Archive for March, 2007
It all depends on how you look at things… love.mp3
So, I’d done ten little stories for this magazine based in New York. I was asked to do them at some point around last Christmas, with a deadline of mid-March. Fine. Yep, I’ll do it. I’d worked with them on a couple of occasions before, and the guy there seemed like a decent chap.
In the last month or so before the deadline, I’d get an email now and again, checking in to see how I was getting on. I was getting on fine. I’d not finished yet, but fear not: I will hit the deadline. I’ve never missed a deadline in my freelance life, and it’s something I take seriously.
The two ideas I had for a longer short story were both going okay, but not really as I wanted them to. So, with a week to go, I ditched the idea and decided to do a bunch of tiny stories, like the Gee Willikers stuff on FFF. I gathered together a bunch of notes I’d made over the past few months and wrote them up as ten little stories about ten men.
I was kinda happy with what I’d done. Not the best stuff I’ve ever done, but still, when I sent them to the magazine – on time – I had no nagging doubts. Those nagging doubts you have when you create something and even though you like it, there’s something deep in the back of your brain that says, “That’s not very good.”
I waited a couple of days. Nothing. No acknowledgment of receiving the email. I waited a few more days, and wrote another email to check he’d got the work. Nothing. So yesterday, two weeks after I’d sent him the stories, I sent another email asking what the score was, and that if I didn’t hear back from him soon, I’d just assume he didn’t want the stories and I’d use them on the site.
Two hours later, I got a terse reply:
Sorry I’ve been so busy with finishing the issue to go to press. I honestly didn’t really like the piece so we won’t be printing it. So you can go ahead and put it on your site.
Fine. I’m not really that arsed that he didn’t like them and decided not to use them, but, for fuck’s sake, how fucking rude is that? When the hell was he planning on telling me this? And this work was for free. No payment. Essentially a favour. I replied with an equally terse, and slightly pissy, email. The next reply was more shitty excuses. You know when people are caught out, and they heap on excuses that are slightly off-topic from their original excuse? Anyway. Fuck him. Fuck his cunty magazine.
I was going to write about all this yesterday, but decided to wait to calm a touch. I’ve not really calmed down yet, though.
I’m putting the stories online now. I hope you like them. [Insert smiley face here.] Here’s one of them. The other nine are over in the Gee Willikers section of Flip Flop Flyin’. Have a good weekend.
Zac looked out of the window at the cloud below. One cloud on its own, casting a huge shadow over the fields. I’d like to be on a bicycle, he thought, and ride around the edge of that shadow. One arm under the shadow, one arm under the sun. I’d follow the edge of the shadow round and round and round and round as it passed over fields, forests, and the rich suburbs with their piercing turquoise pools. And maybe, I’d ride through someone’s garden, and there’d be a girl by the pool. And maybe, just maybe, she’d ask why one of my arms was redder than the other. And I’d tell her why. And maybe, just maybe, she’d fall in love with me.
As I’m walking along the glamorous car-lined streets of my neighbourhood, I look at many things. One of those things is the back of white vans; and I can’t help but notice how much they look like skulls.
“It was twenty years ago today/Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”
And it was twenty years ago. Twenty years ago. It’s forty years now, but twenty years ago it seemed like a big deal. As I remember it – and I might be wrong – when “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was approaching it’s twentieth birthday, there was a lot of coverage in the British media. Special articles and a TV documentary, that kinda thing. It seems to me as if that was when the music industry grabbed hold of the concept of nostalgia, and with the gaining-pace medium of compact discs to promote, decided it was a great thing.
And it’s probably not unimportant to wonder how crucial to the level of celebration the opening lines of that album were: It was twenty years ago today/Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. There probably would have been a decent amount of attention to the anniversary, (EMI had done it in 1982 when “Love Me Do” was twenty; the re-release getting to No.4 in the charts, thirteen places higher than its 1962 release), but nothing near the amount it actually did get.
The Beatles wrote their own milestone for the future with that line. And that line helped turn the anniversary of “Sgt. Pepper” into The Beatles’ Golden Jubilee-style celebration. The rock and roll kids had won! Take that, grandad, rock ‘n’ roll really is here to stay. And, although it was fairly well established at that point, I imagine it helped make The Beatles into more than just a band. (Well, to clarify: it seems they were more than just a band even in the band’s own lifetime, but along with the CD reissues came a sense of that we should not question their place at the top of the pop music tree.) Culturally, it seems that in a lot of ways, The Beatles are the sixties now. Other stuff happened, but it was John, Paul, George and Ringo’s decade.
That was forty years ago. But it was twenty years ago this week that “Sign ‘O’ The Times” was released.
I was never a massive Prince fan. I liked his records a lot, but I was no Darren Askew, who I sat next to in Geography, who actually owned a vinyl bootleg of “The Black Album.” (This was in the days when getting bootlegs was a kinda tricky thing in a town like Lincoln. There was the Hawkwind-ish guy on the market who sold tapes of live concerts with the track listings and band photos photocopied onto fluorescent paper; but beyond that… well, there was no eBay.)
Prince’s eighties records, though, seem to be perfect milestones in my life. Not being a kid anymore really hit home when I was 28, (yeh, I know: I should’ve realised before then…) when I noticed that “Purple Rain” had been in my life the same amount of time that it hadn’t been in my life.
And Prince was some sort of mythical creature in the eighties; someone who was a superstar, up there in fame – if not exactly sales – with Michael Jackson and Madonna, but way more talented than both of them. He wrote hit pop records, he was a stunning musician, and his songs sounded unique and strange.
And now, it’s twenty whole years since his, and one of pop music’s, greatest albums, “Sign ‘O’ The Times.” Time has flown by. At the time I was gearing up for my ‘O’ levels. And I did disastrously. I only passed four of them. And as for my maths exam, well, I was convinced it was in the afternoon, and turned up around lunch to find my classmates asking where I was for the maths exam. Twenty years that has seen me do ‘A’ levels, art college, university, several jobs, and a new career in a foreign country.
Twenty years. This is what it must’ve felt like to that previous generation when they were looking back at “Sgt. Pepper.” Like no time at all. But, at the time, for me, 1967 seemed inconceivably long ago. Perhaps mainly because I’d yet to be born, and the idea of music as being something other than just “those songs that come out of the wireless” wasn’t that old for me. I started buying records in 1980, I only knew the name of the she loves you yeah yeah yeah band when John Lennon died. Of course it felt like ancient history to me.
But, the past is the past. It’s gone. We can just look back and marvel at some of the great things it has gifted to us.
Like “Forever In My Life.” One of the finest songs that Prince ever made. And as my mate Mark pointed out, it’s one of the few songs where the backing vocals come before the lead vocal.
I put this mp3 here for those of you who’ve not listened to it for ages, and for those of you who’ve never heard it. Really, if you’ve not heard the album, get yerself down a record shop at the weekend. I can virtually guarantee you’ll love it.
I’m currently working on something that involves sorting out lots of information into graphs and charts. I’m not going to mention what that is right now, in case it doesn’t transpire; but while doing it, I started thinking about how elements of my own life can be viewed as pie charts. So I explored that theme. And this is what I came up with: Personal pies.
I’m feeling slightly more “up” about weblogging at the moment. So I thought I’d have a spring clean. New colours for the hyperlinks, and a new masthead. It’s goodbye to my grandfather George Robinson who’s been up there at the top for quite a while; and hello to a photo that he (or my grandmother) took. I have absolutely no idea where or when this photograph was taken. Late sixties/early seventies I’d imagine. There’s so many great things going on in that picture. Click here to see a bigger, fuller version. Note the guy on the right with the bald spot drying his bum (or testicles) in a jaunty manner. Makes me chuckle no end.
Update: I found another photo taken on the same day where I’m a baby in my grandmother’s arms, so the picture is from the summer of 1971.
I guess if you’ve never used HTML or Photoshop, this won’t mean anything to you; but for the rest of you, here’s some words in the colours that they hexidecimally make.
Another mix for you today. This is the ninth one I’ve cobbled together. As I’ve probably said before, they’re mainly based on what I’ve been listening to the most over the preceding weeks. I try and mix them up a bit, with newer stuff and older stuff, and not being too obscure for the sake of it. I’m sure the record industry would hate me if they noticed I was doing these mixes, but I also know that I’ve ended up being a lot of CDs after hearing stuff on other peoples’ websites. Thus I feel obliged to mention it: if you like any of the songs in particular, I’m quite sure the artists who made them would appreciate you investigating their music further.
Also, it’s difficult to tell from my stats how many people are listening to the mixes. I can see a certain amount of people click the link to the mp3, but I can’t tell whether you listen to the first 30 seconds in your browser, or download them and listen to them all the way through, or more than once. So, you know, if you have any thoughts – negative or positive – about the mixes, it’d be good to hear them.
Anyway, here’s the
March Mix (46MB, 40m 10s). As always, it’ll be available for a week.
A few words about the songs:
Tinariwen “Matadjem Yinmixan”
One of the few areas of music that I’ve ignored for most of my life is the absurdly-named world music. I guess this stems from listening to John Peel as a teenager and not being particularly into the African music he’d play. Over the years, I’ve tried to get into Fela Kuti, but it’s not really happened. And, you know, the people who are into it always put me off. Oatmeal-perfumed hippies dancing like trees in the wind. Sorry. No. That’s wrong. But I heard a song by Tinariwen on the compilation CD that comes taped on the front of The Word magazine, and really liked it. Then I heard a few more songs on their website, bought the album, and a couple of weeks back, went to see them live. It was fantastic. This is my favourite song on their latest album, “Aman Iman.”
Serge Gainsbourg “Elisa”
What’s not to like about a pervy old French fella?
Daft Punk “Teachers”
Back when they were good and we didn’t have to try to like their songs because we wanted them to be good.
Diddy feat. Keyshia Cole “Last Night”
Once in a while, he does a song I like. Along with “Come With Me,” “Bad Boy For Life,” and “Diddy”, this is one of his best, I think.
Britney Spears “I’m A Slave 4 U”
You know, I find it very disheartening that there seems to be this zeal with which people on TV, in the papers, on the Internet, talk about Britney these days. For fuck’s sake, this woman is quite obviously having problems, yet we revel in them like it’s some sort of huge joke. (See also the sickening coverage of the death of Anna-Nicole Smith.) This song is on the mix simply to remind myself that Britney’s made some utterly great songs. And, damn, it’s a sexy-as-hell song.
Journey “Don’t Stop Believing”
Sometimes, and I imagine there are instances of this in everybody’s life, I can’t believe I’m the age I am and still doing some of the stuff I do. I still, once in a while, have toast with ketchup on it like I did when I was a kid, and I still pretend I’m gripping a microphone stand, stood on a stage in a big arena singing this song with all the adoration that it would bring. Of course, I’m really a 36 year old man pretending. Sat at my desk. With a confused cocker spaniel watching me.
The Raspberries “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”
This song has virtually everything you could want from a pop song. It’s one of my favourite ever songs. It just sounds amazing. It’s a great tune, it’s got lovely harmonies, and some spectacularly massive drumming. It’s got that bit where it sounds like it’s on the radio (I always wonder what that actually sounded like on the radio), and that brilliant false ending and reprise. I could listen to this song twenty times a day and not get bored of it.
Cheap Trick “I Want You To Want Me”
What is there to say? It’s just ace. Ace! ACE!
Harry Nilsson “All I Think About Is You”
This is off his stunning 1977 album “Knnillssonn.” It’s one of those songs that’s so pretty it makes me melt a bit.
Bruce Springsteen “I’m On Fire”
The Springsteen song that even people who don’t like him like.
The above post is brought to you by the following over-used adjectives: ace, amazing, brilliant, fantastic, good, great, lovely, and spectacular.
Sometimes, if you take things out of context, you can see those things slightly differently, and maybe appreciate them even more.
Listen to this short mp3, if you would.
That’s exactly how much of that song you could have listened to while Asafa Powell ran his 100 metres world record of 9.77 seconds.
As I’ve mentioned before, gazing lovingly at Google Earth is something I do a lot. One thing I like is when the satellite images they use are pieced together and form some sort of weird perspective anomalies. Here’s three of them that I found while looking at Chicago last night (click the images for full size):
I also enjoyed this one, with the two images taken at different times of year: west of the train tracks, the trees are all bare, while the east side is lovely and summery.
And, slightly off topic, but it popped into my head when I was typing the word at the top of this entry; if you’re stuck for a good book to read, I thoroughly recommend “The Anomalies” by Joey Goebel.
A while back I was asked by the lovely people at Colette to design a Dunny toy-thingy for the collection they were curating for Kid Robot. The other people doing this are all very impressive (Josh Petherick, Geoff McFetridge, Mike Mills, Geneviève Gauckler, Kuntzel & Deygas, Work In Progress and Sophie Toporkoff), and it was very flattering to be asked, so it’s with no small amount of happiness that I can finally show you what I did.
This is the fella:
The series is a “blind box” thing, which basically means you don’t know which of the Dunnys you are getting when you buy one.
They’re limited as hell, and go on sale on 8th March.