Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Invisible Friends: An Explanation

There's a moment in every Musician's biopic where the star gets the idea for his song from something said by him or something else. The inspiration moment. Dewey Cox is going to "walk ... hard. WALK... HARD".

Well "Invisible Friends" happened something like that, I heard another song, in this case, where Invisible Friends were mentioned and I said something like "I've got invisible friends, too, and I don't want to see the other ones" foollowed closely my "ooh that could be a blues line", the conceit, invisible friends, silent friends and leper friends, came soon afterwards.

I tried and tried to get tasteless and smell-free friends too but it just wouldn't work. "Some of my friends are tasteless, the rest I just don't want to"... what? Swallow? Lick? eat?

Anyway, the rest was just something I'd been working on before that. A sort of anti-blues. I'm no gambling man, it wasn't a woman that did me in, etc. Fortunately I wrote this before hearing The Folksmen sing I Never Did No Wandering in the Christopher Guest movie A Mighty Wind:

Never heard the whistle of a southbound freight,
Or the singing of it’s driving wheel,
No I, never did no wanderin’
Never did no wanderin’
Never did no wanderin’ after all

Hopefully I've avoided all out repudiation of the blues in that, in my song, something has left the singer with no friends.

"It wasn't the girl that ruined me, although she played her part"

The singer is ruined but not for the usual reasons. Even I don't really know what, though drink probably has something to do with it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

99 Secrets Explained

99 Secrets was written after discovering something on the Internet called "99 Secrets". It was written by Carl Steadman who was a co-founder of one my early favourite internet places, and, according to wikipedia, he was one of the web's first "micro-celebrities". In Carl's 99 Secrets the second secret is:
"Once she told him a story about a white knight, and a princess that didn't need saving. "Am I the knight?" he asked her. No, she answered. You're the person I'm telling the story to."
The list, I think, tries to be 99 scenes from various love-lives summed up in the pithiest way an Internet micro-celebrity could manage. As the above example shows, this often seems to be in the form of weird passive-aggressive digs at some ex, real or imagined, for a past slight or transgression. Past the weird icky feeling that, boy, did Carl have some issues, it's sometimes funny and sometimes poignant and occasionally both at the same time. Item 3 is:
Stay, he asked her, not meaning forever.
Carl, you might think, is a bit of a dick, isn't he? But it's a good line and it's almost the first line of 99 Secrets Blues.
When I said you could stay, I never meant forever.
When I said you could stay, I never meant forever.
Now it's no secret we can't be together.
I think I made it more of an argument than the inner monologue of some constantly monologuing self-loathing hipster, but the passive-aggressive spirit of Carl's 99 Secrets is still there.

I often introduce 99 Secrets as a journey in to my little black heart, so I can't be too disapproving of Carl. I feel I wrote this at a very different time in my life, but it was my heart, even if the structure was from someone else. It's interesting to me now that, in order to make the words to flow as a blues, I changed the meaning, or perhaps just the setting. Carl's 99 seems to be a lot of private thoughts, whereas I seem to recast those as all out fights, in just about all the ones I took.

9 When he told her that he needed her, he meant that he needed her to desire him.
When I told you I needed you, you know I spoke the truth
When I told you I needed you, you know I spoke the truth
I needed you to want me like I wanted you
31 I think I love you, he said. Is that what you think, she said.
I think I love you that's all I had to say
I said I think I love you that's all I had to say
She told me to think a little harder, boy, as she walked away.
37. She knew him, because she knew his failings.
She said she knew me, she knew me all too well
Oh yeah she knew me, she knew me all too well
She knew all those little ways that she could make me fail
77. I suppose I should have known that when you told me you needed your space, that you'd find it in somebody else's closet, he said.
When you asked me for space I tried to give you that
You asked me for space I tried to give you that
How was I supposed to know it'd be in my best friends flat
85. You've made all those promises before, she said. The least you could do is come up with some new ones.
I made all of these promises so many times before
All these empty promises so many times before
If I really loved you, girl, I'd come up with one or two more
Looking at it now it was a much greater theft than I remember... Of course I only have 6 secrets, the others would really make the song too long and I'm not sure if I can truly say that I've lived all of the 99 like I have these 6.

As I say at concerts "As for the other 93 secrets... It's a secret."

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Got To Get Yourself Connected


Some have you may have noticed I'm trying out this ReverbNation thing. It's essentially Myspace, with bells on, but I like the experience a lot better so far. The bad Myspace thing is that it still seems to be bands showing off to other bands, which always feels a bit unhealthy, but the bonus is all sorts of stats and the feeling that being number one for Blues in the Steyr area is a thing to be proud of.

The BluesBerries even have a shop now through ReverbNation, have a look here, so if you ever wanted a t-shirt with me on it, now's your chance. I've not tried anything in their yet, so if you do buy something let me know how that works out for you.

Monday, 5 September 2011

She Ain't No Good For You

The 'Berries do Elvis. Well, Arthur Crudup, actually, but you can't but help let a little bit of the King in.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The BluesBerries On YouTube At Last!

Vanilla Pudding, of course. I'm not sure what I'm doing with my hands on the growly verse...

Oh, and going to the YouTube page itself has some fun suggestions for other videos you might like Cheesecake and Smoothies mostly, which could have been a good name for the band.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself

I have such a terrible sense of humour. I saw that a player called Bojan was playing for Spain's U21 against England and I hoped he would score a couple because then, when the ad for the highlights came on, the annoucer would have to say "Don't miss the Bojan goals"...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

LA Noire : Some Thoughts

The main thing about LA Noire is that it works. Team Bondi have succesfully crafted a game based on being a police officer in 1940's LA and managed to channel films such as The Big Sleep through to LA Confidential while doing so. The linear story-telling and acting are spot-on and the tone is as consistent as possible throughout, except for a couple of pretty major exceptions.

The two central mechanics of the game are pretty simple. One is more-or-less wandering round a specific area waiting for you controller to buzz. In point-n-click adventures, the genre LA Noire is probably closest to, this was called "pixel hunting", moving your pointer over the screen waiting for it to change to a hand. Some of the found objects are then very small puzzle in their own right which, when solved, can lead to further clues. Despite it's simplicity the animation and the voiceovers when you find a new clue really sell this. The vast majority of clues are in obvious places and if you watch your non-controlable partner he often goes to where each clue is in turn.

Once you have everything then the music stops, really, and it's time to talk to the suspects.

And here is the selling point. Rockstar/Team Bondi will tell you that they have improved facial animation enough that complex emotions can be displayed by a computer generated actor. They exaggerate. That's not to say it isn't incredibly well done, it is. The mechanic of the interview section is is thus: the interviewee talks and you have to decide whether they tell the truth or lie or you just plain doubt them. If they don't fidget, then it's probably the truth, if they do fidget then doubt them and if you've found something that just plain contradicts what they've said call them a dirty damn liar.

The "tells" are all oversold, but this game really isn't too interested in subtlety. It has a story it wants to tell and it will tell it. Halfway through the Murder section you will probably realise there's a repeated factor in all of the murders that your "best detective ever" refuses to notice.

This is interactive fiction telling, but the writer wants to have a beginning, a middle and an end and you are strapped in to this story whether you like it or not. As I said the story is well told, but you feel like a little more influence over the outcome would have been appropriate.

It also happens that LA Noire is an open-world game. Team Bondi have recreated large parts of some parts of LA. You can drive around and steal cars and find films and badges and landmarks and other make-work. LAs there and it's as pretty as any other game. It's almost entirely meaningless in terms of what the game itself is trying to do. There are eight million stories in the Naked City. Team Bondi are only telling around 25 of them with and extra 40 vignettes. The rest of LA is there to chase or be chased in. It seems wasteful, I hope they find a way to use it again.

At the end of every "Casefile" there's a big shootout. Apparently Team Bondi were more influenced by LA Confidential than Double Indemnity. Every single shootout feels out of place. They were making this great neo-noir and all of a sudden the spirit of Clint Eastwood shows up.

The shootouts are there because gamers expect them, I suppose, and, well, Bogart did shoot a few fellows in his day, but that was usually one shot, close up. The sections aren't particularly long but it feels like your reward playing a game that wants to add an emotional aspect to games is to be stuck in a particularly mediocre third person shooter.

So, not a failure, then, by any means but occasionally hobbled by, what?, a failure of nerve? Pandering to what gamers expect and will pay for rather than letting the product stand for itself? Maybe it'll be neglected now and be reappraised as a true masterpiece many years later...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Isn't It Ironic

I've been ploughing through Spartacus: Blood & Sand recently but the most vulgar joke I saw at the weekend was on Doctor Who...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Come Get Some

Much like Lucy Lawless's nakedness in the recent Spartacus TV show, the news of a trailer for Duke Nukem Forever is both exciting and about 8 years too late.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Fishy Goings On

Apparently up 25% of all fish sold is "mislabeled" according to a report that The New York times would like to bring to our attention. Actually, in the article they are slightly less euphemistic in their naming and say "fraudulently identified". You can't always trust your fishmonger, I guess.

Anyway, the report is from a non-profit organisation called Oceana and is titled "Bait and Switch", which made me smile.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

David Simon - Saying What We Don't But Probably Should

Jorn Barger had an arresting quote from David Simon today:

"My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him."

David Simon, of course, being the man behind Homicide, The Corner, The Wire, Generation Kill and, though I've not seen it, Treme. So it's definitly a valid position for him to have. Anyway I found the original piece where the quote comes from it's in The Believer and is an interview Nick Hornby did with Simon somewhere around August 2007

If I start quoting it we'll be here all day, instead you should go over there and read for yourself, or read it again if you were luck to catch it back when it was published. It's still fresh today.

Go! If only to find out why Deadwood is Shakespeare, with added cocksuckery, and The Wire is a greek tragedy.

Friday, 29 April 2011

To Mark A Special Day

A joke from a previous one:

On the day of the wedding, Sophie was getting dressed, surrounded by all her family, and she suddenly realised she had forgotten to get any shoes.
Then her sister remembered that she had a pair of white shoes from her wedding so she lent them to Sophie for the day. Unfortunately they were a bit too small and by the time the festivities were over Sophie's feet were in agony.
When she and Edward withdrew to their room the only thing she could think of was getting her shoes off.
The rest of the Family crowded round the door to the bedroom and they heard roughly what they expected, grunts, straining noises and the occasional muffled scream. Eventually they heard Edward say 'God, that was tight.'
'There,' whispered the Queen. 'I told you she was a virgin.'
Then, to their surprise, they heard Edward say. 'Right. Now for the other one.'
Followed by more grunting and straining and at last Edward said.
'My God. That was even tighter.'
'That's my boy,' said the Duke. 'Once a sailor, always a sailor.'

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Anesthetic Education

An interesting look, with fine animation, at what is wrong with our "Industrial" view of education and why ADHD isn't an epidemic or, at least, one that shouldn't be treated with pills.

Via boing boing.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Still Figuring Things Out

Jorn Barger, the man behind Robot Wisdom, helpfully pointed out that his link blog had moved and I'd been pointing at the wrong place for quite sometime (a state I'm all too familiar with). Blogger, for some reason, doesn't like the URL, though, and won't let me add it to "Feeds I Read". The link above works and I recommend you click on it and bookmark what you find there.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Just Enough Cowbell

A funky little tune from Sweden.

I first heard this through Soul Sides (way back in 2005, apparently) and had to go out and buy the album. Soul sides say that it reminds them of The Roots track Seed and, you know, he's not wrong...

It's lacking the cowbell, though. Someone should release a remix of this with the Damn! cowbell on it...

Monday, 18 April 2011

Tales Of The Obvious

40% of people did not feel Britain had benefitted from immigration in any way.

The above is from a review of YouGov poll.

The article makes it obvious that this is from a poll of more context, something to do with Cameron stirring up old Tory values, but you can't help wondering if the pollster went up to the pollee "What about them immigrants, eh? What have they ever done for us".

I also hope that at least some of the 60% replied "Made my mum/my dad/me". Though this could be true for much of that 40% as I can personally vouch for...

I wonder if those 40% somehow thought of it as a zero sum game. That immigrants from all over the world have done much to enrich British life and culture, but since a Pakistani owns the shop on the corner (denying a British citizen the chance to work hard for many hours a day for not much pay and much abuse) then maybe it's a wash.

Perhaps those Doctors recruited from India to cover an English shortfall are balanced by those muslim types who just don't want to fit in.

I does make you wonder, though, what immigrants would have to do to make the 40% feel like they had contributed?

Explaining Sort Algorhythms With Hungarian Folk Dance

Exactly what it sounds like...

PS. Just had two weeks holiday, if you were wondering why the blog briefly flared up and then died down again. Terrible timing on my part. The flaring should continue.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Spank Me Like You Mean It...

... Two times a day.

I only know this from an album called Balling The Jack which was an attempt a bringing together a lot of bluesy music that blues purists might sniff at. Its a great compilation with some terrific music whatever the genre is called.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Perfect Woman- Tom Ball&Kenny Sultan

The BluesBerries cover this song, but this is a video of the creators playing it live. I have no idea what Mammoth's Annual Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza is but it sounds like a great place to be!

File Under "Who Knew?"

Bill Gates is ruthless, driven and competitive, says Paul Allen.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Brothers & Sisters We Got To Kick Out The Jams

There are probably more cover versions of Kick Out The Jams by MC5 than MC5 ever sold copies of and just about every one has a video on YouTube...

The original had the best hair, at the very least:

Rage Against the Machine does its thing to the song. And Henry Rollins has a suitably shouty version

Monster Magnet do a straight up cover, the riff really demands that you do it exactly like this, oddly it sounds almost exactly like the Xena version (I'm not ready to do my long Xena post yet -- possibly ever --, but this was a highlight of a particularly embarassing episode, Xena had already done a musical episode, one that rivals Buffy's Once More With Feeling, but Lyre Lyre got it wrong on multiple levels including having Xena rap...)

The Presidents of the United States of America do a vaguely nerdy cover and Jeff Buckley and Evan Dando do suitably singer-songwriter covers. The Buckley version being notable for his tiny freak out at someone snapping pics at the beginning.

It's just a really cracking bit of rock'n'roll. Isn't that enough, Miss McKenzie?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Trying To Tie Everything Together

Starting like a "Mothermother" the Roots get Ice Cube to revisit one of his earliest hits, Straight Outta Compton. Part of me hopes that they then showed the trailer for "Are We There Yet?" just to compare and contrast. But let's not distract too much from this blast of pure hip-hop:

Interestingly, in her cover of Straight Outta Compton, Nina Gordon doesn't shy away from any of the profanity:

You sort of want her to add some to Phil Collins' One More Night, though:

Monday, 28 March 2011

I Kissed A Girl by Jill Sobule

When the Katy Perry song of the same title came out, I initially hoped it was a cover of this. It wasn't Perry seems to have gone to other things (appearing in lads mags as far as I can tell) while Jill Sobule did get to tour with Warren Zevon and Billy Bragg (though not at the same time, which would have been awesome).

There were a number of parodies of Perry's song on YouTube when it came out including the memorably (for me) vulgar "I Did[1] Your Mum". I still think it's a pity nobody did this to Sobule's song as it should have been a YouTube hit, especially the bridge where you can imagine the parodist getting more and more excited as they sing:

I did your Mum
It was so sweet
She was into doing me
I did your Mum
It won't change the world
But I'm so glad...
... I did your Mum

[1] Not the actual word. Not that I'm squeamish about swear words, I just decided to be coy here because I'm about to repeat the word a lot and I don't want to tip any censors.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Drive-by Truckers "Drag the Lake Charlie" Later.....with Jools Holland

Also from Later... is a video of Birthday Boy which I can't embed for some reason. Two good performances, though. There are some that'd tell you Later... has gone on well past its sell-by-date, but while it's still getting good bands and good performances I particularly care that it's getting a but moudly round the edges.

Never Gonna Change

An actual, sort of, video from the Truckers to support their Dirty South Tour video. This is back when they still had Jason Isbell in the band and he handles the vocals here. Isbell wrote one of my all time favourite Truckers songs called Outfit, and this is a pretty good version:

And, finally, an oddity. Patterson Hood and friends (which seems to be all the trucker 'cept Mike Cooley) doing a cover of Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight. I really wanted to like this, but it's a bit of a mess. I guess you just had to be there.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sexy Lesbians Asshole Bleaching Petula Clark Up The Arse

So, as you can probably tell from the date stamps on the posts, it has been a while. Blogger hasn't changed much, except now it's offering its own stats page. Nothing too earth shattering although one of the stats is for "all time" (back as far as March 2010, I believe) search keywords. It really sums up my posting history:

Search Keywords
  1. roadzters 41
  2. assholebleaching 8
  3. paul herzberg steyr 7
  4. sexy lesbians 7
  5. cricket club steyr 5
  6. looking for the next best thing meaning 5
  7. muddy funster 4
  8. petula clark up the arse 4
  9. 4
  10. asshole bleaching 3
I think I may have my perfect blog post title now, the redunancy of "asshole bleaching up the arse" being particularly perfect. The rest of the blog can't possibly live up to it...

Ummm Hmmm!

My blog is seventh when you search for best looking thongs on Yahoo.

This makes me happy.

Yippie Yie Ay

This comes from the seemingly one-off Cowboy Rumba album. I was hoping that there'd be a video for "Feelin' No Pain" one of the greatest ever drinking songs, but Ghost Riders is a fun blast of Merengue.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Beyond Good & Evil HD for X-Box 360

I played the original BG&E on my old X-Box back when it came out. The original, as you may remember, came out to good reviews and low sales. I enjoyed it at the time, feeling it was well paced and I especially liked how the bigger world would slip you into mini-games without you realising it. The characters were well written and the ecological theme neatly integrated.

Playing it again eight years leter, in this new HD version, nothing has really changed. The higher resolution graphics and improved textures only serve to make it just how you remember it. The eco-theme seems more prescient and the fact the the lead character is an adult woman with normal-sized breasts makes you wonder why there aren't more like her in video games. Did BG&E's relative financial failure give games companies an excuse to pump up breasts in games?

It's a good solid ten hours of gaming, assuming you collect every pearl and creature and beat every race (probably a bit shorter if your racing skills aren't as rusty as mine). It has oodles of character and the main characters are memorable. Andrea, who wasn't playing (but occassionally gave out sage advice -- "maybe you should drive faster"), really, really wanted Pey'j to live. It parcels out the gameplay in very satisfying ways. The world gradually gets larger and you keep getting extra abilities that you immediately have a reason to try out. Just as you think you've seen it all you are dropped in to a fun, explosion filled, race across the roof tops (my favourite set-piece, a real smile inducer).

It isn't perfect. The lips never quite match what is said. The story requires everyone to be just a little bit dense. The camera, while mostly set-up appropriately, sometimes just gets bloody minded. And the story just ends setting lots up for a trilogy that hasn't happened, yet.

It's a tenner. If you haven't played it yet, you should. If you have played it, play it again in the hopes it will give Ubisoft the incentive to finish part 2.

He Looks Young There

Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne do Mohammed's Radio in 1976. My first reaction was to how young Zevon looks, but in 1976 I'd have looked five...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Chain Factor

When I've got a little time on my hands and nothing to do, I tend to play Drop7 on my phone. It's addictive and only takes a couple of minutes to play a game. It's sort of a cross between Tetris and Connect4 and easier to play than describe.

It's based on an older online game called Chain Factor which is just as good if not quite as portable.


The Sensational Alex Harvey Band covering Next on the Old Grey Whistle Test. I'm not sure why I haven't looked for this before because I like SAHB and Next is one of my very favourite songs. This is a great performance.

Jacques Brel's original, Au Suivant, isn't too shabby either, though the subtitles are a little dodgy according to the comments (useful comments on YouTube being pretty amazing in itself).

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Little Bit Kinky

Hayes Carll - She Left Me For Jesus

So, As I Was Saying...

You know, Facebook Statuses are really no substitute for a blog post.

I've missed, what, seven months of links everybody else already has and the occassional rant, but my loyal audience of spammers has, at the very least, kept my comments lively. Don't check for that now, though. I've deleted the great bulk of them.

So, Blog posts. As I understand it, the original blog idea was that it was a log of where the poster had been on the internet, a web-log if you will, though some took he mechanics of that idea and made more "diary" styled blogs possible. This very blog has multiple examples of both styles. It seems odd to me, but the link list web-log seems to have become something of a business model across the whole Internet.

Whereas before you might go to your favourite blogger and find a link that might pique your interest, you can now go to sites whose whole raison d'etre is publishing the same mildly amusing dozen links every day as about a thousand other sites. For example Cracked has a page called Linkstorm which seems to aggregate a few of these pages and skims off the more amusing ones, showing some sort of editorial judgement, if only minimal. Just about all of the links on that page go to pages that have links to other pages that have very similar lists of content.

If you haven't yet read about the "Top 10 Most Controversial Video Games", don't worry you'll get the chance to read it, or one very much like it, pretty soon.

That all said, I will be posting my "Short Shorts" posts as regularly as before and hope to get some ranting in even more shortly.