A propos of it being a somewhat Blue Monday (back to work and miserable weather setting back in), here is a trio of New Order songs that all start with T.

Touched by the Hand of God. Highly diggable 80s rock video parody, directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Temptation. Features vinyl shoplifting and indie disco moves.

And, of course, True Faith. First saw this on a cinema screen, as a pre-feature for (I think, based on 1987 as year of release) Good Morning Vietnam, though it might just as well have been Moonstruck, The Living Daylights or Spaceballs, all of which also came out that year. No Withnail and I, no. I was only 12. I recall not really getting it at the time, but later it made all the sense.

Terrific teen soundtracking there, then.

Originally I was going to write something about luck, this being Friday the 13th and all.

I’m a moderate believer in luck, I think.

There are – as far as I understand these things – statistical likelihoods of things happening or not, so in one sense is “good luck” simply another term for a favourable outcome happening? One’s perspective is important. To say that someone is “born lucky” or “under a lucky sign”, to assign predestination to such outcomes, makes some people a bit chary. I’m reminded of that quote attributed to various golfers:

The more I practice, the luckier I get.

Working on lowering the odds of good things happening. To an extent, you can indeed – indubitably – “make your own luck”.

But, but… I play Backgammon. While I am aware that the Backgammon odds of certain dice combinations are fixed (30% chance of rolling a particular number, nearly 6% chance of a particular non-double combination)… I have also played Backgammon repeatedly with my mum, and there are no two ways about it, she is a Dice Whisperer.

Needs 5-1 to hit a spot and make a prime… Oh, lookit that. (Then rolls eight doubles to finish.) Worryingly, this skill seems to have been passed down to her granddaughter.

Knowing what to do with the doubles is practice, but getting them when you need them is something else, perhaps.

Then, after I’d been mulling over all this, it was then suggested to me that I could make the L post a reference to one of my favourite bits from one of my favourite films, Dazed and Confused, specifically Wooderson’s motivational speech to Randall Floyd, havering over whether to “play ball” or no.

Man, it’s the same bullshit they tried to pull in my day. If it ain’t that piece of paper, there’s some other choice they’re gonna try and make for you. You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do, man. And let me tell you this: the older you do get, the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man. L-I-V-I-N.

Matthew McConaughey in fine form, there. I went for the low-res version of the many versions because that’s how I recall watching it REPEATEDLY on tape in the 90s.

L-i-v-i-n… It’s “just” a little stoner joke in some ways, but like everything in the film it has a few layers going on. Researching this today took me through various McConaughey clips and stories. The phrase resonates with him for obvious reasons, and some perhaps less obvious. I dig it. It’s a call for authenticity, perhaps, foremost.

To link (later) to my original theme, perhaps one aspect of what might be termed the Tao of Wooderson (lol) is a notion that participation is an essential component of creating your “luck”. Showing up, maintaining, remaining true to your inner visions… however you want to phrase it.

I’m aware, sure, that there is a certain triteness to sports motivational-sounding trueisms such as “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. That doesn’t stop them being relevant, I don’t think. There are all sorts of other factors involved. I am not suggesting a naïve and blindly optimistic approach to life. You need to remember your Buddhanature AND your National Insurance number, as Ram Dass almost put it.

But, one needs to keep going at it. Even, perhaps especially, when it seems you’re on a losing streak. Those come and go, a matter of perspective, and numbers… but, increasingly, I’m a strong believer in livin’.

Cheers for the suggestion, JCG!

E is for Excellent!

Being of a certain demographic, I was delighted, but delighted, to discover that there may be a third Bill and Ted film in the offing.

Part of me will forever value the concept of the transformative powers of rock to align the cosmos. Universal harmony achieved through study, and bodacious fretwork.

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have made the probably unnecessary and yet entirely non-non-non-heinous decision to take up their axes again, prompted by a script from original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon.

The enthusiastic crew discuss the plot and their reasoning in detail in a clip available via Entertainment Weekly.

Keanu Reeves notes that if their sole legacy to mankind was the phrase “Be excellent to each other”, that would be pretty good. A sentiment with which I concur most heartily.

The dazzling bright white lights of a truck hurtled past, accompanied with cacophonous discordant horn dopplering, chased by a slushy swish from the cold rain. Briefly, the taillights morsed as the driver pumped the brakes at the curve ahead, the message from the red squares flashing, over and over: tough + luck + stop + tough + luck + stop + tough + luck.

Silence settled again on the long straight road gunbarrelling between the thick pines, grown in orderly rows for crow-flown miles and miles west and east of the needle strewn, snow-crowned highway sludge along which Dag Heuter was trudging as night fell.

Heuter watched the receding tail lights with his right hand clapped to his head, as if trying to prevent his hat blowing off. With ear flaps tied snug under his chin, the gesture was more frustration, an invocation. His left arm curled in what looked like it could be trying to be a fist coming up for a jab. Brief freeze. He made a pushing gesture of dismissal and walked backwards a few steps, as the four red squares fused into a single condensing gas dwarf and vanished into the cosmic night. Heuter squinted with some difficulty to see as he turned into the rain, still walking, hands jammed back into his jacket pockets, facing the oncoming traffic.

Facing the direction oncoming traffic would come from eventually, he qualified to himself, turning positive, turning again to look at the tiny tiny pulse of red flicking further back down the road. He put a gloved hand up to his throat and tightened the zip two teeth back to the top.

Since abandoning the cold shell of his own wheels, but uncertain which way salvation lay nearest, Dag Heuter had decided to walk back to the last town he remembered. It had seemed like a few miles or so. Heuter knew he was an unreliable guide. The lack of traffic meant he was sticking up a hand for anything, going anywhere, but so far, not so good. He licked dry, chapped lips and thought of one, probably two beers and a couple of whiskies in that little brown wood and smokey bar he’d been in.

It might have been only minutes later that there was a swoosh through the slush and wet. Heuter straightened, regarded the lights playing through the spray up ahead of him, his shadow on the trees. He turned and shaded his eyes with one hand, throwing out the other first in a kind of wave, then a more resolute hitcher’s thumb. The car – some kind of pony – slowed, then passed him, before coming to a halt a few yards ahead. Picking up his step, Heuter shambled towards what he could now make out was indeed a Camaro, the rear lights making a red fuzz in the rain.

Up against the passenger side door, Dag Heuter stood with one arm on the roof. As the window wound down about halfway, he paused for a second before lowering his head to peer inside. There was a moment’s silence.

The figure inside the car said,
‘Jesus, Dag. What happened to your face?’

Dag Heuter looked up into the spray illuminated by the headlights and smiled painfully. Of course. He lowered his head.

‘Hey, Petch. Uhh, gimme a ride, I’ll bring you up to speed?’

‘I doubt that,’ the driver said. There was another moment’s pause.

‘Well, get in.’ A sigh.

The window closed as Dag opened the door and slumped inside.

Coming up in part two: Dag and Petch retread some old ground.

Today I received the FX pedal from Online Second Hand Purchase Site. The missing piece of the guitar set-up. Now officially ready to rock.


Here’s the pedal, an MXR M78:


Station. The manual revealed Dunlop/MXR employs copy writers with a dry little sense of humour. I can’t wait to get it plugged in and sample the ’90s alternative sound – Smells Like Flannel Angst’.

If there’s one guitar sound from 1978 I always wanted to replicate, it would be this one:

[Cut to me sausage fingering my way through the solo to ‘Teen Spirit’]

To be continued. Meanwhile, be excellent to yourselves… (Diddly-iddly-eee!)

A lot of people were back to work and school today, but owing to schedule freakery I am still blessedly, blissfully off. We went into a quiet town centre for a little light splurging in the sales.

Found in Oxfam: a Gilbert Hernandez volume. 250 pages, woop!


Love and Rockets, and rockets… a nice bit of thematic coherence followed in The Works, with the find that was this charming little volume:


Fridge magnet reproduction sci-fi book covers, and a fairly comprehensive Pocket History with a lavish spread of delicious images, from diaphanously dressed dames under aquatic threat…


… – cheeky! – to Vincent di Fate’s Big Dumb Object (makes note for band names list)…


…and a mere £2. Bargain.

Teaser trailer:
Speaking of sci-fi, finally got along to the cinema to see a certain reawoken franchise movie… More on which to come in the next few days.

A number of news media sources report that a special committee of the UN will be debating the development (and deployment) of ‘killer robots’.

…amid fears that once created they could pose a “threat to humanity”.

I share concerns that people may be continuing to develop weapons that might be used as weapons…

Jetting past the pop culture whimsy, indicated by the nervous use of illustrative stills from Terminator films and jokey mouseover Dalek comments, that this has become an Official Issue for Discussion is actually a grave development. When the UN and similar bodies take seriously apparently novel ways to kill ourselves like this, it usually means it is already happening.

The idea of science fiction/speculative fiction being ‘today’s world set tomorrow’ can perhaps be augmented by seeing it as a kind of two-way wormhole. Creation and scientific development today also incorporate these projected views of different futures. Each informs the other.

I consider it a matter of worry and disappointment that we the species do not seem to take on board the negative aspects of our own interpretations, allegories, extrapolations. That we still view consensual reality and the future as things that need marshalling with guns, ever shinier and more complex. That we can look at the Terminator films and think ‘Yeah… we need those killer robots’.

We are still waiting for smart fruit…

Smart Fruit from Danny McKenna on Vimeo.

Stealth Bananas.

It had to happen. The last couple of years have seen the commencement of 20th anniversary celebrations that it was once easy to think were hundreds of years away from happening. The youth’s blithe ignorance of time. Pronounce that ‘ignore-ance’: it’s maybe not unawareness, just disregard.

Mainly this is misery. It’s manifesting in bands that once stood shirts open and lithe, pouted for cameras, smacked their pert bottoms insouciantly with microphones, made music to throw yourself about to, now become lumpen middle-aged leaden-footed parodies of themselves. Suede, Manic Street Preachers, I’m looking at you, but not too closely.

Apparently, (old man take a look at my life) watching chart shows and music pop tv, I’ve got this annoying trait of constantly referring to a pet theory of the circularity of culture, with conversational non sequiturs like “A pox on this cultural looking back… the 80s are now as the 60s were to us in the 80s,” or indeed the 90s, as it has now cycled on to. 20 years on, to use a phrase half as good as Alan Bennett’s. Bands sounding like older bands and the older bands coming out for a second or third crack at the whip.

In this scheme, nostalgia is exactly what it used to be. “Imagine how fans of the Stones in the 60s felt by the time Mick Jagger was gurning all over the 80s.”


Terrifying. I dunno. We are almost constantly being disappointed by our heroes ageing, and trying to avoid changing, yet changing, and becoming disappointing, and how it reflects back at us. Wordsworth got it in the neck from Browning, and so back and forth.

However! Sometimes backwards-looking doesn’t end in catastrophe. Dazed and Confused, I just discovered, one of my all time favourite movies of all time, just celebrated 20 years of existence. I missed the actual anniversary, last year, but, uh, yeah. Yet when I saw it had was been thenly, I took the opportunity to have a re-watch for the first time in ages.

I still love it. That messy mass of characters, wonderful conversational non sequiturs, moments, inconsequential events, that, in fact, surely, have whole life consequences.

Here is something I discovered also while riffing around on Linklater and DAC. Quite very much enjoyed the song, and I love the “Not back on it… still on it” tone of the accompanying video. Plus a fine lyric:

“For once, once in your life
won’t you do what feels right
instead of waiting for the next big compromise?”

That’s what I love about movie characters: I get older, they stay the same age.

No one likes getting it wrong. It’s a human thing. Of course, there are numerous ways to make yourself feel better about getting it all awry– see it as a learning experience, after Beckett or Edison, for examples. However, you have, basically, been in error, and the power of embarrassment and feelings of lack of worth, and so on, can sometimes be overwhelming.

This is especially true when it comes to long-held beliefs. On the way to see Bruce Springsteen in 1993, discussing favourite songs with the school friend accompanying, it turned out that for years he’d been under the impression Bobby Jean was about a male friend. Meanwhile, I was, and remain, convinced it is about a female (while actually being ‘about’ Miami Steve, obvs). Even these interpretations may err.

Recently, trailers for part II of Peter Jackson’s ludicrous trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit have had just such an impact. Basically, for years many fans of Tolkien have been saying the dragon’s name wrong.

"Actually, it's pronounced Smug."

“Actually, it’s pronounced Smug.”

“The desolation of Smaug” growls the voiceover man: ‘Smaowg’, with the au pronounced as in ‘cow (-eating dragon)’, not ‘Smorg’, with the au pronounced as in ‘marauding (lizard)’. Surprisingly, the multi-million pound adaptation makers with researchers are right. Anyone would think they’d checked. Of course, Tolkien outlines the correct pronunciation in an Appendix to Volume 17 of the Apocrypha of Carc, or something.

As an aside, I haven’t seen either Hobbit film. Part two of a trilogy adaptation of a single volume book has the fanboy nerd completist bore-o-meter twitching perilously close to ‘combust like a wooden town on stilts’. My fan of Tolkien dad, to whom I defer judgment in matters Middle Earthish, and who has seen it, thinks it goes on a bit.

I was reminded of all this pre-Christmas Hobbit II trailer ignominy (“ ‘SMAOWG’? No freakin’ way! I thought it was Smorg! Well, stick me in the dark and ask me riddles,” etc) by an advert for successful local shop chain Nisa. The ad answered a long-standing (for me) pronunciation puzzle in its closing moments. It sounds like Nicer, not Niece-r.

Nisa Logo

All these years, etc. At least this one sort of makes sense. It is certainly something I shall bear in mind next time I meet someone called Lisa, or if I’m ever on holiday in Pisa.

Right, I’m hungry as a Hobbit. Perhaps a sleece of Pyetsa.