Friday, March 31, 2006

Top 5 Songs About Fruit

1) Raspberry Beret - Prince
2) Banana Splits - The Dickies
3) Cherry oh Baby - UB40
4) Cherry Blossom Girl - Air
5)Peaches - The Stranglers

Demon Headmaster Poses as UK Secretary of State

I was listening to radio 4 today and Jack Straw was speaking and I was amzed at how robotic he sounded. N used to watch a children's tv programme called the Demon Headmaster which was about an evil maniac who posed as a headmaster in order to hypnotise and brainwash the kids - all part of his plan of world domination. I had noticed before that the Demon Headmaster looks a lot like Jack Straw the current Secratary of State. But today my suspicions were confirmed The Demon Headmaster is not just a work of fiction, he is alive and in government - the perfect place for him to brainwash government leaders and heads of state - not to mention all of us lowly citizens - just don't look into his eyes when he is speaking on the television - and if he takes his glasses of you'd better run for it.

Don't believe me?
well here is the evidence...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Balls to Sony

well here's the rub, after days spent trying to make the beautiful sony mp3 player work to no avail Hunchermuncher has convinced me that the best course of action was to send it back. I know he's right of course, but I did have an awful pang of sadness as we packed it back into it's beautiful shiny purple box. I even felt a glimmer of sadness this morning when I got another email from sony with more instructions for wiping stuff off my pc and reinstalling it all.

There's only so much of that stuff that you can take. I have wasted days and days trying to get that sony player working properly. Three days and nights this week alone and that's not counting all the other times I had to install and uninstall sony connect and sonic stage trying to stop my pc freezing up.

We are going for an ipod nano won't be purple and shiny, but I know the software works because I already run itunes with no problems and it is killing me having no music on my walks to work.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bitter and Twisted?

Well the bad news is that the mp3 player still doesn't work - so I now have no portable music. It's very sad. The good news (I think) is that Sony are on the case and I am hoping that they will come up with a solution, otherwise the player might have to go back. Am I bitter? No - not yet anyway!

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Joy of Connect

Well there I was alone in my therapy room with not a sniff of a client in sight, trying to get to grips with that masterpiece of modern technology - the travel alarm clock. For as all you good Brits who might be reading this will know, yesterday the clocks went forward an hour.

I tried my best with that alarm clock, I really did. We've enjoyed a great relationship up until now. It's quiet, nice to look at, it doesn't answer back and it's always on time. But try as I might (and I did believe me!) I could not fathom how to change the time. Normally it's easy on those things, there were some arrows on the back but turning the button didn't seem to do anything. In the end I conceded defeat gracefully, hoping that someone else will have figured it out by next week when I use the room again.

But alas this was not my only battle with the demon technology today. Normally I look forward to my Monday morning walk to work listening to music on my mp3 player. So I got up got myself ready, switched on the mp3 player and HELP! no music - even though there was supposedly over 900 tracks on there. I had no choice but to leave it as I was late for work, so it was a decidly disgruntled pupski this morning.

When I got home I plugged the player into the Pc and what do you know it said there was over 900 tracks on it. Unplug the player it says there is no music files - it's enough to make even the saintliest girl cry I can tell you. After some research on the net it seemed like the best solution was to take everything off it which I did - and that was where more trouble started. As soon as the player connected with the sonic stage programme it went into this weird loop where it said that it was checking to make sure that the items I had deleted were in my library. Every time it read a file I had to click ok - this went on, and on, and on, and on. Three hours later I was thinking hmm well I know that there were a lot of tracks on there but this is ridiculous. Time for some more research, which was no help.

Time to ring Sony!

The man at Sony was very nice but he was insistent that I needed to re-install Connect (even after I explained to him that it had crashed my computer etc, etc.). He reckoned that most people weren't installing the updates properly because they hadn't uninstalled all the original components. So I duely got rid of everything I could (although worryingly there were several things that it would not let me delete), then we painstakingly re-installed it and now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that it keeps working. It is slower than sonic stage to open up but not the 10 mins it was taking before, at present it takes about two minutes to load up - seems like an eternity when you are raring to go. I would like it to work I really would, I want to be able to use those facilities on my player like top 100. So here's hoping. When I finish writing this I am going to load up the player and hope for the best....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dance of the Dying Swan

My dear old Swanny
Originally uploaded by pupski.
On the train journey home from Sheffield I saw four pairs of swans. Each pair was in a differnt part of the country (1 just outside Sheffield, 1 near Peterborough, 1 at Ealy and one just before Norwich) and three of the four pairs were sitting alone in the middle of large earthy brown fields.

Swans mate for life it's very romantic. We could learn a thing or two from them. But I do wonder about the wisdom of only having one mate - what if he/she dies young? You are then condemned to alife alone.

When I lived at Shrubb (the commune) there was a pair of swans who came every year to the field in front of the house. They would arrive in November and stay until spring when they would suddenly be gone.One year a tragic accident occurred. One of the pair flew into the overhead power cables and died. It was terribly sad (especially cos some of those carnivorous hippies decided it would make a good christmas dinner - not me I hasten to add!). The remaining swan came back, year after year and sat out the winter on the field alone. It must have been very lonely.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

King of Pain

King of Pain
Originally uploaded by pupski.
I have been feeling a bit like the guy in this picture recently. I want very much to be a calmer, more chilled out, less stressed person - but I am not sure how to get there. Every little thing seems to make me feel anxious and stressed out.

I am trying different strategies like going to yoga, writing my morning pages and doing my art diary - all those things help. I suspect though that I also need to cut down on caffiene and cut out sugar.

Some people just seem to be naturally happy, whatever life throws at them. I go through phases of being fairly calm and other times where I am incredibly tense. maybe what I need is a massage or to take up a martial art.

Fopping Off

Well here I am in sunny (or actually not so sunny!) Sheffield. Today I took some photos which will be posted on Flickr shortly (probably tomorrow or Monday), ate som fatijas (is that how you spell it?) and discovered the delights of a record store called Fopp.

Now why oh why can't we have a Fopp in Norwich? It was a revelation to me. Tons of cds at £5 each, some at £7 and £10, and they sell some books and dvd too - it's great. The irony is though that although they had all those really cheap cds that I actually ended up buying one that cost £13. I bought a Black Uhuru cd that I had been looking for for ages and had been unable to find anywhere. I was a bit naughty because I bought the cds on my credit card. The other 3 were cheap though Bob Marley - Uprising and Live, and Lou Reed's Coney Island Baby, which is another cd that I had been looking for for ages and had been unable to find.

By the way there were going to be links on this post but I am using someone elses laptop and I can't work out to highlight the words to make links.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Mystery of the Long Fingernail

Reading Matter
At the moment I am reading "Scar Tissue" by Antony Kiedis which I had for my birthday (thanks City Bitch).

Antony is lead singer with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the book is his eye popping, drug fuelled life story. It is surprisingly well written and is fascinating. (you thought your family was dysfunctional...).

Antony's dad was a drug dealer and in one chapter he is describing how his dad grew one fingernail extra long so that he could snort cocaine off of it.

Suddenly I had an epiphany. When I was at school we had a maths teacher (who shall remain nameless) well actually we had several - but this story is about one of them. He was scary - he was lovely one minute and then in a flash he would lose his temper and throw somthing or really scream at someone. Well get this - this maths teacher had one really long finger nail. Just the one, it was a constant source of mystery to us teenagers, we just couldn't figure it out. Coincidence? Could be, but couple that up with the unpredictability. Who knows what goes on unbeknown to us all in small towns and suburbs everywhere.

Revisiting the albums of the past

I had £40 for my birthday - a pound for every year of my life! I decided that I would put it together with the remainder of the profits from my flickr photo and buy some cds that I have wanted for ages. I discovered that if you are buying cds that are not recent that they are very cheap on ebay, around £5 for a brand new cd! Can't be bad. I had wanted to get some of the albums that I had years ago on vinyl (or tape) and I still love. Here is the list of what I bought:

Relics - Pink Floyd
I nearly didn't buy this because I dislike the new album cover (see left)so much. i know that it is just a remake in colour of the original but I think I am just a stickler for not changing albums as I also get annoyed when they change tracks around. Or (help!) maybe I am getting old and set in my ways! Anyway here is the old cover so you can compare.

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
probably my favourite Pink Floyd album of all time along with Dark Side of the Moon. As I've got older I have come to prefer this one.

The Smiths - The Smiths
The first ever Smiths album and probably their best. Less affected than some of their others.

UB40 - Signing off
What a masterpiece this album is, I had quite forgotten just how good it is. Their first album. I often find that a bands first album is usually one of their best. it is from the heart when they were playing purely for the love of the music and before they are embroiled in and influenced by the media and the whole celebrity scene. This is UB40 writing what they knew about then before they were famous - the dole queue and Thatcher's Britain. magic!

Bob Dylan - Planet Waves
This is an excellent Dylan album and one of my faves - the others being Blood on the Tracks, Desire and Street Legal.

Led Zeppelin II
Hunchermuncher's favourite Zeppelin album and definitely one of their best.

Houses of the Holy - Led Zeppelin
This was the first Led Zep album I ever owned, I bought it second hand off my mums friend George when I was 13 or 14. I decided I needed to revisit it after watching the dvd of The Song Remains the Same. They played almost the entire album in that concert and it brought the memories flooding back. I still love it although unlike Led Zep II there are a couple of duff tracks.

24 Carat Purple - Deep Purple
This was the first Deep Purple album I bought and I got it from Robin's Records in Norwich (sadly long gone). I did buy a greatest hits cd a couple of years ago but it just wasn't as good. Every greatest hits they bring out has different versions of the songs and not neccessarily the best ones.

The best of - Simple Minds
It was a toss up between this one and the album I used to have "Live in the City of light". I don't always like greatest hits albums as they tend to be too long and I often then end up wanting to buy the original albums - I chose this though because there were a couple of good tracks that weren't on the Live album.

Best of - New Order
Yes I know another Greatest Hits. Well Inever actually like New Order much when I was younger but they have grown on me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Filling up My Shiny Purple mp3 Player

Today I decided to get down in earnest to putting some tracks on my new siny purple MP3 player. A small task I thought, it might take me an hour or so - or perhaps an hour and a half. Oh how little I knew - three hours later and I am part way through putting the first playlist on.

I decided to only make five playlists to begin with - oldies, newish, rock, dance/disco and punk/new wave. Categories that I could roughly fit everything into that I have on the pc. Sorting them out into playlists took absolutely ages, not helped by the fact that the sony program hadn't transferred all the files properly so I had to play the beginning of each track to make sure that there was actually a track there to transfer and if there wasn't I had to transfer it from i-tunes to sonic stage. PHEW!

Now I am in the final stage of the process, which is transferring the playlists to the mp3 player and of course seeing if they all fit. I am keeping my fingers (and everything else) crossed. So far I am on playlist to and it is at 4gb so they may not all fit. I am just wondering though if some of the tracks are on there already, whether it will recognize that or just duplicate them which would take up more memory. I probably should have deleted what was on there first. Ah well too late now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

the last cold of winter...

Well like it or not (and I can tell you I don't like it!) the winter cold is here. I spent most of last week cooped up in the house with N who was sick with a horrible cold. I thought that I had miraculously escaped it, I took vitamin C, I took echinacea - but to no avail. I told myself that I don't get colds, I imagined little pacmen creatures and coloured jellyfish swimming around inside me hoovering up any cold germs - but still I got it. Maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe all those affirmations and preventitive measures will mean that I it will be a mild version or that it won't last so long. Hunchermuncher and I are supposed to going to Sheffield on Friday so I hope it's gone by then.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Family and how to survive them

Families can be complex beasts. My maternal grandmother died this week and as well as being sad at the loss it has made me sad about the complexity and dysfunction of my family. I would like to remember her as the grandma that I loved when I was very young, the grandma who I begged to tell me a story and who would tell me one, not from a book but one from in her head. My favourite was the one about the old man and the old woman who lived in a vinegar bottle. A version of which is here although not the same as the one she told me. This is how I would like to remember her, without the taint of things long past in my family, the rifts, betrayal, hurts that are too big to talk about here, abuse of trust and all the rest.

Some cultures and religions believe that you when you come to this world you choose which family that you are born into. It's an interseting concept and one that I am not sure that I believe - or want to believe. I wonder what lessons I am supposed to learn from my family, and why those lessons have to be so hard.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Religion Top 5

1) Catholic Girls - Frank Zappa
an irreverent look at Caholicism my the inimiable Mr Zappa. From the album Joes Garage, which contains other gems such as "Wet T Shirt Night" and "Why Does it Hurt When I pee?"

2) Like a Prayer - Madonna
Smooching with a black Jesus whilst a full gospel choir sways and sings in the background - you have to admire Madges style.

3) Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode

4) Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day

5) Rem - Losing my Religion

Top 10 Songs about Seasons

1) Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks
....we had joy we had fun, we had seasons in the sun....
number one by virtue of being so awful!

2) Summer Night City - Abba
Waiting for the sunrise, soul dancing in the dark
Summer night city
Walking in the moonlight, love-making in a park
Summer night city

3) Summer Nights - John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
I loved Grease when I was 12!

4) Forever Autumn - Justin Haywood
still love this you're not here....

5) In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry

6) Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
You got me singin the blues...

7) Summer Son - Texas

8) Cruel Summer - Bananarama

9) Endless Summer - Ashlee Simson

10) Winter - Tori Amos

Speak ill of the dead

Now why is that when people die they take on some mythical properties and everyone forgets anything bad that they did? Even the miserable, mean, abusive person in life can over time take be rewarded almost saintly status in the months and years after they are dead. If the truth be told it gets on my nerves. I once upset some relatives at a family get together by saying that the only thing I remembered about my grandad was that he was always grumpy and he shouted a lot (which was the truth!).

I beleive that we should remember the dead in their entirety. After all wouldn't life be boring if we were all perfect and all the same? Isn't it our negative qualities as well as our good qualities that make up our personalities? That make us who we are? I know I have some good qualities, but I also know that I am grouchy, I get stressed out, I am horrible when I have PMT, I can't keep my house clean and I get obsessively annoyed by noise, I constantly compare myself to others! Those things are part of me just as much as anything else - my love of music, my obsessive list making, my silly sense of humour etc. I only hope that in death people remember all of me the bad bits as well as the good.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Liierary Fiction Versus Pulp Fiction

I have just started reading Man and Wife by Tony Parsons and I have to say that so far I am finding it a bit lightweight and sickeningly sweet and sentimental. I am hoping that it is going to improve and I prepared to give it at least a couple more chapters.

It has, however, made me ask myself the question have I sold out my literary values for a quick and easy read? and the answer is that I am not sure. Sure, writers like Tony parsons aren't in the same league of slush writing as Catherine Cookson et al, but they aren't exactly challenging either. But what exactly is it that a makes a book a work of literature. Does a work of literature have to be difficult to read, full of long words, metaphors and complex language? Is it more to do with the plot line, the connections between characters or is it simply the unique voice of the writer that determines whether a work of fiction is deemed literary or not?

The answer is that I am not sure - but I do know that there is a difference. In some cases it is more obvious. For example if you compare J K Rowling to Phillip Pullman - Harry Potter is a darned good adventure story, there is a lot of stuff in there about human realtionships and the struggle between good and evil. But in HP the struggle between good and evil is clear for all to understand, I defy anyone to read Harry Potter and not understand what is going on. There really is no subtext to speak of and Ms Rowling uses ordinary language which is easy to read and understand. Pullman on the other hand writes books that have many layers meaning, he bends your ideas of reality, morality and religion and he also uses more complex language, plotlines and concepts.

Found this description on Wikpedia that seems to sum it up:

"people may perceive a difference between "literature" and some popular forms of written work. The terms "literary fiction" and "literary merit" often serve to distinguish between individual works. For example, almost all literate people perceive the works of Charles Dickens as "literature", whereas many tend to look down on the works of Jeffrey Archer as unworthy of inclusion under the general heading of "English literature". Critics may exclude works from the classification "literature", for example, on the grounds of a poor standard of grammar and syntax, of an unbelievable or disjointed story-line, or of inconsistent or unconvincing characters. Genre fiction (for example: romance, crime, or science fiction) may also become excluded from consideration as "literature"."

So Basically authors like Tony Parsons come under the heading popular fiction and are not really worthy of being labelled as great literary works (although who knows in 300 years they may be hailed as such - look at Jane Austen and Charles Dickens!) whilst authors such as Louise Erdrich, Donna Tart, T C Boyle etc are more of a literary bent.

That doesn't mean that popular fiction is not worthy. Isn't it good to get the masses to read? I think so, although I do sometimes wonder whether it contributes to the "dumbing down" of society that seems so prevelnt at the moment. A side effect of the quick fix tv culure perhaps, I have noticed several of my friends and family (as well as N who is 13) have said recently that they couldn't be bothered to read some books because they were too difficult - and they weren't books that were that difficult. I sometimes wonder if we give up too easily these days - at N's age I was reading classics like War of the Worlds, The 39 Steps, Day of the Triffids and Gormenghast.

Gormenghast is a very good example. I know several people who have not persevered beyond the first couple of chapters. Yes the language is a little archaic at times (not unlike that of Lord of the Rings), and his description is sometimes a little verbose and unweildly, but the books are so worth persevering with. I have been reading the first book Titus Groan to N and as predicted he found the first two or three chapters tricky but now he is hooked. Peake creates such incredibly weird and multi-faceted characters and his descriptions of both people and places are fabulous. I don't think that the recent BBC series did it justice - it would be a fantastic challenge for Peter jackson!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Party Disco Fever

My 40th Birthday party was great. I danced until 1am and was still buzzing when I woke up this morning. Some people who said they were coming didn't (only to be expected) and some just didn't reply to the invitation at all (you know who you are!). But all in all it was great, there were quite a lot of people, and a good mix of old and new faces, and shock of shock my dad and sister turned up for a while - after they had said that they weren't coming too - that was nice! The food was great and the music was well appreciated, well worth all the effort, although I will need to have another party as we didn't get through all the cds!

I can't decide this evening whether to watch a dvd of Led Zeppelins The song remains The Same or to try and get to grips with sorting music to put on my beautiful new sony mp3 player. Maybe I will go for the Led Zep as I need to send it back and I have had it a few days already.

My legs are still aching from all that dancing, still it's a great way of exercising - someone ought to do discos for adults - we all feel tooo old for the nightclub scene, but we need somewhere we can let our hair down, have the space to dance plus hear some great old (and new) music.

Top 10 Dance tracks from my Party (in no particular order)

1) Play that Funky Music White Boy - Wild Cherry
2) Green Onions - Booker T and the M Gs
3) Baby Love - Diana Ross and the Supremes
4) Brown Sugar - Rolling Stones
5) Last train to Transcentral -KLF
6) I Heard it through the grapevine - Marvin Gaye
7) Now that we've Found Love - Third World
8) Gangsters - the Specials
9) Superstition - Stevie Wonder
10) A Message to you (Rudi) - The Specials

worthy mentions : Praise You - Fatboy Slim, Disco Inferno - The Tramps, Let the Music Play - Shannon.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Claim to fame at 40

Well now I am 40 and do I feel any different? Well the answer is no, not really. I don't feel any more responsible than I was yesterday and I don't have any more wrinkles or grey hairs. My stress levels might be up slightly but that is probably due to the problems incurred when trying to get the software to run for my new Sony Mp3 Walkman. However despite the teething problems (we ended up ditching the software that came with it and downloading sonicstage) it is a truly beautiful PURPLE lovely machine.

I am investing in some really good headphones to go with it too, as when I compared mine to Hunchermunchers I realised how awful they sounded. I decide to get some the same as his - Seinnheiser PX100.

I am buying them with the money which I earned from selling one of my photos from flickr. I am very excited about it. A company in America contacted me last year about using it in a web site they were making for Sunkist soda, but I never really thought that it would come off. But low and behold this week they contacted me and then they paid me. You can look at the page the photo is on here, you have to click on the gallery, then make a movie and a bunch of pictures appears - mine is the one of orange plastic fencing. Anyway that's my claim to fame!