Tuesday, April 29, 2008

tuesday misc.

My favourite joke

Two muffins in an oven. One turns to the other and says
“it’s a bit hot in here isn’t it”
The other shouts
“Holy fuck! A talking muffin!”

My dad’s Favourite Joke

A man is going on a charity skydive – he sits in the plane, nervous and worried to bejesus. Eventually the call comes, and he jumps out of the plane. He falls for a while, the roaring of the wind the only sound in his ears, until the time comes to pull the cord. He pulls. Nothing happens. He pulls again. Nothing happens. He pulls the cord for the reserve parachute, nothing happens.

“oh dear,” he thinks

Then he sees a man flying up through the sky towards him:
“excuse me,” he asks “do you know anything about parachutes?”
“no, sorry,” replies the other man “do you know anything about gas-fired boilers?”


Today, I have been reading Jorge Luis Borges stories on the train. I recommend this to everyone – not necessarily the train part, though, it’s not particularly comfortable. They’re short, readable, and always make you feel brainy, rather than thick, which is my normal reaction to books with big words and small print. Fictions is what I’m reading at the moment, but The Book of Sand, and Labyrinths are just as good.


Friday, April 25, 2008

When the tubetrain fills, the people, jammed tessellate, shift into the unfilled air. But some the fullclothed crush repels. They wait. For another train, with other spaces more their size. Fearing the face-in-armpit intimacy of overweight strangers.

The train rumbles off. Those left behind do not move away, because they know where other doors will be. They stand, with their music, or newspapers. Or else stare, bored, at the advert on the other side of the tracks - a picture that they’ve seen every morning for a month. The picture of the girl drinking the coffee. Fancy coffee. Tiny cup. A picture I cannot stand. Hennaswirling facepaint combines with the dust and grime of the underground: The postersize girl looks beaten and bruised, the sexy smirk on her face twisted into something other; bitterness and brittle toughness, the eye contact disquieting. I look at my feet.

Some mornings I’m spared her stare. I reach the platform just before another train. Those left behind by the last are still standing there under her eyes, in scattered little bunches, remnants of the crowd. Burialmounds of halfmelted snowmen in green fields.



There's a little shop down a side-street near Angel station, I pass it on my way home from work everyday, that I bought a new guitar from the other day. It's one of those places, like X-Electrical in Canterbury, that sells pretty much anything that looks cool and falls into the category of 'audio-visual'. Unlike the place in canterbury though, the guy who runs it has a really good eye for bargain guitars. He buys instruments that are really nice, and often quite old, but, either because of where they were made, or their appearance, aren't likely to become expensive collectables anytime soon. He's got an especially fine collection of quite old Japanese made guitars.

I bought one of his old guitars on wednesday - a 1979 Ibanez Studio - for about the same price that a godawful 'beginners guitar' would cost me new. It looks like this.

it sounds like pretty.


Thursday, April 17, 2008


I was editing a book about Jamaica today, and in the course of my fact-checking started reading a few pages that discussed Jamaican Patois -- the 'Creole' language spoken to some degree, by a large number of Jamaicans.

Creole languages are fascinating, because at first glance they appear to be fairly simple, just a broken up dialect of standard English (or Spanish, or French.) The more you look at them, however, the more you realise just how little they have to do with English. It's not just the different words, or drastically different pronunciation -- it's the whole syntax, the construction of the language. Creole languages are essentially one language's words with another language's sentence construction. Jamaican Patois, for example, is widely believed to be a mixture of English vocabulary and syntax derived from various west African languages (like Twi, for example, from which it gets the word 'duppy', meaning ghost.)

The best demonstration of how different it is from standard English is by trying to understand the lyrics of Jamaican singers. Not Bob Marley, as generally he sang in slightly rasta-ised English, but someone like Pluto Shervington. 'It's indecipherability is just down to not getting the pronunciation and the recording', you think, but when you read the lyrics you realise that Patois bears about as much of a resemblance to standard English as Dutch, or Chaucer's English.

It's a good song though, about a rasta trying to buy some pork (which is not Ital)


Favourite fact of the day:

-- Cleveland was originally called Cleaveland, but the local newspaper couldn't fit the word on the front page masthead, so Cleveland it is.

Favourite book quote:

-- "As an industrial city, Cleveland had always experienced problems related to pollution. The city hit a low point, however, in the summer of 1969 when the Cuyahoga River, which flows through the city, caught fire."


"God's Turban and Tutu! Do I need a dair of the hog!" - Henry Rawlinson

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


My friend Howie just posted up these pictures of the 'snow angel' made by Dave, Hannah, Howie and myself a few weeks back when london was gifted with unexpected snow. I'm reproducing without permission, because I'm a bastard like that.

And here's the dog, sculpted by me, Dave and Hannah. Which Hannah aptly named 'snowy'

In other news, the next few weeks are going to be unhealthy ones -- The unfortunate knackering that my Achilles tendons received from walking for miles in the snow mean that I can't walk very far, and the anti-inflammatories I've been given to make them better require me to eat stuff all the time, otherwise they make my stomach hurt (I know this because I've been prescribed them before.)


Friday, April 11, 2008

Bleep Bleep Bleepity Bleeping Bleep!

I am a very, very angry person today.

I mentioned in a post last week that, after months of hobbling around I've finally got an explanation of what caused my left knee to completely fuck up (beyond complete repair, it seems). This wasn't a particularly huge cock in my face, as I don't like running much and can get by without doing it.

For the last week (I first noticed it on Monday) I've been suffering from some rather unpleasant feelings in my Achilles tendons - sort of ouchy and uncomfortable. I figured that this was caused by the boots I'd been wearing in the snow rubbing against the back of my ankles, went back to wearing my trainers and waited for it to go away.

It hasn't.

In fact, over the last few days it's got worse. A lot worse. Like 'I've lost most of the movement in my feet and can barely walk because of the searing pain' sort of worse. It took me about twice as long to walk from the station to my house this evening. Wincing and swearing and limping (with both legs, which isn't for beginners, let me tell you) every fucking metre. It feels like someone has replaced my tendons with a frayed bundle of dried out and crispy old elastic bands.

So there you go. I've been trying to get fit, but even walking, it seems, is completely out the question for me now. Perhaps I should just buy a pair of elasticated waistband jeans and be done with it.

Just... aagh... fuck you nature, fuck you right in the eye. I'm still getting thinner, more out of spite than anything else - I normally wouldn't bother putting this much effort into it, but this feels like a fight to me now and I'm not backing down.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Antoine Dufour, Andy McKee, Craig D'Andrea

You would have thought that putting that much awesome in one room would cause some sort of fusion reaction, or at least a rift in the space time continuum.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New Bass

After two week's wait, I collected my new bass from the workshop on friday afternoon. I'd been getting a little worried in those two weeks, concerned that perhaps it wasn't as wonderful an instrument as I initially thought. But no need for worry, it makes my old fretless feel and sound like a load of rubber bands on a plank of wood. It's amazing the way that a high quality instrument feels and sounds, they're just so much more lively - they respond to changes in attack much more easily and bring out subtleties in your playing that you never realised you had.

Phwoar! nice rack, etc.



Today at work I had to compile a further reading list which included a section on American Fiction - by American authors, about America or American people. I had to include some ethnicky literature and was trying to avoid including texts that were commonly taught at school level (which was hampered rather by the fact that I didn't go to an American school).

Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. New York: Grove Press, 2005.
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain. New York: Penguin Classics, 2001.
Carver, Raymond. Where I'm Calling From: The Selected Stories. New York: Vintage, 1989.
Doctorow, E L. The Book of Daniel. New York: Random House, 2007.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage, 1995
Faulkner, William. Light in August. New York: Vintage, 1991.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1999.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York. Simon & Schuster, 1996.
James, Henry. Washington Square. New York: Penguin Classics, 2007.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2002.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. New York: Penguin Classics, 2002.
Sallinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Penguin books, 1994.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin, 2002.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. New York: Dial Press, 1999.

With the exception of The Crucible and The Grapes of Wrath — Which were put in on the suggestion of others — these books are all from my bookshelves. I'm putting it up here because I know you're a fairly literate lot so feel free to add anything glaring I've missed out, or just mock me for my choices if you want.

Oh, and Another thing. I know that this will mean nothing at all to you, but I'm just going to say it anyway. The London Mayoral candidate most likely to get my vote in the next few weeks will be the first one to stand up and say this:

"Contrary to what my speeches have so far suggested, I am actually aware of the existence of London Boroughs south of the River Thames"

Seriously, that's all.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Just a little post to share this wondrous piece of scientific research with the world. I'm afraid it's in .Pdf format (which is always annoying if you aren't expecting it), but hey, it's a journal article available to the common people - so you can't be too picky.


Not much has really happened to me that's worth mentioning - well, not that's worth mentioning in any detail without photos to go with it, and I don't have a camera. Suffice to say I spent Sunday making a giant transvestite snowman in the park, and have a new custom Warwick Corvette fretless bass, which is so nice it makes me wish I could play it properly.


(The paper was from Badscience)

Thursday, April 03, 2008


In the world of cargo shipbuilding there are two classifications - Suezmax and Panamax - which describe a ship design (of no specific shape or construction) that fits within the maximum dimensions that can still fit through either the Panama or Suez ship canals) . This isn't the sort of information that most people bother to remember, I know, but it's a pair of pleasing words that could be useful in a life or death game of scrabble.

This came to mind today when I was standing on the tube, reading my paper, listening to my music, and observing the quite visible discomfort of many of those in the carriage with me. I propose a new standard, one that will definitely come into force when people can genetically modify their children.


This would be the maximum size a person can be and still travel in a reasonable level of comfort on the tube. I think it would be around my size - that is, around 6' and 180lbs - as any taller and your height would mean you'd be all crumpled up, and any fatter and you'd be all sweaty and uncool all the time.

Another thing - Supergrass rock hard.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Today I had my long awaited appointment with the knee injury specialist at the local hospital. I went along a little worried about the fact that my knee isn’t particularly bothering me at the moment, and that perhaps the specialist would just dismiss it as some minor, passing thing, only to have it recur weeks later.

I got the bus to Queen Mary’s and sat around in the waiting room, lorded over by the ubiquitous NHS crone*. I was impressed by the way that, with the exception of a very pretty woman (who I tactfully refrained from staring at) I was the only one in the room who wasn’t either A: over 200 pounds or B: over 200 years old.

The consultation was relatively quick, I was poked, prodded and generally jiggled about for about ten minutes, punctuated by occasional

‘does it hurt when I do this?’


‘does it hurt when I do this?’


And asides to the medical intern who was sitting in, like

‘note the abnormal range of movement of the joints’

‘get me some tea’

At the end of these ineffable medical manipulations he explained to me that the cause of my pain wasn’t a strained ligament like the GP had guessed, but something called Hyperlax ligaments – this means that my ligaments are all stretchy - way more than usual - which is why, amongst other things, I can bend my knees both ways. The side effect of this is that if I were to go running a lot (as I did) my ligaments can’t hold my joints in place properly. The clicking and pain in my knee was caused by damage to the cartilage and bone of the joint. Damage which is, apparently, permanent.

I’ve got to see a physiotherapist a few times over the next month or so, and I’m absolutely forbidden to do any running. Ever.


*I’m not sure whether these women are unique to the English healthcare system, or if they’re an international thing - but whenever there is a desk in a medical establishment then the person behind that desk will be in their mid to late fifties, grey haired, and seem to be permanently irritated with you