Saturday, June 30, 2007

Miser chief

My friend is collecting stories to use in the best man speech he has to do at our mate Ian's wedding. Earlier this week he emailed the stag night crew, requesting any good anecdotes, particularly those relating to Ian's legendary tightness.

The response was overwhelming, with stories flying in from a range of different sources. I don't believe Ian reads this blog, so I don’t think I'll be spoiling the speech by unveiling a few of the responses here (subbed so they read nicely, natch).

NB It's important to bear in mind, when reading these anecdotes, that Ian earns over £50,000 a year. But also that he is a lovely guy, who is completely aware of his stinginess and finds it incredibly amusing. Enough, off we go:

"I met up with Ian at the end of last year. Hadn't seen him in ages, probably over a year. We decided to go to this bar and grab some food there. Ian ordered a pint of squash and his pizza at the bar, total cost £9.50. Unfortunately, the minimum spend at the bar to use a credit card was £10. What to do? Ian disappeared for 15 minutes to find a cash machine. Fifty pence in the bank."

***

"Ian once travelled 40 minutes to Angel in North London to get a haircut, as he'd seen them advertised for £5. When he'd queued up and eventually been directed to the barber, he was asked how he would like his hair-cut. The conversation went something along the lines of:

Ian: "Short back and sides – but using scissors only."
Barber: "Certainly sir."
Ian: "That is for a fiver?"
Barber: "It's £6, sir."
Ian: "It says on the window it's for £5."
Barber: "The window says '£5 with clippers', but for scissors it's £6."
Ian (eventually): "I’ve only got a fiver so I’d better go and get some more cash out – I’ll just pop to the bank opposite and be back in a minute."

"He never returned."

***

"...or when, on a road trip round Scotland, he decided he wasn't prepared to pay £3.50 for soup, so left the restaurant, bought a deep-fried pizza for £2, realised it was disgusting and had to throw it away."

***

"…the fact that he held all our deposit money for the stag hotel in a high interest account for three months…"

***

"On his birthday, we went out for a meal. After paying for Ian's curry and drinks, the group descended to an establishment called Brown's, a grotty strip joint where the girls collect their earnings by handing round a pint glass, to which everyone contributes £1 coins. Ian was bought further drinks. Despite having not spent anything all night, he made a frenzied dash to the loo every time a lady came round with a pint glass in order to avoid paying the fee.

"But though he tried to hide, he was witnessed peeping round the toilet door every time a girl came round to see when the coast was clear. Ian only got caught out one time, but sniggered afterwards: 'I only put 20p in there and they didn't know'."

***

"My fave one is when he said he couldn't stay for a pub supper at the Railway pub as he had half a pepper in the fridge that he had to use up."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bring back Blair

I miss him already.

Toilet humour

My friend James had The Worst Day of His Life yesterday.

He's recounted the terrible (but also hilarious) happenings over on HNBBBIBD today; I found it particularly poignant as the Oldboy-like events occurred in the very house I used to live in. It could have been me. Anyway, read and weep.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fist pump

The Guardian's GBG (Game By Game) coverage of Tim Henman’s second round Wimbledon match today was excellent, mainly thanks to the discussions on the subject of Henners’ famous celebratory fist pump. Here are the highlights:

"For Facebookers," writes Robert Kerrigan, "There's a group for An Appreciation of the Henman Fist Pump." There are currently 54 members - let's see if we can't hit the big six-zero.

***

"Surely it is more a fist hold than fist pump?" questions Nick Donovan. But that would imply that, while he is clenching his right fist, his left hand is taking the weight of said other hand, no? I do agree that "pump" is an unacceptable description, though. Any other ideas?

***

"It's really not a fist pump at all, is it?" says Rob Nash. Is there an echo in this GBG? "I was pondering 'fist brandish', but I think 'fist flaunt' actually has a nicer ring to it (and it's suitably polite for easily offended Middle-Englanders)."

***

"The Queen of the Fist Pump is surely La Sharapova," says Gary Naylor. "How she got so good at it is an absolute mystery to me."

***

"I would argue that the 'fist' part of 'fist pump' is also misleading," not-quite-argues Jordan Glossop. "I suggest Henman Hand Squeeze." While Martin Piper writes: "It's more like a fist waft." Ok, so it's not a fist pump, it's a "Henman hand-squeeze waft". My colleague James Dart reckons it's pretty similar to Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game pose.

***

"Is it too late for Timothy to come up with a new signature if he makes it to the second week?" asks Stewart Todd. "Could he ditch the fisting, so to speak, and perhaps on Sunday get a roaring tiger tattoo on his back Beckham-style, and reveal it on Centre Court next week to astonished gasps from the strawberry and cream brigade with John Lloyd saying 'too good!'?"

***

"You must realise that Tim lost an arm-wrestling match to a girl called Mary when he was in the second year at school," explains Andy Walker. "Your so-called 'fist pump' is actually his challenge to her to return to the ring for a best of three showdown." If it's a certain Maria of whom you speak, I wouldn't fancy Tiger's chances.

***

"There are now 101 members of the Fist Pump appreciation group," writes Penelope Rance. "You could have some opposition in changing the name."

***

"Perhaps if all the readers pump their fist as one, Tim will feel the force and come back to win," suggests Edward Platt, who also believes that Yuri Geller was to thank/blame for Gary McAllister blasting his penalty over against England in Euro 96.

***

Will that be the last we see of Tim Henman at Wimbledon? He has promised he will be back next year so hopefully we'll have a few more glimpses of the Henman hand-squeeze waft then.

***

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Editors choice

Buy it, you foolOoh, exciting. I've just had my first ever magazine cover feature, courtesy of that Editors interview I did for total:spec a while back.

You can read a short excerpt of the article here, but if you want to read the full 3,000-word epic in all its glory, you'll have to shell out £3.20 for a copy like everyone else, you cheeky bastard.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Britain's Got Cowell

Despite my current job as a TV Witterer, I missed Simon Cowell's Britain's Got Talent in its entirety. But I've been catching up on YouTube. Thanks, YouTube.

Edmund's got the Paul Potts video over on BTEA (emotionally manipulative but great), so instead try this. (And try not to get irritated by ITV's frequent cutaways.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Will's grace

Great single safety interception from the other Will Parkhouse here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The ghost with the most

Ghostsign Sam (him of this fame) is BACK. So look out.

Actually, don't look out. Look at your screen. But first click here and you'll get his new blog. Then look at your screen. And read the words. Also look at the pictures.

NOW GO.

Monday, June 18, 2007

None more metal

"I was in New York the other week," says Angry Tom, dejectedly. "It was all right."

This is dropped in the same out of the blue way as he'd said (a bit earlier), "I was out with Peaches Geldof the other week. We went to an Oxide and Neutrino gig" - and in the same slightly depressed tone. Apparently Angry Tom has taken to shouting at non-existent people in his lounge when he gets home drunk. He only knows this because his housemates have told him they've walked on him yelling into thin air.

"I met this guy called Clint," he continues.

"Are you sure she was a girl?" I say, thinking he said 'girl called Clint'. Luckily he doesn't hear.

"He was a heavy metaller," says Tom, who is also not averse to the likes of Iron Maiden. In fact, he's wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt. Then, perking up a bit, "He'd lost two of his fingers in an industrial accident. But the thing was, he'd lost these two fingers." Tom signals the middle and ring fingers on his right hand: "His hand made permanent devil horns!"

We crack up. "But that's not all," he continues. "He lost his fingers in a metalwork accident. He'd lost his fingers in the most metal way it's possible to lose your fingers." We laugh some more.

"In America, you can go out drinking on your own - people just come up and talk to you," he goes on.

"Okay," I say, thinking, yes, that sounds quite nice.

"I hate it," says Angry Tom.

"Yes," I reply.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pepper spray

Everyone's been getting a bit flustered about the 40th anniversary of Sgt Pepper this month, so perhaps it's time to unleash a savagely bitchy piece of writing from Dylanologist Clinton Heylin, in an attempt to restore the natural balance of things.

Heylin's introduction to Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions (1960 - 1994) begins by laying into the most famous "sessionography" book, Mark Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, in which the writer, a celebrated authority on the Fab Four, analyses The Beatles' recording career. But he does so in a way which Heylin sees as highly ignorant...

Lewisohn... was the man who informed all those who purchased the CD version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - courtesy of some liner notes already ODing on hyperbole - that the sessions for Sgt. Pepper were "perhaps the most creative 129 days in the history of rock music."

I could have called this book "129 Days of Studio-Time" but it is most certainly not about the fey indulgences of the Fab Four in the winter of 1966-67... To put Lewisohn's (staggeringly ignorant) "most creative 129 days in the history of rock music" in context, Dylan managed to record his entire studio output up to and including 1976's Desire in just 90 days!

Beatles schmeatles, then. Although the introduction is brilliant, the rest of the book is so intensely geeky, I'd hesitate to recommend it to even the most obsessive of Dylan fans. Sorry, Clint.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Best (auto)mates

Mmmm, cool...

T h E
E Scrabble Letter L E C T R i C
g O O S E

Via Reading Matters
Do it yerself

Oxide and Neutrino, Earl Brutus, My Vitriol

Every time I go back home, my Mum tries to make me throw out my old NMEs and other assorted music mags. Fair enough really - they're piled high and I only ever read them when she tells me to get rid of them.

This means I've been catching up on ye olde days of music. There are always some great discoveries and reminders when I do this. I'd forgotten about NME's fondness for UK garage duo Oxide and Neutrino, and there seems to be an all-encompassing love for the dishevelled rockers Earl Brutus amongst British music hacks of the time ("squalid glam rock genius" raves one). And did you know that the Beta Band played The Fridge in Brixton in 2001?

Better are those moments when they got it slightly wrong. "My Vitriol are capable of reaching places only Nirvana, the Manics and Radiohead have reached before," waxed Krissi Murison (hey, I was at University with her!) back in the heady summer of 2002. Meanwhile, one film review (NME used to review films! How quaint is that?) applauds "a funny, moving, beautifully shot, intelligent blockbuster". That'd be Captain Corelli's Mandolin, then. And there's a slightly lukewarm reception for The Libertines debut album: "This isn't the record to smite The Vines or The Strokes with the sword of Albion - it's too disorganised and chaotic for that. But if The Libertines can keep writing songs as insolently catchy as the title track and the Smiths-style 'Time for Heroes', their finest hour will be upon us soon. Still, this is more than adequate for now."

But this is unfair. The old editions are great enough to make the paper's current incarnation look a bit lame: can you imagine NME putting a terrifying, distorted picture of Aphex Twin on the cover in 2007? Or Outcast? Or any R&B artist?

Meanwhile in the other mags, Q's top 100 albums of all time back in 1997 sheds some light on where the world's musical head was at. The list puts Texas's White On Blonde at 86, Kula Shaker's K at 44 and, wait for it, names the 33rd best album of all time as... Ocean Colour Scene's Moseley Shoals. Ha ha ha.

To finish up, here's an excerpt from one of my favourite rags, the sadly defunct Select, from 1999. Although their contents page features the retrospectively hilarious lines, "The future of rock is blonde, brutal and starey, and it's onstage at the Bull & Gate" - Terris, of course - there's also this one, from the new bands section:

With their own autumn tour and a couple of summer festival appearances under their belt plus a Catatonia support slot ("I had to hold her cigarette while she went to the loo!" exclaims Chris of the divine Cerys) there's no shortage of solid experience which should stand them in good stead once the debut album appears next year.

"Do you know what's going to happen with music in the year 2000?" demands Jon, setting off the in-house pub theory alarms. "Guitars are going to make a massive comeback. For the next two months everyone's going to be celebrating with dance music, but the moment everyone wakes up on the first day of 2000 they'll be screaming out for emotional guitar music."

"Quite right," nods Chris in agreement. "That's why the Vengaboys are bigger than us right now." Grins spread across the band's faces. "But that's all going to change. You wait."

That was Coldplay, of course.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Brit future

BREAKING NEWS: Britney Spears may have a sense of humour.

Yeah, apparently the bald bombshell has asked her fans to pick an album title for her latest offering, and she's come up with five rather tongue-in-cheek suggestions to get people started. They are:

  • OMG is Like Lindsay Lohan Like Okay Like
  • What if the Joke is on You
  • Down Boy
  • Integrity
  • Dignity
But why? Well either she's taken a leaf out of The Electric Goose's book and totally run out of inspiration, or she's gone all Web 2.0 on us and planning a bit of hardcore user generated content. Maybe fans will be asked to write the songs too?

A complete absence of diggity

Hearing other people's dreams is usually excruciatingly tedious, but bear with me. Last night - back in Dorset, away from the roar of London traffic - I dreamt the following...

1) Arnold Schwartzenegger giving advice on how to pick up girls: "I get chatting to them, then I reel out some classic lines." Tadich and I then repeat the phrase "classic lines" with much glee.

2) A discussion on the meaning of the phrase "no diggity":
"What does 'no diggity' mean?"
"What it says: that there's no diggity."
"But what does that mean?"
"That there's a complete absence of diggity, anywhere."

3) A cross country run at my old school, which culminates in getting the actor Will Ferrell to autograph my copy of The Complete Poems of John Milton.


NB: For a correct definition of "diggity" and the absence of it, go here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And no religion, either

These have been bothering me for ages. They are, to put it whimsically, songs that sacrifice grammar or meaning at the altar of rhyme.

I’m not talking stupid or nonsensical lyrics here – these are lines that have SOLD OUT just in order to rhyme. Here are a few to be getting on with.

Imagine - John Lennon
The lyric
"Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too."

Why? Once voted "Britain's favourite poem", the rubbishness of Imagine's lyrics is frequently overlooked. To prove the point, one of my English professors once read the whole thing out during a lecture in a witheringly sarcastic voice. He singled out this bit - with its "there's no countries" and "no religion too" - as truly unforgivable. Rightly so.


Cats in the Cradle - Harry Chapin / Ugly Kid Joe
The lyric
"'What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?'"

Why? Because the kid says "see you later" to his father before he's even asked for the car keys. Why would he do that? (A: to make it rhyme.)


Don't Know How to Say Goodbye - The Pigeon Detectives
The lyric
"I don't know how to say goodbye
And if I did I'd surely cry
If it's a choice between you and me I'd go for I."

Why? I do expect rubbish lyrics from the PDs, but this is just terrible. What's wrong with: "I'd go for the latter"?


I Get Around
- The Beach Boys
The lyric
"We always take my car cos it's never been beat
And we've never missed yet with the girls we meet."

Why? Beaten. We always take my car cause it's never been beaten.


(What's The Story) Morning Glory - Oasis
The lyric
"Another sunny afternoon,
Walking to the sound of my favourite tune.
Tomorrow never knows what it doesn't know too soon."

Why? Er... what? "Tomorrow never knows what it doesn't know, you goon," would've been better. The goon in question being Noel Gallagher, the man responsible for this crime against meaning.


Regulate -
Warren G and Nate Dog
The lyric
"Chords. Strings.
We brings
Melody."


Why?
Thanks for bringing melody and that Messrs G and Dog, but that won't excuse your ill piece of conjugation.


Whole Lotta Love
- Led Zeppelin
The lyric
"You need coolin', baby, I'm not foolin'
I'm gonna send you back to schoolin.'"

Why? Led Zeppelin are the ones who should be sent "back to schoolin'" if they think this is grammatically correct. And I'm not foolin'.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chauvinist Zig

Rumours about a possible split for Big Brother’s no.1 couple Chantelle and Preston abound – but don’t worry, there’s a new weirdly-named BB pairing in town: Chanelle and Ziggy. Luckily the parents approve...

“I don’t think we could dislike him as he seems a very sensible and understanding man, and if there’s any problems he seems to step in and take care of it.”
Chanelle’s foster father on Ziggy

“I think he’s very charismatic — if she’d brought him home outside the BB house, I would have approved.”
Chanelle’s foster mother on Ziggy

“I wanna rip her clothes off and have sex with her.”
Ziggy on Chanelle

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's like a jungle, sometimes

Today, let's think about song titles, in particular how changing them can alter the feel and emphasis of the song itself. What normally happens is that a track will simply be named after the most repeated phrase in the song's chorus (I Predict a Riot, say) – but not always.

When the songwriter opts for the unlikely title, it seems odd at first, but it's not hard to get used to it. However, if for fun, we try and give these songs their other potential names, we find ourselves thinking about their meaning much more, as well as the writer's intentions. We also end up with what looks like a playlist from an alternative reality:

Woo Hoo - Blur

Stamp Out Your Fire – Happy Mondays

Sun is in the Sky – Lily Allen

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas – The Rolling Stones

Heroin is So Passe – Dandy Warhols

I Think I'm Cracking Up – Green Day

How Does It Feel? – Bob Dylan

Your Music's Shite – Oasis

I Wanna Be Anarchy - The Sex Pistols

Leaving Just in Time – The Strokes

Whatever – Take That

I Am Tired, I Am Weary - The Velvet Underground

You Know I Love You So – Coldplay

I Got Sunshine (In a Bag) - Gorillaz

I Say You Don't Know – Franz Ferdinand

It's Like A Jungle, Sometimes – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

These Plagued Streets of Pity – Manic Street Preachers

Mama - Queen

With the Lights Out – Nirvana