One Artist Meme

Fr David over at the Vernacular Curate did a Metallica meme, where you answer these questions using song titles by one artist; and so I couldn’t let it pass without pausing (and not for long either) and thinking up some passable submissions for the one true artist, the only true musical obsession that I still have after all these years. Yes, as my friends all know (to their boredom) and casual readers of this blog are about to find out – I have to out myself (once again) as a Bowie Freak.

I have been since Scary Monsters (1980). Dave Masters and I used to use to valuable brain power memorising track listings and timings and collecting obscure concert tapes (which was hard in the 1980s, you can just download the stuff now, we used to copy and share it by with fellow Bowie Freaks across the world via post). We even travelled to Berlin for pete’s sake before 1989 just to see the Wall just because Bowie recorded the three best albums ever there… I have travelled across the country and into Europe for this man. Just don’t ask Lou (my long suffering wife) about my obsession, even after all these years.

So, although there are many other options I could have chosen, this was my first-off-the-bat contribution to this meme:

Pick your Artist – David Bowie

Describe yourself – Cracked Actor (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
How do you feel – Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed (Space Oddity, 1969)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go  –  StationtoStation (Station to Station, 1976)
Your favourite form of transportation – African Night Flight (Lodger, 1979) or Always Crashing in the Same Car (Low, 1977)
Your best friend is – Andy Worhol (Hunky Dory, 1971)
You and your best friends are – Absolute Beginners (Absolute Beginners OST 1986)
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called – TVC15 (Station to Station, 1976)
What is life to you – Fantastic Voyage (Lodger, 1979)
Your current relationship –  I Can’t Explain (Pinups, 1973)
Your fear – I’m afraid of Americans (Earthling, 1997)
What is the best advice you have to give – Let’s Dance (Let’s Dance, 1983)
I would like to die…  I know it’s gonna happen some day (Black Tie, White Noise, 1993)
Time of day – In the heat of the Morning (World of David Bowie, 1970)
My motto – God only knows (Tonight, 1984)

Making the perfect espresso…

Not only does this video demonstrate excellent espresso technique, but it also demonstrates some majorly clever style and editing features.

  • The titles are sumptuous, looking like it is shot through a glass pane, so the title becomes a part of the shop setup
  • The Black & White looks cool except for the actual espresso coming from the machine and in the cup which is brown. Also the logo on the cup. It’s the same as in the girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List and draws the eye. Beautiful.

My Desert Island Discs

For the book I found I had to declare my 10 Desert Island Discs, really quickly. This is a really quick off the top of my head list, so no long introspection. Here goes:

State of Independence – Donna Summer

Atmosphere – Joy Division

Age of Consent – New Order

Life’s What You Make It – Talk Talk

Heroes – David Bowie

Melange – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Sweet Thing – Van Morrison

Lemon Song – Led Zeppelin


Down in the Tube Station at Midnight – The Jam

Reel around the Fountain – the Smiths

…and because I’m not on the radio and I couldn’t not…

11. Got to give it up – Marvin Gaye

I think it’s better to just do this without agonising: after all, which Bowie, U2 or not?. Even an hour after making this list, I am wondering why Magazine’s Rhythm of your Cruelty didn’t make it. Oh, so hard. Oh, so revealing. I bet you can do the same: don’t think about it, or think about what’s cool – after all, why on earth would Donna Summer’s State of Independence make it, over even the original Jon and Vangelis version – no Clash, no Gil Scott-Heron, what on earth is going on here?

Feel free to tell me where I went wrong. I won’t mind, because I am actually quite happy with this list. It sums me up, I believe.

Why? I think there might be a single reason for each one. At least one reason…

  1. Sheer exhuberance. A major happy time in my life.
  2. The video. The mood. The long black coat I wore as I got off with some young lady.
  3. Nursing. Clubs in central London, probably the Mud Club. Dancing.
  4. Travelling around the country with Dave aged 18 or so in our beat-up Datsun.
  5. Bowie. Single best Bowie track ever. Berlin. Killing that Datsun. Bowie live at Wembley.
  6. So intricate. So beautiful. So resolved.
  7. The most beautiful song ever written, so full of compressed emotion.
  8. The rudest line in music I can ever think of… Squeeze me baby…
  9. That bass line. Best lyrics ever: They smelt of pubs, and Wormwood Scrubs, and far too many Right-Wing Meetings
  10. Fifteen Minutes with you… My life summed up at the time: all teenage angst, half-understood novels and unrequited emotion. Morrisey spoke my language at that time.
  11. My favourite Cha-cha, another tight, coiled song of repressed emotion and the dance of dances…

User Review: Elonex WebBook

wbThis is not a rehash of the manufacturers specs, but a couple of weeks of real-life use of this sub notebook.

Although I use an HP laptop for most of my work, and especially for presentations and displays, a 17″ Notebook is a bit bulky for ferrying around everywhere, and doesn’t comfortably fit in my bag, so I starting hunting for a small sub notebook which I could use for writing, especially in libraries (for that book due in by December won’t write itself, you know), web browsing at cafes (as I manage my diary and email via Google) and having to hand.

This 10″ screen laptop appears to fit the bill. It is 1.3kg in weight, fits snugly in my bag and still leaves room for other things, and whilst not being the most powerful machine in the house, it is certainly adequate: it comes with XP, it runs Office 2007 fine and does a reasonable job of playing BBC iPlayer when connected to the wireless network (at 56Mb/sec) (although full screen wasn’t so hot). The keyboard is fine, and the trackpad and buttons don’t feel clunky. My machine has 1Gb RAM in it and its VIA  C7m processor seems up to the job. We won’t be cutting video on it or playing games, but it is good.

It has 3 x USB ports, an SD/MMC slot, VGA and sound in/out. I recorded last week’s sermon directly onto the machine using SoundForge and it was great! This was an unplanned bonus. I also used it to stream audio from my network to the parish BBQ yesterday, which with external speakers was nice.

No software/backup disks supplied but on boot it invites you to “Press F12 for Recovery” so it might just have everything on a special partition: naturally, I havn’t tested that bit yet. The Hard Disk is 80Gb which is pretty impressive, I think, for a machine of this size.

Battery life is great: average 2 hours. Hibernate and Recovery are reasonable (although never as good as Dell’s, but much better than HP) and so you can just close the lid and go.

No DVD drive, but as I always have to hand one or two 16Gb memory sticks, this provides my large scale data access. If I need a drive, I can always attach an external, connect to a shared one over the network or transfer the data to a stick, I suppose.

So, there ae a lot of subnotebooks/netbooks out there at the moment. Few are coming in as cheap as this, especially with Windows. I think this one is a bargain.

A no-Loyalty Card

ukpromoMany of you will know of my serious coffee addiction. It’s almost up there with the French writer Balzac who apparantly used to drink 30 espressos a day and died of heart failure as a result.

I have both Costa’s and Starbuck’s cards, and kind friends often send me top-ups as gifts (it’s such a lovely gesture, I have to say), but it always annoys me that you don’t actually get any benefit from pre-paying on one of these coffee cards.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get 5% or 10% off our Doppio? One cup in ten for free? A free biscotti or a muffin for – get this – giving Costas and Startbucks my money in advance! How stupid am I being? It’s like banking with Costa’s, except my withdrawls can only be in the form of caffeine (although that’s not a bad rate of exchange)

How do we campaign in this day and age: we start a Facebook Group, and maybe we’ll see if it’s just me or not.

When the pipe simply isn't big enough…

I have had an Internet account for quite some years. In fact, my first online access was pre-Internet as such accessing Bulletin Boards and the like with first of all a 300 baud (bits per second) modem, then I upgraded to a 1200/75 ‘Prestel’ Modem, which was slower on the upstream because you could only type at 75 baud absolute max, then through (oh, I can’t remember) 33k, 56k, 128k ISDN, 256k Broadband, 512k, and now 1.5Mb Broadband. Lots of modems, and lots of service providers.

I remember the excitement of downloading a 16k gif image (and not having the software to view it), and now a Word document containing a faculty application takes 31Mb!!!

With three children, a lovely wife training to be a primary school teacher and myself, 1.5Mb doesn’t go very far, in fact the tubes are pretty seriously clogged.


We live at some distance from the exchange, so although I could theoretically get up to 8Mb, 1.5Mb is the best I can get. I have also recently had flaky service from Pipex, with dropped connections and lots of retries. 🙁

This is why, somewhat reluctantly, I have thrown my lot in with a different technology, and will give 20Mb Cable a throw. Virgin Media get such a bad press, but both my Churchwardens have cable access and reasonable success with them. 20Mb is the maximum throughput, so we will have to see what it actually delivers: I will keep you posted after the 2nd when the man comes to put a fat pipe into our house.

The main disadvantage is the loss of my static IP address. This means that it will no longer be as easy or cost effective to keep my development web server visible to the outside world, and the inevitable loss of websites such as my bucket of videos for download. You will all just have to find other ways of getting hold of them or make do with YouTube. However, it will reduce my paranoia that has affected me since the webserver got infected by a hacker’s rootkit, and I was forced to reinstall. I will still have it for my development, but on the local network only. It was very slow for the outside world anyway. I could use a dynamic mapper like DynDNS, but it costs…

After Feb 2nd, agnusdei and my other playpen stuff will no longer be available. Download what you can now…


Black History – a bit more Gil Scott-Heron

Since I was reminded of the pure genius of GSH, parishVicarage has been bouncing around to my back catalogue of GSH albums.

I was trying to think of this poem, which I performed in an Assembly at Poole Grammar School, and then it came to me: Black History / The World off the Moving Target album. Colonialism is nothing to be proud of.


(you really need Brother Robert Gordon’s baseline to unline this poem)

Black History – Gil Scott-Heron

(found on the Moving Target Album)

I was wondering about our yesterdays,
and starting digging through the rubble
and to say, at least somebody went
through a hell of a lot of trouble
to make sure that when we looked things up
we wouldn’t fair too well
and that we would come up with totally unreliable
portraits of ourselves.
But I compiled what few facts I could,
I mean, such as they are
to see if we could shed a little bit of light
and this is what I got so far:

First, white folks discovered Africa
and they claimed it fair and square.
Cecil Rhodes couldn’t have been robbing nobody
’cause he said there was nobody there.
White folks brought all the civilization,
since there wasn’t none around.
They said ‘how could these folks be civilized
when you never see nobody writing nothing down?’

And just to prove all their suspicions,
it didn’t take too long.
They found out there were whole groups of people
in plain sight
running around with no clothes on. That’s right!
The women, the men, the young and old,
righteous white folks covered their eyes.
So no time was spent considering the environment.
Hell no! This here, this just wasn’t civilized!

And another way they knew the folks was backwards,
or at least this how we were taught
is that ‘unlike the very civilized people of Europe’
these Black groups actually fought!
And yes, there was some ‘rather crude implements’
and yes, there was ‘primitive art’
and yes they were masters of hunting and fishing
and courtesy came from the heart.
And yes there was medicine, love and religion,
inter-tribal communication by drum.
But no paper and pencils and other utensils
and hell, these folks never even heard of a gun.

So this is why the colonies came
to stabilize the land.
Because The Dark Continent had copper and gold
and the discovers had themselves a plan.
They would ‘discover’ all the places with promise.
You didn’t need no titles or deeds.
You could just appoint people to make everything legal,
to sanction the trickery and greed.
And out in the bushes if the natives got restless
You could call that ‘guerilla attack!’
and never have to describe that somebody finally got wise
and decided they wanted their things back.

But still we are victims of word games,
semantics is always a bitch:
places once called under-developed and ‘backwards’
are now called ‘mineral rich.’
And still it seems the game goes on
with unity always just out of reach
Because Libya and Egypt used to be in Africa,
but they’ve been moved to the ‘middle east’.

There are examples galore I assure you,
but if interpreting was left up to me
I’d be sure every time folks knew this version wasn’t mine
which is why it is called ‘His story’.


Obama -> Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Dave and I were listening to the Obama Inauguration, separated by some distance and I get the message: “It must be the Chicago style delivery, but it’s starting to sound like Gil Scott-Heron, and indeed part of the speak sounded like B-Movie:

As Wall Street goes, so goes the nation. And here’s a look at the closing numbers racism’s up, human rights are down, peace is shaky, war items are hot – the House claims all ties. Jobs are down, money is scarce and common sense is at an all-time low on heavy trading.

So I responded with just “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”


It doesn’t get much more powerful than this – this is 1971!!!

To which Dave found the full text of B-Movie from 1980 and the election of Reagan:


Well, the first thing I want to say is Mandate my ass!

Because it seems as though we’ve been convinced that 26% of the registered voters, not even 26% of the American people, but 26% of the registered voters form a mandate or a landslide. 21% voted for Skippy and 3, 4% voted for somebody else who might have been running.

But, oh yeah, I remember. In this year that we have now declared the year from Shogun to Reagan, I remember what I said about Reagan, meant it. Acted like an actor, Hollyweird. Acted like a liberal. Acted like General Franco when he acted like governor of California, then he acted like a republican. Then he acted like somebody was going to vote for him for president. And now we act like 26% of the registered voters is actually a mandate. We’re all actors in this I suppose.

What has happened is that in the last 20 years, America has changed from a producer to a consumer. And all consumers know that when the producer names the tune the consumer has got to dance. That’s the way it is. We used to be a producer very inflexible at that, and now we are consumers and, finding it difficult to understand. Natural resources and minerals will change your world. The Arabs used to be in the 3rd World. They have bought the 2nd World and put a firm down payment on the 1st one. Controlling your resources we’ll control your world. This country has been surprised by the way the world looks now. They don’t know if they want to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan. They don’t know if they want to be diplomats or continue the same policy – of nuclear nightmare diplomacy. John Foster Dulles ain’t nothing but the name of an airport now.

The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse – or the man who always came to save America at the last moment someone always came to save America at the last moment especially in B movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at like a B movie.

Come with us back to those inglorious days when heroes weren’t zeros. Before fair was square. When the cavalry came straight away and all-American men were like Hemingway to the days of the wondrous B movie. The producer underwritten by all the millionaires necessary will be Casper The Defensive Weinberger no more animated choice is available. The director will be Attila the Haig, running around frantically declaring himself in control and in charge. The ultimate realization of the inmates taking over at the asylum. The screenplay will be adapted from the book called Voodoo Economics by George Papa Doc Bush. Music by the Village People the very military “Macho Man.”

Macho, macho man!
He likes to be well, you get the point.
Huuut! Your left! Your left! Your left right, left, right, left, right!

A theme song for sabre-rallying and selling wars door-to-door. Remember, we’re looking for the closest thing we can find to John Wayne. Clichs abound like kangaroos courtesy of some spaced out Marlin Perkins, a Reagan contemporary. Clichés like, itchy trigger finger and tall in the saddle and riding off or on into the sunset. Clichs like, Get off of my planet by sundown! More so than clichés like, he died with his boots on. Marine tough the man is. Bogart tough the man is. Cagney tough the man is. Hollywood tough the man is. Cheap stick tough. And Bonzo’s substantial. The ultimate in synthetic selling: A Madison Avenue masterpiece a miracle a cotton-candy politician. Presto! Macho!

Macho, macho man!

Put your orders in America. And quick as Kodak your leaders duplicate with the accent being on the nukes – cause all of a sudden we have fallen prey to selective amnesia – remembering what we want to remember and forgetting what we choose to forget. All of a sudden, the man who called for a blood bath on our college campuses is supposed to be Dudley God-damn Do-Right?

You go give them liberals hell Ronnie. That was the mandate. To the new Captain Bligh on the new ship of fools. It was doubtlessly based on his chameleon performance of the past – as a liberal democrat as the head of the Studio Actor’s Guild. When other celluloid saviours were cringing in terror from McCarthy Ron stood tall. It goes all the way back from Hollywood to hillbilly. From liberal to libellous, from Bonzo to Birch idol born again. Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, it’s all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

Nostalgia, that’s what we want the good ol’ days when we gave ’em hell. When the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it. To a time when movies were in black and white and so was everything else. Even if we go back to the campaign trail, before six-gun Ron shot off his face and developed hoof-in-mouth. Before the free press went down before full-court press. And were reluctant to review the menu because they knew the only thing available was Crow.

Lon Chaney, our man of a thousand faces – no match for Ron. Doug Henning does the make-up – special effects from Grecian Formula 16 and Crazy Glue. Transportation furnished by the David Rockefeller of Remote Control Company. Their slogan is, Why wait for 1984? You can panic now…and avoid the rush.

So much for the good news

As Wall Street goes, so goes the nation. And here’s a look at the closing numbers racism’s up, human rights are down, peace is shaky, war items are hot – the House claims all ties. Jobs are down, money is scarce and common sense is at an all-time low on heavy trading. Movies were looking better than ever and now no one is looking because, we’re starring in a B movie. And we would rather had John Wayne, we would rather had John Wayne.

“You don’t need to be in no hurry.
You ain’t never really got to worry.
And you don’t need to check on how you feel.
Just keep repeating that none of this is real.
And if you’re sensing, that something’s wrong,
Well just remember, that it won’t be too long
Before the director cuts the scene, yea.”

This ain’t really your life,
Ain’t really your life,
Ain’t really ain’t nothing but a movie.

[Refrain repeated about 25 times or more in an apocalyptic crescendo with a military cadence.

This ain’t really your life,
Ain’t really your life,
Ain’t really ain’t nothing but a movie.

We used to be able to quote “The Revolution…”, “B-Movie” and stuff like this verbatim. He was a true prophet.

The last great audio I had of him saying it like it was was this:


and of course, the Bottle. It was the Bottle that started it all for us…


which was a key favourite at an u18’s Disco which used to be each Friday Night at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens. This must have been around 1982. Nothing else sounded like this, and it transformed our already pricked political consciousness with a newer radicalism and confirmed my commitment to radical politics. Music often provides us with a soundtrack to our politics, and I have been no different.

Dave and I have seen Gil Scott-Heron twice, once at the Town & Country club at Kentish Town and once at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. Both times both he and the Amnesia Express were fabulous. I have a couple of signed Albums from him. Despite some seminal anti-drugs work in the 1970’s and 1980’s, GSH has succumbed to Cocaine and has been in and out of gaol. He is out now, sadly HIV+ and I pray that he stays clean and starts creating again.

Now is the time when prophetic black voices should be prepared to monitor, to proclaim and to admonish if necessary, the most powerful man in the world.

The revolution will not be televised.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

ah yes, in the end…

The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.