Sunday, December 13, 2009

Xmas Compilation CD 2009

It's that time of year again - Compilation CDs will be out in the post just as soon as I'm able to copy the CDs, write the cards and print off some stickers. Merry Xmas everyone!

1. Andrew Bird – Fitz & Dizzyspells

Starting, as is traditional, with someone I know absolutely nothing about, I assume that Fitz and Dizzyspells is a firm of solicitors specialising in Employment Law and those cases where old ladies leave millions of pounds to their cats. It’s a good song, and I could have chosen pretty much anything from his Noble Bird album.

2. Stanley Brinks & Wave Pictures- End of the World

A lovely sweet rambling number with (oh yeah) extended solos. He’s ex- of Herman Düne, stars of last year’s Xmas CD, and Stanley Brinks may no more or less be his name than André Herman Düne, which is what he was called last time he was here.

3. God Help the Girl – God Help the Girl

Slightly uneven but still interesting album, but it works best where it’s piled on thick: strings, syrupy vocals and the preoccupations of a teenage boy (I mean girl, it's written from the point of view of a girl, and it's not like Stuart Murdoch has just written one of his standard songs and flipped all the genders. P.S. I WAS BEING SARCASTIC).

4. Bishop Allen – The Ancient Common Sense of Things

By far the best thing on their otherwise excellently titled album, ‘Grrr...’, this is pretty nice, isn’t it? Gawd knows what the name of that xylophone-type instrument is called; a xylophone, perhaps?

5. The Duckworth Lewis Method – Jiggery Pokery

OK, so to appreciate this track you do need a certain amount of cricketing knowledge, but once you know that this is a song written from the point of view of tubby England batsman Mike Gatting about the first ever ball Shane Warne bowled in the Ashes which turned impossibly and got Gatting out, you can appreciate the Noel Coward-ly wordplay of Neil Hannon from the weirdly good cricketing concept album released with Tendulkar-like timing during the Ashes this year. Whew, that was a long sentence – I fell I owe you some more punctuation for getting through it: .,.,.,..,,.,
Perhaps it’s not too much of a claim to suggest that this is the only single-delivery test cricket-based pop song to feature the words ‘contra bassoon’. I’m happy to be proved wrong.

6. Hot Chip – Take it In

After their disappointing album from last year, this bodes very well for the new one. Having not laid sight on them recently, I’m unable to let you know whether the lead singer still dresses like Brains out of Thunderbirds, but it’s hard not to like the chutzpah of a band releasing a teaser to a new album which starts like a doomy militaristic New Romantic band writing their ‘serious’ song for their album. As my music player wryly notes: “Genre: Electronic”.

7. Annie – I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me

I probably haven’t given the newish album a chance yet, given that I was so enamoured of Bubble Gum that I went out and bought (yes, bought) her debut as an import because it didn’t get properly released here for literally a billion donkey’s years. Although in fairness to me, her record company didn’t seem to be too bothered about listening to it either, given that they apparently took about two years to release this one. Poor Annie.

To further confuse matters, I’ve put I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me on, which was released as a teaser for the album, but didn’t even make it on. Shame! Still, what more do you want than a song that steals Prince's inability to spell and also the stop-start bit from Kiss?

8. Phil Phillips – Sea of Love

Ok, this one only gets on by virtue of being from 1959, which is 50 years ago this year. He doesn’t really make the best use of the ‘sea’ metaphor, but makes up with it in doo wap, which is a fair trade-off in my book.

9. Belle & Sebastian – The State I Am In

Last year, I put a song that didn’t make the B&S BBC sessions album on the Xmas album. This year, to atone for that contrariness, I’m putting one that was on that album. You could accuse me of liking early B&S too much, but I’d just drop my pencil case and faint in a mixture of shock and under-nourishment.

10. John Martyn – May You Never

Poor old John Martyn died at the beginning of 2009. He was brilliantly inventive with guitar delay pedals and mumbly slurry vocals that you can’t really hear. Neither of which feature on this remarkably well enunciated track from Solid Air.

11. Dirty Projectors & David Byrne – Knotty Pine

From the actually good charity album Dark Was the Night, I know little about this track as I can’t find the CD case, sorry. I believe that it’s a part of David Byrne’s ongoing project to collaborate with every living person who has ever picked up a musical instrument. I wish him well.

12. M. Ward – Let’s Dance

I was going to put something on this CD from his new (cheery) album, but I heard this on the Adam & Joe show the other day and thought I’d put this on instead. I particularly like the way he deals with the tricky ‘If you should fall...’ section of the song.

13. Shakira – She Wolf

This is the inaugural Kirsty’s Korner Khoice track – selected by my better half of the fairer sex – and she’s plumped for Shakira’s brilliantly raunchy attempt to better Werewolves of London, including at least one aa-woooooooooooooh, and some wolfy heavy breathing. Her English dictionary is once again put to excellent use – look out for the unexpected coffee machine simile, and her biologically dubious assertion that nocturnal creatures are not so prudent.

14. Bob Dylan – O’ Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

It’s hard to be surprising in a near fifty year career, but his Bobness manages it here, putting his own unique Bob DylAN intoNATte-e-ON on latin, killing that dead language deader than the ghost of Christmas past in a particularly wooden stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It sounds very much like it was recorded in one take, without having had the benefit of seeing or singing the lyrics beforehand. Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Highlights from the Index of 'Welwyn Garden City Past' by Tony Rook, 2001

I've just moved to Welwyn Garden City, which is exciting. In order to learn more about my new surroundings, I googled, and found a book called 'Welwyn Garden City Past' by Tony Rook. Well, I found a copy of the index to the book. Here, mainly for my own amusement, I have provided potted highlights of the index here:

Black Death, 51
bus services, 87
cemeteries, 14-15, 18, 19, 58
chalk, 6-7, 9, 12-13
Chamber of Commerce, 95
‘Moo-cow Chapel’, 62
match manufacturers, 92
Norton Abrasives, 95
Wrestlers’ Bridge, 33, 34

This tells the story of the town I now live in pretty well, I think.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crows Redux

Yo. I just wanted to alert you to this report in The Register, which should strike fear into the hearts of, er, me.

Some additional crow facts that have recently come to light through scientific research:

  • A crow was originally the main character in the New Testament, until focus groups found him to be an unsympathetic character, and he was hastily replaced by Jesus.
  • Crows are one of the few animals alongside man and horses to be able to whistle. Most crow species choose not to, however, being the contrary beasts that they are.
  • Bob Crow, head of the RMT union, is actually a pseudonym, chosen to make him sound more menacing in negotiations than his given name, Bob Canada-Goose.
  • Crows: Bejeesus, they're scary.
  • Crows illegally file share more than any other genus of bird, save for the Wireless Duck.
  • The American crow is very susceptible to the West Nile Virus, a disease just recently introduced in North America. American crows usually die within one week of acquiring the disease with only very few surviving exposure. Crows are so affected by the disease that their deaths are now serving as an indicator of the West Nile Virus’ activity in an area.
  • Wikipedia is interesting, but not funny.
  • The common expression 'stone the crows' belies the fact that crows don't care much for getting high, preferring instead a good single malt and an episode of Inspector Morse.
  • Crows think they is all that.
  • But they ain't.
  • The courtship rituals of Corvus corone or the Carrion crow are so disgusting that they'd make your hair turn white, unless you're a crow, in which case they make your feathers turn black, handily.
  • Crows generally use second class stamps, believing that most post doesn't get there the next day anyway.
  • Crows.
Pretty exhaustive, eh?

[Crow photo from Kohei314 on Flickr]

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Watchmen - a link

I don't often just post links, but here's a link:

Watchmen as a Saturday morning kid's cartoon.

The only trouble is, the animation is too fluid and well drawn.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deadpan Conversations: The Semi-International Edition

(Scene: A bustling Post Office, in which the day before I had bought some Euros, and today was coming to buy some more)
Post Office Man: Hi.
Me: Hi.
POM: Euros?
Me: Oh. Yes please.
(We then deal with the mechanics of buying Euros, the dazzling thrills of which I will spare you.)
POM: They've gone down today. Yesterday it was 109 for £100, and today it's 110.
Me: I should have waited for tomorrow.
POM: Maybe.
Me: But that'd be gambling, right?
POM: I cannot guarantee anything.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Phone the Crows

I've recently had the joy of talking to a lot of utilities companies, one after the other. I will share with you my experiences. You are not allowed to refuse this sharing; just take it like a man.

Thames Water had the longest wait, and worst hold music. The most Geordie voice was supplied by BT, and the most chipper was provided by Alliance & Leicester. The most surprised to be receiving a call was Hackney Council, and the most likely to be the inspiration for an Eastern European work of allegorical fiction was TV Licensing. 0844 is the area code for the moon, isn't it?

The Onion knows my fears: Crows.

(Incidentally, I love it when articles from the Onion turn up on Snopes when people have forwarded Onion articles, and they then get accepted as the truth - I believe anything I hear
about crows, so I'd swallow this wholeheartedly. Crows...)

(photo from faithfull's flicker stream.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Traffic Warden vs. Estate Agent

I'm flat-hunting at the moment. I'm not going to moan though. Let's just take that as read. I will, however, share with you an experience.

We were looking round a flat with Daniel, a fresh-faced estate agent. Just as we were coming out of the flat, there was a traffic warden ticketing Daniel's car. This sight almost literally blew my mind: A traffic warden ticketing an estate agent's car. In terms of moral conundrums involving stereotypes of most-reviled professions, that's like seeing a high-priced libel lawyer punching a tabloid journalist, or observing a politician receiving a telemarketing call.

(I've just googled 'most hated professions', and am disappointed to find that 'Richard Branson' doesn't feature amongst any of the top tens I could see. I assume this is some kind of statistical error.)

Postscript: With a little grovelling, Daniel got off his ticket. I'm going to apply for a slot on 'Thought for the Day' to discuss the moral meaning of this. Listen up!

Photo from Fin Fahey off Flickr.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Boro Bear! In the Flesh! Or is that in the Fur? Ha!

Right, they said it will be a cold day in hell before I make two posts in a day, but balls to what they think - I have important news. If by 'important', you mean 'fully grown man dressed head to foot as a curious footballing bear'.

Yes, this is your chance to go to Stevenage and meet Boro Bear, the mascot of Stevenage Boro, without any of the attendant risks of being forcibly ejected from the stadium for pitch invasions and given a lifetime ban.

He will be at (gasp) Asda on Wednesday lunchtime between 11am and 1pm, (thrill) the Westgate Centre on Thursday afternoon between 1pm and 3pm and at (oh my giddy knees) Tesco in the town centre on Friday afternoon between 1pm and 3pm. If you're under 16 (and let's face it, you're not - that was such a long time ago that you can't even remember if you ever were 16),
you can get free tickets for Saturday's game off him. If not, you can just give him a big hug.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pigeon Deaths and the Games People (Don't) Play (Any More)

One morning recently, I came into the office, and a feather floated down past my window. I thought, ah, that's pretty. After a couple of seconds another one fell. Ah, I thought again. Then some more came down. I went over to the window and looked up; there was a crow, picking savagely at the corpse of a pigeon.

Then, later that same day, I was walking through the park, and I see one of the local schoolkids, who must have been about 13, cooing to some pigeons and throwing it some breadcrumbs. In her other hand, she held a large stick. Fortunately, the pigeon was too quick for her.

If I was living in a Shakespeare play, or was myself a pigeon, these would be OMENS.

In unrelated news (unless he's taken to slaughtering wildlife and gorging himself on their corpses), my friend Chris has set up a blog to document his attempts to give up video games for a year. While I applaud his efforts, I've a feeling that he's going to be living vicariously through me, and asking me for ever more detailed descriptions of the games I've played, while he drools and struggles to control his thumbs. He's doing it for charity to boot.

Game Over Blog

(Photo from nakolah)