Archive for the ‘Poetry and Music’ Category
Eurovision is the biggest music competition in the world. A party for those watching, a chance to make fun of contestants’ clothes and looks, while enjoying the occasion as Europe sings to each other.
In the United Kingdom we blame the politics for us doing so badly in recent years. Every single year we blame the attitude towards us, and cosines of other countries to each other. That border geography is the thing that plays a part too.
Yet every single year I listen to the songs and chose my top 3 and one of them wins. Based on what I heard not what punters say. Denmark, with a feisty Shakira clone produced a song which was fun, flamboyant and upbeat.
By contrast we managed 23 points – less than a tenth of Denmark’s. Comparing the entries that was about right.
Frankly what I said to Phillip Schofield counts. We delude ourselves. Until those that chose our entry with outdated ballads and past their career best singers get how to take a music competition seriously – as a contest that you play to win, we just will not be in the top half of the table.
Nor frankly will we deserve to be. It is only a music competition but if they have the audacity to play it this way give us back the choice of who represents us and with which song. We gave Denmark, the winners, a maximum 12 points after all.
I think we can do better.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Knife crime – yes it is an issue. Poetry though usually inspires people to be romantic or at least mutilate the English language for the sake of rhyming schemes. Some teachers however fear the emotional imagery that Carol Ann Duffy invokes in her poem Education for Leisure to the point of ripping it out of text books. The themes are familiar to anyone who has wondered that the only power that counts is that over life and death, that there are times when genocidal tendencies are fantasised about. After teacher complaints, the AQA exam board in Britain has withdrawn her poem, that reads:
Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets.
I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.
I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.
I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
for signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.
There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.
Is this kill joys, who need to control the supposedly impressionable who think it may be cool to live like the person in the poem by preventing kids from ever knowing this well written poem? The poem is about education being the alternative to empowering you – rather than feeling like god killing a goldfish. That there is a false sense of celebrity in people thinking their being alive makes them worthy of the accolade.
For these reasons this poem is a popular one with children – because they can identify with the themes because they are so transparent, with the depth of the imagery inviting to be explored by eager minds. They identify with the rebel that finds the language of Shakespeare difficult, how the underclass are not appreciated, the desire to be noticed and recognized for who they are without needing to draw extra attention to get it.
What the teachers, and the exam board are not doing is protecting children. They are denying a poem that may connect to a child and inspire them to the beauty of the English language and poetry. To think that this poem will cause a child to enact violence, is to suggest that we should hide children from all art, all writing, all media and all human conversation. This poem could be the way to unlocking the frustrations and anger that children have.
Michael Rosen, the children’s laureate, said: “By this same logic we would be banning Romeo and Juliet. That’s about a group of sexually attractive males strutting round the streets, getting off with girls and stabbing each other.
“Carol Ann is an easy target because she’s a modern poet.” He added: “Of course we want children to be talking about knife crime and poems like these are a terrific way of helping that happen. Blanket condemnation and censorship of something never works.”
The AQA spokeswoman said: “The decision to withdraw the poem was not taken lightly and only after due consideration of the issues involved. We believe the decision underlines the often difficult balance that exists between encouraging and facilitating young people to think critically about difficult but important topics and the need to do this in a way which is sensitive to social issues and public concern.”
Sensitive to the charge that a kid in a class that has covered the poem may knife someone. Not that correlation means causation. Sometimes I really fear that there are people who want to improve things by killing our enjoyment of life, and the celebration of human talent. Parents – demand that fine works of literature are part of your child’s education and that they cover this issue. A frustrated education is something to be avoided.
A cynical person may think this is about preventing Carol Anne Duffy becoming the next Poet Laureate. Though her considerable talent may be enough to prevent that.
Quote taken from here.
Brand must have been chosen to host as he would have been controversial to the unhip part of America and cheaper than Sacha Baron Cohen. Upsetting the establishment and causing outrage – how very rock and roll!
Here are some memorable quotes from the MTV music video awards, though there are others which referred to the Jonas Brothers as god’s favourite virgins and their promise rings (note not been able to track down the supposedly unprintable jokes so if anyone has them please comment):
On Palin: “That is the safe sex message of all time. Use a condom or become a Republican!”
Spears: “Consider this the resurrection of Britney Spears, If there was a female Christ, it’s Britney.”
Obama and Bush: “As a representative of the global community, a visitor from abroad, I don’t want to come across a little bit biased, but could I please ask of you, people of America, please elect Barack Obama, please, on behalf of the world. Some people, I think they’re called racists, say America is not ready for a black president. But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years. We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors.”
Video of the Year: Britney Spears, “Piece of Me”
Female Video: Britney Spears, “Piece of Me”
Male Video: Chris Brown, “With You”
Rock Video: Linkin Park, “Shadow of the Day”
Hip-Hop Video: Lil Wayne, “Lollipop”
Pop Video: Britney Spears, “Piece of Me”
Dancing in a Video: Pussycat Dolls, “When I Grow Up”
New Artist: Tokio Hotel
I think that I shall never see
A theory dumber than ID:
It says that God can make a tree,
A beaver or a honeybee-
That God can simply get a whim
To make the small E. coli swim.
He waves His hand through Heaven’s air
And lo! Flagella everywhere!
But sometimes even God falls down
And makes a poor, pathetic clown:
Yes, poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make Behe.
Sappho expressed her love for women via poetry while on the island of Lesbos – though she committed suicide over a man in the 7th century BC. People from Lesbos are called Lesbians – and want to continue to do so without the rest of us chuckling.
Hence have some of the modern day inhabitants gone to the Greek courts to demand that the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece go and change their name. No doubt a refusal will lead to new poems being written, in anger rather than love about the global same love of modern women.
They claim that the Greek government now refers to the island after it’s capital of Mytilini. These proud people want to be happy (do not call them gay) Lesbians, and wish their human rights protected against the sexual definition that we all use the world over.
Of all the social problems a community of 100,000 could be suffering from, I cannot believe that this is a real issue. It seems that their response is like trying to lay leather around the whole world so they feel comfortable travelling rather than the obvious answer of wearing leather on their feet – i.e. change the name of the island to Mytilini. Or else just accept that there is a double meaning, and be proud of a love that for much of history dared not speak its name for fear of a genuine social ill – repression of people based on sexual orientation. That really is a breach of human rights.
There is also the Gay tourist market that they could embrace. But this could be a balance of payments issue for the island. Maybe they want to be the only country that can export Lesbians. They already have a comparative advantage in terms of the history and island name.
Inspired by the people of Lesbos I am trying to have homosexuality defined as a none sexual term as it confuses people over Homo sapiens, and causes me distress as people think my pseudo name of Homo econonomicus is a reference to my own sexual orientation, rather than a homage to economics and biology. It causes much distress when women (and more so men) mistakenly think this is my orientation and even when countered prevents any hopes of congress due to existing preconceptions – a clear breach of my human rights.
Hopefully this nonsense will soon be put to rest, and maybe the thing that really matters will come into focus – the poetry of Sappho herself and love that in many cases dare not speak its name. To close here is her poem “Please”.
Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
I most wish to see.
Reputation is something fair more valuable then the flesh and bones that surround you. Defying the law of physics it precedes any room that you may enter and travels faster then the speed of sound. Should your reputation be damaged a lot of talking, involving litigation, may be necessary.
To that Morrissey, who many moons ago was misrepresented with his “National Front Disco” and performance on stage but did not counter what was being said at the time, has taken on a magazine that printed in March that he was a racist and a hypocrite and won. Next up is NME. The story below comes from the BBC News. I review his latest album “Morrissey Greatest Hits” here.
Magazine says sorry to Morrissey
Singer Morrissey has accepted a public apology in court from Word Magazine after it suggested he was a racist and a hypocrite.
The former Smiths frontman did not appear at London’s High Court.
Morrissey took Word to court after an article concerning his political views appeared in its March edition.
The star’s solicitor said the magazine now accepted that it was “absurd to accuse Mr Morrissey of being a racist” and that he was “not a hypocrite”.
Morrissey said he was “obviously delighted with this victory and the clearing of my name in public where it is loud and clear for all to hear”.
Word’s lawyer, Caroline Kean, said the publication offered its “sincere apologies” to the 48-year-old.
The closing paragraphs of the article, written by David Quantick, referred to statements made by Morrissey in last December’s edition of NME.
Morrissey’s solicitor, John Reid, said Quantick’s comments had been “construed to suggest that Mr Morrissey was a racist, held racist opinions or that (as the child of migrant parents) he was a hypocrite”.
He added: “The article suggested that Mr Morrissey has in the past paid lip service only to anti-racism.”
The singer, whose full name is Steven Patrick Morrissey, has also launched a legal action against the NME, which is ongoing.
The singer insisted the weekly music magazine had “calculatedly tried to damage my integrity and to label me as a racist in order to boost their diminishing circulation”.
The star said Word had “made the mistake of repeating those allegations, which they now accept are false”.
Reid said the singer was “utterly determined” to repair the damage done to his reputation following the statements made by the NME in December.
Having watched Morrissey on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and on Later with Jools Holland, the temptation to buy his new album had an irresistible pull on my heart strings and I find myself home with loaves of bread and his Greatest Hits from the supermarket.
First off, this is strictly Morrissey – so no Smiths songs. This does automatically make this not the best compilation album out there. Live At Earls Courts is the one I would recommend – a live album covering all the great songs (accept for Every Day Is Like Sunday). If you listen very carefully you may even hear me cheering – yes I was there and thankfully he was well that night to perform unlike last month in London when he had to cancel.
So to those of you, like me, that already have all the albums is this really worth getting? Well two new songs are included with this album That’s How People Grow Up:
and then there is All You Need Is Me:
So for Moz fans that watch their money like a jealous lover their partner at a disco, the question is will these songs tempt you? It seems a return to Your Arsenal. No less is that hinted in the booklet with a photo of a pair of male buttocks with the words “YOUR ARSE AN’ ALL” printed on it in large friendly letters. Ironic in the sense that no tracks from there appear on this album (well The National Front Disco would have been a nice rebuke of the NME treatment of Moz’s immigration views; will be on Bonus CD of new album).
The first five tracks all come from the last two albums (You Are the Quarry and Ringleader of the Tormentors) Irish Blood, English Heart and You Have Killed Me among them. Track six That’s How People Grow Up is Morrissey again not happy in love wasting his time shows him at his most pessismistic best and comfortable with it. Track Seven we get the all time classic Every Day Is Like Sunday which is the attitude to have if ever you are threatened with a nuclear strike on a home town you cannot wait to escape from anyway you can.
Redondo Beach makes it on track 8 (taken from the Live At Earls Court live album) and is a copy of a Patti Smith song. It made it to #11 in the UK charts. Now November Spawned A Monster reached #12, is one of Morrissey’s favourites and he wrote it. Why it does not make this album and this one does is for me a shame – it is Moz at his best taking a song about a disabled person and making it poptastic with his great language of heartfelt irony. Bear in mind In the Future When All’s Well makes it and only charted #17 and again I think should have been passed over. Ah well, mine to wonder why a brilliant song is not there – it cannot be that NME gave it a bad review? Judge for yourself if you have not heard the song before:
The other new song All You Need Is Me, is on form like the special bonus disc that was eventually released with You Are the Quarry, with all the passion of the young Morrissey with the gravitas of the mature one.
The other tracks that make it otherwise deserve it. The full track list then:
First of the Gang to Die
In the Future When All’s Well
I Just Want to See the Boy Happy
Irish Blood, English Heart
You Have Killed Me
That’s How People Grow Up
Everyday Is Like Sunday
The Youngest was the Most Loved
The Last of the Famous International Playboys
The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get
All You Need Is Me
Let Me Kiss You
I Have Forgiven Jesus
So should you buy it? Well, if you want it for the two new songs (like the rain coated lover I am) then it is worth getting it. If you are new to Morrissey completely this is not for you – get Live At Earls Court and if you enjoy then pick up the other albums at discounted rates. If you already own You Are the Quarry and Ringleader of the Tormentors you already have half of the songs listed.
The fact that it has so many songs from Ringleader of the Tormentors but misses the more interesting songs from it (You Have Killed Me is rightly included), makes me feel that this really is not the best album out there for Morrissey and crucially misses quite a few that should be there. Also the order of the songs is a mess.
The two songs save it – so it gets three out of five from me. Now if it had included November Spawned A Monster I may have forgiven Morrissey and given it a four:
Had a good birthday yesterday – went round Leicester trying out a new Vegetarian South Indian Restaurant and a real ale pub crawl. Real ale is:
CAMRA’s (Campaign to Save Real Ale) official definition of Real Ale is, “beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.” It’s an awkward definition that, like Germany’s Reinheitsgebot, can be quite restrictive. However, the term “traditional ingredients” is designed, like the Reinheitsgebot, to prevent artificial preservatives or cheap adjuncts or chemicals from being used in the making or storing of the beer.
Today however belongs to Robert Burns. This includes the ritual of the Haggis – one that has been done for 200 years to celebrate the Scottish bard (by the way if it seems strange an Englishman admiring Burns, well I admire Adam Smith too and celebrate the Scottish Enlightenment as one that benefited us all). The Haggis is not a creature that is hunted, despite what children’s books may claim or irresponsible tour operators say to gullible tourists.
What was peasant food by means of survival is elevated to the celebration of the life and works of Burns. There is no getting around the fact that Haggis is usually a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt mixed with stock. All traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for a few hours.
Thankfully the veggie alternative is available to accompany the neeps (turnip) and tatties (potatoes).
Hope that you enjoy Burns Night however you do. With that I leave you with one of the poems that is a show of both his talents and social commentary Man Was Made to Mourn (the link gives a modern english verion too).
When chill November’s surly blast
Made fields and forest bare,
One ev’ning, as I wand’red forth
Along the banks of Ayr,
I spied a man, whose aged step
Seem’d weary, worn with care,
His face was furrow’d o’er with years,
And hoary was his hair.
‘Young stranger, whither wand’rest thou?’
Began the rev’rend Sage,
‘Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or youthful pleasure’s rage?
Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
Too soon thou hast began
To wander forth, with me to mourn
The miseries of Man.
The sun that overhangs yon moors,
Out-spreading far and wide,
Where hundreds labour to support
A haughty lordling’s pride:
I’ve seen yon weary winter-sun
Twice forty times return;
And ev’ry time has added proofs,
That man was made to mourn.
‘O Man! while in thy early years,
How prodigal of time!
Mis-spending all thy precious hours,
Thy glorious, youthful prime!
Alternate follies take the sway,
Licentious passions burn:
Which tenfold force gives Nature’s law,
That Man was made to mourn.
Look not alone on youthful prime,
Or manhood’s active might;
Man then is useful to his kind,
Supported is his right:
But see him on the edge of life,
With cares and sorrows worn;
Then Age and Want – O ill match’d pair! –
Shew Man was made to mourn.
‘A few seem favourites of Fate,
In Pleasure’s lap carest;
Yet think not all the rich and great
Are likewise truly blest:
But oh! what crowds in ev’ry land,
All wretched and forlorn,
Thro’ weary life this lesson learn,
That Man was made to mourn.
‘Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,–
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
‘See yonder poor, o’erlabour’d wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil;
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho’ a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.
‘If I’m design’d yon lordling’s slave–
By Nature’s law design’d–
Why was an independent wish
E’er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty, or scorn?
Or why has Man the will and pow’r
To make his fellow mourn?
‘Yet let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast:
This partial view of human-kind
Is surely not the last!
The poor, oppressed, honest man,
Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn!
‘O Death! the poor man’s dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy fear thy blow,
From pomp and pleasure torn,
But, oh! a blest relief to those
That weary-laden mourn!’
I have not spent Christmas with my mother for about five years (usually been with girlfriends family but that is no longer an option). So tomorrow going down to Cornwall St. Ives for a few days. However I just hope that it will be not as lively as when she previously visited me in November (see here).
Yet she has proclaimed something that shocked me – perhaps more than Dawkins winning the Templeton Prize. She said she had reviewed a book recommended by Dawkins, and had from reading it drawn the conclusion that Jesus in all probability does not exist. My mum asked if I was ok when the phone went quiet my end.
The only thing is that my mum still believes in Intelligent Design. She has never watched the links to the Ken Miller lecture nor the documentary that covers the Dover trial. Mum has said that she will however watch them with me while I am down. The problem I think is one of actually wanting a simple explanation – “god did it” is admittedly not a simple explanation but it has the basis for some that no more thinking is really required. Life exists as it is ordained, we return tothe source after we die, everything that happens has a good reason even if it does not make sense at the time – we make of it what we will.
The scientific explanation of the natural world however seems one of irreducible complexity – terms are used, concepts that were covered in science class fifty odd years ago. The main barrier is not explaining evolutionary theory (Ken Miller in the video link does a superb job talking about it and the evidence that verifies the theory, and why evolution is a contentious issue for some) – rather it is getting past a mind set that says “god did it – all I need to know. If I agree with Darwin next I am going to be a horrible person. This new learning seems hard”
Hopefully will continue to blog on my old computer that my Mum now has. Next time I write I will be in Cornwall.
“Why bring up evolution?”
My mother said to me
Attenborough was talking
On the TV.
So I never learnt
What he had to say
My mother’s religion
Would get in the way.