Beware of comme…


Beware of commercial preparations, expensive luxuries, evangelical tautologies, meretricious platitudes and printed hyperbole. Anything that promises fast results or painfree acquisition should be avoided. Real happiness is, as I’ve said, incredibly hard to attain, requiring years of struggle, hurt, anguish, self-doubt, paranoia and lengthy periods of agonising melancholy. Anyone who tells you different is either fooling you or themselves.
Personally speaking, I have overcome these many obstacles. And you can too, if you’re willing to work at it; but to be brutally honest, it’s not worth it.

Stanley Donwood


Top tens – Top ten live shows I’ve been to

This was tricky to put in order, in the end I had to leave some great bands lower in the list, but this was how it played out

  1. Rage Against the Machine – a long time ago in a city far far away (London) I had the privilege of seeing what is still the best show I’ve been to. Even though it was an arena show, and even though we had sucky seats way up in the back, my bandmates and I had a great time and jumped around like crazy to what was then one of my favourite bands. An unforgettable experience, capped off by us walking home singing the Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Sir Psycho‘ in harmony.
  2. The Veils – One night in Vancouver my best friend and I went to the Media Club to see an unassuming band I’d heard little about. What I witnessed was one of the most intense performances I’ve ever seen. Their lead singer (Finn Andrews) was incredibly charismatic, and his rasping vocals and bitter guitar stick in my memory. I would rank this above bands I prefer simply because of the intensity and brilliance of his performance.
  3. Portishead – in Vancouver a couple of years ago I was able to finally see a band I had grown up loving: Portishead. Having finally released a third album since I was a teenager, they had some newer songs to play, but they performed every song flawlessly and fed off the crowd to produce a great performance.
  4. Radiohead – This one was in Montreal in 2002 I believe. After Amnesiac but before Hail to the Thief. In my opinion this was the best period for Radiohead and I’m glad I got to see them. My ex took me, and while she wouldn’t let me go up front to scream at Thom (don’t get me started on that), I still had a great time. Only my second open air show. And they played ‘Just’ as an encore!
  5. Garbage – One of the first shows I ever went to was Garbage. At that time they were huge in the UK, and all my friends were listening to them. I was young enough that my dad had to drive us and pick us up from the show, but I still remember how good it was. Garbage were a producer’s band, and as such their live shows sounded almost perfectly like their albums, and Shirley Manson knew how to perform. I still remember being in the front row with my ears facing the speakers, and not being able to hear for two days afterwards (although that was probably more due to the supporting act, The Crystal Method).
  6. Kid Koala – I’ve seen Kid Koala live many times and he never disappoints. Well, maybe that one time with the live band, but every other time he has been great. He draws cartoons on stage, tells jokes with the audience and DJs like a fiend. An amazing show. His rendition of Moon River and his song Drunk Trumpet are particularly impressive scratching compositions.
  7. Rufus Wainwright – another person I’ve seen play multiple times, Rufus is a born entertainer. He’s funny and sexy on stage, and he sings beautifully. What I like perhaps better than that though is that sometimes he will make mistakes, go back and start the whole song over again. Somehow that makes him all the more human. If you like opera or musicals, or just powerful songs with great lyrics, I suggest you check out Rufus’ first four or five albums.
  8. Marilyn Manson – it was a hot day in Milton Keynes when my bandmates and I went to what I think was called the Big Day Out, a metal festival featuring a lot of bands. Given that the performers included Placebo, Metallica, Terrorvision, Monster Magnet and Queens of the Stone Age (who at that time I’d not heard of), Marilyn Manson topped things off with a crazed and electric performance, which included (if memory serves) Marilyn hopping off into the crowd to have a fight with someone while the rest of the band just played along.
  9. Regina Spektor – Regina has an amazing voice. Not just amazing in the sense of really good, just amazing in the things that she can do with it. And with just her and a piano (or guitar) she put together a really excellent show. Another one I feel lucky to have attended
  10. The Orbital – I made the trip all the way to the UK for this show. And I wasn’t the person who’d come the farthest. One of the group I was with made it all the way from Australia just to see this show. And they did not disappoint. The crowd was a little bit older as one might expect from a band that was big when I was still learning to ride a bike, but they destroyed all their old classics and a few things from their new album too… in a good way. Best of all, I got some illuminated sunglasses with the Orbital logo on. Merch!

Serendipitous music

I’m not sure if this is quite serendipitous or not. Yes I may have lied in the title. The fact is, I’ve spent months pruning my iPod of the songs I don’t really like, so what happened today was sort of inevitable in a sense. My iPod had one of those moments where it picked the best songs for me all in a row. So I thought I would share. Please note that songs have been rearranged for maximum universal harmony.

Part 1 – the slow songs (playlist on youtube)

Cello – Slowdive

Chernobyl 2 – Radiohead (So slow and yet filled with tension and sadness)

Candy Girl – Low (fun fact #1 – Low are a mormon band. Fun fact #2 – My favourite band name ever would be ‘The Mormon Mafia’. If anyone wants to start this band with me, let me know)

Caramel – Blur

Carbon Monoxide – Regina Spektor (yes its a coincidence that all the songs on this list start with the letter c. I do love Regina Spektor, she’s someone who brings her personality out with her voice, which few singers can do)

Busby Berkeley Dreams – The Magnetic Fields

California – Rufus Wainwright

Chelsea Hotel no. 2 – Rufus Wainwright (song by Leonard Cohen)

Cars hiss by my window – The Doors

A Chicken With its Head Cut Off – The Magnetic Fields

Careless Whisper – Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds (if you can find the live version where everyone screams when Rufus starts singing, that’s the best one)


Part 2 – The non-slow songs (playlist on youtube)

Bullet with Butterfly Wings – The Smashing Pumpkins (remember this song? If you’re as old as me, perhaps you do)

Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine

Burn – Nine Inch Nails (a great song when you’re feeling like throwing something at the wall)

Calm Like a Bomb – Rage Against the Machine

Can’t change the beat – Combichrist

Capital G (epworth phones mix) – Nine Inch Nails

Change the Formality – Infected Mushroom (fun fact – Infected Mushroom is the only show I’ve ever been ejected from)

Chase After Myself – You Love Her Coz She’s Dead (I couldn’t find this one on youtube)

The Child in Me – Clan of Xymox

The Butcher – Radiohead

Call the Ships to Port – Covenant


What have you been listening to? I’m always keen to discover new music.

Editing poetry: ‘You have no idea what love is’ she hissed as she turned to leave

Love is not the same for everyone, and other thoughts of a similar nature… oh the line ‘I am lost between the notes’ comes from the Radiohead song ‘Jigsaw falling into place’.
AsI hit the streets
likehalf an electrode
itis not the same
asthe continuous contact
sparksfrom the wheel
Loveis not like cycling
Ifall in love with the thin-legged creatures
ontheir pointless fixies
AsI gasp through
itis not the same
asthe bouncing adrenalin
resonatingin those friends I no longer remember
Loveis not like a crowd
Ifall in love with the repetitive motion
ofpeople passing newspapers
AsI am lost between the notes
itis not the same
asthis lonely reaching
couplestouching across
cannever be without that
tinybreath of touch
inempty lungs
Loveis not like touching
Ifall in love with the stick figures
hidingbetween the pages
AsI burn between pills
andwhite sheets
itis not the same
asthose movies
wherelove is chased down
itsarm caught before the train pulls out
Loveis not like desperation
ifall in love
withthe breath of beauty
ineveryone walking away
Asi turn this empty glass
incentrifugal blur
itis not the same
asthe clouded confidence of the assassin
andthe dark resin makes him forget
howhe touches them
Loveis not like molecules
Ifall in love
withthe dregs
ofevery failure
traceit in condensation
signmy name

via Editing poetry: ‘You have no idea what love is’ she hissed as she turned to leave.

Quotations about death

‘Is it morbid to think about death all the time?’ Someone once asked. It may have been me. Here are some quotations about death that you may find enlightening, interesting or depressing. No other emotions are permitted!

“Seems like the only kind of job an American can get these days is committing suicide in some way.”
– Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

The thought that I might kill myself formed in my mind coolly as a tree or a flower.
– The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

A heart that’s full up like a landfill
A job that slowly kills you
Bruises that won’t heal
– No Surprises – OK Computer Radiohead

‘Youth is the only thing worth having. When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.’
– The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

German: The machine is mankind’s madness and disfigurement. Industry castrates art. The only honesty is in suicide.
Jack: I can’t watch any more of these German sitcoms!
– 30 Rock – Tina Fey


Read that for men under 34 the biggest killer is car accidents. Second is suicides. Spent a while wondering what the third was. Hit my head against the wall a few times.
– Household Worms – Stanley Donwood

I’m not living I’m just killing time
– True Love Waits –  Radiohead

Suicide is what everyone young thinks they’ll do before they get old. But they hardly ever get round to it.
– Other People – Martin Amis

Editing poetry: Like poles repel

I wonder if all relationships should have their death poem, like the old haiku poets. There are references to four, count them four Radiohead songs here. I’ll list them to make it easier on you: Reckoner, Like Spinning Plates, Nude and Videotape.

we come apart
like poles repel
in chained words
hung paper on string
shiver like a trill
field lines
double-stitched seams
this lifeless rock
exchanged for experience

am i as simple
bluntly violent
as a hammer blow
dull slump
big ideas
did i shatter you
into glittering tiaras
like poles repel
as you once shattered me
all here in red,blue,green

we wove
a delicate balance
our unseamed fabric
laced tightly into each other
sunk into white noise
the stitches break quickly
when it comes apart
like ripples on a blank shore
like poles repel

via Editing poetry: Like poles repel.