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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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Categories
Indie Rock New Wave Post Punk Synth Pop

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): The Fall – Hit The North

Day 30. I’ve become kind of caught up in the excitement & humour of the Twitter account-cum-Political Party, the Northern Independence Party (or NIP) & the prospect of it achieving a small amount of success in the form of some councillors & maybe an MP or two. They’re already standing former Labour MP Thelma Walker in the upcoming Hartlepool by election, a seat which Labour has held since 1945 & which Sir Keir “Keith” Starmer (aka – The Abstainer) is likely to lose to the most corrupt & murderous UK government in living memory. Sadly, the electoral commission is saying that NIP failed to register on time (as a legit political party, that is). They are however pressing on with their campaign, only standing their candidates as independents for the time being.

On another of the fledgling party’s social media posts, they asked their followers what song should become a free North’s anthem. I could think of no finer a song to fill this position than this rowdy & romantic New Wave classic by Mancunian Post Punk heroes, The Fall. I hope you’ll agree.

Hit the North
Hit the North
(Hit the North) my Cat says eeeee-ack
Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North

Ninety-five percent of hayseeds
(Hit the North) are corn-pones, guaranteed
Hit the North
Computers and fashion hotels
Cops can’t catch criminals
But what the heck, they’re not too bad, they talk to God 
Religious

Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North

Manacled to the city
Manacled to the city (hit the North)

All estate, all es, all estate agents alive
Yell down nights in hysterical breath
Those Northern Lights, so pretty
Those big big big wide streets
Those useless MPs
Savages

Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North
(Manacled to the system) Hit the North

From the back third eye psyche
The reflected mirror of delirium
Eastender and Victoria’s lager
The induced call, mysterious
Comes forth

Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North

Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North

Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North
Hit the North

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Experimental Literature Post Punk

The Mark E Smith Guide to Writing Guide (Video & Transcript)

What follows is a short spoken segment which Mark E Smith, reluctant Working Class Autodidact & erratic frontman of The Fall, recorded for Greenwich Sound Radio in 1983. Smith was already becoming respected for the poetic & eccentric content of his band’s lyrics (see The N.W.R.A below), which he whittled down from huge blocks of prose written with a similar methodology to Kerouac’s Spontaneous Prose technique.

Here we hear Smith not only giving an insight into his writing process (about 50/50 chance of being serious) but also some poetry. Please enjoy the audio & the transcript I have provided below. The section which describes the process was taken from here, while the poetry & prose which follows was transcribed by myself.

Hello I’m Mark E. Smith and this is The Mark E. Smith ‘Guide To Writing’ Guide.

Day-by-day breakdown

Day One: Hang around house all day writing bits of useless information on bits of paper.

Day Two: Decide lack of inspiration due to too much isolation and non-fraternisation. Go to pub. Have drinks.

Day Three: Get up and go to pub. Hold on in there a style is on its way. Through sheer boredom and drunkenness, talk to people in pub.

Day Four: By now, people in the pub should be continually getting on your nerves. Write things about them on backs of beer mats.

Day Five: Go to pub. This is where true penmanship stamina comes into its own as by now, guilt, drunkenness, the people in the pub and the fact you’re one of them should combine to enable you to write out of sheer vexation. To write out of sheer vexation.

Day Six: If possible stay home. And write. If not go to pub.

Using this method, this is a poem I wrote called London.

(Mock American Accent) I’d just got over to London, get me a pint of your fine old British ale.

London.

Decadent backbone of former empire.

Spittle chinned Southerner looking forward to next holiday.

Digitale Croydon, fourteen pound per hour.

An immigration backlash type situation here

And there’s an Indian clerk in the backroom with a literature degree,

His boss is a roofed architect over-bathed, intense.

Project Victoriana Punish,

His clothes are flapping United Nations:

Japanese pants, odd boots, Euro shirts.

Is no shirt, his mind is Parisian

Fifties situationist

and ‘neath his designs you have no choice,

Stay where you are.

He is looking down on you from his tech drawing board.

Take the chicken run, run to the bog

You can do it

Do not

Warning! rumours of grey cancer builders greatly exaggerated

Manchester.

Dear TV Times,

Your majesties, I have concocted, through the noble invention and the blarney craft of the humble Northener, a system where by constant annoyance by the telephone can be erased. This entails explosive charges, left to me by a dead sailor from Bury, being wired up under every windowsill, close proximity to my ears. When phones ring and are inconvenient to the ears I just press table lamp-like what next to my bed and they blow up. I got the idea from a book.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Reg Varney.

Please note: all herbs is available from P.O. Box 935 GTV Manchester. Once you get a bit of pain I was splitting myself, them hilly-billies.

Manchester is

Manchester ship

cringing for punishment

As promised above. It’s good to read the lyrics as you listen. The Annotated Fall also has some great notes on them.

When it happened we walked through all the estates, from
Manchester right to, er, Newcastle. In Darlington, helped a large
man on his own chase off some kids who were chucking bricks and
stuff through his flat window. She had a way with people like that. 
Thanked us and we moved on.

‘Junior Choice’ played one morning. The song was ‘English
Scheme.’ Mine. They’d changed it with a grand piano and turned
it into a love song. How they did it I don’t know. DJs had
worsened since the rising. Elaborating on nothing in praise of
the track with words they could hardly pronounce, in telephone
voices.

I was mad, and laughed at the same time. The West German
government had brought over large yellow trains on Teeside docks.
In Edinburgh. I stayed on my own for a few days, wandering about
in the, er, pissing rain, before the Queen Mother hit town.

I’m Joe Totale
The yet unborn son
The North will rise again
The North will rise again
Not in 10, 000 years
Too many people cower to criminals
And government crap
The estates stick up like stacks
The North will rise again X4
Look where you are
Look where you are
The future death of my father

Shift!
Tony was a business friend
Of RT XVII
And was an opportunist man
Come, come hear my story
How he set out to corrupt and destroy
This future Rising

The business friend came round today
With teeth clenched, he grabbed my neck
I threw him to the ground
His blue shirt stained red
The north will rise again.
He said you are mistaken, friend
I kicked him out of the home

Too many people cower to criminals
And that government pap
When all it takes is hard slap

But out the window burned the roads
There were men with bees on sticks
The fall had made them sick
A man with butterflies on his face
His brother threw acid in his face
His tatoos were screwed
The streets of Soho did reverberate
With drunken Highland men
Revenge for Culloden dead
The North had rose again
But it would turn out wrong
The North will rise again

So R. Totale dwells underground
Away from sickly grind
With ostrich head-dress
Face a mess, covered in feathers
Orange-red with blue-black lines
That draped down to his chest
Body are a tentacle mess
And light blue plant-heads
TV showed Sam Chippendale
No conception of what he’d made
The Arndale had been razed
Shop staff knocked off their ladders
Security guards hung from moving escalators

And now that is said
Tony seized the control
He built his base in Edinburgh
Had on his hotel wall
A hooded friar on a tractor
He took a bluey and he called Totale
Who said, “the North has rose again”
But it will turn out wrong

When I was in cabaret
I vowed to defend
All of the English clergy
Though they have done wrong
And the fall has begun
This has got out of hand
I will go for foreign aid
But he Tony, laughed down the phone
Said “Totale go back to bed”
The North has rose today
And you can stuff your aid!
And you can stuff your aid!

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Categories
Journalism Links Literature Politics

Closing Tabs: Link Library #1

I needed to close some tabs on Safari on my iPad & I realise that I have read these various articles & poems but not closed tabs because I don’t want to lose them. Maybe I’d like to refer back to them or reread them later. I could bookmark them, I know, but I thought it would be nicer to share them with my readers. Hopefully you can find something interesting here. Knowing the way I “collect” open tabs like this, I’m sure this won’t be the only post like this. A couple of times a year (maybe more, maybe less), I’ll share what I’ve been reading.

Predicting a Pandemic: William Burroughs and COVID-19

Burroughs and Beats in Men’s Magazines: William Burroughs Appearances in Adult Men’s Magazines

Some Alternatives: Brands, Bands, Sell-Outs and Meltdowns Pt. I

Some Alternatives: Brands, Bands, Sell-Outs and Meltdowns Pt. II

Trump’s speech at CPAC was enough to haunt your most surreal fever dreams

Junk Media – Silver Jews: An Interview with David Berman

Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signalling you through the flames]

Clip-On Tie by David Berman (in The Baffler)

NUDE IN YOUR HOT TUB, FACING THE ABYSS (A LITERARY MANIFESTO AFTER THE END OF LITERATURE AND MANIFESTOS)

& for some now-forgotten reason (maybe related to Kentucky Route Zero?)

Robert Frost – The Death of the Hired Man

Categories
Ambient Art Pop Electronic Music Experimental Song of the Day Triphop

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): Björk – All Is Full Of Love

Day 29. The video for this great tune by Björk is sadly age restricted. I do include it below though you’ll have to be logged into YouTube to watch it. The official audio on YouTube is also included below.

It’s one of my favourite tunes by Björk, a sensual downtempo piece which calls to mind the halftime rhythms of Dubstep as much as the murky electronica of Trip Hop. Great video too.

You’ll be given love
You’ll be taken care of
You’ll be given love
You have to trust it

Maybe not from the sources
You have poured yours
Maybe not from the directions
You are staring at

Twist your head around
It’s all around you
All is full of love
All around you

You just ain’t receiving (All is full of love)
Your phone is off the hook (All is full of love)
Your doors are all shut (All is full of love)
And be the little angel (All is full of love)

All is full of love (All is full of love)
All is full of love (All is full of love)
All (All is full of love)
All is full of love (All is full of love)
All (All is full of love)

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Indie Rock Rock Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

Day 28. Another one influenced by Disco Elysium here. This song doesn’t appear in the game, as such, but appears as one of several easter eggs within the game which reference Manic Street Preachers song titles & lyrics. In the game world, the song was the anthem of a past Communist revolution in the main city, Revachol. An old man who fought during said revolution sings (or speaks, it isn’t voice acted) the opening lines of the song to you. When you ask him how the rest of the song goes, he says: “Something about shooting rabbits? I don’t remember.”

The song was originally written about the Spanish Civil War & became the Manic Street Preachers first number one single in the UK. The song is the longest song title (without using parenthesis) to ever reach the number one spot. It is, as far as I can ascertain, the only UK number one single to address the Spanish Civil War too, although I remember, at the time it was released, journalists saying that The Clash did it better with Spanish Bombs. I’m not sure where I stand on this.

The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold
So if I can shoot rabbits
Then I can shoot fascists

Bullets for your brain today
But we’ll forget it all again
Monuments put from pen to paper
Turns me into a gutless wonder

And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next

Gravity keeps my head down
Or is it maybe shame
At being so young and being so vain?

Holes in your head today
But I’m a pacifist
I’ve walked La Ramblas
But not with real intent

And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next

And on the street tonight an old man plays
With newspaper cuttings of his glory days

And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, ah

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, ah

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Dream Pop Indie Rock New Wave Pop Post Punk Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): The Jesus & Mary Chain – Head On

Day 27. This is actually the second time this particular song has appeared during a Song of the Day series. The first time was during the Cover Versions series, in the form of the excellent cover by Pixies. This original version is a solid piece of dark Post Punk Pop, late ’80s style. The Reid brothers are on top form here. Stylish synthetic bass rhythms & stupendous rhythms are central to the composition, with the distorted swirls of electric guitar adding colour depth.

As soon as I get my head around you
I come around catching sparks off you
I get an electric shock from you
This secondhand living just won’t do
And the way I feel tonight
I could die and I wouldn’t mind
And there’s something going on inside
Makes you want to feel
Makes you want to try
Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky
And I can’t stand up
I can’t cool down
I can’t get my head off the ground
As soon as I get my head around you
I come around catching sparks off you
And all I ever got from you
Was all I ever took from you
Yeah, the world could die in pain
And I wouldn’t feel no shame
And there’s nothing holding me to blame
Makes you want to feel
Makes you want to try
Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky
And I’m taking myself to a dirty part of town
Where all my troubles can’t be found
I said yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
And I’m taking myself to a dirty part of town
Where all my troubles can’t be found
Makes you want to feel
Makes you want to try
Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Folk Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): British Sea Power – The Smallest Church In Sussex

Day 26. Tonight I finished my first playthrough of the incredible detective RPG Disco Elysium. It has a soundtrack by British Sea Power, who I love, & there is a scene in which the main protagonist sings an altered version of this song entitled ‘The Smallest Church In Saint-Saëns’. I’ve included this version below for the curious. The vocals are by the protagonists Ancient Reptilian Brain.

I would often go there
To the tiny church there
The smallest church in Sussex
Though it once was larger

How the rill may rest there
Down through the mist there
Toward the Seven Sisters
Toward those white cliffs there

I would ofter stay there
In there tiny yard there
I have been so glad here
Looking forward to the past here

But now you are alone
None of this matters at all

Looking for some great music? Check out the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Folk Indie Rock Pop twee

Belle & Sebastian Black Sessions 1998

I felt the need to share this VHS-rip of a full Belle & Sebastian set from 1998 because it is, quite frankly, marvellous. The band were at the peak of their powers during this period & the set includes songs from their first three albums and EP’s.

The sound quality has a few issues at times, being a rip of a VHS tape which was recorded from the TV 23 years ago, but is generally quite good. Well worth the few minor imperfections.

Tracklist:

1 The Boy Done Wrong Again

2 Dog On Wheels

3 Paper Boat + Seeing Other People

4 Century Of Fakers

5 I Know Where The Summer Goes

6 Mayfly

7 The Wrong Girl

8 Dirty Dream Number Two

9 Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son

10 Slow Graffiti

11 I Don’t Love Anyone

12 Sleep The Clock Around

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