The Car Crash

Hello now. Here’s me.

If this was a film this would be a great big widescreen aspect ratio

I am in England. Last time I wrote here, more than a full calendar year ago, I wasn’t. I think that’s worth mentioning because this is a direct result of something I wrote in that post regarding my decision to teach and how that’s taken me across the sea and far from my friends, my family, my drums and my damn dog. Not sure the teaching thing is going to work out, but I’m proud that I can be honest about that, because I’ve been considering the nature of failure recently and I’ve come to the conclusion that failure, for me, is the acceptance of unhappiness and the hiding of worry, and I’m through spending my first year of marriage to my favourite person suffering because of career anxieties and some self-styled standard of what constitutes success for a young man.

Maybe there’s a whole post for that further down the road, but the real reason I cracked through the clay tomb of writer’s block and sat down at this desk like a glowing, tender Han Solo is because I’ve another natural link to my former final post, and furthermore to the one before that. I’ve had some more car trouble. Specifically, someone destroyed it while I was driving on the M5.

I don’t think that looks right. (This is rhetoric, it’s absolutely smashed up).

I almost feel guilty writing about it really because I’m in the position to do so. I am, essentially, unhurt. My left hand is shaking a little, and like a drawing of a five year old I’ve got a grazed knee, but nothing’s broken except for the car itself. If anything, my resolve, my ability to take a step aside and “hmmm” at my current quality of life with my elbow cupped in one hand, fingers tracing my chin, has strengthened. I’ve found an excuse to write about something for the first time in too much time, and I’m enjoying it.

Little ahead of myself. I could have died. I was coming off of a major road, and someone drove their car into mine, stationary though it was, with force enough to deploy my airbags, collapse my seat and unsettle the radio from its moorings. I’ll not hear the rest of Steve Wright’s Oscars predictions without consulting the iPlayer and shall likely have to fathom my own. Two serviceable cars are being scrapped as a result of this vehicular transgression, yet I’ve walked away. The chap who stopped dead ahead of me even drove off to a holiday spot twenty minutes after. How has this happened? How can something so horrible have such little ramification? Shouldn’t I at least have a broken arm, head or face? My car is wrecked and I’m making Star Wars references on the Internet. I’m not really sure I’ve processed it yet.

My first conscious thought when this happened was that it was funny that the airbags were manufactured by “Airbags International Ltd.”

I know this, though. When it happened, I felt bemusement, I felt confusion, I felt a car drive into me, but I didn’t feel surprise. I didn’t feel like it was anything less than what my life had come to carry lately, that it was just another reason to sigh every day, another reason to drag my feet across English earth, and another reason to reckon that I was the victim of some cosmic joke. Consider this. I paid £700 to render that car roadworthy not four weeks ago. Later, on the night of the crash in the hospital, the triage nurse said to me that I’d probably wake up in a day or two feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. “Or a car”, I quipped, flat inside. Autopilot humour.

So here’s what I’m taking from this. I got so deep that when someone nearly killed me, I thought “checks out” and just rolled with it. I experienced absolutely zero shock. Enough’s enough. If you’re unhappy, I humbly request that if you can do something about it, do it. Don’t solider on to save face. Don’t think your life has to go a certain way and don’t be afraid to change a path. Don’t do it for someone else if it means you can’t make them happy when it’s done. Don’t. Just don’t. You, me, we’re not built to move with heavy hearts, and we can’t see colour when everything’s grey. We’ve got one go at this, people, and we’re losing daylight.

I’ll be home in a few weeks, but I’m not leaving again so come see me if you like. I’m alive, so it shouldn’t be a problem.




In my last blog, Boke Breakdown Badnight (“truly the best thing I’ve ever read OR written” – David Mamet), I detailed how my car had broken down two and half times in as many weeks. Since I wrote that ten days ago, that half became a whole to total three breakdowns as my entire [PART I DON’T KNOW THE NAME OF] was removed by a Kindly Mechanic who I kept calling Harold (legitimately because that’s the name of Batman’s mechanic/ my brain is irreparably compromised by 27 years of pop-culture bombardment) and my treasured Toledo sat in the terrifying twists of the barely-laid roads of the Ballygawley countryside.

Three times.

You know what’s worse than three breakdowns, man?

Four breakdowns. Silly toffee-for-thoughts here left his iPod running for an hour a few days ago and apparently that’s enough to run an entire car battery down. My battery’s the fuckin’ encapsulation of incapability. A weak-willed son of a bitch when it comes to powering cars – THE ONLY THING IT CAN EVEN DO.


Look at this battery. It’s aces. It powers a lift (way cooler than a car on any day) and helps advance the game so’s you can enjoy any number of new encounters with Nemesis and his corn-beef rocket launcher.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.53.26AND it’s found inside a statue. I bet the battery in my car’s never even seen a statue.

Then, I decided I was going to become a teacher.

So I’m headed back to school next year for my PGCE (which for years I thought stood for ‘Post-Graduate Course of Education’, and not ‘in Education’) so I never have to work in [PLACE WHERE PAUL WORKS AND IS LITERALLY CONTRACT-BOUND NOT TO DISPARAGE ONLINE] or with its many dead-souled denizens ever again. Hey, workmates – if you find this, I like some of you – particularly those likely to read this – but not the rest of you! You are shit!


Are you one of my 51 followers excluding living humans I’ve actually met/am engaged to? If so, please feel free to let me know in the comments how you found the site, what you like and dislike about it, why you followed me, what you want to see more or less of and whether or not you’d listen to a solo podcast that I may or may not be definitely considering recording. If you are my fiancee, do not bother commenting on the blog, just tell my body in real life later on.

Down there. Comment down there if you are real. Let’s start a talkening. Hello!

Boke Breakdown Badnight (And Subsequent Fortbadnight)

Bullshit. That’s what life is. I’m calling bullshit on fuckin’ life these days, mans.

My car, WHICH I LOOK AFTER, has broken down two and a half times in two weeks. That’s more than a time per week. “How can a car break down half a time, Paul?” Weesht. I’m tellin’ ya.

I was on an Airport Run today. About five minutes in, Deborah notices the scent of burning, and I wave it aside. “AIN’T NOTHIN’ BURNING. SHUSH!” Cut to forty minutes later, after a big long diversion of all things, and the purest white smoke is pouring into the a rare clear October sky from under the hood of my car.

My car is dying WHILE I’M DRIVING IT! This is not good, I think. Oh, for fuck’s fucking… CRUMBS.

The fliers took a taxi cab* and I parked up. I then walked twenty minutes in hot sweaty sun before I found a shop that sold me a scandalous amount’s worth of oily things to fill my engine with. Twenty more minutes in the sun and I’m back at the car. White smoke (later revealed by a passing mechanic to be “steam”) is no longer escaping the engine’s ventricules** but everything is hot and smelly. I pour two litres of water into that mother, as well as some coolant and oil and tears and wait for it to do its stuff and notice that the ground under the car is soaked. Turns out it’s leaking and I’ve to drive it home, “steam” billowing a traceable path of woe down the M1 motorway.

But like I said, this isn’t the first time this has happened in the last fortnight. The first time, I had decided to grab a McDonald’s at midnight, and drove into Dungannon town with Scooter Chewieing in the passenger seat. Following this, I sat in the drive-thru queue for a full twenty minutes with my increasingly-concerned canine companion before, tellingly, the car started to sputter. Between the robot taking my order and me paying for my food, my car began to chug like a man choking to death on his own old bones, and by the collection window I was no longer able to drive, but merely roll. A pair of the McLackeys pushed me down the hill and I rolled to a stop and consumed my Big Mac and McNuggets while Scooter threw up from all the excitement. Turns out you need a certain amount of fuel*** in your car so’s it won’t break down. Go fig.

About a week later, and with much less public shame, my car just refused to start at work. At this stage I was that fucked off at the whole exaggerated friggery of it all I just left it there for two days before I told anyone, and Dee’s hilariously capable father was able to fix it in minutes. Once I told him. Two days later. Pat can fix anything. Radiators. Radios. Rad Pat, he should be…NOW IS called.

So that was two. And technically, my car isn’t broken down right now, but also, I can’t drive it ’til it’s fixed. So that’s been my October so far. Here’s hoping that half doesn’t become a whole, eh wot?

NOTES! – – – –

*Great term

**Probably a part of a car

***Not none.

Tomb Of Paul Rankin – Episode 3 – One Must Fall!

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 20.25.58Tex Shandling stood beside his brother McGovern, himself stood agape at the very exact situation of it. Here, stood beside him (McGovern) was his thought to be dead brother (Tex Shandling, his brother). And worse yet, a vampire himself, the very like of Paul Rankin whom he sought to destroy.

“You filthy idiot”, chuckled Rankin the vampire. “To think you could come here this night, at my behest, to MY HOME, and kill me, and not expect to find your dead brother alive and ‘neath my thrall”. Then he chuckled a little longer.

“Tex…my brother…alive”, startled McGovern. “But how? I saw Rankin’s teeth sink deep into your neck after the disco that time. You must be dead”.

“I am dead…and yet live!”, he annoyingly replied. “I live now as Rankin’s manservant, much like the despicable Reed Abernathy. Mine is the night now. I love the moon and stars and fog and stones and the like, forever!”

“Oh no then”, said McGovern, despondent. Back to Rankin now.

“Like I was saying, you fucking fool, now I shall have my ultimate revenge on you for even thinking about trying to kill me for killing your brother, which I even only sort of half did in an ironic way!”

With that, Rankin slid across the greasy kitchen floor of his castle where the action had moved to and leapt for McGovern, who produced in a last ditch effort from his inner pocket a clove of garlic.

“Garlic! Ha ha. Are you mad? I AM PAUL RANKIN AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”, cackled the demon Rankin, who without a second thought tossed the garlic into a bubbling pot of pasta just to his right before pinning McGovern Shandling to the ground.

“Now I shall make of you a creature of the night, Shandling the younger, you half-brained twit. You really are totally useless. Ha. Deadly. You and your brother shall live as companion failures under my evil spell here forever!”

These words spurred McGovern into a last act. He threw a pointed carrot that was lying just beside him straight through his brother’s heart, and with a tear of final relief he crumbled to the floor. All that remained was Rankin, McGovern and the looming Reed Abernathy sniveling in the corner.

“Fucker that’s what you are”, said Rankin.

“Wait, Paul Rankin”, whispered McGovern Shandling. “I have one last surprise for you”.

Rankin narrowed his eyes. “Go on, ant. I can allow you one last moment of freedom before I enslave you for eternity”.

With that, Shandling reached into his pocket, and pulled out his fist, his middle finger extended in Rankin’s general direction.

“Your ma, Rankin”.

“Amusing. Now you DIE…for now”. Rankin bit into Shandling’s neck, spraying fabulous vein merlot across the floor as his prey drew his last breath. Rankin then rose to his feet and turned to address Abernathy.

“Clean that up, prick, and when he awakes in the morning, toss him out in the sun. Lethal.”



At A Loss – Gripe Fest 2K14

Categorised For Ease Of Reading


It’s raining. Because I live in a mobile home (it’s a caravan), I am constantly aware of the rain pounding away at the walls and roof of my fragile dwelling. RAIN. I’M SOME RAIN, PAUL. I AM HERE. LISTEN TO ME. I AM LOUD. YOU CAN’T GO FOR A RUN TODAY BECAUSE OF ME no bother rain I probably wouldn’t have anyway WELL I’M STILL HERE AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT BUT LISTEN TO ME RAIN MYSELF DOWN AROUND YOUR “HOUSE”. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.


Despite myself, I’ve been consistently losing weight at a better pace than I ever did when I was consciously trying to. Pro tip – don’t try and lose weight and LOSE WEIGHT! Eat kebabs! Eat Double-Caramel Chunky Kit-Kats! Don’t go for daily walks listening to the Steve Austin Show anymore!

I attribute this achievement to the rigours of work and relatively sensible eating. Now, there’s a vague term. What is Relatively Sensible Eating? It exists, for me, as an alternative to the type of eating I did for the entirety of my last week off work, when I consumed a record amount of XTreme Chewits, Irn Bru and Big Tastys. During that week, I gained a little weight, owing to how I sat around reading comics all week eating junk food. Since then, I’ve lost the same and more besides by NOT eating like a crazy child and getting a decent amount of built-in exercise running up and down stairs and lifting things at work.


It’s sort of happened by accident. I’m worried about it to an extent though, because I kinda-hate my job. Another vague term. Basically, the problem I have with it is that I don’t feel I’m making enough money for a recent graduate (harsh but true) and I’m also miffed by the fact I’m not making any more money than other people who work much easier jobs for the same company. Also, I’m legally not allowed to badmouth the company by name because my old RE teacher’s wife made me sign a form saying I wouldn’t. Can’t wait to see what happens once I’ve left though, eh? The balance to this is that when I’m there, for the most part it’s OK. I like most of the people I work with every day enough to be my honest-to-goodness goofy self around, and, y’know, exercise happens. Thing is, when I’m not there, I hate the thought of it. I call this South Park Syndrome. I hate the idea of watching South Park, basically ever, but when I’m watching it I can enjoy it well and even have many great memories of classic lines and scenes.

Also, people aren’t treated well where I work, and while I can handle myself (and, regrettably, have had to) I feel sorry for some of the others who get shit all over because, I dunno, a thing wasn’t facing the way it was supposed to. My workplace has a reputation for a high turnover which sort of casts a shadow on the longterm staff of being frustrated and turning that into aggression to be directed elsewhere, and we’re generally considered replaceable. Realising this puts a lot of stuff into perspective, because the idea presents itself then that the higher-ups don’t need to be nice to their staff because they’re content to just get new staff. No-one is valued. I’m sick of working places where no-one is valued, because I work with some great people and fuck, if they worked for me they’d know I didn’t want them to leave.


Worst of all, though, and this is a shoot, brother, is Heart FM, a radio station with a very limited playlist and a bunch of has-been and never-were 90s mainstay DJs with a fundamental station-wide misunderstanding of the function and dynamics of radio broadcasting, including a competition that cannot be won, an ignorance of the majority of songs that are placed high in the charts at any time and no appreciation of the fact that tracks like the Boo Radleys’ “Wake Up Boo” and Black Eyed Peas’ insultingly bad “I Gotta Feeling” are designed to be played a certain times of the day/week. There is no rule that ‘a good song is a good song’ when it comes to radio, and Heart FM’s programmers ought to realise this. Ten hours of that per workday (also, I work ten-hour shifts exclusively – what happened to 9-5 that they had to start it two hours early?) isn’t good for the mood, man.


Further to my weight loss discussion of earlier, I must mention that the mango and mineola smoothie I’ve just concocted was basically ruined by one component just not tasting right. Seeing as the oranges just sort of mushed apart in my hands when I was peeling them, I’m inclined to lay the blame with them and with MCGUIGAN’S TODAY’S EXTRA IN DONAGHMORE, NORTHERN IRELAND for selling me shoddy produce with no sell-by.


What else? It’s stopped raining. Scooter is fed up and asleep at my feet. I’ve left the door open so that she can go out if she wants to, but that ain’t happening. I’m considering heading down to 2di Studios (shameless plug) this afternoon for some drumming, even though it’s really far away and the process of setting the kit up usually kills my enthusiasm for playing. I miss drumming so much. I can’t believe that for ten months I played drums every day in the comfort of my own home and that I haven’t got that anymore. Such a shame. Talk about taking something for granted.


There’s a Batman trade on ebay closing in 30 minutes that I’ve wanted for months and at a reasonable price too. Seeing as likely be here for another thirty minutes, I’ll let you know how that goes.


Dream Theater’s new Blu-Ray is pretty cool. It’s not all-the-way cool, but that’s per my own standards. See, I was ecstatic at how their last disc (released only a year ago) featured their then-latest album played entirely. I love seeing bands support their new material, especially when it’s as good as on my favourite DT album, A Dramatic Turn Of Events. This new disc has about half of the new album (including the songs that need to be played live), but the rest of the disc is devoted to unearthing some rarely played tracks from Awake and Scenes From A Memory, enjoying 20- and 15-year anniversaries respectively. Thing is, I’m not a big fan of the wandery nature of side 2 of Awake, so that doesn’t really appeal to me, although the version of “The Mirror/Lie” that they run through is really electric and all involved from band to crowd knows it. The tracks from SFaM are welcome, but ultimately I’d still have preferred more from last year’s Dream Theater, just to see more of Mike Mangini playing Mike Mangini drum tracks. Also, the orchestra and choir that perform on a number of the songs add very little to the mix. Maybe it sounds better in 5.1, I dunno.

On that point, it seems like DT are trailing behind Rush now in terms of things they include with their home-video releases. DT’s last disc, Live At Luna Park, had a bonus of them hanging out at dinner which is a direct lift from something Rush did for Beyond The Lighted Stage, and Rush’s last disc (also from last year) featured an orchestra too. Just a thought.


I’m headed to Belfast tomorrow for a wedding fair – well, to leave Deborah at the wedding fair which I am not going to – and I’m toying with the idea of buying those Akira comics I mentioned at the start of last month’s Get (Into) What You Paid For Challenge. Oddly, I don’t really fancy spending the money, but I’m also aware that those books are gonna go some day and I want it to be to me that they go.


Starbucks’ Frappucinos – Vanilla. The store-bought ones. Can’t remember last time I was actually in Starbucks.

Lee and Herring. Been listening to Fist Of Fun and Lionel Nimrod quite a bit (as I often do when Platnuming games) and I really enjoy nearly everything these two do, especially as aided by Armando Iannucci and Rebecca Front. Some of their running jokes/catchphrases are so subtle that it takes forever to identify them, like how Stewart Lee will often say “sorry, I didn’t think” in sketches with the cadence of an scolded child or the “ah, but…” that became much more prominent in the TV version of Fist Of Fun. The extras on that show are really interesting, because they document the duo’s slow realisation that they could have had a lot more success with running the stuff that was good in one episode in every episode, like all good sketch shows do. Apparently they’re in the process now of buying the distribution rights to This Morning With Richard Not Judy at the moment like they did with Fist, and they can count on my purchase once that comes to light for sure.

Awesome! I got that Batman book for £5.19 with a 7-seconds-left bid. That’s a saving of about £15 less than what it usually sells for. Also, does that mean the other person bid £5.18, seeing as I put a max bid of £20 on? Who knows. Anyway, I’m away. If you stuck with this massive block of words, many thanks! I’m away to do…something, hopefully.

Tomb Of Paul Rankin – Episode 2 – A Night At Castle Rankin!

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 20.25.58At thirteen past midnight, the Witching Hour precisely, McGovern Shandling arrived at the labyrinthine door to castle Rankin. With a hearty head and a heavy heart, he took a rap upon the oversized chrome knocker of The Devil that stood upon the door’s ferocious face. It creaked open with a bang and also it was still raining.

“Yeth?”, came the reply from the bedraggled manservant who stood behind. Dressed head to toe in discarded kitchenwear, a wilting chef’s hat atop his wrecked head, Reed Abernathy enquired what Shandling wanted.

“What it it you want, mithter Shawndleng?”, he gurgled. He sounded like this because he had a slice of Rankin’s finest olive bread in his mouth at all times on threat of finger breakenment from his master, the bad bad Paul Rankin the vampire.

“What?!”, exclaimed Shandling, surprised. “How do you even know my name? Sure we’ve only JUST MET”.

“My mawthter is expecting you. He waiths in the throne room. Beware histh fury Shandling, for it thpells your doom this eve.”

“OK, Abernathy. Let me end your misery!” Shandling produced a gleaming silver revolver of some sort, and motioned it at the depressed, horrible Reed Abernathy, but was distracted by a big smash elsewhere in the castle followed by some giggling.

“I’ll be back for you, freak.” He said. Then he went.

He made his way through the castle. There was fire everywhere on the walls, because all the bulbs had popped and Paul Rankin had not bothered to replace them. “Wicked, lazy Paul Rankin”, thought McGovern Shandling. The castle was old, probably at least 50 years old, and full of bugs and torn up newspapers and old things like swords and the Bible which hung mounted upside down with “shite this book” scrawled across it in toxic green blood. Shandling shivered as he made his way to the throne room.

There he found the vile Paul Rankin, stood atop a mound of spilled copies of Paul Rankin’s Cooking With Class beside a totalled bookcase. “Ha ha ha”, did say the vampire, fresh from hell’s pit. “I really have so many copies of these that I can afford to waste a few. And I even…wha…SHANDLING!” He had noticed his intended attacker.

“Correct. You horrible basta*d, Rankin. There are kids on the street, with not enough to EAT. Who are YOU pretending not to see them weep?”, he screamed. The vampire turned up the collar on his winter cape.

“Cretin. You are a terrible bore. I see you’ve risen to meet my challenge. Well, your life ENDS here, here, amidst the many spilled copies of Rankin’s Cooking With Class! Ha ha ha ha. RIGHT HERE.”

Shandling stepped back. The vampire approached, licking his lips and mouthing “get you” with them.

“Time for my secret weapon, Dracu…Paul Rankin. See how you like it then”. Then, Shandling produced from his own collar a necklace of the holy cross, of purest fool’s gold.

“Arrrrrggggghhhhhh”, said Paul Rankin. He hated jewelry. “Take it awaaayyyyy”.

“No I will not”, refused Shandling. The vampire did a double somersault on the spot, landing sort of facing away, and dashed to the side to recover.

“You complete bloody imbecile. You’ve landed in it now, your own pool of fool DEATH I mean. Allow me to introduce my OWN secret weapon!”

And at that moment, a new eighth hand, from a total pair of four seen so far, took the necklace from Shandling’s hand and threw it down the bog. Shandling turned to face his new oppressor and stood afroze in white total terror.

“T…Tex Shandling?”

And Paul Rankin laughed the laugh of purest evil, and it was heard that night in all five rooms of Castle Rankin and not forgot for at least thirty, forty minutes.

IS IT TRUE? Tex Shandling…Alive and well???

HOW WILL our hero deal with this development???

IF AT all???

I’LL TELL YOU how…On the next Tomb Of…PAUL RANKIN.

That’s when.

Tomb Of Paul Rankin – Episode 1 – Run Afoul Of The Count!

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 20.25.58The wind is fierce and the sky black and dark and lightless on the night McGovern Shandling sets out on his fateful quest to rid the world of the great vampire Paul Rankin. Seriously crazy crazy weather. Like you’d read about in a story or something. It is MENTAL weather. Please try and picture this. Thank you.

Now, use your mind and I guess your eyes (as through years of use you will surely have become adept at picturing things with a combination of the two) to picture the winding stony road leading to Castle Rankin as Shandling, in bell bottom jeans and a green top, winds his way further up the crumbling winding path, his Wolverine backpack shredded by the wind and his wooden stake ready at the hip of his body.

“I shall get you this night, foul Paul Rankin. For though my brother lies long dead at your accursed whim, his legacy and memories and things are still strong in my life and I shall avenge his spirit with violence to lay upon your wretched being”.

Said McGovern Shandling.

“Ha ha ha fool”.

It was Paul Rankin, stood atop a tree to Shandling’s immediate southeast.

“I am not even in my castle. I am here, in this very tree. Ha ha ha, you FOOL”.

He was really pushing McGovern Shandling’s buttons. The vampire hunter was furious at being called a fool twice. He then said:

“It is you who are a fool, wicked Paul Rankin. I am here to get you, and get you good. Tonight you DIE, Paul Rankin!” He said.

“Hold your weesht, human fool”, Paul Rankin spat, thrice branding Shandling a fool to his bubbling ire.

“This here is my castle area, and this my tree. Know ye not the rules about vampires and castle areas and their trees?”

McGovern Shandling did not.

“I do not”, he said.

“Well, listen up, scum. Here, I can turn into a fox, a bat and a rat and an owl, all at once (after each other). You’ll never see it coming, fool.”

“I will now”, shot back Shandling, “sure you’ve just told me yourself Rankin, you blasted beast.”

Paul Rankin recoiled in fury, his chef’s apron slung over his shoulder as he hissed at McGovern Shandling.

“Arggghhh, Shandling. You may have won this round, but much like I snuffed short the light of your brother, Tex Shandling, I shall this night or the next have my revenge. Meet me at my castle, if you dare, fool Shandling, and we shall see whose is this night.” Said Paul Rankin the vampire.

With that, he vanished into a puff of plain flour. McGovern Shandling sheathed his stake and made off for the castle, and muttered under his breath.

“Ah ha, hell’s Paul Rankin, but you shall never expect my secret weapon, shall you? No! Ah ha ha ha ha!”

WHAT is McGovern Shandling’s secret weapon?

HOW does Reed Abernathy, manservant of Rankin, fit into proceedings?

WHEN precisely will you get the answers to these and many more questions you may have yourself about this first early adventure?


Music Consolidation Day

Lying in bed and I remember something.

I forgot that I promised (literally one person, and in a fucking text message, not on their deathbed or in a chapel or anything) that I’d write a little bit about the tradition of Music Consolidation Day and how I’ve recently invoked the ceremonial rights in order to proceed with getting all three of my primary listening devices (or five, if you count my ears HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) synced up with each other.

See, it’s pretty easy to get an iPod and an iTunes Library synced up because they’re designed to be compatible with each other and communicate without being told to and all manner of creepy shit EXCEPT when your iPod is always in your car and your iTunes Library is always on your laptop which is never in your car. Take my most listened-to album of the past month as an illustrative example. Opeth’s Pale Communion – which is a meandering selection of moments that occasionally really shines but not as much as Mikael Akerfeldt likely thinks it does – has been playing on CD in my car since I bought it, but only because I’ve not update my iPod to reflect whatever the most recent spate of acquisitions and dispatches entailed (like today’s removal of “Baby Got Back”, for example).

Factor thereinto the third device – the PS3, which has zero compatibility with the autosychronisational functionality of the aforementioned Apple products – and the sheer honest-to-goodness necessity of Music Consolidation Day becomes apparent.

See, at the very latest point before it occurs to me to consolidate the PS3 music library with that of the capital-l iTunes Library, it is potentially months behind on tracks that have come or gone, and my efforts at pruning said Library are flung back at my ears when the likes of something I’ve deliberately excised comes up on shuffle when I’m cleaning up or some such. This is because the PS3’s music library must be maintained manually, in a relatively time-consuming manner to be detailed RIGHT NOW.

To begin with, and because I’ve done this a few times, I sought measures that would make the process less arduous. See, unlike with a typical computer interface, deleting things from a PS3’s hard disks takes time. The only way to make sure the music library is as up-to-date as possible is to delete every track before replacing it with what’s been taken from iTunes (more on which later). Now, to delete every track through the “Select All > Delete” option is to task the poor console with deleting (in my case a modest) 3,000+ tracks at once and because it has a little trouble with units over a thousand (per an article I read once) that’s not the way to go about it, particularly as it’s prone to going into the “Deleting…please wait…” display and never coming out of it until you’ve reset the console.

No, the best way to do it is by category and one at a time, and the best way to do that is to determine which category (of category) you have the least of. For example, you’ll probably have more Track Names beginning with A than you will Album Names, and the same again for Band Names and Release Years. If you’re a good friend of mine, and you know who you are because you’re the only one still reading, Genre is NOT the way to go because you’ll be lumbered with manually highlighting and deleting an ungodly number of groups of songs, but for me that ended up being the best way to go, as there wasn’t much beyond the meager selection of Metal, Game, Score, Pop and a few others.

BUT, I thought, what if there was a quicker method still? After all, the Genre tab in iTunes is of literally no use to me as I’m never really in the mood for just a specific type of music. The only option for division I’d prefer to have is the separation of tracks with vocals and tracks without so that I can have a playlist of less distracting music for backgrounding (like the one I’m listening to now). So that’s what I did – two Genres (per iTunes), with one for what was formerly music from films, television, games and wrestling renamed “Irreglar” and the rest, typically standard band-based recordings with vocals, becoming “Reglar”, and a third separate entry for comedy named simply “Comedy”.

This way, when updating the contents of the Library onto the PS3, I only have to click “Copy” three times which means less time spent waiting on much smaller installments to transfer as a means of not wasting time out of the room when I could be clicking, clicking, clicking.

Three. Simple as, right?

As Stone Cold would say, EH EH. Wow. That’s impossible to spell accurately.

See, ol’ PS3 has that trouble we talked about with transferring huge amounts of songs, so first thing that needs to be done is all the tracks need to be dragged out of the iTunes window (because if you drag them from your iTunes folder you’re liable to get straggler tracks that weren’t correctly deleted and such) into a folder on the desktop which needs to be divided into several smaller folders so that there’s never too much going onto the console at once lest it freeze up on ya.

With me?

Then simply plug, locate, transfer x3, and enjoy. By the end of the day, all three devices should be ready to play the same stuff. It’s worth doing every couple of months to clear out all that gunk I’ve got sick of hearing and make sure that new stuff I’ve forgotten to manually ‘port over gets a fair listenin’.

And so another of my obsessively detailed (just south of a thousand words and counting) idiosyncratic practices is rendered unto common knowledge. Maybe now I can get some fucking sleep.

On Night Of The Living Dead ’90

As my list of bought-but-not-consumed media ever dwindles, I find I’ve more time to do things without the mental tug of “but you paid for that – do that first“, so I pulled out (pffttt…I downloaded it) Tom Savini’s great little 1990 remake of Night (dundundundundun) of The Living Dead* and watched it last night with Deborah. I’ll tell you, the only thing I don’t like about this movie is the music, which is real late 80s-into early 90s TV movie bollix, cheap crappy keyboards with no musical themes or motifs that just sort of wanders. An afterthought. The library music that was used to score the original film is killer, and really, really spooky. So that’s a shame.

But everything else about it is great. I love Pat Tallman as the inverted, kickass Barbara who’s all about running past the zombies because they’re so slow. Tallman, a stuntwoman, may not be the greatest actress but it kinda helps with the character. Barbara, too, is out of her depth, but only just. Plus, Tallman has really great features. There’s a couple of shots where the structure of her face is lit by the moonlight and it just looks fantastic. Tom Towles is fucking fantastic as Harry Cooper, too. Deborah was cussing him out the whole length of the thing. There’s a great scene where Ben’s giving him grief for carrying the television around, and he yells “I wasn’t taking it downstairs. You can’t get any reception in the basement, dickhead!” The kid playing Tom is really likeable, man, it’s very well cast, is what I’m saying. Good gags with the zombies and generally solid filmmaking all round. It’s one of those rare remakes with a worthy motivation, too, what with Romero and co. trying to make a little money off the name seeing as they had no copyright claim on the original. Might watch the original tonight maybe.

*Specific reference that rewards a familiarity with the original movie’s deadly trailer.

On Classic Spider-Man

Yesterday I read issues #7 through 38 of Amazing Spider-Man, as well as the series’ first (awesome) and second (less so) annuals in a mammoth done-in-one-and-a-day devourment of that bloody huge Omnibus that’s been on my shelf for nearly a year. Matter a fact, I’m going to check just when I bought that book, actually.

Order placed 7th June ’13, book delivered approx. 13th September ’13. Wow, so just over a year before I actually cracked it open (it was encased in concrete, you see) and re-read that material.

But here’s the thing!

Or rather, not. See, reading that Fantastic Four Omnibus (THE THING IS IN THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THAT WAS MY JOKE SEE?) earlier this week really soured me on Silver Age (read: 1960s) Marvel books, and I wasn’t looking forward to reading this Spider-Man collection at all, even though I’ve read the material before and enjoyed it. Frankly, it was unfair of me to judge the Lee/Ditko collaboration by the same token as the Lee/Kirby efforts, because those first 40 issues of Spider-Man are AWESOME. Completely awesome.

For a start, there’s a major difference in the development of, well, everything. Peter physically changes throughout the issues – he loses his glasses in #8 and never replaces them, and his change in attire can be visually traced to his change in attitude as he gets more and more confident. There are soap-opera sub-plots right from the get-go, with the ongoing drama of Pete’s courtship with Betty Brant getting in the way of Liz Allan’s affections for him while Jonah Jameson barks away in the background. He graduates high school, heads off to college on a scholarship and meets a whole host of new characters each as important to the overall canon as the earliest ones. Mystery plots are introduced, left for a while, and brought back when you’ve forgotten about them. Continuity is air-tight.

More importantly, there’s so much about the way Peter’s written that’s different from everything that came before. He’s crippled with guilt, and his superheroics often wind up spoiling his relationships with people as Peter Parker. He’s flat broke, can’t catch a break, has to repair his own costume…there’s just so much flavour to it, and it’s all there right from the start.

Maybe it’s not fair to use Fantastic Four, which is my second-favourite Marvel property by the way, as a benchmark seeing as it was literally the first of its kind in many ways and that those first 30 issues I read really don’t represent the peak of its creative history, but there’s just something better about Spider-Man. There was no development in the FF issues, and their Rogues Gallery is comprised of a few heavy hitters (Doom, Namor, Mole Man) and a host of forgettable, goofy 50s sci-fi aliens (plus The Impossible Man, who I fucking love despite Stan Lee’s insistence that contemporary audiences hated him). Spidey’s rogues, though, as introduced in that book? All classics. Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, Kraven, Green Goblin… They were knocking it out of the park just about every issue. The closest thing to filler in that book is a pair of issues starring a sort of fucked-up circus troupe as villains, but the rest of it’s all solid. Plus, there’s mobsters! The Big Man, Crime Master, fucking The Enforcers! All that good, down-to-earth stuff. Spidey fights aliens in issue #2, and after that the lesson is learned – keep things normal and New York-based with this one. Hell, once Roger Stern took over writing in the 80s, he even retroactively explained that they weren’t EVEN aliens, so technically this book is all just guys in suits clobbering each other. Fuck, the Vulture is an OLD FUCKING MAN flying around stealing diamonds. He even leaves one of his victims a note reading “I WILL STEAL THE DIAMONDS RIGHT FROM UNDER YOUR NOSES! – The Vulture” like two minutes before doing so.

It’s so, so good. I’ve never read that much Silver Age at once before, because it can be exhausting, but Spider-Man’s fully formed right from the get-go, and is so much more relatable than the FF in their stable and established adult lives (minus The HUMAN JOHNNY of course).

I didn’t take any notes or grabs for this book, except one:

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 18.21.59I forgot to mention the book is occasionally out-loud hilarious. I chuckled for about ten minutes at the credits on one issue, which were phrased something like “Gloriously written by Stan Lee, Lavishly illustrated by Steve Ditko, Recently lettered by Artie Simek”. Ha!