Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
"Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, 'tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time,
Moping, melancholy, mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad."
Why, if 'tis dancing you would be,
There's brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh, many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world's not.
And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
The mischief is that 'twill not last.
Oh, I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie god knows where,
And carried half-way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer.
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I've lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigh-ho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet;
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.
Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure,
Luck's a chance but trouble's sure,
I'd face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul's stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.
There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt
- I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.
A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Innes Book Of Records was one of the great delights of my childhood: 30 minutes of brilliant musical pastiches accompanied by the most surreal videos (Does anyone else remember Neil in a kilt, dancing a highland jig over two crossed swordfish on the floor of a cave beside the sea?? I can't just have imagined that, can I??). I think only two series of 6 episodes each were made, in the mid or late 70s; as far as I know, they have never been repeated on the Beeb (although they have shown up a few times on cable channels such as UK Gold, which is where most of the handful of YouTube clips from it appear to have been sourced); and Innes is apparently now mired in a bitter fight over the rights to the programmes, a legal tussle which may prevent them being released on DVD for years yet. Very sad. Somewhere in my old vinyl record collection (I hope they're still safe, Lizzie?), I have three albums of these songs. I really should try to get that stuff shipped over here.
But I digress. Here is Neil singing Godfrey Daniel (the title is an oath favoured by W.C. Fields). I'll transcribe the lyrics in a comment - a masterpiece of meaninglessness!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Footnote: They appear to sell vodka by the bottle for only 3 or 4 times as much as a single glass. The cheapest (Russian) brand - the ominously named AK-47 - is only about 50 or 60 kuai. Needless to say, they didn't have any. Against our better judgement, we accepted a Chinese substitute - the even less appealingly named Soffinaya Ante (Anti??) Vodka (product of the Anhui Ante Biological Chemistry Co., Ltd.): surprisingly non-vile, but also disappointingly short on alcoholic kick. Well, at least we lived to tell the tale.
Further Footnote: On reflection, I really think that might have been a TWO litre jug of beer!
Friday, February 22, 2008
On fingers, lips, fire in throat:
Ice glass of vodka.
And look - now I've added a photograph for you (just in case you didn't believe me).
Monday, February 18, 2008
A reminder as well about the 'spot the film references' challenge. I'm sure someone out there has all the answers.
A Drink With Something In It
There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin;
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth -
I think that perhaps it's the gin.
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
Sunday, February 17, 2008
My life is over.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
There are several songs from the Blue Valentines album that, like this, so brilliantly and quirkily tell a story; I used to use a number of them in my English literature classes when I was teaching in high school a decade or so ago. I'll try to post the lyrics to this in the comments (done!). I think I've said before that Waits is about the only songwriter I can think of whose lyrics consistently stand up on their own without the music, the only one who can make a real claim to being a poet (not Dylan, not Cohen).
This is A Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis, performed live (in, I would guess, the early '80s).
Friday, February 15, 2008
The rose beside her ignored:
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
3) There is also a spin-off of the 'band names' competition in which I have challenged you to identify the cinematic references behind a list of 28 possible band names I posted on January 23rd. It's really not that difficult.... but I do expect you to provide a complete set of answers on this one.
For any of these competitions, you may send me an e-mail or a text message if you know who I am..... but, really, whoever you are, wouldn't it just be easier to leave a comment on the relevant post? Yes, I think you all can manage that. I look forward to hearing from you.
What are the prizes? Well, I'll decide that when I see how good the entries are.....
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
from the 4th quarter of '07
1) The Frankathon - 1st October
2) Missing a gig (or three) - 7th October
3) Pool divination blues - 9th October
4) HBH 48: Staying up too late - 12th October
5) A new record - 12th October
6) A Glorious Pharmacy postscript - 14th October
7) The Bullingdon Arms - 16th October
8) The Library Bar - 20th October
9) The end of my widowhood? - 23rd October
10) A new 'Worst Bar in Beijing' contender - 26th October
11) What makes a great bar? - 28th October
12) A parable - 2nd November
13) It's strangely reassuring.... - 3rd November
14) A poem from a distant land - 4th November
15) Why I don't have a girlfriend - 6th November
16) Asexualismo - 8th November
17) "Just one more" - a cautionary tale - 14th November
18) A sit-down comedian - 26th November
19) Bad bars abound... - 27th November
20) Beginning of the party season - 30th November
21) Secret of Success - 1st December
22) The elements come together - 6th December
23) The Great Kissing Debate.... - 6th December
24) A wintry affair - 6th December
25) Wound salting - 8th December
26) The Long Way Home - 9th December
27) Women don't understand 'romance' - 14th December
28) HBH 57 - 14th December
29) The outbound beer - 20th December
30) That love affair, again - 23rd December
31) The hi-jacking of Christmas - 28th December
Monday, February 11, 2008
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)
Sunday, February 10, 2008
"How did you escape from the massage parlour?"
"He's a French albino. It's going to be depressing."
"Ah, expat bars! The familiar odour of despair!"
Friday, February 08, 2008
Commendations also to Ed Peto for Git Summit (I think I've attended a few of those in my time); to my old Oxford buddy, the Mothman, for his recent suggestions Standard Deviant and Random Crisis Generator; to OMG for Robbing Peter; and to Dave S (again!) for The Duffman Chronicles (Cowboy, that's not you in disguise, is it??).
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Those of you who foolishly base your understanding of such key events in world history on me and my blogs may have been misled on this point. It's true, my party to celebrate the great man's birthday last year was nearly a month late, on March 3rd, because I was unfortunately out of the country on the date itself.
All the best for the Year of the Rat!! Gongxi facai!!
Monday, February 04, 2008
I had in fact caught him at Yugong Yishan on Friday (although my response then was only somewhat lukewarm - partly down to the unappealing ambience of the venue, and partly, I think, just down to being all bluesed out after 2 full hours of great music from the support acts before he came on); and he's due to play a few more gigs around town this week.
The great man did not disappoint. It was billed as a 'workshop' session rather than a gig, so he took a lot of time out to chat about his life and about how he'd learned elements of his technique from the other blues harmonica greats - men like Little Walter and Walter Horton. Damn, it was like having my record collection come to life: these were names I knew only from my old vinyl blues albums (a collection I have, sadly, long been separated from) - and Charlie used to be friends with them! Definitely a starstruck moment for me. He's a very engaging speaker - gracious, humorous, laid-back. However, he did play and sing plenty of music as well, and it was marvellous stuff: an utterly spellbinding afternoon - the time fairly flew by.
The crowd was just right: the main room well-filled, but not oppressively heaved out; a handful of late arrivals making do with watching from the adjacent courtyard. They were almost all Chinese musicians, probably a hand-picked invitation list (Tianxiao the laoban is a bit of a muso himself) - with the exception of Charlie's two backing musicians, his wife, and Royce, the harp player from local blues band Black Cat Bone. And the only other laowai present were Jeremiah, Tulsa, The Artist and myself - a select group indeed.
Kudos to Tianxiao for setting that up - a very special experience, likely to remain one of the very favourites of all my memories of Beijing.
Jeremiah has already written a short post about this, including a link to one of Charlie's performances on YouTube. I thought I'd post a clip of him too, just to give you a flavour of the man, in case you hadn't heard of him. I particularly like this performance, accompanying his daughter Layla singing one of his own compositions, In Your Darkest Hour. Enjoy.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Saturday, February 02, 2008
This was popularly thought of as my 'theme song' during my last year or two at college (and ever since!) - "What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You're Gonna Get Drunk Again)?". Originally a chart-topper during WWII for the great jazz band leader Louis Jourdan, I came to know it through Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive album, a fabulous tribute to the swing band era. Alas, I couldn't find a version by Joe [now available at last, but audio only (with a fan video); and the Louis Jourdan original can be heard here], but this one by the novelty band 'Big Cheese & The Jive Rats' is rather fun.
Friday, February 01, 2008
The comment community is diversifying a little, as I have attracted a number of Moonrat's Minions over here in the last month or so (although they usually seem to be frightened off by the craziness after a single visit!) and have also goaded old, old Oxford drinking buddies The Bookseller, Mothman, and Little Anthony out of their long hibernations. My 'competition' challenge to find the funniest name for your fantasy rock group also seems to have enticed in a few passing strangers. Perhaps this will be the year I finally make it 'big' in Blogland.