Thursday, 30 June 2011

Spirits in the Material World

Why hello there! This paragraph here? It's usually filled with things going on in my life. But I don't really have a clue what is happening really. I'm back in Aberdeen but I don't know how long I'll be staying for. The job I was hoping to get was given to someone else but "they'll keep my name on file" and that "there are other positions coming up soon". And my parents want me down at theirs to look after my brother and do some humdrum tasks. At the same time I'm trying to get work experience. And I'm also trying to do things like visit people I like and have a good time in the summer. As soon as I do one thing, it's more or less guaranteed that something else will pop up. Groovy times! On the other hand I've done quite well with my exam results and I haven't probably treated myself. So fuck everything else, I'm drinking tonight (probably by myself, lol).

I've always wondered how Thomas would deal with
 a bunch of rowdy drunks inside him. 
If you've been following my blog for a good while, you might remember a lazy post I did about bus journeys. Well, when I was at my parents in the West of Scotland, to get anywhere that might have something as sophisticated as shops that don't just sell bread, milk, and newspapers, I had to travel by train. Which is a similar experience to riding a bus. But it has a lot more space for drunks to dance, shout loudly, and pee. And much like the bus you overhear some usually dull, but sometimes interesting conversations. One conversation in particular that I remember was conducted by a seller. That may sound vague, but every 50 people or so, you'll meet a 'seller'. Now, this person might not even work in sales (although they generally do) but you can never trust them, because normal conversation just sounds like they want something from you. In this particular conversation the 'seller' had got tickets for an event at the London 2012 Olympics. By the sounds of things, the friend had entrusted the 'seller' with money for the tickets, but the 'seller' had got more expensive tickets the friend didn't necessarily want. "Yeah, I just got premium xtra sooper dooper wow tickets that only cost £100* more, but I think it's so much better in the long run? I mean, we only have to wait in a 5 minute queue? I mean, we don't have to wait about all day, it won't be that big, but it means we get seats almost right at the front? It's actually pretty good value, I mean, we get cup holders in the seats, and we see all the action SO MUCH CLOSER and it's not worth ruining our experience right? And you know..." I'll stop there, I think you get the idea.

Do you have any friends like this? I don't. If you've read this blog for any period of time you'll know I hate a lot of things. But 'sellers' have to be in my top 3 pet hates somewhere. They'll rub your back and kiss your arse, they'll guilt trip you, and they'll fire 'advantages' and 'perks' at you like semen fires out of a paedophiles' penis whilst watching Lazytown. All to get you to do something they want. I suppose you could argue that for a career, I'll be doing exactly the same thing, but I'll want information and stories as opposed to money. To those people I say shush. If you have been forced to work in sales because you haven't got any money and you can't afford to be fussy, I really don't envy you. My sympathies go out to you. Unless you try to sell me something. 

*I can't remember exactly what he said here, I just made stuff up to give you the general idea

Friday, 24 June 2011

Yank Crime

So I'm saying goodbye to a few things. I've said goodbye to my fairly long hair, which made me resemble a number of eighties musicians and made me less likely to get ID'd for alcohol. And I'm heading back up to Aberdeen in a few days, which means goodbye parental unit, goodbye rain, and goodbye miscellaneous people I know about here. And the final goodbye, which has still yet to be confirmed properly, is to unemployment. After getting used to it, the world of work has crept up behind me and slapped me on the back, making me shit myself. I'm not allergic to doing stuff. I've had to look after my brother who broke his leg, and I've been cutting grass, trimming hedges, walking the dog etc a number of times over the past couple of weeks. I've just never really been in formal employment so I'm kindof wondering what's gonna crop up. Oh well, cash is cash.

Yeah, you should probably completely
ignore the word 'Railcard' 
Now over the past couple of years I've become a little bit of a music snob and I tend to listen to music by album now. But sometimes one particular will song will stand out a lot, and I will play it to death despite my brain's protests that this will only mean I will quickly become sick of the song, and it will fester at the bottom of my itunes for a year or so (yes I use itunes, deal with it). Rock and Roll part 2 by Gary Glitter was the offender this time. That main riff was already wedged in my brain somewhere, but for a number of years I've been unable to pinpoint the artist. Looking it up on Wikipedia, I can see the song has been used in Happy Gilmore, The Longest Yard, Small Soldiers, Meet the Fockers and Semi-Pro to name a very small number of motion pictures in which the song is included. It's probably one of the greatest riffs in the history of popular music. But the name and artist has evaded me for years. Most likely because of Mr Glitter's very poor childcare record. Which annoys me a little. I know this may be a little more extreme, but it reminds me a little of the people that are in favour of burning Hitler's paintings, and to a lesser extent, the fact that Mein Kampf is banned in Germany.

We aren't children, we don't need to be scared that playing 'Leader of the Gang' is going to create a whole batch of paedophiles, or even that Mein Kampf will create a nazi sympathiser. Out of sight, out of mind won't change the past. If you ignore something for long enough it's going to come back to haunt you. Somebody's horrible actions will not change what they've done. Beside a child abuse awareness ribbon on Glitter's facebook fan club page it is summed up simply - 'It's about the music'.

Well, it's a lovely day so I'm gonna cut hedges for a while. It's work, but waving a electric hedge trimmer about makes me feel like Derek in Bad Taste. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Let's get Lyrical (part 9 billion and 2 minus 9 billion)

Okay, I'll just go ahead and say it. It might make it a bit easier. I have never seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day. No, I'm not kidding. I'm absolutely serious. I may as well keep confessing - when I started this blog I'd never actually tried calamari (I was a little hesitant to try it, har har). For the record, I tried it a couple of weeks ago and I loved it (wouldn't it be a little perverse if I despised it?), and right now I'm saving myself from a few extra embarrassing moments in my life by finally watching what is considered one of James Cameron's best moments as a film-maker. There always seems to be stuff that you are regarded as a lesser human for not experiencing, isn't there? The original Star Wars trilogy, seeing a band live, 'making love'. Sometimes very fulfilling, sometimes overrated experiences. If you happen to succumb to your peers/curiosity then I'm not going to stop you. Just don't do them all at once.

There is no witty caption this week because
every possible joke about this man has been
made. I'LL BE BACK with a clever caption next
week, don't you worry.
So yeah, like it or not I'm continuing my thoughts on lyrics in songs, just in case you happen to be a plonker that doesn't pay much attention to the actual blog title. And I suppose I'll discuss something a bit more hard-hitting than the surrealism I was talking about last week. How about political lyrics? Now although I'm not as well versed in politics as I should be, I get extremely excited when it comes to political debates in voting, and it irritates the shit out of me when people claim politics isn't important. If you have any brains then you'll know that the decisions made by politicians affect our life on just about every level possible. Those dull, late night debates made many miles away may limit or increase our freedom as human beings. And musicians love to be outspoken. Those two things combined together can sometimes produce interesting results. Bands in the original wave of punk in 1976 thought it would be a great idea to discuss political issues in their lyrics -
"Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock" 

moaned the Clash, as they grew frustrated about the lack of interesting employment that was in the UK. And of course, commentary on politics wasn't exactly a new thing, as Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On questioned the need for the war
"Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate

And I could go on. Outside of their lyrics musicians such as Kanye West and Bono continue their verbal assault on the folk in power. In interviews, however, the illusion is quite often shattered for me. When it comes to talking about specific subjects they tend to make vague, mumbling statements, about how Margaret Thatcher was evil, how 'the men in the suits are earning all the money', or that whatever war is going on was started purely to put money in the pockets of politicians. Now I'm not saying I agree or disagree with these things. I'm saying form your own opinion based on facts. Musicians can be good for provoking thought, but don't expect them to make the world a better place based on some words they probably wrote when they were stoned.

Terminator 2 was alright. I suppose that's what hype and a distracting blog does to you. May do another part if I'm feeling lazy  as though I need to discuss the subject of the importance or non importance of lyrics in music more. This was a tired blog so I'm not sure if it's decent. I'll soon find out. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Let's get Lyrical (part I)

Can you blame the aliens in War of the Worlds for biting the dust after catching a cold? It's fucking horrible. My tonsils feel as if they have been left to marinate in bear vomit. It didn't stop me from drinking heavily a couple of nights ago though. Few things do actually. I was watching the original Day of the Dead that night, and found myself admiring the attitude of the character that bore a striking resemblance to Rowan Atkinson. Every time he sees or hears something particularly disturbing he mutters "Jesus Mary and Joseph" and takes a strong swig of his brandy filled hip flask. Disturbing events are fairly commonplace due to the fact that the characters are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse situation. So at least he doesn't have doctors grumbling down his neck that he should maybe not drink strong spirits every 5 minutes or so. And besides, who cares about the state of your liver when there is constant risk of it getting pulled out of your body and shoved into the mouth of a walking corpse? Bring on the zombie apocalypse.

Upon hearing the lyrics from the latest Bruno Mars' song -
If you are reading this, then you are probably alive. And if you are alive you have probably heard music. And if you have heard music then you probably know that music often contains vocals, which will contain lyrics or some nonsensical babble (admittedly there can be a fine line between the two things). So yeah, love em or hate um, lyrical content is pretty commonplace. I've already discussed how irritating generic lyrics about love and heartbreak are, especially when your more infuriating facebook pals insist on spamming them everywhere in the hope that some idiot will comfort them with poor grammar. But then again, I have to be wary myself. I'm pretty guilty of thinking that a particular lyric is very witty and clever. Then I'll see it written it down and it may just look like stupidity. And there are bands like Mogwai that manage fine with very little in the way of lyrics. On Radiohead's Kid A, Thom Yorke's lyrics received critical acclaim. The singer later revealed that he'd pulled words and phrases out of a hat at random to come up with the words. Not that I'm slagging that sort of thing. Abstract stuff really floats my boat. If you look at the works of Van Gogh, much of his work was based on emotion and expression rather than simply creating a realistic image. I can really understand if you are rolling your eyes and muttering darkly about how shit modern art is. But I have a wild imagination and surreal nonsense grabs me. I think it's interesting to see how different people interpret different lyrics.

"I was a Jugular vein in a juggler's girl
I was supposedly leaking the most interesting colors
While half of my fingers are dipped in the sand
You progress in letters, but you're used to cooking broccoli
The other side of take out is mildew on rice"

Is it about childlike innocence? Is it about an acid trip? It may be nonsense, but I could care less. The feeling of wonder and experimentation is clearly shown in the lyrics, which moves the melody onto a completely different level. It's a weird sort of vibe but I love the colourful images and emotions that play out in my head as the surreal little tale unfolds. Now lyrics don't necessarily make or break a song for me. But isn't it nice to hear  something that maybe isn't as quite as generic and obvious as "Girl I love you" or "I'm in the club, I'm on the floor"? I think so. 

That was a bit of a hipster-ey post, sorry if that isn't your thing. I didn't want to do this half arsed, so I'm going to make a part 2 on this. The lyrics are from Animal Collective's Peacebone by the way, I suggest you check it out. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mein Kamp

Outside my window, the sky is the colour of white socks that have been worn for one day too many which can only mean one thing - summer in Scotland. To be fair we have had a fair bit of sunshine so far, but today I'm just being gently reminded that this isn't going to be a particularly warm summer, just in case any little niggles of delusion managed to seep into my head. And here comes the rain as I type this. Time to bring in the washing. I'm sitting here in my parent's house with solid walls and a roof over my head, and I'm actually pretty grateful for it. No, I've not just watched a harrowing documentary about some family in Ethiopia that has to live in a raw sewage pipe and eat glass for breakfast. I'm not long back from a jolly little camping trip.

An accurate representation of what going
 to the toilet looked like during our camp
I abso-bloody-lutely love camping. It's an experience that reassures you that you have not been completely softened into mush from our electric tin opener and deluxe iced tea maker culture. Although it is slightly embarrassing to explain to other people.
So you had fun camping?
Yeah, it was great!
So what exactly did you do?
Well we burned stuff on the fire and drank a lot
Talking about how much you admired the beautiful scenery only makes you sound like an elderly relative that spends their remaining days staring out the window collecting stamps. And talking about how you felt closer to nature just sounds like you've just unchained yourself from the gates of a coal power plant. Both of which will inevitably make eyes roll. So I can't really sell this whole thing very well. But I really recommend the experience for getting to know folk on a better level than you would in any other situation. That is, as long as you don't mind pooping in the woods, pulling blood sucking parasites out of your body, and generally not encountering many ways to set your adrenaline flowing. Oh, and if the people you are camping with are twats, then the whole experience is going to be shite.

I realise now that anyone reading this blog has completely lost faith in me, but I'm going to try and continue even if it's just for me. I'm in the process of finding jobs and work experience, and I'm back at my parents for the summer. Which isn't depressing as I initially thought, I have a few nights of drinking sorted  and my mother  is under the amusing impression that I'm 'seeing girls'. If anyone is reading this, then thanks, really.