Friday, 31 January 2014

January in Review

Time to reflect...

January in Review

It’s the end of January and the end of the first month of my trying to post something new to my blog every day for a year. As if things weren’t narcissistic enough already, I thought it would be useful to look back on my output for the first month and see what can be learned for the coming months.

This project was conceived to get me off my backside and become acclimatised to the process of sitting down and writing every day. I tend to think of things I want to write about and then they get stuck in my head for three months, before I sit down at the computer and write the entire thing in twenty minutes. However, setting myself a task like this means that there is no time to become insular. The work just has to be done.

In general, things have gone well. I have blogged every day, even if some blogs have gone up at four the next morning (my body clock seems to be set to a twenty six hour schedule). There has been some minor cheating, blogging pieces that were written years ago, but as they hadn’t been posted previously, they still count. That’s meant that I could get on with other bits and pieces. At the beginning of the month I was barely keeping up. Here at the end, I’m a few days ahead.

A number of articles that have been knocking around my head for a while got written in January to varying degrees of success. There was the Best Things Article on Star Trek Deep Space 9, which I’m quite happy with. There was also a trilogy of pieces on Bob Dylan, one of which I wrote years ago, one which had tripped me up for years, but which was pretty much sewn together from the copious notes I had taken. Finally there was a short dialogue concerning the song, ‘Just Like A Women’ written from scratch from an idea I had years ago. ‘Her Ribbons and Her Bows’. was the most enjoyable thing I wrote all month.

On the down side, I don’t think the article, ‘Blue Metal Jazz’ ended up quite how I envisaged it, mainly because I focussed so much on the sections about jazz music, that I forgot to include half of what I wanted to say about heavy metal. The article was written at the beginning of the month, so it had to go up pretty much as soon as I wrote it. The good thing about getting ahead of myself is that I can write something, not touch it for a few days, then looked at it a fresh and do some editing before publication.

To redress the balance, I want to say here what I forgot to say about my love of heavy metal:

I think of all the styles of music, metal is the most literary and the most respectful and reverential to other artistic mediums. Half of what I’ve read, half of what I know comes from intellectual journeys that were begun in the heavy metal world. I first came to appreciate Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner because of the Iron Maiden song by the same name (and length). It was the Coleridge poem that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick and Moby Dick that inspired one of the best post-millennial metal albums, Mastodon’s Leviathan. Leviathan is like the soundtrack to Ahab’s inner monologue. If you want an album that reflects the man’s anger and his rage, Leviathan is that album.

Metal bands have always written songs based on novels. One only has to think of Metallica’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ based on the Hemingway novel or ‘One’ based on Dalton Trumbo’s terrifying anti-war book, ‘Johnny Got His Gun’. I read both books because of Metallica and went on to read more or less everything Hemingway wrote.

Anthrax wrote a couple of songs based on Stephen King novels, ‘Among the Living’ based on ‘The Stand’ and ‘Misery Loves Company’ based on ‘Misery’. I’ve yet to get into Stephen King, I must admit, but I read 2000ad religiously as a kid, so ‘I Am the Law’ about Judge Dredd was always a favourite Anthrax song. “DROKK IT!”

I have a lot to thank metal bands for. I became aware of Henry Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’ when I saw it on the inner sleeve of Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Evil Empire’. Bruce Dickinson’s ‘The Chemical Wedding’ caused me to read everything by William Blake. Indeed, Wolfsbane frontman, Blaze Bailey, is probably most directly responsible for my becoming a writer. I was a member of the Wolfsbane fan club at 18 and  I can remember reading a piece he wrote shortly after David Icke made his now legendary appearance on ‘Wogan’. It was Bailey’s rant against the sneering media reaction that  inspired me to want to do the same. And now I do.

Metal led backwards towards the blues. To John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. From blues I eventually came to jazz. I was a late convert to the genius of Bob Dylan, but between Guns n’ Roses version of ‘Knockin On Heaven’s’ Door’, Hendrix’s blistering ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and Rage Against the Machine’s grinding interpretation of ‘Maggie’s Farm’, I was well versed in his oeuvre by the time I got there. And metal led through a dozen different crossovers to rap and hip hop, via Cypress Hill, Faith No More, The Beastie Boys, Anthrax and Public Enemy.

I use music as a mood elevator, a metronome for writing, a soundtrack to reading and as a relaxant. I need a wide range of musical genres because I have a wide range of moods and need a palette broad enough to match. Hard rock/heavy metal has the broadest spectrum of any style of music other than jazz. Alice in Chains soothe, Clutch cheer, Slayer get me energised and fired up for writing and Tool and A Perfect Circle drop me into a state halfway between relaxation and nervous tension. I don’t listen to a lot of new metal these days, but then I don’t listen to that much music at all. I have enough to work through as it is.

So there you go, that’s that imbalance restored and the karmic, thermodynamic forces are retuned to parity. To finish up, a selection of my favourite articles you may have missed from the month. I’m spectacularly bad at promoting myself, but I would ask that if you read something I’ve written that you like, please do share it. I only want to be read (and to be rich from being read, but you know, one step at a time).

Click on the links below to be whooshed away to genius.

So that’s January done with. To February and beyond!

Get it done.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Heaven, Heaven is a Place, A Place Where Nothing, Nothing Ever Happens

In the course of writing this I discovered that David Byrne was born in Dumbarton, about ten miles from where I was born.

Heaven, Heaven is a Place, A Place Where Nothing, Nothing Ever Happens

Excuse me madam, do you have a few minutes to talk about letting the music of Talking Heads into your life? Who are the Talking Heads? That’s an excellent question and I’m very glad you asked. The Talking Heads are a new wave, post punk band from New York that were active in the 1970s and 80s.

Sorry? Yes, that is a long time ago, but anything is contemporary if you’ve only just heard about it. I myself only started properly listening to their music in 2010. Their albums I mean, not just the greatest hits. You’ve heard of Radiohead, right? Well Radiohead are named after a Talking Heads song. Not a very good Talking Heads song if I’m honest, from probably their weakest album, but still pretty cool, hey? Sorry? Yes, I suppose Radiohead are quite old too.

Well I can only speak to what I feel makes Talking Heads so great. They were always innovating, probably ‘cause Brain Eno produced a lot of their albums. Even before they started working with Eno though they were trying things. What other band would be brave enough to feature a steel drum solo on the opening song of their debut album? There’s a lot of Beefheart in that first album. Beefheart. Captain Beefheart? Aw man, you haven’t heard music till you’ve heard Beefheart.

But we’re talking about Talking Heads here. Their music, it’s punk and post-punk, gospel and country, new wave, art rock and straight up pop, with African and Caribbean rhythms and sounds thrown into the mix. They increased the size of the band from their four core members in the middle of their career to create increasingly complicated songs. David Byrne on guitar and vocals, Jerry Harrison on guitar and keyboards, Chris Franz on drums and Tina Weymouth on bass. You don’t think I wouldn’t know that do you? Well, Tina Weymouth was Chris Franz’s girlfriend, still his wife. She started playing bass ‘cause the band couldn’t find a bass player. Amazing bass player. Amazing singer too. Check the Tom Tom Club, Chris and Tina’s side project.

Gotta love David Byrne though. You should YouTube some of their videos, ‘cause David Byrne is what a pop star imagined by David Lynch would look like. Funny looking, funny dancing, but with unbounded energy. Here, I almost forgot, take this, it’s a complimentary copy of Stop Making Sense. Stop Making Sense is Talking Heads concert film from 1984. The greatest concert film ever made. Why? Well, a) because it’s got Talking Heads in it. But b) ‘cause it’s a concept concert film. David Byrne come on stage at the beginning and the stage is all bare and he sings Psycho Killer off of their first album with an acoustic guitar and a back beat. And then Tina comes on bass for Heaven, then Chris for Thank You for Sending Me An Angel and Jerry for Found a Job. Then it’s the rest of the expanded group, Lynn Mabry and Edna Holt on backing vocals, Steve Scales on percussion, Alex Weir on guitar and keyboardist Bernie Worrell. And as the concert goes on, the crew build the set around them, wheeling on bits of kit. It’s the most high concept, high energy film of a rock gig you’ll ever see. It’ll make you a convert to Talking Heads in 90 minutes flat. Does contain some strobe lighting though, so be warned.

Then there’s their lyrics. Byrne is one of the best lyric writers ever. The best as far as I’m concerned, but I guess I’m biased. Like this, check this out, “Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens.” Get it? Well, you see, heaven is supposed to be like paradise where we get everything we want, right. Except, what’s heaven to you might be hell to me. What if you like listening to Justin Bieber or One Direction, that I think are shit? Who gets to be in heaven then? You by listening to that garbage or me by blasting it out of existence with Burning Down the House and New Feeling? So the only way there could be a true heaven is if no one was allowed to do anything, so heaven must be a place where nothing ever happens.

I guess it’s like the idea of God, yeah. God is supposed to be infinite, so he must be infinitely good and infinitely evil, ‘cause good is a type of evil by being the absence of evil and evil is a type of good for same reason. So God or any infinite force would be one that like has no net influence on the universe. Every part of it cancels out every other part. Which is probably why he never speak to us. Except headcases like that Bush guy. And that’s why Talking Heads are brilliant and why David Byrne is a genius.

Or try this one for size, “Judy’s in the bedroom, inventing situations, Bob is on the street today, scouting up locations.” That’s like riffing on Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, yeah. “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement, thinking about the government.” Dylan! Bob Dylan. What are they teaching you kids these days? You should totally listen to Life During Wartime, ‘cause it’s about terrorists like we’ve got today, or New Feeling, that’s calling out people stuck living in the past: “It’s not. Yesterday. Anymore.” Sorry? Well I have to disagree with you on that. Don’t think being evangelical about Talking Heads is the same as living in the past.

Some great loves song from Talking Heads. This Must Be the Place (Native Melody) and Uh Oh,  Love Comes to Town. That’s the one with the steel drum on it. Oh, and The Book I Read. Great song.

Seriously, give them a try. Let the joy of Talking Heads into your heart. Sure they sound completely 80s, anything is bound to that has that much keyboard on it. Still, give the concert a watch and if you have any questions, our number is on the back. I am a member of The Church of Native Melody. We are dedicated to preserving Talking Heads music for all time. A contribution would be lovely, but not necessary. That’s quite alright, thanking for allowing to take up so much of your time. You enjoy the rest of you day now. E Glassala Tuffim I Zimbra.

Get it done.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Today, the history of obsessions.


Ever since I was a child I’ve always been obsessed with one thing or another. Always some person, some show or activity that I become consumed with and can’t shut up talking about. I’ve never been obsessively tidy or orderly, never wrote lists or spent hours pouring sweat over the best films of all time, best albums, etc. No, my obsession has always been with the things that my overactive imagination could feast upon. Physicality or simple intellectual pursuit simply aren’t good enough.

I probably started like most children of my generation, fascinated by toys, action men and the like, and the adventures upon which they took me in my fevered imagination. I collected Star Wars toys, with my parents assistance, but only the bad guys, the Empire and Jabba the Hut’s palace and the like and became obsessed with finding figures of even the most obscure characters.

The first thing I seem to remember being seriously obsessed with was the TV series, Fame. I must have been 9. As a 41 year old, I’m consumed with shame by my childhood self. It’s like being into Glee in the 21st century. I was probably more into the music, I remember having a couple of tapes and rarely being able or allowed to watch the show. These days I hate musicals and the idea of watching people spontaneously break into song or perform complicated dance routines leaves me feeling embarrassed for everyone concerned. A good friend used to think that this kind of thing happened in real life, that people spontaneously broke into song on the streets. My only excuse is that being at a school of performing arts seemed grown up and something I would like to have done. That and I was 9 and like all 9 year olds I didn’t have any taste.

Mind you, two or three years later and things weren’t any better. When all my friends were into punk and post punk and listening to The Jam and The Specials and dressing up as Mods with the two-tone gangster spats, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson and Motown. Mainly Michael Jackson . I was becoming a precocious obsessive, able to turn any conversation around to my chosen specialist subject in a heartbeat. I had the albums, the videos, the books and magazines.

Looking back, my interests were probably more contemporary than most of my school friends. It was the early 80s and yet most of them were obsessed with breaking the music listening population down into Mods and Rockers, like it was 1964 or something. My obsessions may have been mainstream and shit, but at least they were current. Unlike today, where I’m obsessed with aged rock stars and long dead writers.

I guess I’m lucky to have been born when I was. We were the first generation to have home computers and the first to have mass produced home entertainment. The introduction of VHS recording meant I could get a lot of training in towards becoming a poly-obsessive or ubernerd. As soon as Star Wars was broadcast on network television, it was recorded and played and replayed over and over again. I must have seen Star Wars over a hundred times before I reached my teenage years. I was that annoying kid who knew every word and would correct any one who quoted it wrong, never mind how minor the mistake. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time on VHS and then Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the cinema and became obsessed with Harrison Ford, covering my walls with movies posters and pages ripped out of magazines, consumed by the need to see everything he had been in, no matter how brief his appearance. I first saw Apocalypse Now because Harrison Ford had a minor part, though came to love the film for entirely different reasons. Blade Runner remains my favourite movies of all time, but again for reasons that transcend the original obsession with Harrison Ford. It’s the sci-fi/film noir/detective mix that most appeals to me now.

Eventually Michael Jackson and Harrison Ford gave way to two far more expansive obsessions: American Football and Fighting Fantasy novels. American Football first started to be shown on Channel Four in the early 80s. For a year or two at our primary school the gravel football pitch was used less for proper football and more and more for kids forming offensive and defensive lines across a line of scrimmage. I started watching in 1984, I know this because I randomly picked the Chicago Bears to support and the following season they won the Superbowl (and have done very little since). After that I was obsessed with American Football for years. I read countless books on the rules, the history of the Bears, even Jim McMahon’s autobiography, the Bears quarter back at the time. There was a time when I was rarely to be found without a Bears football shirt or polo shirt or even baseball shirt.

Today I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a sports shirt of any kind, I’m too fiercely individual to submit to anything so tribal. When Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League a few years after I moved to the town and half the population started wearing Rovers shorts, I jokingly referred to them as the Borg, slowly assimilating the population and destroying individuality. To be honest, I probably thought the same back then and wearing the uniform of a team from a city 3,000 miles from where I lived made me feel unique in a sea of football strips and rugby jerseys. I still watch the occasional game if I’m up late enough, but the obsession has long since faded away.

Fighting Fantasy novels tweaked the same part of my brain as American Football. I wanted to be an American Footballer, I wanted to run away to America and live out the dream, but I had no athletic talent to speak of and so I lived out the fantasy in my head. Likewise the land of goblins and elves.

Fighting Fantasy was a series of chose-your-own-adventure books where you fought monsters and ghouls using dice. Sort of like Dungeons and Dragons, but for kids even too nerdy to have friends to play Dungeons and Dragons with. Fighting Fantasy are still around today, but in a post-ironic world where everyone is allowed to remain a child forever, you can find several of the old titles as phone apps, where you shake your device to roll the die.

I was obsessed with collecting every last Fighting Fantasy title, a much harder job in those pre-internet days. There were also guide books and a short lived magazine and titles like The Riddling Reaver, which pushed more into multi-player roleplaying territory. Fighting Fantasy books were usually traditional fantasy scenarios, with the occasional sci-fi or modern setting. I was obsessed with role playing and chose your own adventure books for years, adding the Lone Wolf series to my collection, which followed a narrative arc, unlike the standard alone titles of Fighting Fantasy.

There was also a three book sequence in which you were Theseus of Ancient Greece, sent to fight the Minotaur. I had all the books in a special bookcase with glass doors so I could just there in my room and admire my collection, longing for the days when the gaps in the collection would be filled, but I never quote got there. It was an escape. I’d go to school and hate being there. I’d come home and imagine a portal through my bedroom wall into another reality. To step through, all I had to do was reach for a book and start reading.

The boy I was then would be gobsmacked by World of Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed and the dozens of other modern games. I was never much of a gamer, my obsessions have always been about transporting me away from reality, whether to a performing arts academy or an American Football stadium or Deathtrap Dungeon. Video games are like films, they’re entertaining but like wheelchairs for the imagination. No match for books, where a symbiotic relationship is formed between author and reader to create an entirely unique experience. Reading is democratic. Video entertainment is more authoritarian.

That said, the Legend of Zelda series on the various Nintendo systems managed to convince to buy their latest consoles throughout my 20s. Ocarina of Time on the N64 was the best thing I ever played, it encapsulated everything I loved about the Fighting Fantasy novels. I’ve never had the hand to eye coordination for games though and I never did get through the final level. Like Fighting Fantasy. There’s still my copy of Fighting Fantasy  No. 10: House of Hell sitting on a bookshelf, waiting for the day when I actually finish the bloody thing. These days it’s an Android app.

In my mid-teens I started to listen to heavy metal, which I’ve written about on a number of occasions. Again I was obsessive. I read Kerrang magazine religiously every week, Metal Hammer and Raw less frequently, to the point where I knew what was happening to most heavy metal groups, whether I liked them or not. My fellow nebs called me Ceefax, after BBC’s teletext news service (the ITV version was called Oracle, but they chose to call me Ceefax ‘cause they were clever cunts). As well as obsessively collecting information, I went after the back catalogues of each of my favourite bands, Metallica, AC/DC, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Slayer, Alice in Chains, Queensryche, Trouble, Wolfsbane etc. Again, in the days of vinyl and CDs, that was a lot harder, especially in our tiny backwater of the north west of England.

My mate would record Headbanger’s Ball on MTV every Sunday night and I would take the tape home and record my own copy by linking two VCRs together. I even re-re-recorded everything in alphabetical order, ‘cause that’s how much of a nerd I am. The quality was abysmal by the time I’d finished. Today, when we are used to HD quality, it would be unwatchable. Even amongst my fellow metallers, my tastes were as broad as they were eclectic.

Of all my early obsessions, heavy metal is the one that has stayed with me. I listen to many more genres these days and the t-shirts I wear are of clever film or literary references rather than AC/DC or The Almighty, but I still listen to a healthy dose of hard rock and metal (I have written this article to the tune of Tool’s Lateralus and Mastodon’s Crack the Skye). I’m sure that for most people the things they obsessed over when they were 15 or 16 are the ones that are most likely to stay with them. That’s the time in our lives when we are still young enough to feel immortal, but old enough to be first stepping out into the world on our own. Anything which illuminates that period remains sacred for all time.

I’ve always been a nerd, always into science fiction, always bright but lazy and, being dragged around from one part of the country to another for most of my formative years, I hated going to new schools and having to start over with a new set of friends and enemies all the time. I didn’t apply myself until many years after school, but in my early 20s I went to night school, did a foundation year in Physics and Maths and wangled my way on to an Astrophysics degree. I became so obsessed with studying during that foundation year that I’d wake up at 6am needing to differentiate something. I’d roll over, pick up a pad and pen, write down a algebraic equation and perform the calculation before rolling back over and sleeping through till 9.

I’m obsessive, but my obsessions don’t always last. Getting to university was as far ahead as I thought things through and once there I didn’t really have an idea what I wanted to do next. I did very little work in a degree that requires a lot of study and assessment, managed to scrape through, usually on a single night’s revision, but by the time I got to 2nd year, I was even less interested in studying physics and instead smoking pot, playing Ocarina of Time and reading Ulysses.

Ulysses blew my mind. I doubt I understood more than 20%, especially through the cannabinoid haze, but reading Joyce for the first time was, for me at least, a mind altering experience that no mere narcotic could ever match. I dropped out and read more than I’d ever read before, knowing that writing was what I wanted to do with my life. Well I’ve got that far at least, so now I’m trying to make it my profession too. I’ve learnt one lesson at least. Always be thinking a couple of obsessions ahead.

I’m still obsessive. I have shelves full of books on James Joyce and Shakespeare and Bob Dylan. I own seven different versions of Moby Dick (a book about obsession told by an obsessed author via an obsessively descriptive narrator). I collect and hoard books the way some people hoard shoes. The completest who once longed for a complete set of Fighting Fantasy novels, the complete set of Slayer’s back-catalogue, now scours second-hand bookshops seeking out additions to Emile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series, which runs to 20 volumes (and one short story). I’m still about 12 short (plus one short story).

Obsession is a lot easier than it used to be. A couple of years ago I became obsessed with completing my father’s Time-Life Seafarers series. Ten volumes had been lying around my mum’s house for fifteen years since he died. The series ran to 22 volumes. Without much effort, I completed and read the entire set in less than a year, picking up second hand copies from Abe Books and eBay, usually for a few pence. There’ no challenge if it’s too easy, so the Zola and Moby Dick versions I buy only if I find them under my own steam. It’s a sad life, but it’s one I enjoy.

My main obsessions are writing and trying to make sense of that impossible James Joyce novel, Finnegans Wake. Actually, the Wake isn’t a novel, it’s 20 year intensive Masters Degree in language, semiotics and mythology. It’s a challenge and I like a challenge. Finally I’ve found something worthy of my obsessive tendencies.

As for writing, I’m slowly getting to the point where I want to be. Like differentiation, I often find myself waking up in the early hours needing to write something down, an idea, a snatch of poetry or clever phrase. Trying to post something new to my blog every day for a year is certainly obsessive behaviour, but I’ve treated writing with less respect than it deserves over the years, going weeks or months without writing a word. I’m getting to the point of writing from start to finish two or three pieces a day and working on drafts of more complicated writing. It might sometimes be rushed, not to the highest standard, but that’s part of the learning process. Part of the obsession. Obsession is how you become an expert at something. Otherwise you would have no hope.

I’d rather be all consuming than all consumed. Obsession is life. I would feel lifeless without it.

Get it done.

See also (click links)

(as well as everything else on this blog, for which I do an obsessive amount of research)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Future Headlines

Coming to your eyeballs on a pair of Google Glasses soon...

President Nominates Convicted Sex Offender For Secretary of Education

Newly inaugurated President John Jackson today announced a further round of nominations for key federal posts. They include Rapine Swift III, heir to the Schnell Dairy empire.

Swift was convicted in 2007 of a string of sex offenses against girls as young as 9. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail, but spent less than 18 months in custody after family lawyers mounted a costly legal appeal.

The White House was quick to defend the nomination. Press Secretary Jerry Creel said in a press conference: “Rapine is the President’s choice. He has extensive experience with children and is ideally qualified to deal with education.”

Swift’s nomination is the latest controversial appointment by President Jackson, who has already nominated oil tycoon Grant McBlack to head up Energy, former Wall Street lawyer Scott Free as Treasurer and General Bagley Cash as Secretary of Defense.

General Cash has interests in a number of defense contracting firms, including Drones for You and KTF Systems. If confirmed as Secretary, he is likely to be excluded from any Department of Defense (DoD) meetings where contracts are under discussion.

It would be a return to the situation under Donald Rumsfeld who frequently left DoD meetings early due to conflicts with his business interests. Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense from 2001-2006.

The Senate will vote on the nominations of Cash and Swift early next month. Neither is likely to face significant opposition. Swift is a longtime supporter of Jackson, donating more than $330,000 to his political campaigns over the years. Cash has donated more than $100,000.

Jackson beat his rival Jack Johnson in last year’s tightly fought election.

Get it done.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Why Women Can’t Tell Jokes (and other tales of misogyny)

Today, a short sketch.

Why Women Can’t Tell Jokes (and other tales of misogyny)

Scene: A living room.

Lee: So his mate says, “Why did you leave her bum sticking out?”

Sarah: Right.

Lee: And he says, “I need somewhere to park my bike?” [laughs]

Sarah: And what happened?

Lee: What? [still laughing] What do you mean what happened? Nothing happened.

Sarah: You mean you don’t know.

Lee: No, I mean it’s a joke. That’s how it ends.

Sarah: I don’t know Lee, half a story as usual.

Lee: No, not half a story, it’s a joke. See, this is why women can’t tell jokes.

Sarah: Outrageous. How can you say women aren’t funny?

Lee: I didn’t say women aren’t funny, I said they can’t tell jokes.

Sarah: Which is the same as saying they aren’t funny.

Lee: No it isn’t. Clearly women are funny. Janeane Garofalo, Sarah Silverman, Linda Smith. But they can’t tell straight up jokes. Jokes have punchlines, termination points, and women never stop talking long enough to reach anything like a termination. It’s why you all spend so long in the toilets. Too busy gabbing.

Sarah: This is one of those times when I have to wonder what the hell I’m doing with you, Lee. You’re such a sexist pig.

Lee: How is this my fault? How am I a sexist pig when you’ve misunderstood what I said?

Sarah: Because what you said was insensitive and idiotic.

Lee: This is turning into another too-much-perfume argument.

Sarah: I do not wear too much perfume.

Lee: See, I never said you did. I said some women wear too much perfume. It’s like being accosted walking down the street.

Sarah: If you’d ever been accosted walking down the street, you’d know about it Lee. Women get bothered by men all the time. And you wonder why we have no sense of humour.

Lee: I did not say women don’t have a sense of humour. You’re the one saying women aren’t funny not me.

Sarah: It’s such a horrible sweeping gesture Lee. Would you call all men untidy just because you can’t tell one end of the vacuum cleaner from the other?

Lee: Ah, so that’s what this is really all about.

Sarah: What’s that supposed to mean?

Lee: It means it’s not you think I’m calling women unfunny, it’s you think I’m calling you unfunny.

Sarah: Not at all.

Lee: It is another perfume argument. I make a general statement and you have to bring everything back to being about you.

Sarah: Well is it any wonder I feel hurt? I don’t laugh at your joke so it must mean the whole of womankind is unfunny.

Lee: That’s not what I said.

Sarah: Have you thought that maybe the joke just wasn’t funny? It isn’t funny. I simply ask for more information and I’m on trial for the whole of my gender.

Lee: You’re being unreasonable.

Sarah: Oh, so now I’m unreasonable as well. I’m unfunny, I wear too much perfume, I spend too long in the loo and now I’m unreasonable.

Lee: That’s not what I said.

Sarah: No, please point out some more of my failings oh arbiter of femininity. Keep digging Lee, you’re almost there.

Lee: Almost where?

Sarah: Rock bottom of our relationship, that’s where. Go on. What else ya got?

Lee: This has gotten out of hand.

Sarah: You’re telling me.

Lee: Look, I’m not saying you’re unfunny. I’m not saying women are unfunny. I’m not saying you’re unfunny or any of those others things you think. But I’m sorry if it came across that way.

Sarah: Ah, so what you’re saying is, you’ve done nothing wrong, but you’re sorry that I think you have.

Lee: If you like.

Sarah: [snorts] So it’s still somehow my fault?

Lee: [sighs] It’s nobody’s fault Sarah. It not your fault, it’s not my fault. It’s, it’s the joke’s fault.

Sarah: The joke you told?

Lee: The one you didn’t laugh at, yes. [Sarah makes a noise of objection] Don’t start. It not my joke, I just repeated it.

Sarah: It’s the joke’s fault.

Lee: It’s the joke’s fault.

Sarah: Fine.

Lee: Good.


Sarah: What now?

Lee: Let’s go to the bed.

Sarah: Why?

Lee: Do I need to draw you a diagram?

Sarah: Is that supposed to be a joke?

Lee: Would you recognise it if it was?

Sarah: Coming from you, probably not.

Lee: Touche.

Sarah: And you say I have no sense of humour.

Lee: I did not say... Oh, you’re messing with me.

Sarah: Obviously. Go light some candles, I’ll be in in a minute. No sense of humour my arse.

Get it done.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Three Views Upon the Miraculous

Today I try my hand at journalism. Except, it's me, so I couldn't report on anything so ordinary as an actual news item. 

The following is how I imagine three news organisations might report on events that form the background to several other stories.

Three Views Upon the Miraculous

BBC News

Brian Clough 'Comes Back From the Dead'

The late football manager Brian Clough has made an appearance during a game at Nottingham Forrest.

The incident occurred on Saturday during Forrest’s 5-3 win against AFC Bournemouth at the City Ground.

Clough died in September 2004.

Reactions to the episode were mixed, with fans astounded and exuberant in equal measure – many more appeared simply baffled.

Cameras filming for the BBC’s ‘The Football League Show’ showed Clough sitting in the Brian Clough Stand with Peter Taylor, his assistant until Taylor’s retirement in 1982.

Taylor died in 1990.

Footage from the ground did not capture how or when Clough and Taylor appeared, but review of television footage appeared to first show the pair early in the second half.

Nottingham Forrest were losing 0-3 at the time, thanks to goals from Lewis Grabban, Brett Pitman and Wes Fogden for AFC Bournemouth.

Clough and Taylor received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the game, which saw Forrest score five late goals, including a hat trick from midfielder Andy Reid.

Stewards and the police were required to escort the men out at the referees final whistle, as fans mobbed around them.

There are reports that the men vanished in the tunnel leading from the stand.

‘Like he stepped out of the 70s.’

Commentators and fans reacted with amazement to the event.

BBC sports correspondent Garth Crooks said, “After what we’ve seen happening in the world recently, it’s hard to put today in context.”

“What does it say for the world of football or the world in general?”

“My hope is that this signifies an end to people disappearing. That in Britain people don’t disappear, they come back.”

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe simply exclaimed: “Well what can you say about that?”

Nottingham Forrest manager Billy Davies however gave praise to the club’s former manager and his assistant for their presence: “I think it’s pretty clear that Cloughy and Peter were the 12th and 13th men out there today.”

Menawhile, ForrestFanatic82 tweeted: “OMG, I was sat right behind Cloughy today. Looked like he stepped out of the 70s. Looked like when we beat Malmo in ’79 final.”

In another tweet ForrestFanatic82 said: “He was just there. Not sure when he was there. Maybe from kickoff, but deffo only in 2nd half we noticed him.”


Clough’s reappearance follows months of disappearances across the world, with people vanishing as far afield as Namibia and France.

The first incidents were reported in Israel’s Occupied Territories, but soon spread to encompass much of the Middle East and North Africa.

Initially only occurring at night, the first major daytime disappearance occurred in the Iranian city of Isfahan in August and was caught on film.

The cameraman himself disappeared, his camera seen to come crashing to the floor during the extraordinary footage.

Reports of disappearance events have been slowly spreading north through Europe over the summer.

The first disappearances were reported in Britain on Friday.

Who Was Brian Clough?
  • Born Brian Howard Clough, 21 March 1935.
  • He played professionally for Sunderland and Middlesbrough, scoring 251 league goals on 274 appearances. At Middlesbrough he first met future assistant Peter Taylor, where Taylor was goalkeeper. Cruciate ligament damage forced Clough to retire in 1964 at the age of 29.
  • His first managerial position was with Hartlepools United. He went on to manage Derby County and Brighton & Hove Albion, before a stormy spell in charge of Leeds United saw Clough being sacked after just 44 days in the job. A book about that period, The Dammed Und by David Pearce, was made into the 2009 film, The Dammed United, staring Michael Sheen as Clough. 
  • He went on to manage Nottingham Forrest from 1975 until 1993. His side won the European Cup for two seasons in a row in 1979 & 1980. He also won the old First Division for the season 1977-1978, as well as four League Cups. His team were undefeated for 42 league games between November 1977 and December 1978, a record which stood until Arsenal beat it by going 49 games without defeat in August 2004.
  • His final season in charge saw Nottingham Forrest relegated from the Premier League.
  • Brian Clough died in Derby City Hospital on 20 September 2004. More than 14,000 people attended his memorial service at Derby County’s Pride Park Stadium.

Profile: Brian Clough

Where you at the City Ground? Did you witness the appearance of Brian Clough or Peter Taylor? Contact the BBC Newsdesk or leave your comments in the comments section below.

More on This Story
Related Stories
Global disappearance epidemic reaches Britain
Match Report: Nottingham Forrest 5-3 AFC Bournemouth
Cameraman Vanishes Capturing Disappearances on Film

From other news sites

The Guardian
Clough Returns From Dead To Inspire Forrest to Victory Then Disappears

The Sun
Britain Beats World, Brings Back Brian

Daily Express
Will Brain Clough’s Reappearance Affect Interest Rates?

Daily Mirror
Clough of Smoke

Daily Mail
Boon Time For Paedophiles as Disappearances Reach British Shores

The Guardian

Clough Returns From Dead To Inspire Forrest to Victory Then Disappears

Incredible events happened during home game against AFC Bournemouth.

Brian Clough has made an appearance during a match at Nottingham Forrest’s City Ground, despite having died in 2004.

The Ex-Forrest manager was witnessed in the stand which bears his name early in the second half, along with former assistant, Peter Taylor. Taylor died in 1990.

Nottingham Forrest were 0-3 down at the time, but rallied late on to score five goals in the final thirty minutes. The victory lifts them to sixth place in the Championship.

A cordon of police and stewards was erected around the men as they left the stand, but they promptly vanished in the melee. Sources inside the club told the Guardian that the men had not been seen to disappear.

Cameras for both the BBC and Sky Sports failed to find the exact moment when Clough and Taylor made their appearance, but most people seem to agree that the men were not present as Nottingham Forrest  kicked off the second half.

As well as footage from the BBC and Sky, a number of camera phone videos were uploaded to YouTube and Instagram. They show Clough wearing a green jumper with red collar sticking out and quiffed back hair.

Those who had known and worked with Brian Clough estimated his appearance to be as he looked in his mid-40s. This would equate to the year circa 1980, leading some to speculate that Clough and Taylor briefly travelled forwards in time.

Others have speculated that Clough’s appearance was an elaborate hoax staged by Forrest to lift the morale of players and fans alike, with a number of high profile names including Derren Brown and David Blaine implicated in the conspiracy. However, coming as it does hard upon recent world events, most seemed ready to accept the incident at face value.

Exact figures for the number of people that have disappeared in the world in the last six months remain elusive, but conservative estimates put the number at around 150 million. The disappearance epidemic finally reached British shores on Friday. 153 people were reported missing in and around Norwich, with a further 81 vanishing from Kirkwall in Orkney. The mood in both towns was reported as calm, but troops have been deployed as a cautionary measure, following the rioting seen in other European countries.

The strange appearance of Brain Clough and Peter Taylor at the City Ground Saturday seems to have no precedent. There have been no other reports of people reappearing or returning from the dead elsewhere in the world and some commentators are speculating that events at Nottingham Forrest mark the beginning of the end of the disappearances. Others state that this position is optimistically  premature. The Clough incident could also herald a dark new chapter in the story.

More from the Guardian

Media Scrum Surrounds John Lennon, As America Claims Ignorance of His Assassination
More UK Disappearances in Kent, Essex and York
In Pictures: First UK Disappearances

Daily Mirror

Clough of Smoke



Football Chiefs admitted to astonishment yesterday as Brian Clough materialised during a Nottingham Forrest match, then vanished on his way out of the ground.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke announced he was launching an investigation into the events at the City Ground after claims of an elaborate hoax.

Controversial ex-Forrest manager Clough, 69 at the time of his death in 2004, appeared to appear during his former team’s Championship game with AFC Bournemouth.

Forrest trailed 0-3 at the time, but scored 5 times following Clough’s guest appearance, leading to accusations of cheating by Bournemouth.

Dyke, 66, said: “I think we need to get to the bottom of this. Either something quite miraculous happened in Nottingham today or there has been an attempt to deceive fans.”

“We need to conduct a quick investigation so that the football going public can have confidence they are not being cheated.”

The Mirror can exclusively reveal that the man bearing a likeness to Clough disappeared as he was being escorted out of the Brian Clough Stadium.

A police escort was required as fans crowed around the man at the final whistle. He vanished in the tunnel from the stand, despite being encircled by police and stewards.

A spokesman for Forrest Chairman, the Kuwaiti born Fawaz Mubarak Al-Hasawi, said last night: “Nottingham Forrest will obviously cooperate fully with any investigation. The club is as perplexed by today’s events as everyone else and we want to a draw line under the incident as soon as possible.”

Clough, who made his appearance during the second half of the Championship clash against Bournemouth, wore his trademark green jumper over a red polo shirt. He appeared to be in his mid-40s. He was obviously delighted with the attention his appearance generated and responded enthusiastically to the standing ovation he was given at the end of the game.

Clough was accompanied by former assistant Peter Taylor. Taylor was Clough’s right hand man throughout the 60s and 70s, but a rift developed when Clough accepted a pay rise from Forrest without including his assistant. Taylor died in 1990.

It is not the first time that the deceased manager has caused controversy. In 1989, Clough punched two fans as they invaded the pitch after Forrest’s 5-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers. Clough was given a three month touchline ban and fined £5,000. He later made a public apology to the pair and made them kiss him.

Yesterday’s events come after the disappearance of over a quarter of a billion people across the globe. The UK became the latest victim of the epidemic when nearly 400 people disappeared Friday. Clough and Taylor are the latest names to be added to the list of missing people.

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Get it done.