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Batteries Not Included: Comic Verse

March 12, 2009


Confessions Of A Streamlined RomeoBangor, Maine, 1951

The evening air was cold and crisp,
The wind had snap and bite,
I adjusted the flask close on my hip
And slid like an eel out into the night.

They were having a dance at the VFW hall
And my mind squirmed like a wolverine
As I pissed up against a fieldstone wall
And tickled my brain with a tableaux obscene.

The joint was packed, the band was hot
(if a band with a squeeze-box is ever so),
My eye ran the room at a casual trot,
Selected the talent, lined them up in a row.

“Hi, gang”, I said loudly, to draw every eye
As I felt in my pocket for the secret switch;
The crowd was bathed in the light of my bow-tie,
The tie that delighted, that sought to bewitch.

“Oh, you’re so suave,” said blond-haired Sue,
“Have you grown much taller?”, said Kate,
“Why, your hair’s just so curly,” said sloe-eyed Prue,
“The evening’s so early but the year is so late.”

I browsed and sluiced, I nibbled and munched,
I ate them up like fruit;
Like grapes around me girls were bunched,
They said, “You handsome brute.”

So, men, don’t delay,
Send off right away
For the bow-tie that is able
To turn the hayseed cluck of today
Into tomorrow’s hick Clark Gable.

  1. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 13, 2009 12:24 AM

    Why Bangor, Maine and 1951? You may mock, but those bow-ties were very effective. Indeed, I owe my first acquaintance with my good lady wife to the use of one. It happens that I have a rather small head and a very large body, so the illumination it provided allowed her to locate the source of my quite high-pitched speaking voice. Thank you Niresk!

  2. mishari permalink*
    March 13, 2009 12:31 AM

    Because I used to know Maine quite well and Bangor at the time (mid 70’s to 80’s) was caught in a kind of 50’s time-warp. Probably because it was one of the poorest cities in one of the poorest states. Thanks for the info. I was baffled trying to imagine what woman in her right mind would be smitten by a man who wore a bow-tie that lit up. Now I know…

    BTW, I thought this would be a good thread for any loose comic verse you might have kicking around…

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 13, 2009 12:22 PM

    I was talking to some American girls once about their home towns in New England, with special reference to their evocative names. One of them came from Portland, in Maine. I discoursed for a while on the grim atmosphere of Portland, Dorset, and the semi-lyrical aspects of the native American names like Narragansett. When they woke up I noticed that one of them seemed rather quiet. I asked her where she hailed from and noticed a good deal of giggling and tittering from the other girls. Anyway, she came from Center City, Pennsylvania.

  4. mishari permalink*
    March 13, 2009 12:30 PM

    New England, despite have some lovely and evocative names mainly of Native American origin like Narragansett, is mostly flush with names brought over from Britain. The greater Boston area alone contains Dorchester, Brighton, Chelsea, Newton, Cambridge, Medford etc, ect…

    Center City is actually a very American name, if brutally unromantic. The kind of place Dashiell Hammet set his Continental Op stories…

  5. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 13, 2009 11:45 PM

    As a short order man I don’t have much in the larder. I wrote this about 25 years ago:

    While I’m groping in the Escort engine,
    Barry comes out, lights a Rothmans
    from a gold Ronson, leans his blue tattoos
    on my rust-poxed bonnet. Allright?

    All right. I watch the ingot on his chest
    while he grunts about his double-glazing.
    Quoted three grand he whacked it in himself-
    no problem, mate-for 20 pence.

    Nice one. Barry’s a plumber. He could,
    though he didn’t, tell me how to fix the drains,
    install an immersion heater,
    sort out the noises that came from the bog.

    I’m out of work, though-please, sir-
    I got this degree in English Literature.
    I could tell him how to fix an essay,
    install a deconstruction,

    sort out tercet, triplet, trochee
    and who this old toss Larkin is.
    Though of course I don’t. Barry
    gives the latest on his fat wife Tina,

    about to drop another noisy bastard
    to join Duane and Wayne. He gobs
    like a football star, checks his digital,
    time to put in his fifteen minutes a day

    for his sixty grand a year. Rock on,
    Tommy, know what I mean? This is it.
    Yeah. Right. Well, cheers. He turns away,
    his T-shirt says he’s Mastermind.

    I think Barry’s a fucking idiot.
    So what? His Toyota Rapist
    fires on power and money, shrouding me
    in clouds of rich pollutant. Right, cheers.

  6. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 13, 2009 11:46 PM

    Forgot to blockquote, Eddie.

  7. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 14, 2009 12:17 AM

    Thanks, Ted.

  8. mishari permalink*
    March 14, 2009 12:37 AM

    Digging through Bill’s old Poster Poem threads, I discovered this old tribute to Lewis Carroll that I wrote. It’s..erm..adequate:

    When I’m Wacking Wombats Way Out West

    I’ve got my boots, my gun, my hat, my special hunting vest;
    They’re guaranteed but now I’m going to put them to the test;
    The unforgiving landscape where the wombat makes its nest
    Is hard on kit and spirit, wacking wombats way out west.

    Quite sensibly I sought advice from one old grizzled soak
    Who’d sought the wily wombat’s lair, until his spirit broke;
    I found him in a chilly room, he gave the fire a poke;
    He turned a fevered eye on me, his voice came out a croak:

    Beware the savage wombat, boy, its razor tooth and claw,
    Will rend you stem to stern and leave your giblets on the floor,
    So have a care, my beamish boy, beware the wombat’s roar
    The inside of the wombat’s mouth is no place to explore.

    Turn again, my frabjous lad, and back to London go
    The mystic ways of wombats, lad, are not for men to know
    And seeking out this cursed beast, it is not time well spent .

    I shook his hand, departed, wondering just what ‘frabjous’ meant.

    Part 11- The Hunt

    I rode for days down untrod ways, the landscape burnt and sere;
    A raven flew past overhead and squawked, ‘no wombats here’,
    But I was not discouraged by this bird of ill-repute
    And stopped to slip into my special wombat-wacking suit.

    The suit, especially made for me by Anderson & Shepherd,
    Was suitable for wombats and, yes, even the odd leopard;
    For it is common knowledge that a wombat is impressed
    By knowledge of the Classics and a man who is well-dressed.

    So brandishing a copy of old Martial’s epigrams,
    I sought the wombat high and low across these blighted lands,
    And finally my eye a-lit upon the wombat’s spoor:
    I knew that I had finally found the canny beast’s front door.

    Come out, you are surrounded, beast, and keep your forepaws raised.
    A mild and stubby face peered out, the eyes were slightly glazed
    Hello, there, said the wombat but the wombat said no more.
    But what was this ? Where were the teeth, the fangs that dripped with gore ?

    You seem surprised
    , the wombat said, in fact, you seem cast down;
    Did you expect a savage creature, fit for hunting down ?
    I don’t know where these stories start, I’m really at a loss;
    Come down and have some tea, old boy, and let us feed your hoss.

    And so I had a cup of tea, and viewed the wombat’s books,
    A number of old native carvings, neatly hung on hooks,
    Some portaits of young female wombats, my old inamoratas
    And a painting of the Sorbonne, my beloved alma mater .

    So I returned to London, a much sadder wiser man;
    The wombat sends me letters and I send him tins of spam;
    I’ve set my sights on other game, a beast that fits the role:
    I’ve ordered a new suit to hunt the savage star-nosed mole.

  9. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 14, 2009 11:42 PM

    I was looking through the G’s list of crime novels this evening and noticed that Donna Tartt was a student at Bennington (the Secret History is set there, apparently). Wasn’t that your alma mater? The poor woman would be gutted if she knew.

    I see in the G’s mag that Neil Tennant is a ’54 man. I thought he was much younger (he certainly looks in better condition than me). I remember seeing him on TV when West End Girls came out. My daughter was a baby and I was surrounded by nappies and squealing brats. I looked at him with a certain resentment, thinking, you’re young, you can shag any woman you want and you’re rich. You fuck. Then I discovered that he’s gay and now I find out he’s not young. I suppose he’s still rich. The fuck.

  10. mishari permalink*
    March 14, 2009 11:59 PM

    I’m afraid I have some rotten news for you,MM. Brace yourself…life is unfair. Donna Tartt, eh? After my time. Never read her work, either. Am I missing anything?

    I’ve been considering logging in to GU as artpepper to post my own nominations but going through Bill’s back threads, I discovered so much good stuff from yourself, freep, Charlus, para, stoneofsilence, alarming, zepherine, HLM, Cap’n Ned and many others that I just felt overwhelmed.

    I even found lots of my own stuff that I actually liked a lot better than when I knocked it out:

    This one was on a Cities themed thread:

    Semper Aliquid Novi: Carthage

    I’m not a man for sentiment
    But still sometimes I muse,
    On how we went with elephant
    To Italy, to lose.

    In Hannibal, we had a great
    Commander and, by Tanit,
    We almost won, (at any rate,
    It was as near as damnit).

    So many of our cheerful boys
    Lie under foreign stones,
    Accepting, with their fears and joys:
    They’d never make old bones.

    But I’ve survived and even thrived,
    Bal may know why, I don’t;
    Old age approached and then arrived;
    I could complain, but won’t.

    My grandchild slumbers on my knee,
    My old dog at my feet,
    Both bald and toothless, just like me;
    By Ishtar, life is sweet.

    This was on a tributes thread:

    Hello, Pork-Pie Hat (for Tom Waits)

    The first time I heard that voice,
    I knew I was hearing real class,
    The sound of a man who by choice
    Poured warm honey over broken glass.

    The heat of the words, pungent and dark,
    Rising from soft city asphalt,
    Like being mugged by a songbird in Central Park
    A sardonic, harmonic assault.

    The pot-holed boulevards of broken dreams
    That carried your chumps to their doom,
    The broken-down bars, the girl’s crooked seams,
    The bent spoon, the needle, the room.

    All viewed without pity, remorse or regret,
    But tenderly rendered with wit;
    There’s only one sin: that a man should forget
    His humanity, for then he’s just shit.

    You’re the poet of small change, of nickels and dimes,
    Of lives measured out in a shot-glass;
    Of terrible beauty and horrible crimes;
    Of the heart with a .38 by-pass.

    You speak to me yet and I get the old thrill
    As your 3 a.m. voice pins the truth down,
    Up my spine, Frank’s wild years still send a chill
    Like the footsteps that sound in a ghost town.

    For me, you’ll always be the straight sound
    Of the almost, the could have, the if...
    The perfect soundtrack to an imperfect life
    As I drive it right over a cliff.

    This from an acrostics thread:


    Did you re-charge my new pace-maker?
    It can be tiring, torturing scum;
    Clearly the towel-head bastard’s a faker;
    Killing Arabs is messy but has to be done.

    Constitution? You jest! You think I’m a pinko?
    Hell, that crap’s for losers, not practical men;
    Executive orders while George is still stinko
    Need strong, steady hands and a large fountain pen,
    Especially when freedom is on its last legs;
    You want secure omelettes? You break the world’s eggs.

    This from the syllabic thread:

    The Customer Is Always Wrong

    Drab as a fool, aloof as a bard,
    The work of a poet is not hard,
    Not even for the pure avant-garde,
    A cut and paste job will serve as well
    As careful constructs, hand wrought in hell,
    The rabble may buy them, who can tell?
    Who cares if you sound a bit odd though?
    Or your work, a bit of a plod. So?
    O, bombard a drab mob, don’t nod, O.

    9X9 syllables, AAA, BBB, CCC, First line and last line are palindromes. Last line is a bit of a cheat, simply to get the syllable count right, forgive me. Theo Hobson says the Devil made me do it..

    This from the death thread:

    Darker Later

    Ainsi, toujours pousses vers de nouveaux rivages,
    Dans la nuit eternelle emportes sans retour *

    Black of wing and raucous caw,
    Razor-beaked and sharp of claw,
    What dark messenger has come
    To tell you that your race is run?

    Fabled, sable, able crow,
    Won’t you tell me where we go?
    Sighing, crying, dying me,
    What’s the difference?
    Now I’m free.

    Dirt, stars, blood, air,
    Rock, light, spit, bones,
    Sinew, ashes, dust, hair,
    Love, hate, water, stones.

    The dark bird wheels,
    The dark wheel spins,
    The dark conceals
    The darkest sins.

    Again the fatal dance begins.

    *So, always impelled towards new shores,
    Carried for ever into eternal night.
    –from Le Lac by Alphonse De Lamartine

    I’m going to start digging out some of your old stuff and posting it (if you don’t object) and freep’s and everyone elses’s. There really is some good stuff on the threads…

  11. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2009 12:31 AM

    You really should read The Secret History (especially since you were there). I picked it up reluctantly (Mrs and d. read it and went on about it constantly) but within a few minutes found it hard to put down. Campus novels aren’t usually my cup of tea, but this one is out of the ordinary. The Et In Arcadia Ego section of Brideshead crossed with Le Grand Meaulnes? Something like that.

    Those poems of yours were really good. I kept stopping for a read when I was searching for the ones I posted. Some great stuff there.

  12. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 12:36 AM

    The only two campus novels or near-campus novels that I remember enjoying were Richard Farina’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me and Fitzgerald’s This Side Of Paradise, both read in my teens. Don’t know how much I’d enjoy them now, though. I might give the Tartt a try….

  13. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2009 12:49 AM

    Give it a whirl. At least it’ll bring back a few memories. Looks like freep has broken the atf diktat by recommending me. He can expect a carpet-chewing rant tomorrow.
    A demain.

  14. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 4:10 AM

    Here’s that exchange wherein Plath’s Plaint appeared:

    Wordsworth Replies

    Bugger daffodils
    Who really cares?
    I’m keeping an eye
    On my railway shares.–Me

    De Quincey Retorts

    Sod the shares
    And the daffodils
    Just give me my drops
    And my bottle of pills.–MM

    Byron Chimes In

    Keep your flowers, your pills
    Your shares and such toys
    And give me my sister
    Or a pair of small boys.–Me

    A Word From Shelley

    I’m not keen on drink
    And my libido’s failing
    Drugs aren’t my thing
    Think I’ll take up sailing.–MM

    Keats Bleats

    The chemists, I gave up
    For poems, such presumption
    I’ve scarpered to Rome
    To die of consumption.–Me

    Clare’s Comment

    The fields and the trees
    The apples and conkers
    I loved all nature
    Now I’m bonkers–MM

    Swineburne’s Statement

    My friends all now give me the slip,
    Just because my particular toys
    Include handcuffs, the cane and the whip,
    When they’re wielded by comely young boys.–Me

    Berryman’s Bleat

    Poems on one side
    Booze on the other
    Which one to choose?
    I’ll jump in the river.–MM

    Poe Predicts

    Though morbid verse is
    My bread and butter,
    After many reverses
    I’ll end in the gutter.–Me

    Pushkin’s Prophecy

    Seen that Natalia Goncharova?
    She’s really pretty hot
    If I thought I had a chance
    I’d marry her like a shot.–MM

    Emily Explains

    I cherished the birds and the bees,
    I never myself had much luck,
    My tightly clamped virginal knees
    Meant not once did I have a good relationship–Me

    Marlowe’s Mistake

    Writing Shakespeare’s a bit of a drag
    And spying is tougher than you’d think
    I’ll knock it on the head for now
    And get down the tavern for a quiet drink.–MM

    Verlaine Vouchsafes

    I took up with Rimbaud, the snot,
    He brought me nothing but pain,
    The bastard deserved to get shot,
    I’m sorry that I missed his brain.–Me

  15. March 15, 2009 9:54 AM

    My other half read “The Secret History” recently and raved about it – she read the follow up and wasn’t so impressed although apparently it had its moments.

    re: best of Poster poems beyond the really worked at poems from the likes of freep, Baron C, Grace, your good self and many others what I like are the the ones written in response like the lovely poetic ping pong between you and MM above. A joy to read ( especially at the time )and very much in the insult tradition that we talked about somewhere else on this site.

    I could have nominated the entire clerihew thread. Of course some of them were more than a bit dodgy but there’s a lot to be said for a conversation between strangers conducted almost entirely in a poetic form.

  16. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 10:30 AM

    You know, I haven’t even looked at that old clerhew thread yet. I suspect there’s an awful lot of stuff there that’ll re-bear re-posting or re-habilitation..ha-ha…see what I did there? What a wag I am…

  17. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2009 10:37 AM

    This one of freep’s killed me at the time and usually pops into my head when I see the muscular orange yodeller:

    To Tom Jones

    You brought a lump to my throat
    When you sang Delilah;
    You nasty Welsh stoat.
    I know nobody viler.

  18. March 15, 2009 11:14 AM

    Although I feel he’s a bit harsh on stoats freep’s response to the clerihews from the Daily Mail ( on page 7 of the PP clerihew thread ) is worthy of Gore Vidal ” These are offensively brilliant, uncomfortably authentic and intermittently literate”.

  19. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 11:28 AM

    Remember this brilliant acrostic from MM? It had a few people scratching their heads:


    Elaborate on the antique theme
    why the carpenter had to die
    are tools to hand? Yes. It does seem
    eye, brain, hand can together tie,
    see the mortice filled, beam on beam.


    Embedded in the aural stream
    you must be sought, found, then supply
    essential unguents to the scheme.
    Eye, ear and hand can codify
    see the air in the anatheme.


    Ancient truth or modern lie,
    why visit that exhausted seam?
    Employment in this industry
    enacts an Ancient & Modern dream.

  20. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 12:38 PM

    Anyone else seen this?:

    However, Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor, denied that a British Stewart was necessary. “Cramer has been attacked by Jon Stewart for being too optimistic after the crisis started in the summer of 2007,” he said yesterday. “The allegation against him and CNBC is that they were taking too rose-tinted a view of what was subsequently going on at various institutions. That is simply not a criticism that I think can be levelled at most UK financial journalists.

    “If Stewart tried to do that over here, I think he’d look like an idiot because I don’t think there’s evidence for falling down on the job in remotely the same way. I don’t think it’s possible to do it because the evidence isn’t there of a complacent, or self-satisfied, or lazy, or unduly optimistic media.”–The Grauniad, today.

    Evidently the moronic Peston doesn’t read Private Eye, where the risible fantasies retailed by twerps like Peston have been a regular feature for years. I could quote chapter and verse but why bother? It would be an excercise in futility on par with chastising Pongo for chasing birds or biting postmen…

  21. March 15, 2009 3:14 PM


    Do give artp a one-night-only showing for PP. I’ve recommended about 10 poems, unsink, Para and Ned have done the same. atf can set her own restrictions but for me this is an opportunity to celebrate the different things, humour, games, craft, brilliance, doggerel, that make PP so special. Two or three selections won’t cover that.

  22. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 5:26 PM

    OK, Baron…I can deny you nothing, you devil, you. But I can tell you right now, 3 selections isn’t going to cut it. Too much good stuff…(and it might take me a while. Going through…what?…10,000 or so poems?…and stopping to re-read is a time-consuming business….)

  23. March 15, 2009 6:50 PM

    Splendid news.

    Also, although I know I’m in danger of becoming a bit of a link-pest recently, this has being making me laugh today; a site that collects some of the more witless, paranoid and bizarre comments from the BBC’s Have Your Say section:

  24. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 6:57 PM

    Baron, I’m a firm believer in the old Etruscan saying “a man can never have too many links to amusing sites on the internet.”

    BTW, even as we speak, in another browser window the Grauniads hated blue barber’s pole is spinning uselessly as I wait for it to load my comment onto Bill’s blog. 5 minutes so far and nada…

  25. March 15, 2009 7:04 PM

    Very progressive chaps, the Etruscans. The British Museum collection has a baked-clay Nokia Comes With Music phone and a bronze Gavin & Stacey DVD. Obviously, they didn’t have commentary tracks and deleted scenes back then.

  26. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 7:21 PM

    God, I hate the GU site. Ugly, stupid and SLOW. That’s my third attempt to post a comment on Poster Poems abandoned. I can only stand that fucking swirly blue barber’s pole for so long. Bastards. I’ll try again later.

  27. March 15, 2009 8:07 PM

    Baron Have you not seen the Assyrian wall-frieze blooper section with out-takes of the Lion hunt? The 5 X 100 metre long attempts to get the lion jumping at the chariot correct are really most amusing.

    Mishari I notice than one of your poems posted by another has already been moderated – congratulations.

  28. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 8:18 PM

    For a minute there, Al, I was prepared to be outraged and forget about posting there until I had a look and realized it was HLM’s little joke…isn’t it?

  29. March 15, 2009 8:42 PM

    I had the same process exactly but yes, think it’s HLM’s whimsy. Funny though, I immediately had a shortlist in mind for which poems it might have been.

  30. March 15, 2009 8:43 PM

    Either that or you’ve entered a parallel Desiverse where anything attached to your name can get chopped.

  31. March 15, 2009 8:47 PM

    @I liked the clip where Ashurbanipal tries to behead a defeated king and the scimitar’s still in its scabbard. There’s a slave with a swanee whistle carved behind him for sound effects. I rated it 4/5 on the CuniTube tablet. LOL!?!!

  32. March 15, 2009 8:47 PM

    Sorry, the above should have read @Al.

  33. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2009 8:48 PM

    I wonder what happened to Poster Poems 3? Was the whole thread deleted perchance?

    If I have the barber pole on GU for longer than 10 seconds I refresh, which usually works. If it doesn’t I keep on refreshing. Then I throw the laptop across the room.

  34. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 8:52 PM

    No act of illiberal stupidity by the mods would surprise me but a poem that merited deletion would probably have been deleted when it first appeared so HLM wouldn’t have been able to find it in the first place…probably.

  35. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 9:00 PM

    When I hit refresh after attempting a post and getting the barber’s pole, I get the thread sans my post…I thought Sonnets was Poster Poems 3? (My mistake. You’re right. I think they just fucked the count up–Ed)

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2009 9:11 PM

    Sorry, I thought you meant just trying to access the thread. Refreshing doesn’t help if you’re trying to post something. As you know. Sonnets is marked as PP4 on the list.

    Friday 4th April PP2 Let’s start counting
    Friday 18th April PP4 Sonnets

    11th April seems to be missing.

  37. March 15, 2009 9:17 PM


    I wasn’t posting back then but didn’t the whole of PP4 get moderated? I think the topic was Swearing, Slander & Gynaecology.

  38. March 15, 2009 9:21 PM

    Wasn’t PP4 Incest, Genocide and Racial Discrimination? Billy toned it down a peg or two after that.

  39. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 9:21 PM

    OK, I just posted successfully, but had to use Explorer, which I hate. No idea why Firefox is acting up, if indeed the problem is Firefox not GU, which I doubt somehow…

  40. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 9:22 PM

    No, PP4 was devoted to verses on Moderation. Naturally,. the whole thread was, erm..moderated…

    Shit. I got my HTML wrong and put bold instead of B. Think I’ll repost it…

  41. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 15, 2009 9:32 PM

    I checked back on Steve’s blog and there was definitely a blog that week. BM asks for contributions. It’s a poetry Roswell.

  42. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 9:42 PM

    “The truth is out there…”. I wonder if asking the mods to do something constructive for a change and repair my HTML error is worth trying? Nah. Bastards would just delete the request. One is forbidden to even mention the mods rather as the ancient (and for all I know Modern) Hebrews were forbidden from mentioning God by name….

  43. March 15, 2009 11:44 PM

    I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s all the ’54 man’ stuff about?

  44. mishari permalink*
    March 15, 2009 11:56 PM

    MM, myself, Billy, maybe alarming, not sure…all born in 1954. A vintage year.

  45. March 16, 2009 12:15 AM

    Ah, I see.

    A great year, indeed. Of course, the research was still in the beta stage then, building towards the climactic and, some would say, epochal Project ’74.

    But, jeez, you guys got Miles at Prestige, Elvis at Sun. I got The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and the first officially duff Stones LP.

  46. March 16, 2009 12:21 AM

    And Relayer by Yes.

  47. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 12:34 AM

    Ah…Yes…the most barftastic of progrockers (although I must confess to having a soft spot for Emerson, Lake and Palmer…I know, I know. None of us are perfect) .

  48. March 16, 2009 12:42 AM


    Even hardened proggers often balk at ELP. I thought they were the high thanes of humourless pomp until I read a recent interview with Yes’s Steve Howe who seemed to be saying that any song which doesn’t have five suite-movements with patent widdly-pokery is effectively disposable infant flimflam. Are you going to tell Smokey Robinson or shall I?

  49. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 1:07 AM

    I thought ELP were over the top in a fun way and interviews of the period with Emerson revealed an articulate man with a sense of humour and a penchant for self-mockery, which endeared him to me. Plus, I saw them around the time of Tarkus and they put on a fantastic show…I’m pretty sure it would have been fantasic even if I hadn’t been flying on acid.

    I always detested Yes, who really did epitomise for me that whole po-faced, dreary, self-regarding humourless strand of progrock, some of which was just people who loved jazz and rock and Cage and Stockhausen and who were trying to create some sort of satisfying fusion of same.

    Hard to hate them for that and God knows, they were at least a bit more ambitious than yer average A-Stack-Of-Marshalls-And-A-Wa-Wa-Pedal 3-chord merchants (the dreaded Edgar Broughton Band spring to mind).

  50. March 16, 2009 1:21 AM

    Oh, I’m with you on prog in general. Peter Gabriel was one of my heroes when I was 15 or so (along with David Byrne. I was what they call a ‘serious child’). Van Der Graaf, King Crimson, Zappa, all offered bizarre thrills with the added bonus that I could could feel entirely isolated and superior. But Yes, as you say…I have an article somewhere listing the top ten least-sensical Jon Anderson lyrics; he eschewed nouns like a vegan eschews foie gras. The theatricalism, high-vaulting ambition and absurdity of prog make it so much more rewarding than safer, more ‘tasteful’ forms of the rock. And, you know what, I might just get myself a copy of Tarkus. Been listening to Amon Dull II a lot. Wish I’d heard them when I was 15.

    I’m an hour ahead, here. I should go to bed….

  51. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 1:31 AM

    Tarkus is still a pleasure to listen to. I recommend it. Boldness, imagination, instrumental virtuosity…what’s not to like?

  52. March 16, 2009 1:42 AM

    Genital Giant, anyone?

    (typo, I’m sure)

  53. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 3:13 AM

    Just when I reach a stage where I believe this loathsome government can’t enrage me any more than they already have they do this and plumb new depths. Read it and weep. I’m counting the days until I can help to vote these revolting fucking scumbags out.

  54. March 16, 2009 8:20 AM

    Every prediction of the dystopian pulp sci fi of the mid-20th century is coming to pass

  55. March 16, 2009 10:14 AM

    Baron – that link is brilliant! Great to be able to make use (by use I mean for entertainment) of some of the inane or bizarre comments people make. Some are just funny, some are downright worrying! I suspect that at some point in the middle of the night I’ll wake up, cold, wondering what daft thing I could have said along the way which could end up on there!

  56. March 16, 2009 10:18 AM

    I’m a 56-er myself and used to love ELP ( first 3 albums only though ) but also detested Yes. I’ve not heard Tarkus since I was about 17 and often wonder what it would sound like today.

    My cousin used to work for their manager and she once turned up at Greg Lake’s mansion in Surrey ( where else? ) where he sat on a throne to talk to them and had a black flunkey in flunkey gear serve him a ready rolled spliff on a silver platter. He didn’t share it round either.

  57. March 16, 2009 10:44 AM

    “Greg Lake’s mansion in Surrey ( where else? )…”

    What is it about Surrey? I once had an audience with a flowerstand owner who was also recording imaginary global hits in a studio shed on the side; referred to himself as the “Pol Pot of Pop”. Later that same year, I answered an advert in the NME (or was it the Melody Maker?) and found myself, again, on my out way out to Surrey, where the dumpy-balding (fuzzy, overall) couple I encountered in a Baronial semidetached (they were writing a prog rock opera about the Elephant man) almost immediately announced themselves (with no prodding from me, that’s certain) as Reichians. Glancing at my watch I exclaimed Oh Dear, I’ve suddenly realized I’ve forgotten that I have to be back in the city within minutes to meet a builder or something…

  58. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 10:49 AM

    Reichians, eh? Did they want you for their orgone box or something less elaborate?

  59. March 16, 2009 12:36 PM

    Mish – just noticed your link to the news piece about the latest Government money-making scheme to bleed money from travellers. My question is won’t they just be as incompetent at running that as anything else? Mind you maybe they’ll just contract it out. It’s scandalous really, but again the argument will be used that if you’ve got nothing to hide you won’t mind the invasion of privacy if it helps to catch terrorists. Well fair enough, but mostly what will happen is that non-terrorist normal people will end up falling foul of it and having to pay huge fines and the terrorists will find a way round it. My husband travels abroad with his work several times a month and is often sent at the last minute or things are cancelled at the last minute, this is difficult enough for him to keep track of. Perhaps the Government will offer some kind of reward card for the frequent payer?

    Am I HUGELY cynical in thinking that it’s joined up to the stupid idea of introducing a minimum 50p charge for a unit of alcohol? Under this scheme (meant to reduce happy hour bingeing) even the most god-awful wine will have to cost £4.50. This will no doubt make the booze-cruise a very attractive option. So they can make sure they don’t lose the revenue by monitoring the booze-cruisers – it’s not about terrorists at all – it’s about making money out of people. Maybe they’re hoping to claw back bankers’ pensions etc…

    And the tax on chocolate!!!! I’m hoping this is just a sick joke!

  60. March 16, 2009 1:12 PM


    spEak You’re bRanes is indeed a long look into the dark British psyche. I’m in the Netherlands at the moment and, with that and this absurd alcohol tax and the imminent transfer of power from a terrible government to something even worse, I’m tempted to stay here. A beer costs less than a euro in the shops. Wine is cheap. Yet there’s no fighting in the streets, no destituion. Britiain has always been Gin Lane – it still seems to see itself through this Victorian filter but that was an anomaly (as well as an illusion). Before the international ‘stiff-upper-lip-fair-play-lbw’ image, the British were always seen as drunken and fierce.

  61. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 1:14 PM

    I don’t have a big problem with showing my passport on leaving the country, but the idea of notifying these incompetent buffoons 24 hours in advance with my credit card details and my detailed itinerary? Given their past record of losing peoples data on trains and in taxis? Yeah, right…

    What the hell business is it of theirs what my itinerary is? And how does having my credit card details prevent terrorism? Do these inept cretins imagine that terrorists charge their bombs to Mastercard? And do they, the morons, really imagine that ‘terrorists’ are going to be thwarted by such laughable nonsense?

    The real trouble is that politicians and the civil service have forgotten–we don’t work for them or serve at their pleasure. They work for us and serve at our pleasure. Seeing this grotesque and degraded so-called Labour Party wiped out of existence at the next election will put a song in my heart.

  62. March 16, 2009 2:22 PM

    Baron the speak your branes site reminds me of that Stewart Lee taxi-driver quote ” You can prove anything with facts”.

    My gran always used to say ” I just don’t understand the IRA, what’s up with them? what do they think they are doing? We should shoot the lot of them”.

    Security is one thing but why this obsession with giving over sensitive material to agencies who in almost every case will leave such stuff on a train or in a taxi-cab? Sounds like another scheme to make a government department more money.

    Mishari agree on the Labour Party but who’s going to be any better? Certainly not Cameron.

  63. March 16, 2009 2:27 PM

    “Reichians, eh? Did they want you for their orgone box or something less elaborate?”

    They started off by discussing Kate Bush videos… I was out the door before they showed me the accumulator or put any Sting songs on…

  64. March 16, 2009 2:50 PM

    Steven – this ad in the NME. What exactly did it say? I think revealing its wording could provide a very useful public information service. These hairies might have moved on to another neck of the woods. It could provide a case for a progrock offender’s register.

  65. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 2:52 PM

    I know, Al. They’ll be no better but I honestly can’t see them being any worse. At least they’ve comitted to repealing a lot of this loathsome govt’s more illiberal legislation. Of course, what they say in opposition and what they’ll actually do in power…still, it’s a stick to beat the sons of bitches with. The best I’m hoping for is a minority Conservative govt who can’t do shit without support from Lib Dems or suitably chastened Labour scum…

    Anything but this lot, for whom my loathing has become visceral…

  66. March 16, 2009 3:10 PM

    “Steven – this ad in the NME. What exactly did it say?”

    It was 20 years ago, Al; the sinister word-smithery that got me on that train out there is shrouded in mist (or immortalized in a true-crime paperback about serial killers of the 1990s). The most vivid memory of the encounter is the round-faced fellow calling excitedly over his shoulder (toward the dim kitchen where tea was being brewed), “Darling, we’ve got another Reichian here!” Just because I’d responded (to his icebreaking spiel) that I knew about Wilhelm Reich.

  67. March 16, 2009 3:14 PM

    Oh they’ll be worse I think – now that Brown is floating in the water they are already relaxing some of their more progressive “policies” and cosying back up to the Thatcherites. The reason David Davies packed his bags is still not really clear – either he was such an ego on legs that the party wanted shot of him or he saw what was really lurking behind their weekend divorced dad-style promises ( Yes we’ll do this, we can do this as well ) and had a fit of conscience.

  68. March 16, 2009 5:04 PM

    Is Brown “floating in the water”? I’m at a loss as to who I’d vote for as well. It’s a dangerous position though, whilst those of us with brains decide we’d rather not vote for any of them as they’re all as useless as each other, the mob gets stirred up by some BNP candidate or other who knows exactly which buttons to press and gets in. It happened in Halifax and Burnley, and living in a cosy valley between the two I got rather concerned.
    Somehow the conversative guy got in for our ward, who is next to useless, but slightly better than Steph Booth (yes Cherie’s stepmother) who’s the Labour candidate here and thinks chuffing on about windturbines will get her the vote – the old not-in-our-backyard brigade. Personally I’ll let them put a windturbine in my back garden if they’ll let me buy cheap booze and chocolate – a compromise can be made…

  69. March 16, 2009 5:39 PM

    Tink I was in Tod last Saturday night and the offie was shut at 7.00. Is it run by the Labour party as well?

    I’ll never vote Tory but until the Libdems stop being such pathetic opportunists I’m stuck with Labour or something extremely marginal. That’s the bloody problem with politics. Only 2 of the parties have any chance.

  70. March 16, 2009 5:42 PM

    Netherlands, proportional representation. It’s not as dramatic as the two party system but it prevents this ridiculous see-sawing between ideologies (not that there’s much of that on display any more). And the power a party has is actually reflected by the number of people that voted for it.

  71. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 6:22 PM

    Yeah…it’s a cluster-fuck..the Tories are scum, Labour are scum and I’ve no idea what the Lib Dems stand for although judging by the way they dither, I’d say they’re the usual gang of opportunists. Their record in councils they control doesn’t inspire confidence that they’re anything but more of the fucking same…

    We’re back to me for emperor, gang…you know it makes sense.

    I quite like those wind-turbines, Tink…although they do make an eerie kind of hum/throb/whine up close but, hey…I’m a Londoner. I’m supposed to soil my bloomers over a litle noise? Ho-ho, it is to laugh, my old…

  72. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 16, 2009 7:23 PM

    Keith Emerson was born in Todmorden.

  73. March 16, 2009 9:29 PM

    Oh I love the wind turbines as well. I can say that they only add to the beauty of the valley here. The romantic in me rather likes to see nature being harnessed for the common good.

    I’s like it if the lib dems could put up some kind of fight too – always thought I’d end up being in their camp, but I’m not sure they’ve decided where to pitch it yet!

    Alarming – on your next visit to Tod can I suggest a visit to the pink Bar opposite Morrisons. The proprietor is a charming man, usually seen of an evening dapper in a waistcoat & victorian sideburns, who’s always a bit squiffy because he enjoys his own whares, he brews his own beer (in pink barrels), which is of undiscernible strength but will mostly nail your hat on, and to top it off his wife paints nudey pictures (she also has a wooden leg, well actually a plastic one, which she uses to water the hanging baskets). Her paintings are displayed about the place – that man officially has the best job in the world!

    Maybe I should get shares in this place!

  74. March 16, 2009 9:33 PM

    Right so soon I’ll stop banging on about where I live, but I’ve noticed Sylvia Plath being mentioned a couple of times along the way in these poetry discussions… I work in Mytholmroyd, Ted Hughes birthplace, and wrote my first poem in the house he shared with Sylvia Plath in Heptonstall. Pity my first poem was a pile of shit, but I guess her ghost was busy helping someone else out!

  75. March 16, 2009 9:57 PM


    Sorry to be late in on your exploding electric necktie comic verse bash (not that wading through the brilliant detritus of blown-out horns and crumpled party hats has not been fun). Should any patience remain for poetic japes, there are some Poetry Funnies (Keats Comix) to be found at :

  76. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 10:39 PM

    …is this a tease?

  77. freep permalink
    March 16, 2009 11:08 PM

    [This quatrain has been sponsored by Deactivated Sludge Ltd. No cats were harmed during its composition, and the words are guaranteed free from noxiousness. Neither the writer nor his legatees can be held responsible for any aggravation, misdemeanour, affray or injury caused to foreign nationals, or damage to delicate headwear, uncured neat’s leather, bargent, or hosiery.]

    A man with a cat that’s as black as all that
    Ought to sluice out and delouse his house;
    As a cat that is damned by lavatural lack
    Will infrequently take to the mouse.

    Mishari. I am honoured by the extravagant praise you heaped (over on the other place) on my scribblings. I bet Pongo doesn’t think much of this one. But I still owe you a sonnet. Have bardic constipation just now, so will fig myself.
    I have a mind to visit Todmorden and see the leg, but regrettably have to go to Croydon instead. Hope they have figs.

  78. mishari permalink*
    March 16, 2009 11:14 PM

    Croydon has meant figs since Roman times…and wine…and cheese (Jayne Mansfield Blue, made from the milk of Croydon housewives and delicious with a glass of Chateau South Circular). It’s the climate, you know…

  79. March 17, 2009 12:14 AM

    I think she might use the leg sometimes to wash her paint brushes as well…

  80. March 17, 2009 12:39 PM

    freep Croydon has excellent South Indian vegetarian restaurants as well – In the UK they are the best ones outside of Leicester in my admittesdly limited experience – the Iddly is to die for. This does make sense btw.

  81. freep permalink
    March 17, 2009 1:25 PM

    Thanks Al, for the tip on Croydon’s gifts. Used to live in W Croydon in the early 70s and the incoming Ugandan and Kenyan Asians set up some good cheap eateries alongside the Punjabis; glad the tradition is still going.
    As one who suffers the lack of anywhere to eat out at all in Northumberland (nobody lives here), I value news of culinary progress in inhabited parts. Mind, things in Newcastle aren’t too bad. They have this white stuff called yaoughourt now, and the chippies have started serving brown sauce as an alternative to vinegar. A friend of mine said you can now get unsliced bread inWallsend, but I expect it’s rumour.

  82. March 17, 2009 1:30 PM

    Don’t you get chucked out of Newcastle if you’re ask for any bread other than a Stotty cake?

  83. March 17, 2009 1:36 PM

    freep Have worked a lot in Stockton and will be there in August. All the take outs ( and there are an incredible amount of them ) sell chicken parmesan which I’ve never seen anywhere else – not even in the NE.

    It’s an English chip-shop variation of a chicken parmiggiani ( spelling? ) and you’d need to be pretty drunk to eat one. Luckily after 10.00 at night everyone in Stockton is. The food guinea-pig in our company tried one and bailed out after about 3 mouthfulls.

  84. freep permalink
    March 17, 2009 3:02 PM

    Very true, Tink. The stottie cake is the passport across the Tyne. It is made of plaster, fibreglass and fortified water, and its widespread use explains how Geordie women can walk about in midwinter wearing nowt but a corn plaster. It has deep inner insulation properties.
    I haven’t come across the chicken parmigiani yet, Al, but it would take more than that to lure me to Stockton. Used to visit a gaol there and it was ugly. If you are taking the thirty-foot pig there, I might make the effort.

    Foolish to sit at a screen; there are many centigrades outside in the garden, almost tropical. And if I dig up enough worms, I might get inspiration to write the sonnet I owe you, Mish. Trouble is, whenever I start wielding a spade, I get reminded of the immortal and ridiculous lines of Wordsworth. If my name was Wilkinson, I would not wish to be thus immortalised:

    SPADE! with which Wilkinson hath tilled his lands,
    And shaped these pleasant walks by Emont’s side,
    Thou art a tool of honour in my hands;
    I press thee, through the yielding soil, with pride.

  85. March 17, 2009 3:19 PM

    freep The pig has been to Stockton we’re taking a large 3 metre high head in a garden shed ( new this year ) plus our compost heap.

    Stockton is indeed a place and a half. The audiences are 70% lovely and 30% psychotic and for those of us who don’t live in the NE the night-life is eye opening.

  86. March 17, 2009 4:07 PM

    I’ve been around those parts. Darlington (the other end of the famous railway). Used to regularly fight my corner there as a barmaid, where you had to learn how to duck flying ashtrays and how to dance your way out of a drunken grasps whilst carrying two hands full of glasses. I miss some things though – the bloke selling crab sticks and the chip pizzas we from the kebab house…

  87. March 17, 2009 4:44 PM


    Sorry about that, ’twas no tease: I had sent a link which disappeared mysteriously into the vapors.

    Some of the poetry funnies are here:

    want of an object 3/15/09

    negative capability 3/15/09

    and on this very interesting audio poetry site there’s a poem about a clown who wandered into a test site, the sort of occasion, as you know, that often causes neckties to explode:

    po-i-tre on hazard response

    (Congratulations by the way to you and everybody for making a splash in the GU Po Anthology–had I only known what distinguished company I’ve been clowning around in!)

  88. March 17, 2009 9:49 PM

    There was one take away in Stockton that did Lamb Sunday Roast in a pitta complete with roast potatoes

  89. March 17, 2009 10:44 PM

    Any gravy?

  90. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 17, 2009 11:30 PM

    I saw Death In Venice for the first time in Stockton. We were only on the threshold of the Thatch revolution so the town couldn’t really be described as post-industrial. There was nevertheless an air of decay and a general sense of malaise about the place which went well with Visconti’s masterpiece. As we returned to our vandalised car I could swear I saw Von Aschenbach taking a kicking from some Middlebrough supporters in the car park of the Bath Hotel. A German pederast. What did he expect? I suppose he could be thankful he wasn’t a monkey.

  91. March 18, 2009 12:58 AM


    The only thing more extraordinary that can be imagined would be seeing Death in Stockton for the first time in Venice.

  92. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 7:59 AM

    Remind me…is Stockton where, during the Napoleonic Wars, they hung as a French spy a monkey that had washed ashore from a shipwreck or the place where they elected a monkey mayor?

    Either way, I’m glad I don’t live in England (London is sui generis).

    Latest search terms:

    evil sheep

    “lou miami” and torrent

    empty suit

    mod french line haircut men

    confinement sheep

    shadows in the tunnel

    postman cartoon images

    someone shouting down another person’s e

    batteries sheep faux-baudelaire

    taliban sheep

    long term care of senile

  93. Billy permalink
    March 18, 2009 8:17 AM

    What a pleasure to see you on the anthology thread. Thanks.

  94. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 9:04 AM

    As you may know, Bill, I only buggered off when they disappeared a couple of pieces of my doggerel from Carol’s thread, moving even Carol to protest. It was the final straw but is in no way a reflection on you.

    Poster Poems is one of the bright spots on an increasingly dull, bland website and I’ll always be grateful for the encouragement and tolerance I received from you and all the other poster poets. I’ve been a bit busy but I still have a lot of selections to make, having only reached Sept. of last year so far….

  95. freep permalink
    March 18, 2009 9:26 AM

    Not Stockton, but nearby Hartlepool, Mishari. Mandelson’s constituency. Monkeys. Not really part of England either.
    Had a most odd experience last night. My son sings in a Newcastle band and played a St Patricks Night gig in a pub. There were thirty people, and twenty of them were deaf people on a night out. Playing to a deaf audience was a useful addition to his education.

  96. Billy permalink
    March 18, 2009 9:42 AM

    Some wordplay by myself and the rather wonderful C Walsh now available over here:

  97. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 9:47 AM

    On a sort of tangenitally related note, if you’re blind, you get a discount on your TV licence, which always struck me as not only a trifle odd (isn’t TV for the blind called ‘radio’?) but also typically mean-spirited. Mind you, these are the same inept creeps who threaten to take dead people to court for non-payment of council tax…

    Thanks for the link, Bill…

  98. Billy permalink
    March 18, 2009 10:16 AM

    isn’t TV for the blind called ‘radio’

    Well, to an extent yes, but the programming is different. But yes, meanspirited it is.

  99. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 10:30 AM

    It’s a lovely sunny, spring day in London so I must go for a wander…check out the water-voles, kingfishers and grass-snakes by the River Lea and sneer at the daffodils and the early blossoming crack-dealers, maybe even see my first swallow of the year….or, as RLS put it:

    In the green and gallant Spring,
    Love and the lyre I thought to sing,
    And kisses sweet to give and take
    By the flowery hawthorn brake.

    …then back to going through the Poster Poems.

  100. parallaxview permalink
    March 18, 2009 10:47 AM

    batteries sheep faux-baudelaire

    was mine, mish. Politely Homicidal is of course bookmarked on my computer, but I *entered* your site through google just so’s I could make it onto this week’s search terms list. meheheh

  101. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 18, 2009 11:33 AM

    A beautiful idea, BTP. Welsh writer Gareth Mountainashenbach travels to the Stockton Lido to contemplate the reeking Tees and watch spotty obese binge-drinking youths disport themselves in the chemical ooze. It can’t end well.

    Another week of anthologising? It’s like the Recommend button to the power of ten. I thought I’d get mine in quick and then I needn’t look at it again. What am I going to do for diversion during the longueurs of The Bill?

    Charles Willeford is fab. The dog-wanking took it to another level.

  102. parallaxview permalink
    March 18, 2009 12:08 PM

    I had to tag baudelaire on the end just to find you – you have no idea how many ‘rear-entry-blow-up, good-for-stag-nights, complete-with-velcro- wrist-clasps’ sites there are without baudelaire – I wonder what the batteries are for? hang on I’ll check…

    ahh …

    Oversized parade-style head with battery operated fan for increased ventilation

  103. March 18, 2009 12:40 PM

    Gareth Mountainashenbach gets accused of paedophilia by 7 year old latch-key kid. He denies it. Latch-key kid’s parents deny they are the parents when caught stumbling out a pub. But when a chance to duff up an effete artist is on offer they accept and after a brief moment where it might all be okay it all ends badly.

    All done to a soundtrack of the adagio of Mahler’s 5th being put on the pub juke-box and then very quickly being taken off again to be replaced by Iron Maiden’s “Take your daughter to the slaughter.”

  104. Captain Ned permalink
    March 18, 2009 1:31 PM

    Sounds better than ‘Death in Venice’ itself. Christ, that film was a stinking pile of toss.

  105. March 18, 2009 2:57 PM

    Freep – you should check out the late night show on the satellite music/video channel The Box, with signing for the deaf. Some little person in the corner signs the lyrics with appropriate enthusiasm depending on the nature of the music. I’ve yet to see one head-banging, but I bet that sort of thing goes on…

  106. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 3:09 PM

    I would pay good money to watch someone signing AC/DC’s Back In Black…

    I’m with you Cap’n re: Death In Venice. As an admirer of Visconti’s work and of Dirk Bogarde, I wanted to like it but I just couldn’t bring myself to give a fuck…some Kraut sissy goes to Venice to croak of consumption (of course…these bozos never get colo-rectal cancer…it’s always bloody consumption, from Keats to frigging Camille) and develops a mad pash for an under-age wop in a sailor suit.

    I mean, the film looked georgeous but I couldn’t work up any interest….I wish to God Visconti had filmed Felix Krull instead…

  107. freep permalink
    March 18, 2009 3:17 PM

    Cap’n Ned, Mishari; I think the technical and critical term you are seeking for that film is ‘long’.
    Went to see that film about a gal and her dog last week: ‘Wendy and Lucy’. Only 1 hour 20 minutes long, I thought, can’t be bad … But it was about 1 hour 15 mins over time. Girl on the road gets stuck in faceless town in Oregon; loses dog; car breaks down; finds dog; gets on train. End.
    Bit like your summary of Death in Venice, Mish, except it’s a dog and not a boy in a sailor suit, and the main character writes long symphonies and has too much make up.

  108. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 3:24 PM

    Well, that’s it, freep…it’s like being in a car with a bad driver. Any speed is too fast…

    I thought you’d like the Willeford, MM. He was an interesting man (see here) and Hoke Mosely was a great creation. I think Walter Matthau would have played him well. BTW, the Liebling is on its way. Sorry about the coffee-stain…

  109. freep permalink
    March 18, 2009 3:30 PM

    Tink; thanks for the link to the youtube signing performance. Bizarre, remarkable; the signer grows and fills the screen and is more interesting than the predictable rapper with the shades. I know it’s wrong to wish to be deaf, but sometimes …

  110. March 18, 2009 3:45 PM

    I wish I was deaf every time I’m on the phone to my mother…

  111. March 18, 2009 4:48 PM

    I’d like to see someone signing some Jamaican ragga where they speak/sing in double time. I imagine it would be like watching Jacques Tati play table tennis in M.Hulot’s Holiday.

  112. March 18, 2009 7:13 PM

    Oh dear, I really need to watch it again as I know that bit is very funny, but I can’t totally remember it. I remember the unique tennis serve though.

  113. March 18, 2009 8:16 PM

    As the film progresses I really love the way you see someone in the background demonstrating the tennis serve to someone who wasn’t there. Followed by a shake of the head.

  114. March 18, 2009 8:33 PM

    OK, next payday I’m ordering it – I need to see it again. One favourite bit is where the spare wheel falls off the car, which has the horn attached and it goes off every time the wheel runs over it as it rolls down the hill and the bloke in the wheelchair shooting ducks goes crazy because he thinks there are loads of ducks everywhere… anyway, this could go on until we’ve recounted the entire film. Which others have you seen? I’ve not seen Traffic.

  115. March 18, 2009 9:58 PM

    Have seen them all – Traffic is the weakest but it has several wonderful sight gags in it. For completist purposes only I think but not having seen it for 30 odd years it might be better than I remember.

    Playtime is like an experimental film and features an extremely long scene in a restaurant which when I first saw it stretched my patience to breaking point but it gets better each time I see the film. So patiently put together.

    M.Hulot’s Holiday, Mon Oncle and Jour de Fete are the others and are all great. There’s also a very sixties circus film called Parade where he does a few of his old cabaret turns. He’s tres charmant but the hippy clowns require some form of self-medication to sit through.

  116. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 18, 2009 10:06 PM

    A coffee stain. Thank God. Liebling arrived today. I can see from the introduction why you feel such a bond with him.

    Physically, L was not attractive….. bald, overweight and gluttonous… ate and drank to excess…. his feet were flat… in later life he was so large that it was impossible to walk beside him on the sidewalk. He also had gout….

    Willeford led quite an eventful life. That matter of fact narrative style he uses is very effective. I’ll have to find some more.

  117. mishari permalink*
    March 18, 2009 10:11 PM

    Whenever melancholia threatens, I cheer myself up by remembering that, no matter what, I’m unlikely to ever see another hippy clown….(or loons or Afghan coats or platform shoes)…

    Cheeky bugger. I actually meant to send you the other Willefords I’ve got in paperback, but forgot. I’ve got The Way We Die Now and…erm…not sure, actually (The Shark Infested Custard–Ed.) but will shoot them down…

  118. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:07 AM

    Thanks. Thanks too for the Liebling. I thought I still had The Secret History, which I was going to offer to send to you. Unfortunately, despite extensive enquiries, I can’t find it. Sorry.

    Death In Venice was pretty dull. The adagio is the most boring part of the Fifth as well. A sad precursor of things to come in Mahler’s oeuvre.

  119. March 19, 2009 12:16 AM

    Baron I’ve just been reading over that Speak your Branes site again and chuckling to myself (well with some guffawing too), especially all the comments on the women are like flowers and who would hit a flower quote…

  120. March 19, 2009 8:40 AM

    Never likely to see platform shoes again? I would have thought Shoreditch just round from where I am imagining you live would have been rife with them. Up here there are inexplicable revivals of 70’s fashion including platform shoes but afghans have not taken seed ( which they used to do literally back in the day ).

  121. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 9:08 AM

    If they have, I haven’t noticed. Then again, various fashion crimes of the past enjoy ever-so-brief revivals around here. However, fashionistas have shorter attention-spans than politicians and the ‘latest post-modern, wittily ironic revival’ soon goes back into that big box labelled Mistakes Our Parents Made…

  122. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 9:29 AM

    I’ve never seen Death In Venice. Does he get killed by a psychotic dwarf in a red rainjacket, cos I’ve heard they’re having trouble with that? If not, it sounds as if he should. I never do very well with ‘ennui’ films. I always want the characters to dust themselves down and do something extraordinary.


    Speak You’re Branes rather did my head in after a while. When I arrived back at Stanstead yesterday everyone I saw seemed a potential TopsyTurvy or ‘RiseEnglandRise’. I try to sustain a degree of of wide-eyed innocence and always find it hard to accept that such hate and ignorance really exist.

  123. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 9:29 AM

    (Sorry Tink, exitb is also the Baron, was logged in with another name).

  124. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 9:41 AM

    That’s the thing, Baron…it’s amusing for a while until one realises that these people–spiteful, ignorant, bigoted and generally toxic–actually mean what they say…and they probably vote. Then it becomes depressing…

  125. March 19, 2009 10:08 AM

    Baron re: Death in Venice – don’t bother. The “reviews” of the proper film ( not the MM/Alarming remake )above have been very fair.

    If you enjoy staring at a young blonde Swedish boy for 2 hours whilst Mahler’s 5th plays ( and as has been noted not even the best bits of the 5th) and Dirk Bogarde sweats in the Venice sun then this is the film for you. But it doesn’t get anywhere near demonstrating why we should be interested in these elements.

    We once worked at the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Nearby there was a guy holding a full-sized crucifix made of heavy wood who shouted at the sinners who passed by all day long. For a Christian he had some pretty ripe language. We often wondered when he got home if his wife asked him ” Have a good day at work dear?” Nowadays he’s probably on-line berating the liberal media.

  126. March 19, 2009 10:11 AM

    Oh I was confused there for a minute – a new name, but a familiar sounding person!

    Do you guys mean that you find the quoted comments depressing or the fact that they get picked apart? I’m thinking you mean the witless comments which are being derided. I guess the old advice of not saying anything if you don’t have anything intelligent to say has been lost along the way.

    May I suggest that the personalisation of education (people learning to express themselves as individuals, rather than learning useful things by rote) has produced a lot of people who don’t know much but think that they have every right to have, and voice, opinions based on the little that they know. A load of people saying ignorant things with conviction.

  127. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 10:19 AM

    The picking apart is amusing enough, Tink, if a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. What depresses me is the spite, the resentment, the ignorance and the witless bigotry of the quoted comments….

  128. March 19, 2009 10:45 AM


    I think there have always been hateful thoughts in the minds of the stubbonly confused and angry (I have enough of them myself and I’m one forward-thinking-motherf***er). But I agree with you in that the growing focus on ‘having your say’ combined with all this brave new technology does mean that those thoughts that have been supressed by the original intentions behind political correctness (or, as Stewart Lee once termed it, politeness) are now being splattered across the Internet, being read out by corralled newsreaders and – as ever – filling the pages of our newspapers. I blame the parents.

  129. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 10:56 AM

    exitb – so close to exhibit B (M’Lud)

  130. March 19, 2009 11:12 AM

    I wonder if internet anonymity comes into play as well? I’ve argued against it making much of a difference in what is said but the nature of what is said can make the difference.

    We did some work in Valencia recently which ( we thought ) by and large went down pretty well – you can usually tell when you’ve pulled a stinker. However a web-site for comment received some quite nasty remarks out of the blue. Now I work outside and harbour no illusions as to what the public think. I’ve been on the end of physical violence as well as extreme verbal abuse but it’s strange how much more insidious internet comment can be.

  131. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 11:28 AM

    I think it makes a considerable difference, Al. Lacking the normal mechanisms that make civility the sensible option–proximity, clear-cut identity, first-hand knowledge of your interlocuter’s common humanity, etc.–it becomes much easier to be abusive.

    Unlike being down the pub or at a party or, in fact, anywhere in the ‘meat world’, the people who seem to be most abusive are perfectly well aware that the chance of a smack in the mouth is remote. Abuse and insult become their default mode.

    I’ve been insulting myself but at least I never hid behind a fictitious name and the injured party could, if so moved, get my address from the electoral register and come around and punch me…or try.

  132. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:03 PM

    Al I’m sure you’re right – that the cutting remarks posted on the website probably wouldn’t have been said to your face without the splurger having the balls. It’s a ring the doorbell and run away mentality, most of the time. Did you think the criticism was in anyway valid – or just insolent for the sake of it?

    Mostly I look at abusive remarks (especially on sites like Cif) with a removed sense of self – and more often than not I think it’s a discharge – not a direct assault on the topic or person to hand – of anger as some sort of retaliation against other crap that may be happening in their lives.

  133. March 19, 2009 12:29 PM

    Freep the first show ( of 3 ) we did was troubled with niggling technical hitches which screwed up the flow so I can accept criticism on those issues.

    The audiences were very enthusiastic so it came from out the blue – confusing more than anything else. I’m perfectly capable of deluding myself but I didn’t think I’d got it that wrong as regards what they thought about it. But then again it was only the responses of a few out of several hundred. Funny how these things stick.

  134. freep permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:39 PM

    Tink: ‘…the old advice of not saying anything if you don’t have anything intelligent to say has been lost along the way….’ Good. Maybe.
    I just stay quiet if I’ve got nothing positive to say. Can’t always claim to have intelligent things either. Often, it demands discipline and self-restraint; eg Carol Rumens’ interesting GU threads and choice of poems get clogged up with the opinionating of obsessive compulsive persons and professional miserabilists who insist on particular ‘meanings’ of poems, and it often ends sadly. So where I used to contribute, I rarely bother, as more heat is generated than light and the parties to the discussion are dull. Unlike this excellent room where I always find the stuffed buffalo in the corner is worth looking at, even when I can’t keep up with the young persons’ excited conversations about theories of anguillometry.

  135. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:40 PM

    I wonder what is that makes us focus on the negative which swamps any positive when it comes to criticism.

  136. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:47 PM

    yeh but freep, you’re in a teaching position or a sort of guiding hand aren’t you? Isn’t constructive criticism part and parcel of that?

    I’m not talking POTW here – which, I agree, has turned into an excruciating self absorbed dead hand of wank thread.

  137. freep permalink
    March 19, 2009 1:03 PM

    Para. Constructive criticism is fine. But often enough it gets peevish and rude, and I can’t be arsed with all that, esp when you twig that some of the parties are just a waste of time. I’m retired from full time teaching anyway, and just do what I feel like nowadays, which is mainly poetry and C17 and C18 history for old ladies and Quakers and decaying dissidents, so my online preferences for conversations are similar .. Even packed in the prisons work, so I confine my contacts to the virtuous.

  138. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 1:16 PM


    I agree about PotW. The few times I’ve been tempted to participate, if only to maybe learn something, I’ve felt put off by the constant insistence on a kind of demented, zero-tolerance orthodoxy. Also, whilst being a silent medium, these long, long posts -especially when hostile – do fill up the screen with what I can only describe as, ah, noise pollution. Ironic.

  139. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 1:20 PM

    ah – fair enough freep – I didn’t know that you’d packed in the prisons. I’d hadn’t really thought of aligning mish with old ladies and decaying dissidents – but there you go.

  140. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 2:13 PM

    Al – on the anonymous push your buttons web criticism thingo – sometimes it’s a drive by abuser posting comments but more often than not it’s petty jealousies surfacing from people that swim in the same pond. It’s noticeable on the GU books thread – especially when thwarted anonymous authors take umbrage at *mega-star* success. And occasionally passive-aggressive posters pop up in disguise just to piss off other posters – the sock-puppet phenomenon.

    Baron – I hear where you’re coming from on the noise-pollution posts – but can you just frigging keep the volume down it’s doing my head in.

  141. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:04 PM


  142. March 19, 2009 3:10 PM

    My god there seems to be a lot of poster politics that I didn’t realise. I tend to float about the place and add comments to places where I feel I might actually do something useful – I’m a benevolent fairy really. Well you guys just amuse me actually, so that’s why I hang around here. I think you’d soon chase off some abusive people if they dropped in here, without having to moderate, they would just be lambs to the slaughter.

    The key thing to remember I suppose is that if people are posting ignorant or scandalous comments and are not being challenged (because people would feel freer to challenge if they were anonymous by the same token surely?) then they are only being read by the same kinds of people – so surely it doesn’t really matter if they all just chunter away to themselves in a corner?

    freep – I like “miserabilists” – makes them sound cute.
    Did you used to teach in prisons then? (or have I got the wrong end of some comment stick?). My Dad used to teach (woodwork) in a prison, but he gave it up in the end as he got fed up of them stealing his tools. They even stole my My Little Pony pencil (which he’d stolen from me admittedly) – that was quite frankly the last straw!! Hanging’s too good for them! (how does that work??… “Oh no don’t hang me please, I don’t deserve it…”)

  143. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:21 PM


    ‘My god there seems to be a lot of poster politics that I didn’t realise.’

    The same thing happened to me when I started loitering around GU and the storm drain blogs. The clue that you’ve inadvertantly reignited a dormant feud is the sudden and universal donning of saucepan helms followed by a Rocinante-like galloping towards the nearest windmill. Just assume that we all secretly hate each other. It’s safer.

  144. March 19, 2009 3:46 PM

    I don’t hang around the poster poems for enough time to tell whether everyone hates each other, but I’ll bear it in mind!

    I just post and run.

    Everyone pretty much ignores me anyway, possibly because I’m not a literary threat and don’t need taking down any pegs.

    Please explain your avatar, is that a gas mask, or some kind of beak?

  145. parallaxview permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:49 PM

    exitb, or alternatively:

    I think they were popular around the Derby/Leicester region – but I could be wrong.

    You realise you’ve been sucked into the rip?

  146. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:51 PM


    I’m only joking. There’s no player-haters here although I have, in the past, blundered into some antipathy of which I was unaware. No big deal.

    Re my avatar; it’s neither. It’s a mask worn by doctors during the plague. It was supposed to protect them from bad spirits and bad air. It contained herbs or rolled up Biblical texts. I forget which. It was a long time ago.

  147. March 19, 2009 3:51 PM

    The worst is when you receive a blast of invective from someone who you discover has been storing up grievances against you from way back. A regular on the PotW tried that on me a while back ( now I’m nursing grievances ….bloody hell )- unfortunately he/she’d made up most of the accusations levelled so it came across as silly rather than spooky. Too damn complicated for words.

  148. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 4:08 PM


    Yeah. Sorry about that. I just thought it was safe to assume you’d done all those terrible things.


    re the ‘rip’. I think you’re right. Since my lamb-like gambol into the Clerihew thread. How far we’ve spiralled…

    I was actually at the Sun 0))) gig I linked. I wrote a mini-review of it on a friend’s blog, here:

  149. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 4:10 PM

    Testing, testing, my posts keep vanishing…

  150. exitbarnadine permalink
    March 19, 2009 4:12 PM

    ‘unfortunately he/she’d made up most of the accusations’

    Yeah, sorry about that. They just seemed like things you’d probably do. It was 50/50.

  151. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:07 PM

    Nice fig-leaving, Alarming, but the fact that the toothmarks on the hamster weren’t conclusively yours doesn’t let you off the hook. Forensic science is advancing all the time. As for the samples from the gerbil… the jury is out.

  152. March 19, 2009 5:09 PM

    It was you Baron? My God that means you are….. no it can’t be true. If it is true you re-define the art of sock-puppetry

  153. March 19, 2009 5:11 PM

    MM you aren’t atf as well are you? My God, multiple sock-puppetry

  154. freep permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:41 PM

    Tink, yeah. used to get shoved in a room with a heap of aged sex offenders and left to inspire them to be creative and write poems. Six hours a day with a lunch break. Was ok for a while, but you can only take so much making poems with resentful, often inadequate and usually uneducated blokes. Mind, they were usually polite, and none of them stole my Spiderman pencils. Your dad must have been working at the serious end, high-security.

  155. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 8:03 PM

    I offered to teach a combination Locksmithing/How To Make Explosives Out Of Common Household Products/Grow Your Own Magic Mushrooms course in HM Prisons. They said they’ll get back to me.

  156. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 19, 2009 8:04 PM

    no alarming etaylor whatever your name is today Im not atf I was reading in the university library today Levi-strauss theories of the individual identity he says that individuation is a product of the post-reformation reification of hermeneuutic symbolisation I couldn’t read further some dum dum merchants were at the next table playing their rock music I called the librarian he threw mw out saying I was making a nuisance its not fair he was like Haughey they all hate us etc etc

    They reckon ill who leave me out
    When me they fly, I am the wings
    I am the doubter and the doubt,
    I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.

  157. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 8:10 PM

    Poster colours: anytimefrances argyle– a very, very loud tartan, mostly worn by filthy drug-taking bang- bang rock stars who give you tinnitus…

    Today’s search terms:

    bolly wood cock jucking scenes (don’t ask me–Ed.)

    crowd shouting in south africa 1950s

    fore teeth cartoon

    john stuart mill on liberty 1st edition


    baroncharlus tinkerbell parallax

    kid shouting in dark illustration

    baroncharlus mishari

    mob sheep

    “head’em off at the pass” western pictur

    uk postman

  158. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 10:46 PM

    I’ve just listened to Tessa Jowell (on Question Time) say:

    “In the past, the future would be different…”

    I kid you not.

  159. MeltonMowbray permalink
    March 19, 2009 11:11 PM

    Sounds like she’s pre-judging the past there.

  160. mishari permalink*
    March 19, 2009 11:39 PM

    Why not? God knows, she lives there…

    BTW, Baron, I found an earlier post of yours being held as spam. I’ve no idea why, but it’s been restored. I think it’s something to do with the embedded link although why that link and not others…search me. Sorry about that.

  161. Billy permalink
    March 23, 2009 8:32 AM

    Going way back up, a lot of the PP weeks were not tagged properly in the early days. You can find them if you click on my name rather than the Poster Poems series link.

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