Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let sleeping flies lie

I've never seen a sleeping house fly before, but this one had a couple of kips at my house. Perhaps house flies only sleep on house plants.

He was sound asleep too - no cleaning his face or vacuuming with his tongue at all. Just away with the fly  fairies.

You'll no doubt have noted that the plant providing the room at the inn, as it were, is a rather gorgeous Senecio articulatus.

 I had one when I was a kid, although back then we were so ignorant we called them Kleinia articulata. Their mode of growth, in those Dali-esque elongated barrel-shaped segments, is so unusual and striking that they attract attention right across the room.  Since a lot of them lose their leaves and end up looking like planted sausages, they are called Hot Dog plants. No wonder they attract flies.

Happy Birthday, Marc Bolan

It's Marc Bolan's birthday again - he was born on the 30th September 1947. He died before he was thirty, but if he was still here, he would be 65 today. That's a difficult concept to imagine. (Gary Glitter at 65, that's easy. In fact, I think he already was 65 back in 1972...he just stayed the same age. David Bowie - now there's someone who can't be over sixty, surely?)

Marc Bolan was always slightly older than you'd think - a latterday graduate of the 2is, like Cliff Richard before him, rather than an actual 70's Star - but it's still very hard to imagine a 65 year old Boppin' Elf.  BP Fallon, now, Marc's onetime publicist and conga-playing stand-in for a video shoot in Germany (and also Led Zeppelin's main man) is still going strong. He had a single on Jack White's Third Man Records label recently and is still in the thick of things. But Boley, nope - it's as if he was never going to be sixty.

This is the 40th anniversary of Glam Rock, and not coincidentally, of my own discovery of music and musicians and fandom, so I have a bit of a mental retrospective going on. Unfortunately, I can't find much of interest on the intertubes to point the curious at - many Marc Bolan sites are lurid, non-web-safe-colored, marching-ants, flashing text box, eight different font style nightmares that seem to have lurched haphazardly out of a 1997 Geocities fever dream, web pages that make MySpace pages look like copperplate journals by Latin scholars in comparison.  And I've never found a fan message board that suited me either, although I'm willing to believe there's one out there somewhere. Even the books I have on the subject are mostly not worth mentioning. I quite liked Mark Paytress' 20th Century Boy: The Marc Bolan Story, though, but it doesn't appear to exist...unless Paytress lost the rights to the title and this is the same book.

The legendary "lost" performance of New York City

Marc and June Bolan

Marc and Gloria Jones with little Rolan Bolan

Hot Love, German TV 1971 - with Beep on congas.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sewer Rats - Unwelcome Company for Alison Mosshart

In September 2009, Baby Ruthless posted a couple of blog... uh....posts on the Vault about a giant rat that almost chased her out of her house.

(Here, though you probably can't see the blog if you're not a member.)

Her night had started started with an angry wasp and it went rapidly downhill until she faced evidence of a veritable Beast of Bexley, except one from East London - a Monster of Mile End, a Serpent of Shoreditch, a Liver Bird of Liverpool Street. Wild, convincing and entirely demotic, here's a short excerpt from the first post:

... until finally i got really tired again and fell asleep... with one eye open.
got out of bed at 8:30 with the sure realization that the racket a few hours before, had not been a dream. got up to inspect. and here's what i found... a flag pole had fallen off my bookshelf and created a barricade between my bedroom door and the living room. vases were knocked over. my mexican jumping beans had been eaten! there was a pile of shit in a corner. plastic horses knocked over in my fire place. tiles knocked back from my stove. and a chewed up chocolate bar...
either i was visited last night by the creature from the black lagoon, or an ENORMOUS satan rat!
fuck my life. 
A little later she posted a do-it-yourself-mugshot picture of the intruder, which I can't reproduce here as the Vault screams "copyright!" if you try to right click on its pictures. It was very ratty, though it had little round specs that made it resemble a friend of mine from university who rejoiced in the name Andy Dash. (To distinguish himself from the other Andys he used a prime mark, or dash, comme ça Andy'.) (Come to think of it, he was quite ratty.)

Then, on September 24th, Jack White went a-conversing with his loyal fans on Modblast, a "chat" or vehicle for star/commoner interactions where the commoners pay $60 a quarter to hang out shooting the breeze on the off-chance a star will turn up to speak. Between other cryptic exchanges, when he was asked about the rat, he said the rat was a metaphor. Modblast chats are read from the bottom up.

[JackWhite] it's a metaphor for another rat.
[ymagirl] what is Alsion's rat a metaphor for? I think I know...
[JackWhite] alison's rat is a metaphor.
[ymagirl] what do you think of Alison's rat?
This pseudo-revelation pissed me off - because it hadn't sounded like a metaphor. It sounded from her post like an actual enormous Satan rat.

This is is a long winded way of introducing the fact I learned today, that new evidence suggests the rat was an actual rat! Here's Henry Wagons, interviewed by the AUReview about his new record, Unwelcome Company ft., as they say, Alison Mosshart:
"While staying in Alison's house in East London, she told me the most biblical tale of relentless waves of pestilence which took place in her home. Disturbed by the construction of a new underground station deep beneath her house, all of the sewer-dwelling rats were inspired to rise to the surface for a party above ground. Her tale went through rat poison, rat death, maggots, followed by a plague of blowflies. Perfect material for a twisted duet. I ended up going to London to record her vocal, in the very house the song is about. If you listen closely you can hear the last of the blowflies saying hi every now and then." 
I feel so vindicated.

Also at that link, and most likely of more interest to people who are not me, there is a stream of Henry Wagons' cowboyish rockabilly song, ft. Alison on vocals with extra echo tra echo tra echo ko ko ko. I can't say I love it but if it were a Bond theme I'd enjoy it. Here it is, pop fans!


English usage - food for thought

After an article called Which Language Rules to Flout. Or Flaunt? by two apparently well-known English grammarians, one prescriptivist and one descriptivist, on the subject of proper usage of English, JerryVNYC leaves this thought-provoking comment:
My current pet peeve is the common use of the contraction "it's" in place of the possessive "its", as in "The cat has it's own bed". I suggest that this misuse is due to the fact that we commonly create possessives by adding an apostrophe plus an "s" to nouns.
Stirring stuff.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vintage record pressing photos

Vintage photos and blurb on How Records Are Made, from Voices of East Anglia.  (More at the link.)

It hasn't changed much.  Here is the video of the Dead Weather visiting United Record Pressing in Nashville, their video for Will There Be Enough Water.

The Dead Weather - 60 Feet Tall video

A Golden oldie.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Jetsons are 50 years old this week

This year, I've been celebrating…or at least remembering…the 40th anniversary of Glam Rock.  1972 was not just the year that pop effloresced into glitter and fun, but was also a recognizably modern year. The bitter labor disputes and recession in the UK led to headlines that could be recycled today.  Gays were coming out – at least David Bowie was, and Jobriath.   Pong was released, so at least technically some people were hooked on videogames.  Men were still walking on the moon up until December and the UK had "gone decimal" the year before.

I was jolted to learn, then, that The Jetsons is 50 years old this year. I can remember quite clearly hating it (or what I saw of it, because I don't remember it being syndicated in any organized fashion) for using old tropes of science fiction so tired E E "Doc" Smith himself would have disdained them. Even as a teen, it was obvious that The Jetsons was The Flintstones with flying cars and antennae, and both were nothing but interesting wrapping around a tale of 1950s-approved family units. Mom, Dad, the kids and the pet (and even a maid – albeit a robot maid) ground as deep into our consciousness as hard as all the massed weapons of  modern media could rub, in some throwback effort to make the nuclear family the norm by portraying it as ubiquitous and without alternatives – literally unrivaled.

In its coverage of the 50th anniversay, boing boing seems to think that the program was a hopefilled outgrowth of the Space Age, an exuberant celebration of Science and How Science Has Won.
It only lasted 24 episodes (not including the mid-1980s "revival"), but it truly embodied the tech optimism of the time. 
They approvingly quote Matt Novak in 50 Years of the Jetsons– Why The Show Still Matters as saying that the show had "a style that perhaps best represented postwar consumer culture promises of freedom and modernity."

To me it showed the opposite – that mankind (as we used to call us) could progress from foot-power stone vehicles in The Flintstones to flying cars in The Jetsons, but society and the family would remain unchangeable and unshakable forever. That wasn't a pleasing thought even back then in 1972, when gay pride and transgender people, no-fault divorce and free (or at least reasonably priced) love were just beginning to make themselves known.  Now, when cartoonists from Ren and Stimpy, through Spongebob Squarepants to Futurama have appropriated every visual, all the aesthetics, and have used them to portray non-traditional relationships (still within the safe confines of 21st Century American ideals, of course) The Jetsons seems positively antediluvian – as much an abode of cavemen as The Flintstones. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to have a successful vehicular accident

Russian dash-cam crash videos are big right now. They certainly have an addictive quality. I won't bore you with the first 100 or so that I watched, but here's one spectacular crash with a relatively happy ending. (If you are easily lulled to sleep by boring road travel, set the pointer to start at 45 seconds in. That'll be plenty.)



Presidential candidates and science - Romney edition

I was going to do a piece on the two presidential candidates and science, but it was too boring - it was more about policy than the traditional sciency questions like "Watt is the unit of power?" and "If a spherical cow of uniform density accelerates at ten meters per second per second for...."

Who cares about policy? Do they know any science?

Well, Romney answered that one for us without being asked any questions.

Speaking on Saturday at a fundraiser reported in the LA Times, Romney told about his wife's recent scary trip on an airplane which was forced to make an emergency landing after an apparent electrical fire.
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”
I'm glad she's safe and sound too...but...opening plane windows to let in oxygen? Has he really no idea how planes, atmospheres and fires work? None at all? Or was this some kind of weak attempt at joking? (Found via More Words Deeper Hole)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Press Conference, 09/21/2012

Or of course, Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Press Conference, 21/09/2012 if you're British.

Places to buy cinema tickets for 17th October, 2012: to buy the Audio / DVD & Blu-ray, Out 19th November, 2012:

"Five years is five minutes in Zeppelin time - I'm surprised we got it out this quickly" - John Paul Jones.

It's great to see the three of them on stage together. But a shame they didn't bring their instruments...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Marc Bolan music downloads

I'd never heard of Bandcamp before yesterday, and I'm not sure what it is - is it for unsigned bands to release their material to an hopefully adoring public? Don't know. But I do know that downloads of mp3s are free from their page, and the pages include material by Marc Bolan and T. Rex. I've really no idea if the downloads are legal or not, so caveat liberator.

They have a download of Marc Bolan's unfinished and unreleased (while he was alive) rock opera, Billy Super Duper, as well as several sets of demos, including Tanx demos and Electric Warrior demos. Enjoy them while they last!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wise Monkey

Intrepid scientists have discovered a new species of monkey.  Lurking in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it seems to be popular as bushmeat and/or pets. Locals call it Lesula and scientists have named it Cercopithecus lomamiensi. I call it the Restored Jesus Monkey. I wonder if Cecilia Giménez was unconsciously predicting the second coming of this extremely wise looking monkey?

I've written about Cecilia's inspired restoration before.
Art Restoration Corner
Icky Homo

Monday, September 17, 2012

Statistics Corner

46% of pre-retirees do not believe that they will live as long as the average population, according to a July report from the Society of Actuaries. Underestimating their life expectancy is another reason they're likely to exhaust all their resources, other than Social Security, in the early years of retirement.
(USA Today, today, in article: Test-drive retirement before taking it on the road)

Really, 46% don't think they'll live as long as average?  There may be some weird psychosocial implications of that, but statistically speaking, it sounds as though Baby Boomers at least paid attention in math class. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Complete Jack White show download - iTunes Festival 2012

Watch on YouTube (until it's taken down, of course)

(Thanks to KD for the link)

Or download the audio. All around nice person Viewaskewser has uploaded the entire Jack White show from the 2012  iTunes festival to a sharing site.  The set features both the Buzzards and the Peacocks - separately, of course.

Jack White
September 8, 2012
iTunes Festival
The Roundhouse
London, England

—The Buzzards—
01. Intro Jam
02. Black Math (The White Stripes)
03. Missing Pieces
04. Sixteen Saltines
05. Wasting My Time (The White Stripes)
06. I Cut Like A Buffalo (The Dead Weather)
07. Hello Operator (The White Stripes)
08. Two Against One (DangerMouse)
09. Blunderbuss
—The Peacocks—
10. Love Interruption
11. Hotel Yorba (The White Stripes)
12. Top Yourself (The Raconteurs)
13. Hypocritical Kiss
14. Cannon (The White Stripes)
15. Broken Boy Soldier (The Raconteurs)
16. We’re Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes)
17. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (The White Stripes)
18. Take Me With You When You Go
19. I’m Slowly Turning Into You (The White Stripes)
20. Screwdriver (The White Stripes)
21. Blue Blood Blues (The Dead Weather)
22. Meet Me In The Morning (Bob Dylan)
23. Ball and Biscuit (The White Stripes)
24. Encore Break
25. Steady, As She Goes (The Raconteurs)
26. The Hardest Button to Button (The White Stripes)
27. Freedom at 21
28. Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes)



Friday, September 14, 2012

Here they come - Tim Buckley on The Monkees

Tim Buckley, father of Jeff, was on the wacky and zany Monkees TV show with the haunting Song to the Siren.

You can't tell from that clip what an odd program The Monkees really was. Running from 1966 to 1968 in the US, it featured the original pre-fab four in a show that quickly dropped its ersatz Summer of Love facade and veered in almost-Spike-Milliganesque surreal territory. Here's the full esipode that hosted Tim Buckley.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Led Zeppelin 2007 02 Reunion Show to be released

Hooray! Celebration Day, the DVD of the Led Zeppelin reunion show from 2007 at the 02 is about to be released.

I was one of the 20 million people who applied but didn't get tickets.  I'll be after this one as soon as it's released - even though I've had a bootleg DVD for the last five years. (As does everybody, probably.)

Doesn't Jimmy Page look happy?  Time to get back on stage, old son!

Hamster wall of death video

I am incredibly busy at work, so here's a funny hamster video for you.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Recently a friend of mine gave me a bag containing a pound of dried navy beans which he had bought by accident but could not eat, as he doesn't consume products from China, a country he believes utilizes slave labor.  He helpfully pointed out the words "Produce of China" at the bottom of the ingredients list. Having no such qualms, I took the bag home and prepared to soak the beans. The first instruction read "Examine the product and discard all foreign matter." After I had accomplished that, I found I had no need to go on to step two.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Happy 40th, Glam Rock! My 1972 Diary, September.

September 1st
Bought Alice Cooper poster at antique bicycle shop in C[arnaby] Street.

[I remember the poster, but why in a bicycle shop? Those crazy Carnaby Street hippies!]

September 2nd
Came through London and went to Olympia DIY Ex. Ran out of money. Bought Masai statue though.

[My parents loved the Ideal Home Exhibition. Whether that was "DIY Ex" or not I can't remember. Dad also used to go to Olympia for a big electronics fair we always called the Ideal Ohm Exhibition too.  In those pre-credit card days it was quite easy to run out of money, and dad did. Please note it wasn't me that bought the Masai statue, a two-headed, bright magenta sandalwood monstrosity that scared the daylights out of visitors for years to come. I seem to remember we actually ran out of said money in an Angus Steak House, where we had to hurriedly cancel an order after the soup course and flee.]

September 7th.
School's back again. And School's Out is now number 11. Big drops.

September 8th.
I prithee, gentle Samaritan, abolish homework and Sweet and Slade.

[I know I'm celebrating Glam Rock, but I'm me. And anything that could possibly threaten T. Rex in the charts got deprecated.]

September 11th.
Heavy sounds regale the chart! Up with Mott the Hoople, Alice and T Rex and whoever else. Sink the Stones!

[I don't know what the Stones had done to me, as the album that year was the immense Exile on Main Street. Perhaps I meant something else. If I was thinking of the sublime Rocks Off, Shame on me.]

September 19th.
Ziggy Stardust for Chief Sewage Inspector! He's insulted Marc.  [Mary] Whitehouse thinks Alice is insulting.

[I think that was the interview where David Bowie called Marc Bolan "prissy and fey and engrossed in his own image", which even at the time I thought was a case of pot/kettle/black.  Mary Whitehouse was a Campaigner for Decency who never did grasp the difference between Art and Having Low Morals. She was the PMRC of her day.]

September 23rd.
Got tickets for Lindisfarne!

[I was becoming all grown up! Phew, rock and roll!]


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