didn't have one, there's no way I could have laid my sticky mitts on the type of cash needed to secure our spot.

*Does windy-waist dance* Iggy Pop at Butlins. A combination that never seemed possible.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Record Box #5

5. The Associates

'Club Country'
'Party Fears Two'

The Associates (vocals: Billy Mackenzie, instrumentation: Alan Rankine) are a band that should be remembered, loved and feted by all, but sadly, they aren't. Personally? I cannot understand this. To my mind they embody the spirit of the early 80s - a little bit pop, a little bit art and camp as you like. An early 90s compliation of their work was called 'Popera', which describes their appeal better than I could ever hope to.

My first exposure to the band was seeing a 12" record of '18 Carat Love Affair' that Sister Number 4 owned, which showed Billy lying face-down on the floor, butt-naked, having jewels poured over him by a woman in a raincoat and headscarf. I was about 10 at the time. That was it. Anyone who could do that to themselves on a record sleeve was worthy of my time, I figured.

It's just possible that they weren't everyone's cuppa char because of Mackenzie's voice. His were one of most outstanding set of pipes ever to grace vinyl. He makes Prince's forays into falsetto sound like the squeakings of a pre-pubescent boy. It's expressive and over-the-top and possibly just a little bit too queer for most tastes. For instance: a somewhat dull lyric from Party Fears Two takes on a hilarious life of its own:

'I'll have a shower, and then phone my brother up' becomes 'Ah'll huv aaa shaah-waa und thaan phone MA BROTH-AA UP!!!' with an astonishing vocal swoop up an octave. Bonkers. And the instrumentation is more than a match to Mackenzie; it's synth and bass-heavy, usually providing a counterpoint melody (or two) to the vocals. It's proper clever pop.

Club Country. Well, the drums are clattering and loud, as was the vogue in the 80s - and with that killer opening line - 'The fault is, I can find no fault in you'.

The two singles featured here are the two that made it into the charts, proper mind, with appearances on Top of the Pops. To an extent, that's when things started to go wrong for the band. The hype, the drugs and the touring started messing with their minds and they couldn't cope. Mackenzie continued to trade under the name for a long time after Rankine left the band but it wasn't the same.

Billy suffered from depression over the years and committed suicide a few years back. Having been interested in him for so long, I was gutted. I would recommend the excellent book The Glamour Chase for some superb stories about Billy that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

If you want to start anywhere with the band I'd suggest their meisterwerk Sulk. If you like to download stuff, try 'Skipping' and the above-mentioned tracks. Also worth checking out is the slightly less slick Fourth Drawer Down (especially 'Kitchen Person').