Friday, July 29, 2011

What I’m reading

Actually, what I was reading earlier this month. Have been busy writing a book. As one does. Is. Am. Whatever.

More filth at Ally’s place: dirty haikus. She claims that she didn’t write them, that they are by a friend and we must believe her even though she is a musician. (Little known fact: some musicians are sometimes economical with some of the truth.) All the haikus are far too rude to quote on a family blog except this one:
I was so close and
I think you were too, but then
Your parents walked in.
Matt Nolan is ambivalent about public funding of higher education. It’s a nice illustration of how economists think.

This is a bit late but Guy Walters at the New Statesman rips into celebrated plagiarist Johann Hari and elicits this comment from Cordelia Hope:
Come on, Guy, Hari’s a great journalist. You might not have heard about the interview he did with South African freedom fighter Yusuf Dadu. By sheer chance, Ron Howard, Ronald Reagan and L Ron Hubbard were there too. They quizzed Hari about a British anti-litter campaign they’d heard about. ‘But who’s the guy behind it, this Bryson fellow?’ they asked, as one. ‘What’s his first name, and when did you meet him, Johann?’ ‘I met him on a Monday, Dadu, Ron, Ron, Ron,’ Hari said. ‘Somebody told me that his name was Bill.’
When my first-born was tiny I could get her to sleep by tunelessly crooning Iain Matthews’ acapella version of “Da Do Ron Ron” from his 1971 LP Tigers Will Survive. I liked the way he didn’t change the words. This was a bit adventurous in 1971, a man singing:
I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still
Somebody told me his name was Bill
Yeah my heart stood still
Yeah his name was Bill
Yeah when he walked me home, Da doo ron ron, Da doo ron ron

He knew what he was doing when he caught my eye
He looked so quiet but my oh my
Yeah he caught my eye
Yeah but my oh my
Yeah when he walked me home, Da doo ron ron, Da doo ron ron

He picked me up on Sunday and he looked so fine
And one day soon I’m going to make him mine
Yeah he looked so fine
Yeah I’m going to make him mine
Yeah and when he walked me home, Da doo ron ron, Da doo ron ron
Location, location, location. Size matters too. Oz blogger Tim Blair points out that Israel is roughly one-third the size of Tasmania. In the comments, Tommy Shanks says:
If we were to offer Tasmania to Israel on the condition they all move there this would solve two major problems simultaneously. Win-win all round. Israelis get a pleasant, green, but hitherto impoverished and expensive-to-maintain island a long way from the world’s trouble spots. ‘Palestinians’ get a small stretch of desert – and good luck with that! – and we get a financial burden fixed.
Another commenter points out that Tasmania already has a River Jordan and Walls of Jerusalem. Sorted!

In music/whinging Pom news, English rock musicians complain that they can’t get grants to record their albums and organise their tours. Poor dears. In my day, etc. Even though this report is in the Guardian, which is usually supportive of the grants-seeking community, the musicians in question get roundly told off in the comments which are wonderfully sarcastic. For example:
It was only because of generous government loans that “The Beatles” were able to get started. If not for such loans they would have ended up having to play gigs in German strip clubs and so-called “Cavern clubs” for pitiful amounts, an obvious non-starter.
Older readers may remember 10CC (“I’m Not in Love”, “Dreadlock Holiday”, “I’m Mandy Fly Me”). They started out separately playing in covers bands, graduated to writing their own songs, formed the band – and built a studio with their own money. There they worked as a backing band for other people – recording everything from football club Christmas songs to housewives with a dream and two well-received comeback albums by Neil Sedaka. (Titter ye not, he was great.) They even had a contract to produce bubblegum-pop for a US label. As the band’s drummer and best singer Kevin Godley recalls:
We did a lot of tracks in a very short time – it was really like a machine. Twenty tracks in about two weeks – a lot of crap really – really shit. We used to do the voices, everything – it saved ’em money. We even did backing female vocals!
They learned how to play, produce and engineer. Then they started making their own records and became huge. In 1975 every student flat had a copy of The Original Soundtrack. And then they got even bigger. Without no grants at all, ever, they became amazing. Fancy that. Maybe it was all that hard work.

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