Archive for September, 2008

304 Pages Of Niceness Wrapped Up In A Cosy Quilt Of Nostalgia

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

I finally got around to writing a proper review of Bob Fischer’s wonderful Wiffle Lever to Full! today. To keep you amused until the next post (and it’s going to be a big one so bear with me!) here is that review as written for amazon.co.uk:

As I devoured ‘Wiffle Lever to Full!’ in its entirety over the course of about a week the book quickly climbed its way up to take its place among others in my mental list of favorite reads. I’d happily recommend this book to anyone and indeed I already have on numerous occasions. This isn’t just a book on science fiction, it’s about letting go of childhood, the transition into adulthood and that never ending desire to return to the people, places and things that made you happy when you were young. 

The overwhelming impression one gets from reading this book is just how plain nice Bob is. This isn’t the sort of book that mocks and derides a defenseless sub culture. Fischer loves the subjects of the conventions he attends and actually enjoys spending time with the weird and wonderful people who populate them. At the same time the book is not written from a bitter fan’s perspective. Bob love’s these films and television series but understands that you might not. He isn’t going to judge or deride you if your first impression of science fiction fandom is negative but he will do his best to win you over. If you purchase this book I’m sure he will.

Pooh Poohing My Ideas

Posted in Marx Brothers, Ramblings with tags , , , on September 23, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

One of the fantastic things about wordpress is that it allows you to see the search terms people are using on their way to your blog. Over the past week or so people seem to be really hungry for Winnie the Pooh. I thought I’d mention him again here as I am a shameless hit whore who craves more attention.

I’d like to draw your attention to the new site banner as well. Nothing too spectacular but it will do for now.

Repost: Bloody Buggering DJs

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , on September 15, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

Here is a piece originally posted on my Myspace blog back in March 2007. I was prompted to stick this one year as over a year and a half later there has been an interesting development!

It doesn’t take much to make me grumpy in a club. The loud noises, the sweat, the sticky floors and the general abundance of morons all seem to conspire to bring out the Harvey Pekar/Victor Meldrew misanthrope in me. One thing above all however really gets my goat; chopping off my ladeedaas. Let me explain. 

If one thing is guarenteed too lift me out of my miserable cloud of old buggery it is the sudden yet innevitable airing of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, a song that gets my heart and brain pounding. For some reason during its 3 minutes and 30 seconds duration I become a mindless happy parrot happy to belt out the lyrics at the top of my voice and force my legs to sway me around in what can only be described as an aprroximation of ‘dance’. It takes me to a happier place

So imagine there I am, here are my three and a half minutes of Drew Time and throughout this magnificant, soaring song I await my favorite part, the laadeedaas. You know, the bit at the end. UNFORTUNATELY it seems most DJs are lazy bastards incapable of turning the mix function off iTunes. This results in the last ten seconds or so of one song bleeding into the first ten of the next. Even if, heaven forbid, they aren’t using iTunes most seem to chop it off by choice! 

Why?! Are ten seconds really too much off anyones time? Can’t we wait ten seconds before hearing what some young woman wants up to do with ‘her humps, her humps, her lovely lady bumps’? The worst thing of all of course is that noone else seems to give a damn throwing into sharp relief the fact once more that I am indeed one very sad, strange, little man.

Oh well time to cheer myself up…

UPDATE: Now the reason I chose to repost this bit of waffle is that I recently checked my Myspace inbox. Apparently I haven’t done this since July 2008 as I found a message dated that far back. The message was from a nice American lady called Marcia who wanted firstly to compliment my taste in music (and that doesn’t happen often!) and secondly to share this rather lovely story.

I was going to write something about walking into a theatre during Queen’s soundcheck when I was 14 or 15, the roadies would leave the side doors open so soon me and some other friends realized we could walk in, and if anyone noticed — we’d usually sit near the mixing board, it just appeared as if we were somehow with the band…very young members of the crew or ??…generally the roadies would give us passes to hang around and we knew we’d have to make a fast exit at some point, to not be in an awkward situation…anyhoo…aside from memories of many years ago, and remembering how charming Brian May and Roger Taylor were, (Freddie winked…I think he knew we were crashing, but didn’t seem to mind) it was fabulous.

Now That’s What I Call Ukuleles 1!

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

I love Ukuleles. There’s something about the instrument that seems to attract talented and above all nice people to it. You’ll never hear of a Ukulele soloist who has let the fame go to his head. Perhaps to you, dear reader, the Uke only brings back nightmarish memories of George Formby. If that is the case then today is your unlucky day; here are some of my favorite Ukulele songs.

1) Ukulele – Loudon Wainwright III

What can I say about Loudon Wainwright III? The man is brilliant, every one of his albums has at least one song that I would describe as perfect and his ability to switch between the gloriously silly and the cripplingly heartbreaking is astounding. Everything about the man’s performance is entertaining; the words, the music, the facial expressions, the jokes, the wild leg gestures. Here we find ourselves firmly ensconced in the silly category. I’ve never heard this song done as well as when he performed it live at The Sage in Gateshead but this is the only officially recorded version I know of. It’s still bloody good.

2) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Watch this one and be astounded. It really demonstrates how beautiful this instrument can be when given the chance. Six uke’s, one guitar, perfection.

3) Tiptoe Through the Tulips

If you mentioned Ukuleles to an American in the 1970s chances are they would have thought of Tiny Tim. A true eccentric and believe it or not a true talent. If you don’t agree then there is no way I’m going to be able to convince you so just have a gander at the video.

4) A Million Ukuleles – MJ Hibbet

Here’s a song that defends the Uke to the hilt! I’ve met MJ and he’s yet another nice guy. He writes a lot of great songs including one, Hey Hey 16k, that became a surprise internet hit. There’s something about songs from a slightly nerdy guy who works in technical academia that I can identify with. I can’t imagine why.

5) Tonight You Belong To Me – Janet Klein

Klein projects an innocence that is just so endearing I could watch her play all day. Although her homage to the 1920s and 30s may be OTT I don’t think there is a hint of parody in her performance, she genuinely loves that period of history and music. This song too is a classic.

6) Life on Mars – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

To round things off here is another track from the Ukulele orchestra of Great Britain. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, and this is one of my favorite versions. I really must get around to seeing these guys live!

So, have I won over any converts?

* He actually played the banjolele more often than not so really there’s no need to worry!

How NOT to Use the Internet

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

The internet is a wonderful thing. It teaches, it entertains and it helps us communicate on a global scare. It is also however an unspeakably evil entity with the sole goal of making certain that I get no actual work done while it is around. It is all powerful, all consuming (It lives by digesting wasted moments and pointless clicks). There is no way of avoiding its traps but one can prepare oneself for the inevitable. If you are going to be ensnared you might as well make your stay at the hotel pointless as enriching as possible. Here are a couple of rules that may or may not help some poor lost soul out there.

1) Wikipedia is your friend

Don’t get me wrong, Wikipedia is evil too; it tempts you to click from one article to the next in an endless loop of interconnectivity that can only result in your death caused by malnutrition having not left the keyboard for two weeks solid.. It’s just that if you’re going waste your life clicking links you might as well be learning something at the same time. Sure you may end up losing your job, your home and eventually even the few pennies you have scrimped and saved to afford an hour in an internet cafe will not be enough to keep you only but at least you’ll know why famous synaesthete Bonnie Greer wrote a play about Ella Fitzgerald.

2) Forums are OK, to an extent

Forums are a great way to talk with like minded people about the stuff you love. Unfortunately they are also great places to get annoyed by cretins to the extent that you find most of your working day spent arguing IN CAPITALS about why Happy Feet sucked balls.

3) Nitrome is the Antichrist

Nitrome are the wonderful people who design and distribute free online games like Final Ninja, Mutiny, Skywire, Dirk Valentine, Toxic and Scribble. These are all excellent games, so excellent in fact that you will find yourself trying to complete all of the levels at the expense of any contact with the outside world. Avoid!

There are more rules that I am sure you need to know but I will conclude now with:

4) Blogs

When you have a book to write don’t spend half an hour writing a blog entry about any old bollocks.