I'm howling. Literally, I just spent fifteen minutes just howling. This is normal now; I just don't talk about it, except maybe I should.
I'm damaged, but Velma stuck with me. She understood me. Now she's gone. I'm alone. Every day, I'm silently in misery; I'm howling, but there's no one to hear, and even if there was, they'd leave (not that I'm mad about leaving; I'm grateful for every minute my friends and family spends with me).
I'm damaged. I'm alone. But mostly, Velma's gone. She's gone. We were going to spend the rest of our lives together, blissfully. We talked about what would happen if one of us died. It was an uncomfortable subject. I said, especially after the stroke, that I wasn't sure I could make it without her. That distressed her, and she always made me promise that I would at least try.
What reason should I live for? I know that eventually the hurt will ebb. But what should I live for?
I'm trying, Velma.
I dislike album titles that pun upon a person's name. It's very easy, usually, and most of the time it doesn't pun any further. Like most puns, it's child's play. (If you must pun on this entry -- I know that some people take it as a challenge -- please pun in at least two dimensions.)
But Roy Haynes, boy: I hope that the title of his 1992 album, When It's Haynes It Roars, wasn't his idea.
I know that every generation goes through their time of trouble when we realize that the world is different now, but really:
I've recounted more wrong "memories" than most, but that comes with having a lot up there in the first place! . . . The world will be a lot sadder place when people stop letting their mind run with their memory and instead (as too many colleagues are starting to do) start "verifying" everything with their smart phones, as opposed to just letting the conversation and the mental connections rip.
The next generation of phones will come with information-blockers, so people who want to can have their conversations artificially hindered by argument-enhancers, or "stoned phones".
That's what I said. I just found out. For the last three days, people's comments are getting posted on Parlando, but they aren't getting through to my email. WordPress still is set up fine, and I've been through my spam folder without finding anything. Frustrating!
edit: As soon as I complain, the email starts up again. I didn't do anything, except look at some of the obvious places. =scratch head=
"Just to re-assure you, we hate spam too. This email was sent to you because you have given giffgaff permission to contact you via this address."
Okay, keep this short.* Of course I haven't given them permission. Usually, I sigh and click the tiny "unsubscribe" link. Usually, that's all that's needed. (Of course, I always click on the "spam" button, just in case.) But sometimes -- and this time -- when it says "unsubscribe", you click though to a page that you can't "unsubscribe" at all (and, funny, almost always they claim that you have given them permission. Like maybe I've forgotten).
With a grim smile, I type "we hate spam" and "giffgaff" into Google. One try (ten Google links) and I know: Giffgaff doesn't do a simple "unsubscribe". Maybe, maybe Giffgaff will "unsubscribe" if I join (with a password, etc). Actually, I'm not sure even that will "unsubscribe" me. Phil Bradley's weblog:
No, I have NOT given you permission to contact me via this address - you just decided to, and didn't give me an option to tell you not to. That's SPAM.
However, I decide to close the account, or at least, stop them sending me stuff. So I go to the website, where they want me to log in, with my user name and password. Y'know - the ones that I don't have *because I hadn't joined their service*. So not much I can do there. However, they have a help forum. So I go along to that; I knew what would happen, and it did. 'Before you can post, you have to join with your user name and password.'
So let's go along to their Facebook site. I complain. The next thing that I know is they have sent me a link to change my password. Now of course, this is where it gets interesting. They have now given me the opportunity to take over one of their members accounts. I haven't hacked it or anything... they have GIVEN me the means to do this. Now, I have no idea what's in that account, and I'm not going to find out. But I know the phone number, since they provided me with that in the initial email. I could do lots of interesting things in the account though, I am sure.
So - not only do Giffgaff NOT validate email accounts, they spam, they have no proper method of contacting them, and they're giving me permission to get into a members account. These people are an absolute shower - and if you have anything to do with them, I'd run away quickly.
Very nice! Oh, here's another little happy Giffgaff, well, thing, per Lewis Curdie:
[T]he worst offender in my opinion was “Cheeky SIM in the post”. I’ll let giffgaff explain: “As giffgaff is all about keeping costs down, we rely on our members recommending giffgaff to their friends and family – that way we don't have to spend lots of money getting new members on board through glossy advertising campaigns.
“We were a little bit cheeky and popped an extra SIM in the post for you to pass on, just in case you had any friends or family who've just come off a mobile contract or paying too much on ‘Pay as you go'.
“Don't worry – this is just a one off, promise.”
I think they think that we'll admire them.
By the way: every time someone complains about this treatment, either in the community of Giffgaff or off, inevitably several people defend Giffgaff, and inevitably they're off the point** (i.e. "check your preferences", as though you are a member), and so far they haven't pointed complainers to a simple link, just gestured vaguely. If you're going to gesture vaguely, or post vague defense ("I like it their great!"), don't bother; it will be deleted.
*really, it was longer!
**that's assuming they are real, of course.
Every once in a while -- well, really, every day -- I read Twitter (for instance) to catch up on my old friends, and someone is writing about bike-riding, and suddenly I can feel it so much . . . I will never ride a bike again.
So many things.
Well. Then I pass on, thinking of something else. You can't dwell on it. But you can't make peace with it, either. (At least, I've never learned.) So think of something else.
* You can skip this.
Jerry Remy's** son has pleaded not guilty for murdering his girlfriend after he was released from custody for allegedly assaulting her:
[P]rosecutors described a brutal and determined attack, saying Remy assaulted Martel in the kitchen, living room, on a stairway and then pinned her to the ground in the patio where he stabbed her several times. Neighbors who tried to help Martel were driven back when Remy slashed at them [. . .] Remy was arrested at the scene, his clothes soaked in the victim's blood.
[. . .]
Remy has a violent criminal history, including a total of 15 criminal charges since 1998, according to Waltham court records. He has been accused of assaulting five people -- including four women -- and was involved in at least three restraining orders, including one in which he was the plaintiff.
[. . .]
His attorney, Peter Bella, said he was trying to figure out what happened leading up to Martel's stabbing, pointing out that his client had what could be described as defensive wounds. He called her death a tragedy.
"Defensive wounds"? Okay, he has to defend this guy, but if he succeeds in getting him off ("neighbors who tried to help Martel were driven back when Remy slashed at them"), he's brilliant.
* headline-ese is sometimes really awful
** former Red Sox second baseman and current broadcaster
I'm probably going to write again. Probably. It's very hard now, but I'm realizing that not writing is harder; so I must. Writing is my self-definition, and even though I suck right now (don't argue, it's true by my own definition), not writing would mean I'd be a different person, and, really, I don't know how.
My thoughts are scattered still. I'm sitting here, trying to gather them. They're mostly outside my grasp.
One thing: Sometimes I am very depressed. That's going to be my favorite thing to write about. Well, not being depressed, but the specific manifestations of my stroke. I certainly don't mind if you go away.
Looking for a man who "walks to a different drummer," "takes the road less traveled," and isn't afraid to say the emperor's naked, even when it isn't "politically correct." Are you my "free thinker"?
Today, just now in fact [well, nearly thirteen years ago, but anyway], I created a very impressive special effect, and I wish i hadn't. You know how corningware's supposed to be virtually unbreakable, except when it shatters spontaneously deep in the cupboard? Don't believe them. I'm housesitting for friends, and I wanted some beans and rice. Pulled out an appropriately-sized corningware pot, and went to the kitchen where the lids are propped on a wall unit. I carelessly pulled the right-sized lid, and it took the next-larger one with it; that lid crashed to the floor, and astonishingly (I wish I were in a position to admire this) crashed right through the pot I was holding. Corningware all over the kitchen floor to the atomic level. Me left holding a very sorry little corningware pot handle. Now I have to (heavy sigh) go clean it up.
And, naturally, this means that there is now a pot without a corresponding lid, and a lid without a corresponding pot. I'd worry about replacing them, but right now I DON'T GET TO HAVE ANY RICE AND BEANS.
And I am distressed. I loved zoos as a child, and Woodland Park Zoo was my second home. When the Nocturnal House opened, I was fascinated, and it immediately became my favorite. I went there for hours and hours. Now it's going to be closed, a victim of budget cuts. I guess I assumed that it would be open forever. Thank god I saw it last year with my family.
My roommate has a cat, Milo. A neurotic cat, but until recently within normal cat neurosis territory. But my roommate has begun a relationship that has him outside the apartment a great deal more than previously, and unfortunately Milo turns out to be a Desperately Needy cat, starved for attention after mere minutes of solitude.
I am friendly to cats, but allergic. Petting is out of the question; I swell up, choke, go blind, die a dozen unpleasant deaths. Milo begs for love, and though I cannot touch him, I speak to him kindly, endeavor to make him understand that his problems are heard, that he is appreciated and loved and that someday his master will return and shower him with the affection to which he is so manifestly entitled.
No more. Yesterday, as I prepared to meet my sweetheart to see a movie, the phone rang. My roommate's phone was closest -- he was gone, naturally -- and as I answered it, Milo ran up behind me and bit me on the fucking leg. Hard enough to draw blood. I whacked him with the phone receiver -- I'm sorry, but he was out of line -- yelled at him, poured disinfectant on the wound, and yelled at him some more. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was fucking freaked out; blood running down my leg, wound swelling, cat running around howling. Not fun.
Then Velma & I went to see Shadow of the Vampire. It was good and creepy, but I'm seeing Nosferatu in the cat's fuzzy face now.
I got yelled at by a turning trucker, for walking with the light but too slow. So I stopped in front of him, yelled at him, brandished my cane, told him I was disabled, etc. And he yelled even more. Eventually I moved on.
Boy, I blew up. I was walking fine, in a okay mood, then out of the blue this irritant came up, and I felt myself get instantly very mad; and I felt myself shake, even before I turned and yelled.
I think I have issues.
"Hunting has been banned in parts of Austria after freak storms with tennis ball-sized hailstones killed up to 90 per cent of the wild game population.
"Hundreds of deer were discovered either dead or so badly injured they had to be put down by wildlife experts.
"In the country's rural Salzburg province, 90 percent of pheasants and 80 percent of hares were killed in the hail storms.
"Sepp Eder, the hunting chief, said : 'Animals sought shelter in farms, in fields of grain but the hail was so heavy it smashed right into them. It may take five years for animal numbers to recover, if they ever do so.'
"Farmers are believed to have suffered more than £60 million in damages to crops and buildings."
via Ed Ward at the Well
In this YouTube clip, US Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) says that some congresspeople were told in private briefings that if they did not pass the bailout bill, circumstances would soon force the federal government to "impose martial law".
Americans, we have been shaken down for the money these people lost.
When presenting a short character, especially a short character presented negatively (as most of them are, and when they're not, they're presented as being extraordinary, which is almost worse), please resist the impulse to link height and character. This sort of thing isn't insight, it's second-hand pop psychology. If you throw Napoleon in there, it's also imbecilic.
The constant assumptions made about the psychology of short men (we're all insecure and overcompensating, don't you know), and the demonizing of traits that are admirable among the tall -- a short man isn't tough and no-nonsense, he's a ruthless bastard; he's not ambitious, he's power-hungry; he's not charming and charismatic, he's smarmy and slimy; he's not confident, he's arrogant and pushy -- aren't just cliches, they're offensive. Stop it.
Even an often well-meaning phrase like "making up for his physical shortcomings" is annoying, unless you're talking about being a fireman or something. The world throws constant shit at short men -- more than the non-short really comprehend -- so in that sense being short is a "physical shortcoming": in the same sense that it's a "shortcoming" to be female or non-white. But you wouldn't say of a character that she "made up for being a woman" or "made up for being black". At least, not any more (I hope).
From the excitable reviewer files at RateYourMusic:
I can't believe that there are people out there that don't like this. The Exploited paved the way for all the shitty bands that are out today.
Tom Nawrocki over at One Poor Correspondent yesterday wrote about Dave Marsh's bizarre assessment of Television's Marquee Moon in the 1979 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, a review that was still present in the 1983 edition he's quoting from. This provoked me to find the piece I wrote several years ago about the awfulness of the 1979 edition, and discovered that apparently I never reprinted the piece over here. So:
I've always found Dave Marsh's rock criticism dislikable, but revisiting the Rolling Stone Record Guide has deepened that dislike into contempt. It's an old edition, 1979, edited by Marsh and John Swenson; a blurb on the back advertises it as "witty, opinionated, and, above all, knowledgeable," and while a 33% truth score on a blurb isn't bad, anyone can have opinions and most people do; witty (and, above all, knowledgeable) would have been better.
Marsh has the most entries, naturally, and he seems to have taken particular delight in reserving to himself entries on famous or critically lauded artists whom he disdains. Many of the albums he puts down have since become widely accepted classics, which has the effect of making him look either brave or out of step with rock and roll, depending on how generous you feel. Any slack I might have granted him is vitiated by the needless bile of his putdowns, and the clunky predictability of his language; Pere Ubu's Dub Housing is labeled pompous, pretentious, and irrelevant, the last of which has been proven manifestly untrue; he also calls it "anti-rock for anti-rockers," whatever that means, though I gather if I like it I don't like rock, or something. Of Television Marsh writes that they were "somewhat mysteriously" "the most widely touted band to emerge from the New York New Wave"; Tom Verlaine was "an interesting Jerry Garcia-influenced guitarist who lacked melodic ideas or any emotional sensibility." Even his positive opinions frequently bewilder: Steely Dan, says Marsh, were "Not the greatest American rock band . . . but [they] remain unquestionably the weirdest." In 1979? Weirder than Talking Heads, Tin Huey, Pere Ubu, the Residents?
How about this judgment of Squeeze, then still U.K. Squeeze: "Not to be confused with U.K., this group produces anonymous, pedestrian hard rock of the same vintage as the other's. By the end of 1978, this band was so defeated it changed its name to the simpler Squeeze." You may recall that immediately after this ignominy Squeeze turned out "Pulling Mussels from the Shell" and "Another Nail in My Heart," two of the great modern pop songs. As U.K. Squeeze they had recorded "Cool for Cats," "Up the Junction," and "Goodbye Girl." Regardless of his idiotic assessment of their worth, though, his description is factually inaccurate: Squeeze are not a hard rock band by any definition and never were, and they sounded nothing like U.K., an art-rock band led by Eddie Jobson and Bill Bruford. Who is spelled Buford by this above-all-knowledgeable reference book.
Let's touch on that for a paragraph before returning to the invective. Rock and roll reference books are supposed to be opinionated, though by my yardstick the Rolling Stone Guide goes about four feet too far. While the Spin and the Trouser Press record guides certainly pursue agendas -- the Trouser Press guide less so -- the trade is supposed to be accurate information. A book that neither gives you a reasonably objective view of bands' relative importance nor accurate information is worthless. Basic errors abound in the Rolling Stone Guide, from editorial errors such as listing Pere Ubu under U, to discographical errors such as describing Richard Thompson's Live (More or Less) as including his first solo album (it doesn't; it includes Richard & Linda Thompson's I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, which is neither solo nor his first album after leaving Fairport Convention). The book is also fundamentally flawed by only including albums that were in print at the time the book was published, leaving gaping holes in many artists' discographies; inexplicably, everyone's albums are listed in alphabetical rather than chronological order.
But the saddest thing about the book is Marsh's pathetic invective. When putting down his betters he embarrasses himself, but he doesn't even redeem himself with his dismissals of true stinkers; he just isn't very clever or original or vivid, rarely rising above high-school newspaper level. A few examples of insult on automatic: "Laid-back drivel from the former Eagle. [Randy Meisner in this case.] Makes John David Souther sound like Led Zeppelin." "Great title for a hot delta blues band. Too bad this isn't it -- or much of anything else, for that matter." "Hard rock at its most wrongheaded and overweening, and without either rhythm or emotion." "Your usual mid-seventies rock: dull and conservative." "Dreary seventies funk." Each of these is an entire band summary, by the way. The string of insults hurled -- well, lobbed -- at various incarnations of the Osmonds achieves a kind of wretched somnambulance: "Well-crafted garbage -- trash is too elevated a description," "Wretched excess, accent on the wretched," "All of them deserve to be melted," "Epitomizes stupidity."
Then there are the ones that are outright clumsy, windbaggy, and smarmy: "Talking about half of the Righteous Brothers is like talking about one Siamese twin, and listening to one is little improvement." "Dabbles in Caribbean rhythm, with essential purposelessness." "Yes, [Stella Parton is] Dolly's sister. No, they don't have anything in common, musically or (ahem) physically."
Ugh, I can't go on. As a critic, Marsh is a blowhard, and he's entitled to be one (and I to ignore him). But as a reference book editor he's an irresponsible, offhand fathead. A snide dismissive review is only an act of contempt for one band, but a shoddy reference book is an act of contempt for everyone who bought the book trusting the Rolling Stone name. Rolling Stone should be ashamed. (Edited to add: To be fair, later editions of the Record Guide are far more responsible and useful.)
I'm going to start collecting instances of music writers dismayed at the bad taste of their idols. Musicians frequently display more open-mindedness about music than the people who write about them -- not just more adventurousness, but more open admiration for uncool music, and less inclination to care what others think; more willingness to take music on its own terms, and to unironically give themselves over to the music they enjoy.
This one's several years old, and I can't even find a byline on it: a piece in the Telegraph celebrating the re-release of the obscure 1975 Phil Spector-produced Dion album Born to Be With You. The piece hovers between the writer's admiration for the album and conviction of its neglected classic status, and Dion's utter indifference toward it. Ultimately the story becomes more about Dion's polite disinclination to talk much about the album, and an air of sad head-shaking by the author takes over; by the last three paragraphs, the author's word choices and quote selections make it clear that Dion is pitiable:
...It is certainly an anomaly next to both his pre-1975 catalogue of intuitive, streetwise New Yoik rock'n'roll and his post-1975 descent towards his doo-wop roots via gospel and Christian music. Dion "found it" with Born to Be with You, but lost it too.
Today, Dion wants to talk about religion, his daughters, The Wanderer - anything but Born to Be with You, basically. "This week, I had dinner with some dear friends and we talked about how we could be better at loving our wives," he tells me, apropos of nothing. "Life is great. I give thanks every day for being alive. We're all snowflakes, y'know."
Poor Dion descends from "streetwise" to religion, family, happiness; in case you were wondering whether the author wanted you to think Dion "lost it", the author spells it out for you, and chooses a presumed inanity ("We're all snowflakes, y'know") as the last thing we hear out of Dion's mouth, a deliberate bit of manipulative tone-setting. Also note the "apropos of nothing": presumably Dion thought it was apropos of something, though we don't know what he was responding to; we do know that it isn't what the author wants him to be interested in, therefore apropos of nothing.
I said last three paragraphs, but I only gave you two. This was the capper of the piece:
Fine. But then he really, really shocks and appalls me: he tells me that he likes the music of Alanis Morissette. Final confirmation, perhaps, that it was some higher power, and not Dion, who sang those songs after all.
Poor fanboy writer, whose idol loves his wife and daughters and Jesus and Alanis Morissette. This can't possibly be the same man who made the music the writer loves. Final confirmation, perhaps, that the writer can't learn anything he doesn't already know.