Categories
Literature Poetry

Liminal Bridge

I thought I felt something brush past me
As I reached the escape velocity
Necessary
To escape the gravitational pull
Of gods.
In the dimly lit fuselage
Of the privately funded rocket
I stood shoulder to shoulder
With dead eyed depressives
Undiagnosed
Who should be social distancing
In this fading future.

When the big dumb boosters lit up
We found the systems
Syncing our cloud data
When we needed them the most.

Every week we drift further and further
From the promise of sepia:
The genius of photography,
The dust clouds of eternity.
Bloody red nebulae &
Radio chatter
The ‘Wow!’ Signal,
Orbiting Soviet spheres that bleep
& chemical dependencies
That help us to sleep.

In work-sore dead of night
I reach for prescription painkillers
On the dust covered nightstand.
Chemical dependency degenerates
Neural connections,
Enforces aphasia,
Panic and alarm, clenched fists,
Knuckles white in the confusion of morning,
Why is everyone in here?
Where am I?
Why am I here?

I’m wearing a cricket jumper
On Top Of The Pops
In 1990.

A solitary eyeball collapses
Crumples
Into a visionless organic mass.
Claws clenched like
Whitened knuckles,
Circling wings beating down
Dust storms rising into broken AC.
As we take off, the particles percolate
Into a swirling vortex of COSHH governed peril.

On orders from the old timers,
I throw some bleach around
Until they nod in approval.

White walls and cage doors,
Dragging Henry by the suction tube
Across familiarly patterned floors.
I’m wearing the carpet upon my chest.
Lights swing like ligatures
In the hospital heated mornings,
Flickering in the heat of neglect.
I eagerly anticipate
A fortnight of jet lag.
As I look on, heavy lidded eyes,
A fluorescent strip stutters and fades.

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Categories
Visual

Interesting pics & memes (Volume 1)

When I first began this blog, I started out by just sharing interesting pictures, memes and screenshots that caught my imagination or resonated with me in some way. Here is a kind of return to that format with some interesting, haunting or funny visuals found across the cyberscape we call social media.

More hauntological than anything but found in a Liminal Spaces group on Facebook.
Quality shitpost, found in a Punk shitposting group.
There’s a couple of layers to this one. Right Wing reactionaries in the US have been calling vaccinations Marxist/Communist etc. Big Bird tweeted (I know) a pro-vaccine statement on Twitter. Therefore, Big Bird is a communist.
Nice slice of nostalgia.
More nostalgia. The great Alexei Sayle, whose podcast you should certainly be listening to right now.
Finally, beautiful freeze frame from Star Trek: Lower Decks

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Categories
Art RPG Videogames Visual

13,000 SNES Sprites

I don’t particularly have anything to say about this incredible image, I just felt a need to share it. As a man of a certain age, this image which I saw on Facebook, then sourced to reddit, sparks a great deal of nostalgia in me. As a child in the ’90s, I had a SNES & can see many sprites from games I used to love such as Secret Of Mana & Final Fantasy VI.

Here’s a link to the original reddit thread on r/retrogaming.

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Categories
Fiction Literature

GC/BC

Something a little different from me today. Some microfiction. I hope you like it & let me know if you’d like to see more of this kind of thing. Cheers.

The good cop bad cop dynamic was thought to be the surest route to a bloodless coup, but reality like battle plans, rarely survives contact with the enemy. The two cops who exited the cruiser and strolled nonchalantly to the stopped car were huge, imposing units. They couldn’t, however, have been any different to each other if they’d tried. One had the predatory grace of a great white shark. Glinting eyes and jagged dagger teeth. His aspect was like death, animals dispersed and fled where he walked. The other was like a calm, contemplative elephant. Slowly striding forward, chewing tobacco in a languid jaw motion. His aspect was life. Cheerful demeanour of a spring morning postman. If he wasn’t chewing tobacco, he’d almost certainly be whistling. The shark grinned like the reaper’s skull, the elephant smiled warmly.

As they approached the stopped car, it took off suddenly in a screech of burning rubber. Cool as a cucumber, the elephant unholstered his sidearm, aimed it and released the safety in one fluid movement. He squeezed the trigger gently and a bullet tore through the air before penetrating the rubber of the escaping vehicle’s rear right-hand tire. The car fishtailed wildly across the road before smashing with force into a lamppost, crumpling the front of the car inwards like a crushed beer can.

-Fucking hell Brian! said the shark, I’m supposed to be the bad cop.

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Categories
Literature Poetry Science Fiction

Taxidermy #2: Cyberpunk Hauntology

Another literary taxidermy I have worked on for the past several weeks. This time the first and last lines come from a novel rather than a song, William Gibson’s cyberpunk defining Neuromancer.

Taxidermy #2: Cyberpunk Hauntology

The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel,
Greyscale mashup of crusty pixels,
Launching the careers of a million YouTube video essayists,
Flickering lines in horizontal drift
Across convex surfaces of CRT screens.
With sunglasses affixed, like Mollys eyes,
I slide a cassette tape into my portable cyber deck
And flip
Back and forth
Through advertising pop-ups
For dating apps
& how to manage your crypto portfolio.
Flip.
The other side is games on tape,
Pixelated faces in two colours
Or two shades of the same colour.
He told me Molly was his soulmate,
In this semiotic swirl of neon billboards,
Fake tanned robots & whitened teeth,
She was the only thing that brought him joy,
He said,
The only thing he thought of as pure, good
Correct.
She tattooed a Molotov cocktail on her left cheek,
Just below the eye, the legend read:
“A toast to the rich.”
It’s all over social media:
Guillotines outside Bezos’ mansion,
Pitchfork & torch mob chasing down Musk,
Gates crucified,
Rihanna spreadeagled.
Molly licks her lips & cuddles up closer
To Kurt Cobain & Eugene Kelly.
Flip.
He had proper insomnia for the first time in months,
Propelled by podcasts & hope for denied futures,
Spectres haunting Europe in the sickly light
Of late-stage capitalism.
He thought I was a robot, for some reason.
Maybe it was my telescopic, go-go-gadget arms
Or my electrified hull.
Have you never seen a guy with tank tracks before?
Flip.
She said she’d take me anywhere,
Pasted in gum Arabic,
Monochromed by xerox
& stapled in a bedsit.
TS Eliot wanders in & asks me if it’s his.
Mayakovsky commodified
As social realism is used to self me junk food.
Here, in the desert of the real
The mirages take on the aspect
Of heroic scenes of miners at the coalface,
Writ in mosaic
On the marbled plinth
Of a six hundred foot Lenin statue,
Loyally guarding the industrial dock lands
From the predatory approaches
Of Union busters
& Pinkerton patrols.
Flip.
He found her next
At a union meeting, waving a red flag,
Armed & dangerous, bullets for bailiffs,
1312 carved into the stock of her rifle.
She smiled at him warmly & offered him coffee.
It was like a support group,
Name badged workers sitting in a circle
On plastic chairs.
“My name’s Colin & I’m a communist.”
“My name’s Andy & I’m an anarchist.”
We escorted the Nazbols out, at gunpoint.
All through the meeting
She made regular eye contact with him.
It reminded him of bus journeys
From petroleum-choked city centres
To endless fields of humming pylons,
Brutalist substations & grazing cattle.
Terraces & tower blocks giving way
To reservoirs & army bases.
Liminal transition:
Burial into Boards Of Canada.
The urban rain nestles up against
Bucolic pastoral mellotrons.
Flip.
It was here, amongst the effigies,
That they were finally separated.
Burning haystacks hummed
Like an overcharged oscillator,
Birds singing like circuit bent toys,
Folkloric mythology depicted in pixels.
My avatar is a pagan deity,
My alt anon account is a denizen of the underworld.
I see him running, mind scrambled
Like a CRT between two magnets,
Flickering lines of snow whisper prophecies
Foretold
In ancient hard drives.
I never saw which way Molly fled,
Or if she survived,
But he woke up screaming
In a soft walled room.
The medication soon soothed him.
Empty bliss of depersonalisation.
He never saw Molly again.

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Categories
Journalism Lists Pandemic Politics

Notes: things I don’t remember

So, this is basically a note I found on my phone, dated 20/04/2020, where I’d saved a bunch of memes, Tweets etc. alongside some records of conversations I actually had (with names changed to protect the [sort of] innocent). I think I intended to write something about the Pandemic, which I never started, & these notes were related to that. Obviously that date is the date of the last thing added, & some of the conversations recorded here definitely happened before the laughably light, & late, lockdown which came into effect in the UK on 23/03/2021.

Nothing I present here represents my own thoughts or feelings.

The title comes from the excellent song by Ugly Casanova, which I will include at the bottom of this post.

I don’t know if this is of interest to anyone, but I think that it offers a fascinating insight into the levels of horror, confusion & paranoia which I personally experienced, both in cyberspace & the meatspace. These notes represent a world in the grip of uncertainty, a far cry from the blasè acceptance of the pandemic & it’s deadly mismanagement of today, 18 months on.

You don’t expect this sort of thing in a country which voted overwhelmingly for dogmatic free market fundamentalists

[Gaslighting the population into confusion over the seriousness of this virus 🦠 a shambles with a serious agenda? ]

[the world became intoxicated with fame and glamour and lost the yardstick of true value. how can the guy who kicks a ball around a field be more valuable than the person who looks after your children? or the star of a movie franchise be worth more than the nurse who risks contagion to wash you and feed you when you are seriously ill and vulnerable? the person who performs the back breaking job of pulling the food from the ground that magically appears in your shopping trolley may be an itinerant EU worker but try living without him.. Time we all reassess what is important, and why???]

Roy: Dave, if I don’t come back from dinner it’s because some bastard has bought all the Irn Bru and I’ve topped myself.  

Roy: the state of the world now is that if McDonald’s closed some people wouldn’t eat at all. 

Me: that’s Darwinism in action.

Roy: yeah I agree, let them starve.

My aunties kids would starve cos that’s all she feeds them.

[Wife going into work at the bank people still not distancing, as I quote it’s my money and I’ll stand we’re I want.

They have not been given any ppe when money us unbelievable for carrying… and possibly bringing it home to there families]

[Ugh, I keep seeing parents of high school kids saying how “the government stole their babies year over some old people who’ll die anyway” and that they’ll put on a dance privately just to spite everyone.]

Roy: there’s this new virus in China

Comes from bats 

It’s so contagious that the doctors who were treating the sick guys even caught it through their hazmat suits

We’re all gonna get it anyway

Roy sweeping the lanes. Complaining about the large amounts of dust he’s inhaling.

me: hey silver lining, it’ll probably kill the coronavirus if you’ve got it

Roy: well, Turns out marijuana kills it. I’m probably immune.

Me to Bob: I wonder what Roy’s source is, that marijuana kills corona virus.

Bob: don’t know but I bet it’s website has got a cannabis leaf in its logo 

Above is based on a meme which shows a mock up live, breaking news broadcast. Made to appear like a BBC news broadcast. 

Alex: this is ridiculous 

Society is breaking down

I think it’s man made. My theory is that the economy is gonna collapse and that China will bail us out. They’ll buy us. 

J: it’s crazy. They’re closing things and banning things. I’ve got tickets to Disney land in three weeks.

Me: I’d get in touch with your travel insurance if I was you 

J: well we got it on credit card so we can get money back. It’s just daft though innit. There’s no need to close things. It’s probably not even real. 

Me: I think it’s actually a lot more serious than you think

J: yeah I guess. I’m just so confused. You don’t know what to believe do you. How do you know what’s real anyway? Is this real? I don’t know. 

*

J: what happens if we have to close down?

Generic Management Figure: name me one company that’s closed down

Jake: what?

Generic Management Figure: name me one. No company has had to close and none will.

Me: but it’s a possibility isn’t it. 

Generic Management Figure: yeah but it’s not very likely

Somewhere between Bladerunner and Soylent Green 

(Jason Manford, comedian: Sat watching the news with the kids when they announced “shoppers will only be able to buy 3 of any item”

My 7 yr old son “hang on, what about grapes?”

My hysterical daughters are now acting out the scenario of a shopkeeper giving 3 grapes to each shopper.

(Yes we’re going mad!))

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Categories
Indie Rock Literature Poetry

Taxidermy #1: Strength

I recently became aware of the concept of Literary Taxidermy. The general idea is that you take the opening & closing lines of a poem, story or book & write an entirely new poem, story etc. between them. Instead of following this formula precisely, I have written this poem using a lyrical couplet from one of my favourite songs, Zürich Is Stained by Pavement (see below). The opening couplet here is about self-doubt & the fear that you’re not as strong as you need to be. I took this theme & ran with it. I hope you like it.

As a side note, I know I usually post poetry on Slow News City, but as discussed in the recent post A few thoughts about the direction of this blog, my approach to what I share on my blogs is changing slightly. Thank you.

Taxidermy #1: Strength

“I can’t sing it strong enough.”
Well I might be able to,
No promises,
But I’ll give it a go.
Maybe I’ll be able to find new reserves
Of deepest, strongest strength to tap
Way down deep where I wouldn’t expect.
Maybe I’ll absorb that strength from others,
By osmosis while holding hands
Or shaking hands
Or hugs
Or fist bumps.
Maybe I’ll fall within the range
Of an area-of-effect buff
From one of my stronger,
More confident companions.
Maybe the strength I seek
Will be found in spirituality,
Although I must admit,
That is incredibly unlikely;
A long shot, to say the least.
Maybe I’ll find the strength I need
In the unshakeable belief
In my fellow man,
Solidarity in community
& rejection of competition.
Solidarity not selfishness,
Sacrifice in the face of solipsism.
Maybe the strength required
Can be found
In the wisdom of the dead,
Dusty library words,
Observances and inventions,
Artistic enlightenment
That gradually evolves
Into feelings of encouragement
& spasms of renaissance.
The worst-case-scenario, of course,
Is that there is no fresh,
Untapped well of superhuman strength,
External or internal,
Waiting for me when I need it the most.
No secret inner quality,
No unrealised ambitions
Or dormant skills.
Maybe there is nothing but weakness,
Doubt and disillusionment.
Maybe, just maybe,
“That kind of strength I just don’t have.”

 

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Categories
Literature

Remembering William S Burruoghs

Today marks the 24th anniversary of the passing of William S Burroughs. The hugely influential Postmodernist and key figure in the Beat Generation is loved and revered to this day, as much for his raw & paranoid prose as for his gruff, antiauthoritarian personality. His crowning achievement in literature is surely his nightmarish sequence of vignettes, Naked Lunch. The novel, which famously had to fight several bannings and an obscenity trial, was a nonlinear torrent of vile images and scenes, many taken from Burroughs own personal experiences as a hard drugs user.

As well as his feverish depictions of drug manias and psychoses, Burroughs is well known for his use of the fabled cutup technique which involved cutting up newspapers, magazine articles etc. and rearranging them to form new, bizarre prose. Burroughs believed that he was tapping into something here & potentially seeing glimpses of the future. This method, & Burroughs more generally, were a huge influence on many cultural icons going forward, most notably David Bowie. Lyrics to several of Bowies tunes were written using the Burroughs-esque cutup technique. A particularly great example of this is his Time of the Assassins, a cutup of a full issue of Time Magazine, in response to their review of Naked Lunch.

I myself became enamoured with the cutup technique and created several pieces of poetry using the style. See the Slow News City Poetry Index for links (Cut up or shut up #1-8). You can find a useful online cutup generator here, if you fancy having a go yourself.

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Categories
Blog News & Updates

A few thoughts about the direction of this blog

As I’m sure some of you will have noticed, the regularity of Scruffy Theory has dropped off in recent months as I have found other commitments intruding on my time. Between October & June I was completing the third module of my part-time BA in English Language and Literature, & so that took up an awful lot of my spare time. Sporadic blogposts did appear in those months though, most memorably, perhaps, The Mark E Smith Guide To Writing Guide, of which I am quite proud, and the tail end of the Chaotic Neutral series of my Song of the Day posts. Today I received my results for said module & am pleased to announce that I achieved a Distinction, so the hard work and blog neglect was potentially worth it. The next module begins in October.

In addition to this I have just taken on a freelancing job as a transcriptionist, as well as my manual day job. This takes up a lot of my time.

As a way of dealing with the time constraints faced, I am planning on broadening the scope of this blog to encompass some of my other interests. This broadening of horizons, I hope, will allow me to produce, perhaps fewer, but better, bigger pieces. I may, in the future, write posts about my experiences as a transcriptionist (while careful not to violate the non-disclosure agreement I was required to sign), my new found love of eScooters, & even some poetry & fiction that I am currently writing. I’d love to hear what regular visitors would think about these broadening horizons. Would you be happy to see fiction and poetry here? Or should I keep things like that in my other blog, Slow News City, despite it being a basic account and non-monetised? I simply cannot afford to upgrade a second account to Premium at this time.

Broadening horizons aside, one new series of posts I have been thinking about is one which explores the songs from the genres I love, & love writing about, which could be considered part of the genre’s canon. I’m planning to begin with Indie music, as that has been the main focus of this blog for most of it’s existence, but I am also looking at songs for Hip-Hop and Electronica series too.

Anyway, I’ve rattled on long enough for this post, & like I said I’d love to hear from you in the near future with any suggestions or ideas regarding the future of this blog & perhaps even ways of efficiently managing my time too.

Watch this space.

Tom

P.S. I’d like to take this opportunity to shout out to three of my friends who have sadly passed away this year.

Firstly, the excellent poet & storyteller, Adrian Spendlow (whose great blog can still be found here). A warm, loving human being who my partner & I greatly enjoyed spending time with. I will always remember how he loved to order the Pint of Prawns meal from one of our favourite food pubs, The Masons Arms. Sadly, I didn’t see him in his final year as he’d moved to America around a year before he passed away.

Second, there is my colleague from my day job, Julian Debenham. He was talkative & loved being the centre of attention. He was generous to a fault. You couldn’t enter a pub with him without him buying your drinks. Someone once gifted him My bloody Valentine’s three studio albums on vinyl & he didn’t like them. Knowing that I was a fan, he passed them straight on to me without a second thought. A lover of music, particularly folk & Nick Cave, he is missed greatly at my workplace.

Thirdly, there is Derek Rawnsley. I didn’t know Derek as well as the other two but I liked him a lot, nonetheless. He was married to a friend of mine & his loss is keenly felt. He was an Owl enthusiast & his wife gifted my partner & I one of his Owl statues to remember him by.

Rest in peace all.

Stay safe everyone.

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Categories
Electronic Music Experimental Pop Rock

Radiohead Japanese Kid A advertisement

Thanks to Redditor u/XtalHedphelym for uploading this excellent image.

I initially found this fantastic image on a Facebook group dedicated to the excellent Spookypasta known as The Backrooms. For me, this image doesn’t really get at the core characteristics of The Backrooms but it’s still a wonderful example of Radiohead’s satirical take on Capitalist Realism. The original post on Facebook incorrectly gave the date as 1997, potentially due to the font used for the bands name, though careful examination of the image after finding this better version of it on Reddit, confirmed the date to be 2000-2001. Hope you like it.

Here’s (probably) Radiohead’s most Backrooms energy track:

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