Sunday, 28 December 2008

Household Hints

#1: Never try to wash a window with a soft-boiled egg.
#2: Trying to make your bed once you're inside it, will never work.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

How I Spent Christmas

Played a various artists compilation called "The Christmas Collection," "Carols & Capers" by Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band, Mozart's Violin Concerto 2 and Sinfonia Concertante and of course Handel's Messiah.

9.30: breakfast -- rum 'n' eggnog (w. nutmeg) and cashews.

Then played "A Christmas Present From The Albion Band" and The Goons' "A Christmas Carol, By Kind Permission."

12.00: first bottle of Old Speckled Hen -- why did i only buy two? It's my favourite beer!

Next on the playlist were Colin James & The Little Big Band's "Christmas," and "Wassail!" by John Kirkpatrick, [my old pal] Rosie Cross et al.

Next, i spent some time on the Internet, trying to find somewhere i could download the song "Angelica" by Barry Mann (of Mann-Weil fame). I once had it as a 45 and it's a gorgeous song, but alas i had little success -- although i did find and download a version of the song by a group called Anathema -- of whom i'd never heard -- and it's not bad.

Then i watched the Queen's message (streamed via the BBC), listened to Marillion's "Merry Christmas Everybody!" and John Kirkpatrick & Sue Harris's "Shreds And Patches."

By then it was time for lunch -- sausage 'n' smashed potatoes, a typically festive repast, and, as i ate, i started to watch the DVD "25th Anniversary Concert" by Oysterband -- which LL sent me for Christmas. It was wonderful, i had tears of joy streaming down my little face more than once but alas, the rum and the Old Speckled Hen caught up with me and i had a nap. When i awoke an hour or so later, i continued with the DVD, and, just as i had reached the bonus features, who should call but LL herself! Always a pleasure to chat with her, way out there in Vancouver.

7:00 and time for Christmas dinner. Guess which idiot forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer.... But i had some thawed ground beef and all of the ingredients, so i quickly threw together a dinner of salisbury steak with smashed potatoes and corn, and i declared it good.

And then i listened to Marillion's "Say Cheese!" and watched a DVD from The Discovery Channel (sent to me by my friend Magda, in Romania) -- "The Secret History Of Jesus." Erm, a look at the historical truth behind such books as "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and "The Da Vinci Code." (There is none.)

And then sleepies.

Here's a Christmas gift for ayone who's interested. It's a free download of a Rory Gallagher bootleg, recorded at De Hanehof, Geleen/Holland,12 November 1987. Go to to download the .zip file. It's password-protected and the password is "sparkyibew" (without quotes)

All the best, everyone!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve And Thoughts Turn To Money (Wink)

I was just browsing around this morning and came across this:
Apparently R. Crumb's "Zap Comix" #0 is selling for $1275.00 (US)
I used to buy as many of his comix as i could find back in the 60's, and i still have them -- including #0! I'm rich!
Not that i have any intention of selling, but it's nice to know that they're worth a bundle :o)

Right, well, i'm off now, to trudge through the snow for the annual Christmas Eve piss-up.

Happy Christmas to all.

Monday, 22 December 2008


Didn't Art Garfunkel do something like post a list to his website of every book he had ever read? (How did he keep track of them, i wonders, yesss, preciousss....)

Here's what i have read this year:

John Connolly – The Book Of Lost Things
Martin Amis – The Second Plane
Kirk Hausman, Diane Barrett & Martin Weiss – Security +
Liane Heller – Exposures
R.J. Pineiro – Y2K
Tom Clancy – The Hunt For Red October
Isabel Allende – InĂ©s Of My Soul
Crystal Zevon – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon
Ira Levin – The Boys From Brazil
Ian McEwan – On Chesil Beach
Yoko Ono, ed. – Memories Of John Lennon
Oliver Sacks – Musicophilia
Julian Barnes – Nothing To Be Frightened Of
J.K. Rowling – The Tales Of Beedle The Bard

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Stormzilla II, or, Son Of Snowmaggedon

Yes, well, we're getting it in the neck here again, folks. According to the wireless, it's -13° but feels like -23° -- i just came in and i think that they are optimistic.

n.p. The Beatles, "The Alternate 'Hard Day's Night'"

Friday, 19 December 2008

Stormzilla, a.k.a Snowmageddon

Well, whatever you call it, we got it today. When i went to work at six o'clock this morning, it was quite pleasant; but at around 7 the snow began and when i came home there was a foot of it on the ground and it was still coming down -- or, to be more accurate, it was travelling horizontally -- straight into my face on my walk.

On the bright side, a white Christmas is assured. (Above is a photograph of Stratford's City Hall, taken today.)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Ten Days Later

I don't seem able to keep up with this blog as much as i'd like to -- at this time of year, work is just too busy: i start early and stay late every day. (I should go in at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow, but i may just say "to heck with that" and wander in at 5:00 instead. I'll see how i feel in the morning.)

The point being, though, that i get home late (sometimes stopping at Kelsey's or Othello's for a couple of pints) and naturally, of course, deal with my e-mail first. 20% spam (deleted unread); maybe 30% of no interest thus likewise deleted unread); 30% read but not acted upon; 10% read and moved to my "Pending" folder to be acted upon at some as-yet-to-be-determined future date; and 10% dealt with. By which time i have to start my dinner, and as that's underway i do my normal websurfing (New York Times, CNN,,, that stuff) and maybe burn a CD or something, and by the time i'm done with that, it's dinner and a movie, and then bed.

(Just to exacerbate matters -- a power surge fried my DSL modem on Thursday evening and i was unable to connect until just now, four days later.)

(It was quite an extraordinary experience, being offline for three days. How dependent one has become! But at least the apartment is now comparatively clean & tidy!)

Last night, i watched all of Disc One of Series Two of "Father Ted."

I bought the entire series (5 DVDs) recently. I love this stuff. Not much, in these tough times, can make me fall off the couch laughing, but every single episode of "Father Ted" will put me on the floor at least once.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Albion Band

Cathy Lesurf is one of my favourite singers, and The Albion Band is one of my favourite bands, but this seems to be the only YouTube video of the two of them performing together. A shame

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Best Of 2008

Hmm, i suppose i should get cracking with this, as 2008 is almost over.

These are 2008 discoveries, though: some of this stuff may belong to other years, but if i found it in '08, i include it.

CDs: Ashley Hutchings, "The Mother Of All Morris," Joan Osborne, "Little Wild One," Happy Rhodes, "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight," Radiohead, "In Rainbows."

Books: Julian Barnes, "Nothing to Be Frightened Of," Crystal Zevon, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," Martin Amis, "The Second Plane."

DVDs: "No Country For Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," the complete "Father Ted"....

Friday, 5 December 2008

Your Petrochemical Arms (Thanks, Laurie!)

O Superman. O Judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
O Superman. O Judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
Hi. I'm not home right now. But if you want to leave a
message, just start talking at the sound of the tone.
Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you
coming home?
Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don't know me,
but I know you.
And I've got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come
as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go.

And I said: OK. Who is this really? And the voice said:
This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the
hand, the hand that takes.
This is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes.
They're American planes. Made in America.
Smoking or non-smoking?
And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom
of night shall stay these couriers from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds.

'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice.
And when justice is gone, there's always force.
And when force is gone, there's always Mom. Hi Mom!

So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. So hold me,
Mom, in your long arms.
In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms.
In your arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms.
In your electronic arms

Thursday, 4 December 2008

My Second Christmas Card Of 2008 ...

Was from Nadia Comaneci. You didn't know that she and i were chums, did you?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Nothing, To Be Frightened Of?

I'm in the middle of reading Julian Barnes' extraordinary book "Nothing To Be Frightened Of." He's one of our greatest novelists, but this isn't a novel: it's his meditation on death.

Half way through the book, i realised something about the title. It's an ellipsis of sorts. Does it mean that death is not to be feared? Or does it mean that death results in nothingness, and that nothingness is to be feared?

Well, i suppose i'll have to finish the book to find out....

I'll listen to some Rory Gallagher now, to re-affirm some life

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

My First Christmas Card of 2008 :o)

It arrived today and it's from ... Domino's Pizza. Not sure what this says about (a) their marketing or (b) my diet, but that wasn't all -- it also included an exclusive to me $5.00 off coupon. What a nice bunch of people.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Keep the change?!?

Has anyone else noticed a rather distressing tendency to keep the change, lately?

I went to buy some stationery the other day, at a shop whose name i shall not name (although its initials are UPS); my bill was $14.85. I handed over $15.00 and ... received nothing back and the cashier disappeared. I left, disgruntled and promising never to go there again. And i shan't.

Restaurants are worse though. I went for lunch today, my bill was $13.70, i gave the server $14.00 and was given no change. Normally, for a $13.70 lunch, i would tip $2.00. Not today: the server blew it. He assumed his thirty cents and that's all he received.

Fa-la-la, 'tis the season to be grumpy, etc.

Oh, hey, i just downloaded The Rolling Stones' 1970 album "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out." They're pretty good -- they may catch on ;o)