Love it or hate it

18 06 2020

I saw a typically clever Marmite ad online the other day. If you’re not familiar with Marmite, all I can suggest is you study particle physics instead. It’ll be easier to explain. The rest of us will just quietly continue…

It was making reference to the fact that the source material (spent brewer’s yeast) was currently in short supply and the larger size jars were temporarily unavailable.

Marmite Ad: Image Source… heaven

It reminded me that many things are quite polarising, especially in the arts. Indeed, as I type this I’m listening to “Too much  too young” by the Specials as Mrs E looks on with undisguised distate.

The works of Roger Waters fall into this category, I found. Ex of Pink Floyd, and no doubt drawing his old age pension, he’s still producing music and touring. I’d bought tickets for my son and I to see him in Vancouver this autumn. COVID put an end to that, so we’ll see how outrageous Ticketmaster behaves when it comes to rescheduling/refunds.

Many people find his music repetitive or dirge-like, but personally I love the imagery of his lyrics. Admittedly they can be a bit self-indulgent sometimes, but I still love the imagery.

Take the lines from “4.50 AM (Go Fishing)” on “Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking”:

You adopted a fox cub
Whose mother was somebody’s coat

There’s mention of Eeyore and Pooh in the song too! Classic word-weaving.

Anyway, Spotify served up one of his later pieces from “Amused to Death”. It’s not what you’d call a light spirited album but again, I find the word pictures very evocative. Given the times we live in, I thought the lyrics for “Too much rope” particularly relevant.

Muslim or Christian, Mullah or Pope
Preacher or poet who was it wrote
Give any one species too much rope
And they’ll fuck it up

Love it. Hate it. Just don’t waste it!





The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

15 03 2015

What ever happened to Roger Waters?

Years ago, a great friend of mine asked if I wanted a CD of an album that he just couldn’t “get on with”. We were both Pink Floyd fans (indeed he even got to see them live), and this was a solo album by Roger Waters – The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking.

Wikipedia: The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

I’ve learnt over the intervening three decades that it is definitely a divisive album. Even those that love The Floyd and even Waters generally can have polarised views on this particular album. He sketched it out alongside The Wall in the late 70s and offered the band one, the other was to be a solo project. It took him until 1984 to finish it.

Even the cover is controversial. The more keen observers will note that the naked woman has been relieved of her face, and arguably then further objectified. The really keen observers will note she’s on the right of the road making her likely a hitcher in the UK, facing traffic driving on the left.

Love it or hate it, it’s a clever concept album. Each track is titled with a time (in realtime if you’re an insomniac) as the narrator spends a sleepless night having various dreams and recollecting his fears, memories and thoughts of adultery.

There are really strong saxophone and guitar elements from  David Sanborn and Eric Clapton. That said, I was personally drawn by the typically clever Waters lyrics. The guy can be provocative for sure, but he can tell a story and wields words with the grace and precision of any master painter.

And she smiled as she finished her sandwich
And her cold eyes fixed me to my dark history
As she brushed the remains
Of our love from the bed

 

Fixed on the front of her Fassbinder face
Was the kind of a smile
That only a rather dull child could have drawn

 

You adopted a fox cub
Whose mother was somebody’s coat

 





Unaccustomed as I am…

2 10 2012

So I first got into this blogging lark at the tail end of 2011. I was in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at the time on business, and feeling a bit “meh”. A colleague suggested I start a blog to exorcise my demons, or maybe it was to exercise my deviance, I forget now. So here I am, almost a year later looking at things a little differently.

The planet’s spun itself around about 300 times since then. The music hasn’t stopped yet, thankfully. To my knowledge nobody’s been reported as having been thrown off or floated away, despite the fact that if they lived at the equator, they’ve been for a roundabout ride at roughly 1,600km/h! The third rock itself has almost done a complete lap of our little sun, travelling at around 107,300 km/h. Quite astonishing really… and we take it all for granted.

Lots of water has flowed under the bridge in that time. I’ve changed jobs, travelled to Europe, visited Salt Lake City and Phoenix, drunk an immeasurable quantity of Russian Caravan tea, experienced some incredible friendship, hiked both the Grouse and the Stawamus Chief every way imaginable, been eaten alive (by mosquitoes… what were you thinking?), discovered some new World Music, learned an awful lot about myself – some of it pretty uncomfortable, some of it surprising.

Where was I before I got distracted? Oh yes – Brazil. So anyway, as well as having travelled untold miles/kilometres* (*delete as applicable in your locale) going nowhere in galactic terms, I have also typed in and posted 490 blog entries, and had a few hundred comments on them in return. Feeling quite smug with myself really – despite still having just as many demons and deviances as before. At least they’re all neatly alphabetised and cross-indexed now. Well – the ones I’ve found so far.

So today I got a comment telling me I was now the recipient of a blogging award! Not had one of those for a while. Was a little taken aback really. Always nice to feel noticed, especially when you’re not particularly expecting it. Unless you’re a bank robber I suppose.

Anyway, sheriji over on Just Sayin’ offered me The Reader Appreciation Award. Aw shucks – thanks!! If you’ve not visited her blog yet, you’d best be working on a good excuse! She was kind enough to describe these humble pages as “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, but all about life and our reactions to it. Plus I always want to know, quieter than what?” The answer to that of course is quite irrelevant. (Please don’t make me explain…)

Inevitably there’s some “rules” (self-imposed. Aren’t they always?) to follow.

1.  When I pass it on, I provide a link to the giver’s post, and thank the blogger who nominated me.

So thank-you sheriji – really. I’m glad you found a few crumbs of entertainment here.

2.  Answer 10 questions within my own blog.

My favourite colour

Hm… when I was a kid, it used to be red. I remember being over the moon when I was 8 and being in “red team” on sports day, and getting to wear a red sash for the egg and spoon race. Then as I got older this became associated in my mind with politics, so I decided I should like blue. These days, it depends what mood I’m in. I like ambiguity. Except when I crave certainty. Greenish-bluish makes me smile. Especially when it’s really grey with attitude, but nobody dare argue.

My favourite animal to include in a story?

Though I have yet to write the story, it’d have to be the echidna. Not an echidna, THE echidna. I did once write a story about a goldfish. But it wasn’t my favourite.

My favourite non-alcoholic drink while writing?

While doing anything: tea! Writing, talking, philosophising, or just floating in the moment.

Printed books or e-books?

Printed. I’m old-school with words. I write with an ink pen (which I refill every Friday to make sure I don’t run out of ink at a crucial moment). I love the texture of a well-made book – even if I can’t read its words. I also like the musty smell of old browning paperbacks. Weird? Who? Me?! I did win a Kobo eReader last Christmas, and I have used it. But, it’s just NOT the same… Like a text-message conversation is not the same as looking into the eyes of the person you’re sharing ideas with. It’s more than a means of representing the words. It’s part of the experience.

My favourite writer(s) now?

Terry Pratchett is always “up there” – he has such wit and breadth. I am sad for his failing health with Alzheimer’s – I liked the old him, and business and books being what they are, I’ll never know the new him.

I like Giles Milton too, for non-fiction.

As I turn to look at my bookcase for anyone else I might especially like, I am struck by the wide diversity of what I see there!

Jasper Fforde I guess should be there. The Eyre Affair was such a great concept.

My favourite writer(s) ten years ago?

Well Pratchett was still churning them out faster than I could read them back then, so he’s still on the list.

Philip K Dick. He couldn’t write for toffee, but boy did he have some great story ideas!

I read a lot of Ranulph Fiennes back then. What a life that guy has lived!

John Wyndham. What Dick could have been. Each book a great central idea, but much more well delivered with richer characters and human depth.

My favourite poet – Classic & Current?

I’m not really that well read in poetry.

I remember having to read a poem by e e cummings with my class when I was in Primary School, and being awestruck that he dared to break the rules of English, even when I barely knew them myself. Of course, now I’m more cynical and think his typewriter was just broken. I believe it was “hist whist“, if you’re interested. Yup – that’s right: I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember what poem I had to read in front of assembled parents 40 years ago!

I think of songs as poetry (some listen to the tune, I like the words). I love Fiona Apple‘s imagery, but John Lennon will always be the master for me, with Roger Waters a close second.

My favourite time of day to write?

When I have something to say! I think we make time to do the things that matter to us. We take risks and break rules to do what we think is “right” or “important”… whatever those words mean to us at any given moment. We justify not doing things by claiming there was no time or some rule prevented us. Really it was because we didn’t think it was important enough right there, right then.

What is your passion when it comes to your writing?

Passion is a strong word!

I like to be entertaining. Witty if possible. Educational possibly. Sometimes sneaky or wriggly.

[That’s only 9!! It’s the engineer in me… I notice things like that. Or maybe I’m just anally retentive.]

LATE EDIT: I traced the daisy chain back and found where the 10th question went. I was asked to offer a substitution, so here it is…

Which of the five senses do you value the most?

I think they’re all important obviously. We’ve evolved them as a “necessary and sufficient” set. However, we’re really good with this brain thing too, so we can adapt. I think I’d have the toughest time losing my sight. If I’d never seen at all, it might be different, but now, I think I’d struggle to not have those glimpses of other people living their lives. The changes of the colours in the trees. Glint of sun on water. I think the other senses would heighten, but I’d always mourn the loss of seeing a child smile when they see their parent. A lover’s glance over a dinner table. A raised eyebrow in signalled mischief.

3.  Nominate other blogs that I find a joy to read. (Ten is recommended)

I don’t think I regularly read that many, but let’s see how we do…

Photo . Lord Content – a daily photo competition that has some unbelievable images posted

Misfits’ Miscellany – Fostering poetry and writing that others might not. A good virtual friend to-boot. And believe me, if we ever meet, I’ll boot him!

Breathtaking Portraits – Wha’? It’s art… honest!

Scout Magazine – For what’s happening in Vancouver, my adopted home.

Howtodateboys – An insight into how women think. (I’m none the wiser, but it’s heart-felt and honest)

illustration & calligraphy – You’re joking right? What do you THINK it’s about?!

4.  Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.

Photo . Lord Content

Misfits’ Miscellany

Breathtaking Portraits

Scout Magazine

Howtodateboys

illustration & calligraphy

5.  Include the award logo within your own blog post.

I can do that… thanks again sheriji!





When did we become so bored?

4 08 2012

There’s a Roger Waters album: “Amused to Death“. Some thoughtful ideas and music. I liked it, perhaps many wouldn’t. Anyway, the title song, if you’re interested can be found here: 

The album’s general theme is how we’re inexorably killing ourselves as a species. First World War onwards. Modern warfare as a video game. “The bravery of being out of range.” Deep stuff. Not an album for those prone to depression.

Anyway, I happened upon a web article yesterday telling of the imminent Mars landing. Tomorrow in fact. How come that was the first I’d heard? It’s been an eight and a half month mission. 34 weeks of countdown to an amazing thing! Landing a vehicle on another planet, no less. But it’s so “meh” these days that I had to accidentally trip over it on some obscure backwater while meandering through cyberspace. It wasn’t front page news. No regular mention on the nightly news. It’s commonplace, it seems, for us to lob cutting edge technology ($2.5 billion worth!) at another planet these days. We recently (July 20th) celebrated (in a very muted, also meh-like manner) the 43rd anniversary of Man’s first steps on the moon. Some of you may remember it. I was only 5 back in 1969, and it was likely past my bedtime, but I do recommend the excellent Australian film The Dish for an insight (though not strictly historically correct) into the events surrounding that landing. Playing cricket on the “parked” satellite dish is a classic moment.  But that was the moon. That tiny and comparatively close satellite surfers enjoy thanking for our tides. (By the way, did you know the moon is not the Earth’s only satellite?)

We’re talking Mars. It’s a planet! On average it’s about 225 million km away. The moon? A mere 384,400 km. When did we get so complacent? How many of us actually commute to work on aeroplanes these days? Commuting used to be trains or buses in and out of the local city. Now it’s sitting in a chair… in the air! Have we become so used to stories and their visualisation on TV and cinema that we’ve become numb to the magnitude of these achievements? Has the sharing of ideas and concepts – mere stories – become so easy that nothing real has the ability to actually amaze us any more?

As a kid I remember being told apocryphal tales of how the first steam trains were thought impossible to survive as people-carriers due to their massive 15mph speeds. The cyclists in the current Olympics are topping 60kmh! On a bike! Man-powered. Call me easily impressed, but that’s fucking amazing! That’s over the road speed limit in BC towns. On a bike.

The world land speed record is currently held by ThrustSSC, and it topped 1,223kmh (760mph). On wheels. Come on guys… this is not merely “meh”! Concorde had a landing speed of 170mph. More than that, and it flew. This car is almost 5 times faster! A car!

The Mallard steam train (built in Doncaster, Yorkshire… ) is the holder of the official world speed record for steam locomotives at 125.88 mph (202.58 km/h).  Beaten now… by a car at 148mph! Steam-powered! These are amazing things that we as a species have achieved.

As a kid there used to be a TV programme called Record Breakers with Roy Castle (yes – he WAS from Yorkshire too 🙂 ). They used to break records on TV, and the Guinness Book Of Records was there to ratify it. When did it all become boring? When did we start assuming anything and everything was possible, and therefore unremarkable?

Setting foot on the moon. Heart transplants. Any surgery for that matter. Cloning. Genetically modifying plants and animals. Superconductors. Nuclear power. The list is endless… and far from all of it is “sensible”. It’s nonetheless remarkable though!

Let’s remind our kids to open their eyes, and not take everything for granted. At the end of the day we’re just naked apes with a dangerous amount of brainpower. When a kid answers “the supermarket” to the question “where does milk come from”, I see that as a very, very bad sign for our collective future…