Day Nine: A song that makes you happy. Didn't I do this just recently? There was something about favourite songs, anyway, which I interpreted as songs that make me happy. (Yes, it was here.) So, clearly I have to choose one that isn't on that list, which makes it harder. I will therefore go with this one, because there's just something altogether fab about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI3LAgGBxqU
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Day eight: A song about drugs or alcohol.

Songs about drugs and alcohol? Surely there are no such things! I have thought quite a bit about this, and have decided that, largely because it's unlikely that anybody else will have chosen it, there can be only one answer. My family used to sing this song all the time when it was in the charts, because it amused us (I have literally no idea why our mother didn't run away from home decades ago. I'm sure I would have done). It's utterly dire, so I do apologise, but that's the seventies for you.

Spodgenessabounds: Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, Please.

(Oh, and apparently it was 1980, not the seventies. Sorry, it's probably the drugs and alcohol messing with my mind.)


PS: On the subject of music, you need today's Google Doodle in your life. In celebration of the birth of Oskar Fischinger (22nd June 1900), you can play with a composition thingy, and write your own bits of music. It's lots of fun.
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Because life is silly - even when it's sad.

Read more... )

To those 'of a certain age', Brian Cant basically is childhood. Thanks, Brian. It was fun.
Day Seven: A song to drive to.

I've been thinking about this for ages, and I can't think of anything that shouts "Drive to me!" Road To Hell, or Road To Nowhere perhaps, but that would only be wilful silliness, and not a proper answer at all. There is music that I associate with driving though, so I guess it's going to have to be some of that.

Story time: My father doesn't like music. I know, it's incomprehensible, but the only time I've ever known him listen to music is when he's driving. On long car journeys he'd put music on, so that he could ignore the rest of us; and since he doesn't like music, he seemed to own just the two albums. One was Guy Mitchell's Greatest Hits, and the other was a triple cassette of mostly pre-rock 'n' roll fifties hits. Those two albums were the soundtrack of every family holiday, and every harried roadtrip across the country to visit the grandparents. The Guy Mitchell album was fab. I copied it as soon as I had the facilities, and then years later I converted it to mp3. I've never been able to find that exact version on CD, and I rather like my faintly scratchy-sounding version, anyway. The fifties album veered from the good (Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Sixteen Tons (see Day Two); Jim Dale's rather fab Be My Girl), to the spectacularly awful (The Obernkirchen Children's Choir singing The Happy Wanderer (though in English, unlike the version on YouTube)). Oh and ye gods, I just remembered: Diana Decker singing Poppa Piccolino.

So there's your driving music. I have given you good, I have given you bad. But since I can never resist the opportunity, I shall also give you Guy Mitchell, because frankly everybody should listen to him. This song tastes of the Cornish coast. Driving along little lanes, craning out of the window for the first sight of the sea. Summer and salt wind (and driving). So here you are: Guy Mitchell and Look At That Girl.
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swordznsorcery: (tardis)
( Jun. 12th, 2017 21:44)
Lately I have been cruelly ignoring the Kindle, in favour of proper books. This is at least partly [personal profile] elenopa's fault, as she recently went on an Arthur Ransome Society weekend, and made me think (for the hundredth time) that I really ought to give his books another try. I scorned them rather as a child, for not being "proper" adventures, in that there are no bad guys/proper peril/fisticuffs, etc, and did my best to avoid them. Grown Up Me (well, slightly) decided that We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea might be a good place to start a reappraisal, as it has (nearly) proper pirates, and actual proper danger in it. It seemed too long for the amount of plot, and got a bit repetitive in places, but it was good, and I shall probably try another soon. In the meantime I've fallen down an old book rabbit hole, and am currently two thirds of the way through Gerald Durrell's My Family And Other Animals, which I also studiously avoided as a child, probably for much the same reason. It's not such a good read. Much funnier, but suffers from the most horrendously purple prose. It's like swimming up hill through treacle, but with witty anecdotes. It has its attractions, mind. It's my mother's edition, from 1959, and I think [personal profile] lost_spook will appreciate the cover:

... )

I do like a colour-coded Penguin!

On the telly front, I'm still wandering through a rewatch of the Beeb's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I love it muchly. This week was episode four, with the King's Roads, and Edward Petherbridge as George III (looking rather older, and considerably less dapper, than when he was Lord Peter Wimsey, just about the only other thing I've seen him in). Why are there only seven episodes? It's not fair. I find myself wanting a wartime spin-off, all about Jonathan doing magic for the army; and that's just for starters.

Oh, and hey - Doctor Who this week! I know it was a bit ridiculous, but I thought it was fun, and I was greatly entertained to see Anthony Calf in it (he was the captain). In 2015 I watched The Monocled Mutineer, Beau Geste and Fortunes Of War more or less at the same time, and he cropped up in all of them, so it was nice to see him again. And, yet again, being a period army type. Still, he didn't get shot this time, which is a step up.

And I think that's all for now. Which is just as well, as if I don't produce some kibble sharpish, I will be eaten by a small ginger cat. Bye.
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Jun. 7th, 2017 19:45)
I never had a fandom turn one hundred before! Happy birthday, Dino. You wouldn't want a fuss, but I couldn't not at least say that.

Music and merriment beneath the cut )
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Day Six: A song that makes you want to dance.

I don't dance. Ever. I suppose if there were a song that might make me wish that I did dance, or could dance, it would most likely be something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8yGGtVKrD8

The Nicholas Brothers: the guys Gene Kelly wanted to be! And here they are together, in the (slightly dodgy!) musical The Pirate (1948):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiYf0L-QP_k
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swordznsorcery: (Default)
( Jun. 6th, 2017 19:04)
Here, have a fun link: http://www.plot-generator.org.uk/.

You plug in some parameters, and it writes you a short story. It all sounds reasonable (and sane) enough when you're filling in the little boxes, but once you click "go", somehow it all falls apart...


Two Reserved Uncles Ski-ing to the Beat
A Short Story
by swordznsorcery


George Smith was thinking about Humphrey Hubert again. Humphrey was a funny juggler with swarthy fingers and blue-eyed toes.

George walked over to the window and reflected on his empty surroundings. He had always loved loud Liverpool, with its creepy, crispy confetti. It was a place that encouraged his tendency to feel angry.

Then he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the funny figure of Humphrey Hubert.

George gulped. He glanced at his own reflection. He was a noisy, upbeat tea-drinker, with red fingers and tanned toes. His friends saw him as a tasty, tender tiger. Once, he had even brought a hard choirboy back from the brink of death.

But not even a noisy person who had once brought a hard choirboy back from the brink of death was prepared for what Humphrey had in store today.

The wet teased like fighting koalas, making George quiet. George grabbed a flat walking stick that had been strewn nearby; he massaged it with his fingers.

As George stepped outside and Humphrey came closer, he could see the fried glint in his eye.

"I am here because I want bananas," Humphrey bellowed, in a quick-tempered tone. He slammed his fist against George's chest, with the force of 7685 mice. "I frigging love you, George Smith."

George looked back, even more quiet and still fingering the flat walking stick. "Humphrey, squeak," he replied.

They looked at each other with happy feelings, like two soft, spewmungous sharks running at a very moody barmitzvah, which had rock music playing in the background, and two reserved uncles ski-ing to the beat.

Suddenly, Humphrey lunged forward and tried to punch George in the face. Quickly, George grabbed the flat walking stick, and brought it down on Humphrey's skull.

Humphrey's swarthy fingers trembled and his blue-eyed toes wobbled. He looked sharp, his body raw like a flat, forgotten flower.

Then he let out an agonising groan and collapsed onto the ground. Moments later Humphrey Hubert was dead.

George Smith went back inside and made himself a nice cup of tea.


The End


Alas, poor Humphrey, and his blue-eyed toes - led astray by his love of bananas. The less said about the hard choirboy though, the better. Most likely.
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Day Five: A song that needs to be played loud.

I don't know that this really needs to be played loud, but I love it to bits, and it does sound good loud, so here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBg1xfvyG7Q. And check it out - it's modern! Shut up, yes it is. You'll never convince me that 1999 wasn't just the other day.
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Day Four: A song that reminds you of someone you'd rather forget.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51NAFhGDIYw
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Day Three: A song that reminds you of summertime.

I have no idea why, but for some reason the soundtrack to Buster always sounds hugely summery to me. Maybe I bought it in the summer? The film is rubbish, but the soundtrack is great, and I bought it almost as soon as I saw the film, way back in 1988. Maybe there was a really good summer that year? I have literally no idea. But it's an album that shouts summer at me. So here's the first track on the album, Two Hearts, by Phil Collins:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9wq5GV2uIU

(Don't worry, it's not the video, so you don't have to actually look at him.)

Bonus song, because obviously this should ideally be listened to on a beautiful day, which I suppose makes it sort of summery:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQk23ViALh4
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I keep meaning to do this, and failing. You wouldn't think typing a few words would require such effort! Anyway, Day Two: A song you like with a number in the title. I like a lot of songs with numbers in the title. On reflection, an awful lot of them are the numbers one and two though, so for that reason, I'm going with a far less common number. This is the fantastic Sixteen Tons, by Tennessee Ernie Ford, released in 1956. Ernie Ford was mostly known for his comic songs, but this one is right out of Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath. Along with a great piece of social commentary, it has one hell of a bass line.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K0l-xPhWzs

As a bonus, have Guy Mitchell's Ninety-Nine Years (Dead Or Alive), partly because it's great, partly because I like to sneak in a little Guy Mitchell here and there, and partly because, some half dozen years before Bond hit cinemas, it's clearly the Bond theme.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8l1J2VUcPw

So there you go. Two songs with numbers in the titles. Next time I shall try to get a little more modern. I might even make it into the 1960s.
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swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( May. 15th, 2017 19:45)
Haven't done this in a while, as I haven't been watching anything much of late, save Doctor Who and Agents Of SHIELD; and talking about stuff that everybody is watching seems a bit pointless somehow. I have been reading though, and I've just finished a book that felt worth a mention. It's called The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, by Jöel Dicker, and it's a big, chunky, 600+ page whodunnit about a schoolgirl who was murdered in the summer of 1975, and the investigation that begins when her body is discovered in 2008. Although it's so big, it's a very easy read, and I found myself getting through it very quickly. So if anybody feels like a murder story that bounces about from year to year, and keeps throwing interesting hooks at you, that would be a good one to go for. Originally written in French, apparently, although I read it in English.

On the watching front, one thing that I did do was rewatch the first episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell today. Wednesday will be the second anniversary of the show's debut, so it felt like a good time. It's still fab. I'm appreciating Vincent Franklin as the brilliantly smarmy Drawlight a little more this time around, now that my attentions aren't so taken up with Strange and Norrell themselves. Also, he and Lascelles do some quite splendid snide bickering - typical bored, rich men about town, indulging in gossip, and getting their entertainment from other people's misfortunes. They're great side characters in the book, and they also work well in the series. If I could change anything in episode one, I think I should have liked to have seen a little more of Segundas. His role as a sort of magical fanboy is rather effective. It's nice to be seeing it all again.

This week's Last.fm top five artists:

Blondie (due in part to their new album, so I am a little bit up to date!)
Dean Martin
The Equals
Manic Street Preachers
Caro Emerald

In other news, I've decided to do that music meme that's knocking about, but since I've been completely incapable of choosing a song for the first question (I'm supposed to randomly choose one with a colour in the title, but who can randomly choose a song?), I've decided that it has to be from one of the above artists. So beneath the cut are the Equals with Black Skin Blue-Eyed Boys (released in 1970, and this is from a TV appearance in 1971).

Funky guitar under here )
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A week or so back, [personal profile] arnie1967 asked about favourite songs, and how they make us feel. It was an interesting question, but I didn't get around to answering it at the time. Kept thinking about it though, and with my usual inability to come to a decision about favourite songs, I shovelled a bunch of them into a folder, and then wrote down the first ten titles that resulted from a random play. This is the result, and it's a playlist that I'm very happy with. As to how they make me feel... Well, they're good songs, so I suppose the obvious answer is "good", but there is a bit more to that, at least occasionally.

... )
Come join in at [community profile] tic_tac_woe, and get a bingo card that lets you destroy the world nine times over! (if you manage to complete it). Wipe out humanity; you know you've always wanted to. My card is beneath the cut. Slightly bothered by "return of the dinosaurs", since they've never actually left. I'm assuming it means the toothy kind, although personally I wouldn't put anything past a pelican.

Death! Destruction! Dinosaurs! )
Written for [community profile] b7friday. Prompt: Villains.

PG, c. 1000 words.

... )
swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Apr. 10th, 2017 20:56)
I keep forgetting to do this, although admittedly it doesn't change much from week to week. Since last time, I've watched a fascinating mini-series that, like Boy Dominic, I picked up in a Network sale a couple of years ago, and have only just got around to. It's called Wolcott, and was apparently Britain's first police drama with a black lead. I wish I could say that it distinguishes itself! First the good points: it has a great cast. George Harris is a charismatic lead, and heads the cast well as the titular Wolcott. He's supported by a shedload of British character actors, many of them familiar from other police dramas, including Christopher Ellison (Burnside from The Bill as - surprise! - a crooked detective). Rik Mayall also features as a loathsome, racist PC. It also has very funky music. That's where the good stuff ends. Apparently the cast hated the show, and I can see why. It's trying very hard to be Shaft, but what worked for New York City in the seventies, is not going to work for London, and certainly not in 1981, the year of the Brixton Riot. The characters are dreadful stereotypes. Wolcott himself is impossibly good; everybody else is either a racist, or a two-dimensional Jamaican gangster. Jeepers. I've since taken refuge in a rewatch of the final season of White Collar, which I loved so much at the time. It's still good. If you've never seen White Collar, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Oh, and also in the world of telly - Sleepy Hollow finished. No decision yet on whether there will be a fifth season. I ended up really loving season four, against all the odds. It was nearly as much fun as season one, and the new cast were all great. Jenny got to be properly awesome throughout, and the last scene of the final episode was proper silly grin stuff. A nice place to leave the show, if it turns out that that was it.

In reading, I've just finished A Symphony Of Echoes by Jodi Taylor, the second in her time-travelling historian series. It's all about an institute called St Mary's, which houses a band of historians, who travel through time to witness famous events. Think time-travelling history nerds, fuelled by tea and explosions, and you're pretty much there. The books are fast-moving; a bit shallow, admittedly, but fun. Sentences like "We're St Mary's - there's something wrong if something isn't on fire", will give you some indication as to why it appeals to me. I've heard that the series gets better as it progresses, so I shall certainly hunt out some more. Otherwise still scrambling through a complete Sherlock Holmes readthrough, and am currently on The Valley Of Fear, which is an interesting one. Don't think I've read it before. Holmes books are always oddities. Nothing happens in them - absolutely nothing at all. They break all of the "show, don't tell" rules. We're told about everything after it happens, and never witness anything exciting. And yet somehow you never mind. Conan Doyle's prose is a thing of beauty. (Although if you could stop with all the "You can tell he's a criminal by the shape of his head", and "It was clearly a woman's handwriting," Sir Arthur, that'd be good, thank you kindly.)

Also a thing of beauty (corny links, I has them) was the weather of the last few days. My mother's weeping cherry tree exploded into life quite magnificently (she's only had it a year, and last year it only managed one flower!). It's properly settled in now though, and it looks stunning. Spring is nice. I do wish this one particular wasp (I'm assuming it's the same one, purely because they look alike, although I admit that that's hardly damning evidence) wouldn't keep flying through my window though. I have to keep leaping madly to the kitten's defence to stop her trying to eat it. *sigh*

There are pictures under the cut, of springy colour. It's all grey again outside today though. You're a killjoy, April. Give me my sun back.

... )

Oh, and top five artists of the last seven days, courtesy of last.fm:

Queen
a-ha
Blondie
Joe Jackson
Pet Shop Boys

(a-ha just put out a new album in 2015, so that list is more modern than you might assume, honest.)
It's been a fab day today. I got the lawn mowed, and did some pond tidying up. Also planted some stuff that will hopefully be tasty eventually. Then I retired to the iPlayer, and watched some programmes about Top Of The Pops in 1977 and 1978, and terrified myself by remembering all of it. I was two in 1977, for goodness sakes! Why do I remember every twist and turn of the UK's pop music scene back then, including still being able to sing along with most of the songs?! If I could remember a few useful things as well, I wouldn't mind so much. Blimey, things were scary back then though. Wall to wall Boney M! Also Brotherhood Of Man, in pink nylon, singing a spectacularly cheesy song called Angelo, in which two young lovers commit suicide. Sung complete with synchronised "waving goodbye" dance moves. I don't think it was meant to be funny.

Boney M, though. Forty years on, I still haven't quite figured out what that was all about. Ra-Ra-Rasputin indeed. I went to YouTube, with the intention of posting an illustrative video on the horrors of the likes of Rivers Of Babylon or Brown Girl in The Ring. I wound up getting distracted by the "Recommended for you" thingy at the side of the page though, and hit on this, so you got lucky:

... )
It's the song Style, from the 1964 film Robin And The 7 Hoods, performed by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The film isn't perfect, but it's good fun, and this song always makes me smile.

And here, have some bottled spring:

... )
The first is tulips, the second is my mother's Magnolia stellata. I bought it for her several years ago, as she's magnolia mad, and doesn't have space for a tree. It was tiny, and this year it flowered for the first time. Also, my first ducks of the year!

Now that I've spoken of sunshine and flowers, it'll hail tomorrow. Ah well.
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swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Mar. 20th, 2017 20:56)
Boy Dominic came to its inevitable end, in a sweet and joyful reunion. I felt bad for them, knowing that most of the cast were soon going to be murdered off-screen, in order to trigger an unexpected sequel. Still, even with that shadow hanging over it, it remained a fun little series. Julian Glover cropped up in a handful of episodes (he was evil, of course). One episode had Brian Wilde in it as a dastardly murderer, which amused me. Nice bit of unexpected casting. All in all, I recommend it, at least to fans of seventies telly. The usual caveats apply, obviously. In one episode the windows are very obviously made of plastic sheeting, which amused me. Partly because of how obvious it was, and partly because it hadn't been invented yet. Good gender balance though, and a fine cast.

Following the one-sided struggle against The Brothers Karamazov, I decided to stick to short books for a while! I read an interesting 1935 novella called It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, which a lot of people have been recommending recently. Although it was written in 1935, it's quite clearly the story of Donald Trump's election, so possibly Sinclair Lewis had a time machine. An interesting one. Also read Douglas Adams's Last Chance To See, about his voyages around the world for the BBC in the late eighties, to track down endangered species. Two of them are gone now (and so, obviously, is he). The statistics quoted are terrifying, especially for the collapse of the northern white rhino population. Humanity, you suck.

What else? I watched Saving Mr Banks, the story of Walt Disney's struggle with PL Travers to get the rights to Mary Poppins. It was good, but a bit frustating. Every time somebody blinked, the narrative switched from the 1960s to the 1910s, or back again. Could have done with spending more than ten seconds in each one at a time. Also Colin Farrell was in it. Despite that, it was nicely done, and an interesting story. And Bradley Whitford was in it too, which helped to counteract Colin Farrell to some extent. I've been singing Mary Poppins songs ever since though, so it may have been a mistake.

Top five artists for the last seven days, according to last.fm:

01. Chuck Berry
02. Madness
03. Huey Lewis & The News
04. Duran Duran
05. Oasis

I know. I'm so modern and up to date.
I guess by now everybody knows that yesterday we lost Chuck Berry. Anybody with an interest in popular music knows what an important figure he was, so there's no point in running over that again (John Lennon said that it all started with Chuck Berry, and he wasn't far wrong). But like any other form of evolution, there's no clear cut moment when jazz, blues and gospel became rock and roll. Just as there's no set moment in time when you can point to dinosaurs becoming birds - rather a whole slew of intermediary fossils charting the progression over millennia - so it is with music. Chuck Berry - and Little Richard, and Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis despite his different instrument - were all influenced by a formidable lady named Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and now seems as good a time as any to share a little music. So there's a couple of songs beneath the cut. If this doesn't make you smile today, it's a fair bet nothing will!

... )
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