Category Archives: Music

My sentiments exactly

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I’ve got my socks on!

Regular readers of this blog may recognise the name ShayCarl from my post about an upcoming film called ‘Vlogumentary’ and my first life update. For those who don’t, he is a vlogger on YouTube who films himself and his family (known as the Shaytards) every day, and has done so for the past 4 and a half years. He has done a hell of a lot for my partner and myself through his daily updates, as his general outlook on life has given us both inspiration and has helped us to plan our life and our goals out in ways we would never have imagined before we started to watch them. Well, about a year ago Shay begun to sing on one of his vlogs about the socks he was wearing, and from that innocent seed there has grown a range of ShayCarl Argyle sock merchandise and now this- the music video for the song. I just thought that I’d share it as it is so fantastic, and it may bring a smile to your face as it did to mine! Also, both of my children now dance around the house every time we play it to them, and our eldest (aged 3) knows most of the words! If you like it, thumbs up the video!

If any of you want to subscribe to the Shaytards on YouTube, the link is in the text above and also below, as well as the families individual channels, which are here aswell:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SHAYTARDS

http://www.youtube.com/user/shaycarl

http://www.youtube.com/user/ShayLoss

http://www.youtube.com/user/katilette

http://www.youtube.com/user/WhenTheKidsGoToSleep

http://www.youtube.com/user/HeyKayli

http://www.youtube.com/user/caseylavere

And if you want a pair of the socks: http://www.rodeoarcade.com/collections/shay-carl 

 

 

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The discontinuity with Penguin Classics

In my last post, I mentioned and showed that my partner and I received our copy of Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ through the post on Thursday, the day of its release. Since its publication was announced, the biggest debate has been around the decision by Penguin to release the volume as a ‘Classic’, complete with the famous black livery. It was a condition of its publication that it would be issued as such, but this has provoked fury from many people due to the book having only just been released, and so not qualifying as a ‘Classic’ on the basis of the usual criteria ie age, importance and popularity. People have also stated that perhaps the ‘Penguin Modern Classics’ imprint would be more fitting, as the ‘Classics’ brand is reserved for texts that are pre-1900. However, I would like to take a moment to show several ways in which this decision is actually not a strange one by Penguin, by looking at some of their other books in print.

I said in the last post that I have recently started to read Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, and so I will start with this.

HoD MCThe cover on the left is the Modern Classics version of this book that I have (well, mine is the 2000 edition without the white band, but otherwise it’s the same), and the other two are earlier Modern Classics editions. Now.

HoD CHere we have four editions of ‘Heart of Darkness’ (with ‘The Congo Diary’ in the third case) all from the Penguin Classics series. I can see where Penguin are coming from: the story was first published in serial form in 1899, and so falls under the ‘Classics’ brand, but was then published as a book in 1902- thus a Modern Classics.

Another case, this time E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’, written 1913-14, and published in 1971.

EMF MThe first two covers are from Modern Classics, with the third a Classics version. Similar images can be found for all of Forster’s works, with both Classics and Modern Classics editions available.

t s e t wThen there’s this: ‘The Wasteland and Other Poems’ by T.S.Eliot. Interestingly, this great work of Modernist literature has been published as a Classic by Penguin and not a Modern Classic. This is also the case with James Joyce- my edition of ‘Ulysses’ is a Modern Classic, but my copy of ‘Dubliners’ as shown in a previous post is part of one of the previous series of Classics. I could go on with similar examples.

Another issue that has been had is with Morrissey’s book being a new book, and having not already been out before. Well, Penguin do also have a knack of publishing previously unpublished works as Classics and Modern Classics too. For example:

Truman Capote Summer CrossingThis recently unearthed early manuscript by Capote was published for the first time in 2006 as a Penguin Modern Classic, despite not actually being a classic at this point. It could be argued that it was by a classic author, but… the book still wasn’t technically a Modern Classic. The same could be said for the published letters or diaries of famous authors which then get released as part of the Classics range.

Personally, I feel that Penguin are perhaps making an interesting choice publishing ‘Autobiography’ as a Classics, but unlike some people, do not feel that it is such a strange thing for them to do. Perhaps a Modern Classic would have been more appropriate, but some form of classic status is not unfitting. The lyrics of The Smiths could be published as Modern Classics, which by Penguin’s interesting logic (as demonstrated here) would then make this autobiography an automatic classic. Or perhaps we can now have the lyrics of The Smiths published as a Classic on the back of this. Only time will tell!

autobiographymorrissey_lrg

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Bowie’s top 100 books

Bowie books

Image: George Underwood

I don’t know if anyone has come across this, but a list has been published of David Bowie’s top 100 favourite books, in no particular order  (although some aren’t technically books i.e. ‘The Beano’ and ‘Private Eye’), and I thought that I’d include it on here incase anyone is interested, and so as I can point out how many of them I’ve read. Spoiler alert: It’s not many. Those that I’ve read are preceded by an *; those that I own a copy of but haven’t read yet, are marked ^, and those which I hope to buy a copy of, are preceded by ^^. I haven’t reformatted this list to match the lists of my new purchases, as- well. There’s too many to individually alter around, frankly. Sorry!

Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Room At The Top by John Braine
On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
*A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
City Of Night by John Rechy
The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
*Iliad by Homer
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
David Bomberg by Richard Cork
Blast by Wyndham Lewis
Passing by Nella Larson
Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
^^The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
Black Boy by Richard Wright
*The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
*The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
McTeague by Frank Norris
^Money by Martin Amis
The Outsider by Colin Wilson
Strange People by Frank Edwards
English Journey by J.B. Priestley
A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
^1984 by George Orwell
The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
*Beano (comic, ’50s)
Raw (comic, ’80s)
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
The Street by Ann Petry
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
The Bridge by Hart Crane
All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
^^Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
*In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
^^Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Teenage by Jon Savage
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Viz (comic, early ’80s)
*Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
^^Inferno by Dante Alighieri
A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
The Insult by Rupert Thomson
In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

^^On The Road by Jack Kerouac

As you can see, there aren’t many of The Dame’s top 100 that I’ve read, but I have to say that the vast majority of these I’ve never heard of, to be honest. I will endeavour to look quite a few of them up, though, to see if they are worth pursuing at all. I’ve separated the last book on the list, as I’ve been reading up on this recently and am very intrigued by the ‘scroll’ manuscript of this that was produced- just for the sheer unusual nature of the document and the strange beauty that it possesses. Also, this is on my list of books to try and get a copy of soon; I don’t know why- I just fancy reading it.

Anyhoo- feel free to comment with your thoughts on any of these books, and if you can tell me more about what some of them are about, this would be greatly appreciated!

 

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Yes! Yes! Oh, Morrissey; YES!!!

OH YEAH! You may remember my post regarding the delay to Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’. Well, I’ve just seen on Penguin’s site that this is now to be released on the 17th October, and will be released as a Penguin Classic. That is both myself and my partner who are two very happy little Mozza-loving bunnies.

Smile 1

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Stoke-on-Trent: The city that died

While talking to people at the graduation, I realised that many of them didn’t really know much about the place I come from, and so I thought that as most of my followers and visitors on here are not from the UK, you probably know even less about it. As I said in my post Life Update #1, both myself and my partner come from Stoke-on-Trent, which is a city in the Midlands. The place is most famous for its ceramics industry that made the city known across the world as ‘The Potteries’, with the likes of Wedgwood, Spode, Minton, Royal Doulton (despite originating in London), Moorcroft, Clarice Cliff and Steelite all being based here. During the city’s peak, there were several thousand pottery companies producing wares, of varying size, production capacity and renown. However, this image off the ‘Telegraph’ website sums up the state of the pottery industry in the city now…

SoT from Telegraph

Behind that mound of rubble can be seen the tops of two structures known in Stoke as ‘bottle ovens’, and these are (or were) the defining features of the region’s skyline. These kilns were once part of pottery factories (or ‘pot banks’), being the actual ovens in which the ceramics were fired, and in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, came to dominate the city.

An 1898 OS map showing a small area of Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, with bottle ovens marked in red.

An 1898 OS map showing a small area of Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, with bottle ovens marked in red.

Several images of the Stoke-on-Trent skyline in the 19th century.

Several images of the Stoke-on-Trent skyline in the 19th century.

With the decline of the pottery industry due to cheap foreign produce and the increasing appeal of sending manufacture to the Far East, many of these kilns have been demolished, leaving the handful that are left as Listed structures and important symbols of the region’s past, as well as emblems that the place can use to define itself.

Indeed, the City of Stoke-on-Trent is an interesting one that is not easy to define. From 1910 until 1925, it was a borough, made up of the ‘Six Towns’ of differing administrative and district status: Burslem, Hanley, Stoke (or Stoke-upon-Trent), Tunstall, Fenton and Longton, and numerous smaller settlements and areas. Then, in 1925 it gained City status, with Hanley becoming the main commercial centre of the city. Stoke retained the administrative and religious focus, but the former is now also being moved to Hanley, with the latter being pretty much all that is in Stoke itself besides a railway station. Stoke (the town- the city is confusingly refered to as simply ‘Stoke’ too) was where the first church was built in the region in the 7th century, with the name ‘Stoke’ or ‘stoc’ referring to a ‘place’. This has been interpreted as being a holy place, but may have also been a farm, or a crossing place where two roads meet. However, there are remains of a Saxon church and stone cross in Stoke town, near the site of the present Minster Church of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Out of all the towns, Burslem was the most prolific for ceramic production, becoming known as the ‘Mother Town’ of the Potteries, and it is here that the earliest evidence for pottery production in the city has been found, dating back to the medieval period. This was found by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ when they came to excavate on the site of Josiah Wedgwood’s first factory, the Ivy House Works, in Burslem town centre in 1998, and I’m on the end of the programme in the crowd, madly waving!

These images are incredibly naff, but are about all I can find on the web from the 'Time Team' dig in Burslem. I have my own images from the tiem, but can't put my hand on them at present. Note the late great Prof. Mick Aston in stripey fleece.

These images are incredibly naff, but are about all I can find on the web from the ‘Time Team’ dig in Burslem. I have my own images from the time, but can’t put my hand on them at present. Note the late great Prof. Mick Aston in stripey fleece, and the building in the top right, which is the only extant part of Wedgwood’s Ivy House works.

As well as ceramics, Stoke-on-Trent has provided the world with several other people and things, too. It was here that William Clowes and John Bourne (both born in Burslem) founded Primitive Methodism at the turn of the 19th century, and in the city that Reginald Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire, was born. Also, the author Arnold Bennett (the Potteries answer to Charles Dickens) immortalised the towns in his works such as ‘Anna of the Five Towns’, ‘The Card’ (made into a 1952 film starring Alec Guinness and filmed largely in Burslem), ‘Clayhanger’ and ‘The Old Wives’ Tale’. He was friends with H. G. Wells, who stayed in Stoke with Bennett in 1888 and later wrote the short story ‘The Cone’ about the Shelton Bar Iron and Steelworks in the city. Here we also come to a further industry that once powered the city- steel production. Similarly, the region was also well-known for coal mining, but this died when the rest of the mines went bust under Thatcher.

More recently, the city has become known for its football in the form of Stoke City and the less-successful Port Vale, but the latter is perhaps better known for its most famous supporter Robbie Williams, who was born in Tunstall and raised above a pub (The Red Lion) in Burslem. Incidently, the pub is next door to the building shown on the top right of the ‘Time Team’ image.

From left to right: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931); a Spitfire; Robbie Williams; the angel wethervane on the clocktower of Burslem Town Hall, which is believed by some to have inspired Robbie's hit 'Angels'

From left to right: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931); a Spitfire; Robbie Williams; the angel weathervane on the clocktower of Burslem Town Hall, which is believed by some to have inspired Robbie’s hit ‘Angels’

I don’t suppose that Stoke is that bad when I write about it like this- it has had a fascinating and quite important past, and has given the world quite a few things. Did I mention Henry Faulds (1843-1930), who developed the technique of fingerprinting? He lived out his years and is buried in the city. And Anthea Turner? …yeah. Perhaps I’ll leave that last one…

No- I don’t hate Stoke. I just feel that now the place lacks ambition and drive, and where I want to get with my life, I can’t do it here. I hope, however, that you have learnt something, and now will know where I am talking about when I mention Stoke!

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Morrissey! You can be irritating!

Autobiography Artwork

According to the semi-official website true-to-you.net, that’s the cover of Morrissey’s autobiography (titled ‘Autobiography’. Wow. What a name…) which should have been published today. However, in true Morrissey fashion, its release was pulled three days ago due to “a last-minute content disagreement” between the walking deity and Penguin. The BBC news page has gone for the dramatics, saying that he is now “searching for a new publisher” and suggesting like it will never see the light, but the semi-official site suggests that the release by Penguin has simply been delayed. Hopefully that is the case, and the book will be finally published soon. And hopefully that image above is going to actually be the cover, and isn’t just a mock-up. Morrissey has stated previously that he wished his ‘Autobiography’ to be issued as a Penguin Classic, but usually such titles have to have actually sold a few first and have entered popular culture. Indeed, if it is to be issued as a ‘Classic’ and not a ‘Modern Classic’, the author is meant to have been writing over or just around 100 years ago and to very probably be dead. To be fair, the infamy of its existence and drawn out publishing history have perhaps given it enough social circulation, but… anyhoo. It would be all the more interesting if it is to be issued as above, and with any luck, it should be out soon. I also expect that when it is out, it will receive a reception not unlike Truman Capote’s posthumous ‘Answered Prayers’ (1986) and manage to offend everyone who is mentioned or veiled within it. At least, that is the hope!

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