Just found out it’s “A to Z Blogging Challenge” month.

Totally evaded me. Ah well, can’t be helped!

This (Beyond the Screams, a documentary about the U.S. Latino punk scene and the DIY movement) has been helping me get into changing it up mode:

There was this guy, see, putting together some artwork for the band they’re in. Sleeves for CDs.

Names of tracks, a couple of photos printed together using free software and downloadable templates. Got some fresh fonts from Da Font.  What a trove!

So, looking nice. It was only after all the slicing up, folding, and having glued five or so together, that they noticed there was a typo in the text.

 

Yes, it was me. Fuck’s sake. It was pretty glaringly obvious as well, once I’d spotted it. SMH

*beat*

 

It is pretty funny. This sort of thing would have been a massive downer, once upon a time. The whole print run and that. What a waste of time and effort.

Even as I said “I am so cross!”, though, I was also thinking, meh, not really that cross. I mean, it was only 30 sheets. Inconvenient, yes, but… one of them things?

Felt close to zero headpound, anger, irritation. This is a novel enough feeling for it to be worthy of note.

And no, no idea why I missed it! I blame the font.

Today was making music day, and what a restorative racket it was.

Making music is a great way to clean out the synapses. For me, it’s a connection with something that goes to my core. Sometimes I do not give sufficient attention to the extent I miss it when it’s not there.

Earlier in the week, I was thinking about FX pedals when I read this piece at The Sobriety Collective.

It says ‘It’s easy to start feeling like you, not the drugs, are the problem. You’re not.’

I get where this view comes from, and what they’re trying to say here. The idea of drugs being an ‘extra helping of self-loathing’ is a true one, I think. A useful analogue (it occurred to me as I packed my practice bag) is thinking about booze in particular as a sort of FX pedal. It takes an existing signal and alters it, and in different ways depending on which dials are doing what (dose, scene, setting, so forth).

It is difficult at the least to get a handle on what your brain is really doing and thinking when you are putting drink in it. One of the reasons I have kept drinking for so long is because it so reliable at tuning out the noise. A pedal I have needed to get the sound I want.

So, going for a ‘clean signal’ is a useful way to hear what’s going on more clearly. For me, certainly, though, those feelings of anxiety, and alienation, and other associated mental health problems, do not simply disappear when I take substances out of the equation. Yes, they’re much more manageable, but they’re still there.

One might easily question one’s own contribution.  ‘If not the drugs, then, well, what is it?’ Yet that falls back on the self-blame that TSC correctly counsels against. In which case, if it’s not you… what is it, the ways you’re doing things?

No straightforward answers, really. There is music though, and that really, really helps. 1-2-3-4!

Friday last was pure week-before-end-of-half-term misery. Skool sags beneath an accumulation of assessment marking feeding into immediate report writing, and it’s all compounded by interminable lessons with grumpy kids not listening to shattered staff. And – AND!! – it’s scorchio out, so literally no one cares.

Added in to that febrile melange, Friday also brought the realisation that a trio of e-cigarette vendors stand within 100m of each other on Knareborough High Street.

Across the road.

With empty shops sat between! The heat, the insanity, the Vapours… It all looked set to see an end to the equilibrium of sobriety that had ruled for so long.

Well, maybe in old money. Waking up Saturday morning the wallowing was truncated directly, blues batted hence in a blur of house sprucing, which made everyone feel better. I also made a loaf, which has become a pleasant habit of a weekend morning.

Here’s a little recipe tribute to Warren Ellis.

Bread

  • 500g flour (one of these ones, usually)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300ml water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Yeast tends to be either 1 tsp quick yeast in with the flour, or 1tbsp of the reactivated sort you need to mix with warm water first. Given that I’ve been doing this with partially closed eyes around 5am the last few weeks, it’s been the considerably less fiddly quick yeast.

Everything dry gets mixed with a spoon, then I tip in the water and mix that, then add the oil, at which point it miraculously switches from “craggy” and dry to something more moist and resembling dough.

10 minutes kneading. Don’t stint. It will give in at some point to become smooth, elastic and pliable. Make a ball shape.

Leave it covered in a bowl somewhere warm for 40 minutes. The books all say “until doubled in size”, but it must be a factor of my eyes being only partially open that it never looks that different.

Read stories and give bananas to youngest, who’s got up demanding bananas and stories.

“Knock it back.” Give the now risen dough a thwack to remove air. Sometimes I like to grunt “Yer name’s not down, yer not coming in,” at the point of impact. That’s not actually true, but I might start. Re-knead, make a loaf shape and leave it to rise for about 80 minutes.

Play 4000 games of Top Trumps with eldest who’s also now up.

Our electric oven goes on at 180°, and the loaf cooks for about 45-50 mins, depending on how long the oven was on prior to opening.

Slice, slap on approx. 3cm layers of Isigny Sainte-Mère butter (the ponce factor here is low, in fact: it’s in Sainsbury’s and the same price as Lurpak) and gronff with coffee.

That was fun, anyway.

What else? Oh yes, the Ukrainian dolphins. (Hums Sylvanian Families jingle, substituting words in head) Pop “Ukraine dolphins” in your search engine.

The Guardian offered a moderated tone to their report, with a nod to the idea that there is “a lot of disinformation floating around” (one of the more understated aquatic puns related to this news item). However, many outlets went long on “diabolical Russkies” even when filtering out the more outlandish claims of cetacean patriotism.

Meanwhile, my five-year old was engrossed in our reading of this tale, where ninja-skilled princesses work to find buried treasure and save a wounded dolphin from ill-treatment by a greedy prince.

No prizes for guessing which was the more realistic story.

From “The Filth”, by Morrison/Weston/Erskine, 2002

This morning we went for a bit of sunshine and tat browsing at Pannal at boot. Got a nice tape-and-cd player for a fiver – spent the afternoon doing reports while listening to a T. Rex best of and 4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

See if you can follow the riffs and work out which song prompted the title for this week’s Bath chunterings.

Other than that, it remains only to trail a forthcoming album Visions of Africa, which contains a selection of the hundreds of Toto covers proliferating…

… I seek to cure what’s deep inside.

This was supposed to be last week’s weekend (6th May) whatsit… App/draft/update confusion.

Further to my previous notes regarding newsletters, I’m going to get ahead of the publication fashion curve and carry on posting here, in what may turn out to be the online writing equivalent of sporting flares throughout the 1980s, optimistic that a 70s revival is imminent.

See, though, then it WAS… Now the 20-odd year spin cycle has pushed us into the world of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin reunion tours, so we must, surely, be due something or other else shortly? Surely to god? Things to come: in 2023, Rihanna does guest vocals on track by artist in Year 7 (~12yrs old)… feat. lavish beats – offensive to the ear of all people over 27 – in collision with ragtime basslines and sampled tracks from Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What.

Musical exchange has been exercising me this week. I haven’t got time to compile a top ten, sorry, but I’ll remedy that next week. Had a dream about the cultural significance of The Stone Roses, in a weirdly nested, cherished record specific-to-a-small-community lived reality way that I found impossible to pin down when I woke up. It was likely prompted by reading Junglist…

Super time capsule evocations of culture with minutiae of dress codes, cigarette brands, etc. Also probably prompted by recent reading (twitter & elsewhere) of people wrestling with the issue of having their love of The Smiths’ music tainted by Morrisery holding problematic views, as if Roland Barthes never wrote anything about such a notion.

That and the ongoing recurrence of recurrent stylistic revisitations, remixes, recycling… musically and textually, a tip of the hat to jdevans, who reminded me of a FIZZY post from a few years back… I never got round to a “proper” write-up of that gig, although the original post probably qualifies as a proper write-up tbf. I got quite a bit out of the Steve Ignorant autobiography I bought on the night, would recommend that.

In a shorter musical cycle of exchange, my long-term music pusher, present at Sunburned Hand of the Man and Sleaford Mods gigs, sent me a link literally just now, for some 1980s South African synth pop comp, Gumbo Fire, which is making great soundtrack to extemporize by.

Had a handful of hospital-related appointments this week, the highlight of which was discovering a relatively recent copy of Reader’s Digest among the magazines in the waiting room.

Such a mainstay of my formative reading years (I Am John’s Sense Of Nostalgia). It read about how I’d have expected. They still pay for jokes readers submit, although it’s no longer Laughter, the Best Medicine, possibly because of killjoy pedantry from the Advertising Standards Authority, so instead it’s called Laugh! Imperative use seemed a bit desperate as an editorial strategy… I thought, hey, there must be some NHS/privatisation analogy in there somewhere, but before I had time to consider it any further I was called in for my thing.

Also saw this:

Laughed my abstract ass off. Sorry for the vague citation, but this was in a magazine article on decluttering I happened upon… which I’m not sure now isn’t synchronicity or just further evidence of The Man jamming my brainwaves.

Had a similar “terrible copy” experience in T.K. Maxx the other week:

I recall my heart wanting very much to sweep these scented abominations to the floor of the shop, with an insincere “Oops”. Sadly, I got distracted by some cheap sportswear, so the sound of breaking glass remains an unquittable dream.

What else? Oh yeah, while we’re smashing the system, witness this marvellous Comrade Peter Rabbit figurine, protesting the wage conditions in McDonald’s:

“What’s stopping you?”

“I notice you ask that before telling me your pay scale.”

Obviously we were in Maccy D’s taking field notes for a sociolinguistic study, “Mothers of invention: late-stage capitalism, parenting and the illusion of choice”, working title, etc.

So, that was the last week or so, anyway. Next week, it’s likely to be five terse lines on how much assessment marking there is to be done at this time of year.

Skating around my enduring affection for verfremdungseffekt, I bumped into the marvellous vigintennial, or vicennial, meaning 20th anniversary.

As if that weren’t enough! Okay, delving into Stuff-Having-A-Vigintennial, I was delighted, but delighted, to see it has been 20 years since Quasi released the album Featuring “Birds”.

Quasi is a two piece, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. They used to be married, but, yeah, things happen… anyway, fortunately, they remained a musical item.

Featuring “Birds”, the duo’s third album, is a collection of lively yet lugubrious songs for roxichord and drums, with mordant, witty, often bleakly cynical lyrics. Thematically, they grapple with politics and relationships in particular.

Music lovers may recognise both names from other outfits – Weiss with Sleater-Kinney, for example. Quasi also toured with Elliott Smith, as support and backing band, which I was lucky enough to see in action. My then partner and friendship group found a rich seam of gigs In Them Days. We’re all largely scattered about the planet now, and breakups are never easy, but let the annals record those were also often the best of times.

Perhaps one of my favourite ever gigs was when we got to see Quasi do their own headlining set in September 1999 at the 13th Note Club in Glasgow… and here, he shuffled excitedly among his effects, is the set list:

…on lovely pink paper, you may just about discern.

The embedded tune is “It’s Hard To Turn Me On”, which came as an encore that night. There was Coomes, semi-seriously claiming to the rapt crowd to be running out of songs to play, when a slightly slurry Scottish voice suggested “Walt Disney!” He had to run it by them a couple of times, as I recall. “Walt Disney disnae make me happy!”. Quasi duly obliged.

Featuring “Birds”. Please seek it out and wish it a happy vigintenary year.

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.