Friday, 31 October 2008

'The Bends', translated from English to Japanese and then back to English again.

The Planetary Telex
It Was Stranded To The Bank
False Plastic Wood
Splendid Dream
My Iron Lung
Evidence… Of Bullet I Desire The Fact That It Is I
Black Star
Ill Humour
Mind Of Sort (Atrophy)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

A Wasted Youth Is Better By Far Than Knowing You Can Drink Premium Juice.

Sometimes I buy the newspaper every day. Sometimes I don't buy it for weeks on end. Usually, though, I get it when there is a nice chunky section on music, or film, or because something particularly exciting is going on in the world, like a squirrel is learning how to water-ski, or some girl named Keeley has lost her top... I kid, I kid. I only read tabloids when I'm in a staff room or on a train. The Times all the way for me, baby! Ahem.

Anyway, recently I've found myself buying newspapers more sporadically. Like most people, I don't like bad news. Unlike most people, I simply take the logical step of eliminating as much bad news from my life as I can. If I see miserable headlines, ones that I know will disturb and depress me, I do not buy the paper that day. What with the looming economic apocalypse, this has left me cutting back substantially in recent times on my news reading.

There are downsides, yes. The most obvious being that I miss out on a lot of news. I know, for instance, that there is a so-called economical crisis. I probably won't know when it finishes though, and as a result will leave doomed to Tesco's Value long-life juice. For life. On top of this, I end up with more spare time, having nothing to read in that area after lunch, before lectures, which I have set aside. To anyone else this could only be a positive thing - perhaps there's time to read a short story? Sort out my life? Search for a job?

Not Stephen. No way. You give Stephen free time and he's positively, 100% guaranteed to waste it. It emerged today that in the last week - since I last bought a newspaper - I have listened to over a day's worth of music. A day! That's one-seventh of my week spent listening to music! I could be learning about world affairs, and what am I doing? I'm systematically working through the music of 1970's Cohen! I'm breaking down to the dulcet tones of Hercules and Love Affair! I'm not working.

Maybe someday all this time wasting will turn out to be worthwhile. I don't know. Maybe I'll get to become a music journalist, or present a radio show. Maybe I'll find renown as the world's greatest music quiz compiler. Perhaps, somewhere down the line, a troll will stop me on the way to work and threaten to kill me unless I can name all of the tracks, in order, from Billy Joel's debut 'Cold Spring Harbor'. I do hope not, I always have a tendency to forget which way round Turn Around and You Look So Good To Me go.

More likely than not, it'll be five years from now and I'm in a pub with my mates from work. We've just won the weekly music quiz for the eighth time in a row, mostly down to me. One of my friends turns to the group and, starting a new conversation states: 'Well, looks like we're finally coming out of that recession, then.' And all I'll know to do is buy premium juice again.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Hallowe'en I Would Like To See

As Hallowe'en approaches there will always be the inevitable 'what do I go as?' fear. It strikes every year, and only those blessed with ADHD of the imagination don't get it. I myself had a fancy dress event the other week for which I dressed as Noel Edmonds. At the beginning of May I dressed up for one event as Luigi of the Mario brothers. I have to admit that I've been tempted to repeat either of those costumes, with a bit of grey make-up. Nothing says 'originality' more than Zombie Luigi.

Still, I've been thinking about the wealth of opportunities in our consistently terrifying modern world, and the effect that this could have on Hallowe'en. Frankly, there is never an excuse for a shit costume, and so I've been compiling a list of possible costumes I've been considering.

Zombie Luigi
Zombie Noel Edmonds
The State Of The Economy
Sarah Palin*
The puppet from Saw

Up until just now I had the Saw puppet as my front runner - I have a digital voice recorder that I've used to interview bands for our Uni music mag before, and was going to pre-record judgemental messages that put a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek twist on the recorded messages in the films:

'For too long now you have returned each day from lectures only to ignore your housemates... instead you lock yourself in your room and casually play with yourself until dinner.'

'For years you have blamed your farts on the dog, tonight you will learn that only your diet is to blame...'

And so on. But then I remembered last year's ideas over at HollywoodFlakes and am now torn. Do I go as a brain donor? Hospital gowns aren't easy to procure, and neither would a jar big enough to hold a cauliflour. But the response would be great. Or, do I go as an iPod advert? It's a tough choice, and I'll probably either remain with Saw or go as a brain donor - the iPod advert seems impractical for sitting, doorways and generally being inside.

Still, I may just return to last year's costume - put on a Venetian mask and everytime I'm asked who I am I change my answer: 'the personification of fear in a world desensitized by television', 'the looming dread over the upcoming US elections', 'Zombie Noel Edmonds in a Venetian Mask.' We shall see...

*If I don't see a single Sarah Palin this year I will lose my faith in the creativity of mankind.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Solving Politics With Jambalaya

I wouldn't describe myself as a politically aware person. I mean, I'm not ignorant by any means - I tend to know when there's an election going on (in England, at least), and I have a firm concept of who I think is wrong and who I think is slightly less wrong. And just once in a while I stumble across a politician whom I genuinely admire - someone who could really make a difference to the lives of their people.

Twice in the last year have I been struck by political figures who fall firmly into this category. Neither, rather unhelpfully, are British. The first, even more unfortunately, isn't even real. Still, I can't think of a better president for America than '24's David Palmer. Well, maybe James Marshall from 'Air Force One'. Though really, think about how risky he could be - we don't even know his policies. Just that he can beat the shit out of the Russkies.

The other guy, funnily enough, is Obama. Frankly, I can see only one flaw with the guy, and that's that his name rather lends itself to being the other way round. 'Obama Barack' is so much easier to say than 'Barack Obama'. But really, when the worst thing about a politician is the order of his name then you must be in a pretty good place.

It's really interesting watching the American election from over here in England. I don't think I've met a single person over here who wants McCain in. I was told the other day that whilst in America the split between parties still seems fairly 50/50 the Europeans are four-to-one for Obama. Just give us the vote, America! The way your foreign policy seems to work we'll all be citizens within twenty years anyway!

Alternatively, I've come up with an easier and less argumentative way to sort out the American presidency. Jambalaya.

Now, hear me out here before you throw me aside and go back to your Barack-baiting and McCain-mauling. If 24 has taught me anything (apart from 83 different ways to torture people), then it is this: to be a great president one needs to have a firm control of affairs, be strong under pressure, efficient to a fault and unswayed by those with their own agendas. Where else do you find all of these challenges but in the kitchen?

So my proposal is this: the two presidential candidates each get given one top of the range kitchen, a party-specific apron (you know, an American flag design with pachyderm or mule) a free range of ingredients and sixty minutes in order to make the greatest jambalaya the oval office has ever seen. In just one hour they will:
- Demonstrate strength under pressure, as they make the most important rice-based dish of their lives.
- Show a firm control of affairs, jumping between preparation, cooking and occasional stirring.
- Present immense efficiency, most likely as they elegantly chop up the jambalaya trinity.
- And finally, they will show that they can not be swayed each deals with a New Orleans grandmother who has been told specifically to pick out every flaw in their technique and choices, whether it be with regards to the cooking time or the decision between making a Creole jambalaya or a Cajun jambalaya.

After an hour both will serve their finished meal to a panel of experts comprised of said New Orleans grandmothers, Gordon Ramsey, an old French man who has never left his tiny village in the Alps and as a result has absolutely no political agenda, and myself. The panel shall feast on the jambalaya, and award the winning chef with a top of the range 1994 Daewoo or a family holiday courtesy of Mauritius Airlines. And the US Presidency for four years, at which point the Great Jambalaya Cook-Off would take place again with the year's candidates.

I'll be submitting this in writing to the US Senate post-haste.