Category Archives: irreverence

Content>Context

Inspired by this wonderful Googlewhack-inspired post from the xkcd blag, I’m trying to find some phrases that elicit NO responses from Google. Although anyone who can find a googol of responses will win some sort of prize (maybe a copy of my CD, should it ever be finished. The probability is roughly the same for both).


The fun and entirely intentional irony of this is, once I post this, I will give the phrase a hit in Google (much like Randall’s Google Trends comic, where each spoof entry made it onto Google Trends due to all his readers googling the spoof). 
So, really, the goal is to create a memetic archive of the trans-mundane.

OK, let’s try:

john gregson is an alluringly attractive enigma” = 0 hits

john gregson is a handsome but unambitious Irish sanitation worker” = 8 hits

OK, see where I’m going with this?

Let’s delve into more esoteric territory:

everyone loves my Battlestar Galactica slash fic” = 0 hits (blessedly)

it’s easy to detect sarcasm on the Internet” = 2 hits

it’s hard to detect sarcasm on the Internet” = 415 hits (there we have it, 1-in-208 people are in the Internet elite)

i can’t find a single fault in windows vista” = 0 hits

the internet brings out the best in society” = 0 hits

the internet brings out the worst in society” = 2 hits (not as hilarious a dichotomy as I was expecting, but in the spirit of the scientific method, I must abandon my assumptions in face of the evidence…)

mail-order velociraptor” = 0 hits

godwin’s law is a useful rhetorical device” = 0 hits

john titor wasn’t a hoax” = 0 hits

john titor was a hoax” = 102 hits

only use google for good” = 0 hits

only use google for evil” = 3 hits

My favourite so far:

is this a meta-question?” = 0 hits

Any other good ones? Please post them here!

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Filed under humour, irreverence, Lists

I Can’t Dance

Although the title of this post may convince you otherwise, I’m not very self-aware.

I admit, even my closest friends who I’d class in the Worryingly-Obsessed category might hesitate before ever conceeding that I could ever be described – even for a second – as groovy.

Watch, children, as your humble scribe attempts to artfully flick a Metaphor Frisbee (made from 95% Humour) into the waiting grip of a Reciprocal Laugh-ee.
Instead, Mrs. Thatcher, the Irony Lady, has decreed that he throws a Simile Boomerang constructed purely from that rarest of Literary Metals, Depracation.

While we wait for the Simile Boomerang to complete it’s graceful arc, let me tell you about Genesis.

Yes, the Literal Truth, and Inerrant Word. Of Phil Collins.

I’ll try and hide my love-affair with sub-clauses – whoops, here’s one I should probably get rid of, it doesn’t seem to contribute anything to my argument – and get on with my argument.

Rekindled a dormant interest in Genesis today, while watching their new DVD “When In Rome”. Having had some friends see the reunion tour last year, I was very excited to have such a high-quality memento of the tour.

Also, my life at the moment seems to be revolving around Genesis alumni. The Wells Cathedral School Big Band, with whom I have the great pleasure of working, have just recorded a CD at Peter Gabriel’s beautiful Real World Studio – due for public consumption in July.
Also, for upcoming concerts, they’ve been working on a number of Phil Collins’ Big Band charts, including the ridiculous Los Endos Suite! Fairly challenging. Maybe not one for the ‘Slow-dance’ section of their gigs.

Anyway, always a pleasure to see Daryl Stuermer play guitar on this disc – superb tone and feel, as usual. I wish I could have been there!

Until next time – it’s nearly International Guitar Festival time, remember to sign up soon!

John.

P.S. Caught the frisbee. And, no, I really cannot dance.

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Writer’s Block?

I’m sure everyone masquerading as a writer has, at some point, been stuck for inspiration.
Well, fear not, struggling scribes, as I have a fail-safe solution!

Just link to someone else who’s written an article you’d like to have written yourself.

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,,1841306,00.html

Just like that!

I’m slightly perturbed as to the origin of ANY of the stars in the review, though, and I believe that if I’d written it, I’d have made the article the undead embodiment of all the bile and angst that could ever be ontologically conceived…

But that’s just me, I suppose.

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I stand corrected!

Boy, is my face red.

You post, green-eyed, with mounting fury at the horrors that await. You think all is well. Spleen:vented.

My whole world-view came crashing down with the post this morning.

Yup, I got a card.

A bill.

A. Bill.

BILL.

Mind you, a card on Valentine’s Day, eh?

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Addendum!

Quick postscript to the, er, below.

11. Stop drinking staff room coffee.
Instant coffee just gives me a headache, and I drink far too much.
And since I’ve bought a banjo, my mental masochism has reached critical mass.
THIS ENDS NOW.

[plus, it means my Resolutions list goes to 11.]

John.

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Dear Stalker:

Please retrieve your socks from the Hotmail Lost & Found post haste.

Thank you,
John.

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A thought on Improvisation.

Taking part in a Free Improvisation session last night, I did begin to wonder about the validity of the whole practice.
Proponents, including the late Derek Bailey, viewed it as finding meaning – ‘the real’, if you will. And there’s an element of this I agree with. If you’re not concerned with making a mistake, or playing ‘the correct way’, surely what comes out is uninhibited, reactive expression?
Right?
Well, I like melody, harmony and rhythm too much to agree.
I have been involved in some killer free improv sessions with friends. As far as I can tell, none of us are taking it particularly seriously. Much distortion of traditional music ensues – bins thrown at pianos, lard tins lacerated, country & western tapes mangled through a dictaphone, and me trying to break my reverb pedal.
So far so good? Sounds like free improv to you? [read: a bloody racket]
However, this is where I have a problem. Firstly, why?
Allow me to iterate:

WHY?!

Surely there is some meaning here? Somewhere in this jumbled cacophonic fusion of lounge jazz and rebel insurrection lurks a higher meaning?

Haven’t found it yet, but my eyesight’s not very good.

Let us take issue with the man who wrote the book:

“There has to be some degree, not just of unfamiliarity, but incompatibility [with a partner]. Otherwise, what are you improvising for? “
-Derek Bailey, 2002

OK, here is where I disagree with master. My group of peers (some of whom are highly experienced in the idiom) and I get on really well. Indeed, when we started making music, there was no direction, we got frustrated, and it all tailed off rather pathetically. Fruitlessly, we perserved.

But then, over the weeks, as we met up more frequently, not over a prepared piano but over a cup of coffee and a slice of cheesecake (oh, you crazy rock stars), we created a social bond that elevated the artificial constructs of music, and allowed us to relate to each other. THAT’s when the Improv became fun [probably still torture to listen to, though]. We realised that we all have a pretty good sense of humour (I’m faking it. Hopefully they won’t notice), and that we can create ‘good’ music (whatever that it) without po-faced aggrandizing and pseudo-philosophical conjecture. I know many people who’d disagree with that approach. But surely I should be free to derive as much entertainment from this musical dissonance as I like?

And here’s my main criticism of the monolothic beast that is Free Improvisation.
In case you haven’t realised, every time someone mentions it, all assembled go: “Eurgh.” I may be missing out a few vowels, but you get the gist.

Anyway – the problem is that it is a self-contained idiom.
I can play in a Free Improv style. That in itself defies the moniker.

Exponents of Free Improv (the fundamentalist kind who decry other styles as below them, or unreal) would disagree strongly with this.
However, it’s these people that seem to propogate the Free Improv Style, and carry on the tradition of squeaks, shouts and extreme pelvic thrusts.

[Am I exaggerating? Go on, go to a Free Improv concert. I dare you.]

It’s the ideologically-based sense of superiority that comes from thinking you understand the meaning (and the means to find the meaning) of music that really grinds my gears (for any Family Guy fans reading this). I mean, how arrogant can you be?

[IMPORTANT: This is not directed at anyone in particular, including Derek Bailey, and ESPECIALLY not my fellow improvising-cohorts. They’re superb. I’ve been to some really powerful free improv gigs. But, then again, I’ve been to some free improv sessions so bad that by the end I wanted my time, patience and ears back, with 12.5% interest.]

The best advice I was given concerning improv wasn’t concerning style, temperament or ‘idiomatic authenticity’. It was:

“Just listen and react.”

If only more people would do so!

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Filed under essays, irreverence, music

A desperate man writes.

Yes, the title of this entry is deliberately ambiguous.

After much deliberation [not to mention a significant diminution in hair count], I woke in a cold sweat on Wednesday at 6am. Yes, that 6am.

And what cause such a rude awakening, I hear you thinking about asking?

The missing Dr Pepper dot.

[I am led to believe that there WAS a dot, in the late 19th century, around about the brand’s conception, but was dropped due to the italicisation causing the dot to be misconstrued as an i. Isn’t history fun?]

So, I wrote a letter to Coca-Cola [who own the Schweppes label that makes Dr. Charles T. Pepper’s beverage].

I must admit, it may look a bit facetious. But that’s splitting hairs.

Here it is:

To whom it may concern,

I am a patient and tolerant man, but my ire cannot be spared in a moment of crisis.
Despite being a most keen and loving patron of your Dr. Pepper® beverage, recently, hitherto unknown forces of pedantry have burst from within (in a manner similar to Ridley Scott’s depiction of the gestation and subsequent birth of an Alien in the classic eponymously-titled science-fiction film. But I digress.).
It is with much pleading and bittersweet regret (I’m sure the anguish in my inner monologue is audible to you now) that I come to you in my time – nay, let us be poetic, my hour – of need.

Whither the period?

Allow me to repeat my query, in less antiquated terminology:

On my bottle of Dr. Pepper®, there is no dot. Where has it gone?

I appreciate that this is tricky (and possibly redundant) – but it provokes such syntactical dilemma as: “Where did this Pepper fellow obtain such a doctorate which doesn’t even allow a proper abbreviation?” [Assuming he/she is a doctor, of course. If he/she is, then they’re certainly not a doctor I’d be comfortable with performing open-heart surgery on me with a biro on a crowded 747, I assure you.]
I’m sure, in an idle moment, you have indeed pondered such a question (albeit with a slightly less comical accent, I’d wager).

While you sort out this grievous oversight (as I appreciate the amount of mechanical retooling and staff re-organizations that will be required), may I kindly ask you to send me a grammatically-amended label in the interim? Much appreciated.
This is to prevent me irritating my local soft-drinks emporium by ‘self-correcting’ every bottle I buy, vigilante-style, with my Tip-Ex® pen, as I have been doing up until now.

And, no, I’m not obsessive-compulsive, although my doctor says it would be a definite improvement.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

[signature went here]

John Gregson.

To anticipate any derogatory remarks – no, I don’t have too much spare time. I woke up early to do this, thus creating a surplus of time to waste at my leisure.

Plus, you can never have too much spare time.

John.

P.S. May I highly recommend Donald Fagen’s new album, Morph The Cat? No? OK, I will anyway. Just bought it this morning, and am currently grooving along to it. Wonderful stuff. Classic Fagen!

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I just wanted a sandwich, not a lap full of lettuce.

OK, I’ve had enough.
Normally, my patience threshold is set rather high [currently set to ‘rhinocerous tranquiliser’].
But this is IT.

In a fit of desperation, motivated mainly by hunger [and, to a lesser extent, dialectical issues], I found myself purchasing a cheese salad sandwich last night. Don’t ask why, it’s not worth it.

After many a moment plotting an intricate strategem to navigate said sandwich to my mouth, I muttered a quick prayer [to Lacta, goddess of cheese] and gave it the good ol’ college try.

Remind me never to go back to that college.

How can someone construct a sandwich so poorly, that the main components [cheese and salad] actually inhibit the gorging process? The act of removing one sandwich dislodged the top half of the second sandwich, causing a veritable smorgasboard of cheese salad onto my lap. Streuth.

So THAT’S IT. I’m hereby boycotting all cheese salad sandwiches and all subsiduary paraphanelia, and I want all of you with a shred of moral fibre to do the same.

This cold-blooded attack on sartorial innocence has being going on for TOO LONG.

(Oh, and they’re probably not very good for you either.)

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The little things in life.

Despite appearing like an alarmingly camp fusion of Stars Wars and Blade Runner in a car park, Highlander did give the world “Who Wants To Live Forever?”. And for that we must be grateful.

Aren’t you all so glad I have this public domain to share such views with you?

John.

P.S. In other news…I have a PodCast! Search iTunes for ‘Gregson’ [I don’t think I’m up under ‘grinning’ or ‘sarcasm’, but it might be worth a shot].

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