Tuesday, March 30, 2004

New Film Stars!

Volker just sent me a DVD trailer for the vampire movie that John C and I 'featured' in; shot in London on their last visit!


Monday, March 29, 2004

Down but not quite out...

Well, this cold/flu thing has blitzed me again. I did stumble through Julie's party, but I can't say I was sparkling...and the last 24 hours has been a blur.

I think I have moved on now, from the delirium stage, to the coughing and snuffling bit...terrific way to spend those rare and precious days of leave.....humph.

It was great to hear from Crissie Trigger, though - living out in The States - 30 years ago we were working together, and I can't really believe that much time has passed.

And here we all still are - how's that for a silly sentence?

I'll be back when I can type, think or be articulate...what the bugs get out of all this is anyone's guess...

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Hey! More Fun!

To start with - I have to say my partner always asks "is that the round ball or the pointy ball?" but Wales just won 44-10 against Italy, and my casual lunchtime drink (on a quiet day) turned into - "I'd better go home now, but it cured my cold".

Bye - be seeing you - "Up the Celts!"

Logging off, and going home to lie down.

Guru ratings and rantings

Just in case you think I have gone mad (or, if you are religious, think I have just started waking up from my cynical egocentricity), don't forget to check out the consumer's guide to gurus here before believing a word anyone says.

Oh, and if you are shopping for a new authority figure in your life, you could do worse than browse through these same lists.....

Why not try one of the funny ones for a change...

One last thing

but first -

go visit this great Zen Shockwave


More spiritual blokes

My dad had read all these guys before I was born, but he never imposed any of it on me:

Heeeeere's Gurdjieff! "When my grandmother - may she attain the kingdom of Heaven - was dying, my mother, as was then the custom, took me to her bedside, and I kissed her right hand, my dear now deceased grandmother placed her dying left hand on my head and in a whisper, yet very distinctly, said:

"Eldest of my grandsons! Listen and always remember my strict injunction to you: In life never do as others do."

Having said this, she gazed at the bridge of my nose and evidently noticing my perplexity and my obscure understanding of what she had said, added somewhat angrily and imposingly:

"Either do nothing - just go to school - or do something that nobody else does."

She died immediately. The words registered deeply in the young Gurdjieff's soul and at a memorial service 40 days later instead of grieving along with his family , he started singing and skipping around the grave. (Something that nobody else ever did!)

And let's hear it for Krishnamurti!

It was at a Krishnamurti talk under the oaks in Ojai some twenty years ago that he revealed the "secret" of living to the several thousand of us who were there listening to him. He even used the word "secret,"and that he spoke of it at all was unusual, because he rarely talked about himself.

Partway through the dialogue, he suddenly paused, leaned forward and said, almost conspiratorially. "So you want to know what my secret is?"

We all sat up, even more alert than we had been, if that was possible. Almost as though we were one body. we leaned forward, our mouths and ears opened in hushed anticipation. Did we want to know his secret? Heck, yes! That's why we were all there, wasn't it? That's why we came to Ojai every spring: to listen to K. in the hope that we would "get it," that we could figure out what his secret was.

He paused. and then he said in a soft, almost shy voice, "You see, I don't mind what happens."
I don't mind what happens. The great man's words reverberated silently in by mind. They shook me to the core.

On Having No Head

This has to have been one of the most influential books I ever read. Simple - elegant - nothing to remember - no jargon - no 'beliefs' to swallow - I read it in one go, and wandered around with what felt like an inner smile for days.

There's a website, with experiments, etc, here

However, I am well aware of what Douglas Harding says in his intro - after having his first experience of headlessness.

'Discussion proved almost invariably quite fruitless. "Naturally I can't see my head," my friends would say. "So what?" And foolishly I would begin to reply: "So everything! So you and the whole world are turned upside down and inside out..." It was no good. I was unable to describe my experience in a way that interested the hearers, or conveyed to them anything of its quality or significance. ... Here was something perfectly obvious, immensely significant, a revelation of pure and astonished delight - to me and nobody else! When people start seeing things others can't see, eyebrows are raised, doctors sent for. And here was I in much the same condition, except that mine was a case of NOT seeing things. Some loneliness and frustration were inevitable. This is how a real madman must feel (I thought) - cut off, unable to communicate.'

Look at this site translating Lao Tse through Douglas Harding's eye(s)

Friday, March 26, 2004

Some kind of genius - JOHN FAHEY

Back in the 60s Judith played me an extraordinary record on her (then unusual) big stereo system. Spacious, hypnotic, mystical guitar. Nothing like anything that even the folk crowd I hung out with were playing. It was called "The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death". John Fahey was his own man, completely uncompromising. He wasn't a trippy hippie, but a drunk, hated the hippie scene who adopted him. Nothing new there - look at Kurt Vonnegut with his alcohol and 6o ciggies a day. Fahey had a difficult time later (which I can empathise with - without self-pity) but was doing what he wanted to do.

'He divorced his third wife, Melody, and lost his house; he contracted chronic fatigue syndrome; he entered a new phase of alcoholism by drinking beer compulsively for the energy it gave him; he discovered that he had diabetes. For a time, he was homeless and lived in a men's shelter in Salem, Ore. Sober now, he lives in a motel in Salem, where he recorded "City of Refuge," on equipment in his room.

During the down years, he supported himself by scouring second-hand stores and flea markets for used classical records, which he sells to collectors. Mr. Fahey still draws a few of his old fans to his concerts, and they occasionally request his old music. "I don't talk to them," he explains in a coffee shop near his Chicago hotel two days after the concert. "If they keep it up, I tell them: 'Look, if you want to live in the past, go live in the past. But don't try and take us with you.' " '

In later years he was, apparently, more interested in new music - noisy stuff, Bang on a Can, punk, and the big guns like Stockhausen.

On this website you will also find some of his words and writings:

"Therefore remember what I, the Great Koonaklaster taught you through my magic apples:
1. The official is appearance only. In the long run, the strongest are the weakest.
2. The official exists for the sole purpose of your edification, and making your edification
the more actual, enduring and real.
3. He who has ears let him hear.
4. The humorous cynicism I taught you in reason, science, and music----that the exercise
of this organ alone or in concert, is the greatest source of joy and wisdom short of the
forthcoming all-in-the-all and the altogether in the altogether, when we shall all be one.
5. Finally the source of daily strength and joy comes by chanting the mantras I have given
you in "John Fahey"’s book SPANK.
And finally--- the strongest of all:


Happy Birthday to Julie! And the spring sun is shining................

Shame I have a cold, and/but have to go to work (sigh)

See you later.............

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Tickets for Bob

Yeeeehaa! Yahoo! Yippee!

Bob's starting the European leg of his tour in Cardiff, and I have managed to jump in on the first day and get seats for me and Judith. The CIA (no, not them) is not a great gig. The standing tickets just let you mill around on the ground floor like a mosh pit, and although you can get closer to the stage, if you are not tall you will not see a lot. Of course, I'd far prefer to catch him in (say) Barcelona, but hey....

Last time (looking in the archive I see it mentioned on Wednesday, May 15, 2002) we ended up in the centre of the balcony by chance (or the kindness of the gods) because everything else had been sold. It was a little far away from the stage (I'll remember my binoculars this time) but it was right behind the mixing desk, so the sound was as good as it's going to get in that kind of venue...

Anyway - for those of you for whom this is not exciting news, or is, indeed, baffling - just allow me this one indulgence...Ta.

yahoo, yippee, etc (fades...........)

Tidying up my website

I have been wandering around my own website, for the first time in a long time, and I am sorry to find quite a few inconsistencies. In theory - I intended links to outside sites to open in a new window, so you have to close it to return to my site, and for internal links to flow forward (so you could use the Back Button). The only exception to that being when you click on pictures to see them larger, when I think I chose to make them open in a new window, too.

Whatever. I think my logic changed over the last three years, or however long this thing has been growing, and it doesn't seem consistent throughout.

I will try to do a major overhaul at some point, but it is really hard to get motivated...I prefer doing new stuff - adding, rather than tidying up. And I fear that if I start tidying up I will end up having to pull the whole thing down and start again, which is a very daunting prospect. I'd feel the way James Joyce must have felt when he left his only copy of "Ulysses" in a taxi, and had to start all over again from his notes (back in the days of hand-written text and no photocopiers....)

Or is that an apocryphal tale?

Everything Flows

I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing -- a noun. I seem to be a verb.

--R. Buckminster Fuller
I watched "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" last night. Sort of Tarantino meets Sergio Leone, so not the sort of thing I invite Julie down to watch...she was busy editing her photos of the junk yard anyway (far more creative).

Of course, I enjoy anything with Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Antonio Banderas, etc - but the most interesting thing for me was in the special features - the visit to Troublemaker Studios and his amazing set-up - also his Ten Minute Film School. And here Robert Rodriguez in an interview, expressing how I feel:

Q: How do you see the internet impacting the entertainment industry?

RR: You know what it is, it's something that's just not defined yet. So it feels like...I can only imagine what filmmakers felt like when film was first invented. It was so open for experimentation. It hadn't been defined yet. They were defining it as they went and pulling out all the possibilities. That was an exciting place to be. If you read old film books you see how excited people were. They knew they were on to something but they didn't know quite what it was yet and now that film's been almost fully explored it's time for a new medium and it's exciting that it hasn't been defined enough yet for people to really know its full potential which is much grander than what we're thinking now. So to be in on that from the ground floor is just a real privilege.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

A big thanks to Michael for turning me onto "Greendale" by Neil Young. I hadn't heard it, and I didn't realise he'd made a movie, and all that.

Mick would have loved this - "gotta save the planet for another day"

There's loads to explore on the website - sounds pictures samples stories maps

you'll find
everything you're lookin' for" Bandit

©2003 Silver Fiddle Music ASCAP. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Although I have survived through laughing like a Dadaist at the absurdity of life (and even on my calmer days I see it all as some kind of illusion - maya - a shadow-play) if you asked me for a style and tone for the way I see the world then I would still pick Film Noir. It is admittedly a genre of the generation before me (although the 60s put a cynical twist on it, with, say, Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye" or the 'trust no-one' spy epics like "The Ipcress file" or the wonderful tv series with Alec Guinness about George Smiley - but the 'real world' hasn't changed that much. The conspiracy of the powerful, rich and corrupt, supported by bent police, and cowardly collaborators is still with us. Anyway - me and my band 'Diogenes and the Cynics' will shortly be doing a few gigs, and be producing a theme album:

"The primary moods of classic film noir are melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt and paranoia. Heroes (or anti-heroes), corrupt characters and villains include down-and-out, hard-boiled detectives or private eyes, cops, gangsters, government agents, crooks, war veterans, petty criminals, and murderers. These protagonists are often morally-ambiguous low lifes from the dark and gloomy underworld of violent crime and corruption. Distinctively, they are cynical, tarnished, obsessive (sexual or otherwise), brooding, menacing, sinister, sardonic, disillusioned, frightened and insecure loners (usually men), struggling to survive and ultimately losing.

The females in film noir are either of two types - dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving women; or femme fatales - mysterious, duplicitous, double-crossing, gorgeous, unloving, predatory, tough-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible, manipulative and desperate women. Usually, the male protagonist in film noir has to inevitably choose (or have the fateful choice made for him) between the women - and invariably he picks the femme fatale who destructively goads him into committing murder or some other crime of passion.

Film noir films (mostly shot in gloomy grays, blacks and whites) show the dark and inhumane side of human nature with cynicism and doomed love, and they emphasize the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience. An oppressive atmosphere of menace, pessimism, anxiety, suspicion that anything can go wrong, dingy realism, futility, fatalism, defeat and entrapment are stylized characteristics of film noir. The protagonists in film noir are normally driven by their past or by human weakness to repeat former mistakes."

Just like life.... here's me down-and-out with a two-bit job in 1993

"Narratives are frequently complex and convoluted, typically told with flashbacks (or a series of flashbacks), and/or reflective voice-over narration. Amnesia suffered by the protagonist is a common plot device. Revelations regarding the hero are made to explain/justify the hero's own cynical perspective on life. "

And this was me doing the 'daily amnesia' schtick.
I am sworn to get on with writing my piece about wealth now, rather than ranting in pubs, and upsetting my friends. Talking is the enemy of writing, sometimes, as one fritters away the energy.

I won't even mention fnord that my son is working 70 hours a week at an average of $3.50 an hour - because a lot of poor people would trade with him, touring all over the United States with a belly-dancing troupe. It reminds me of that Woody Allen gag from "What's New, Pussycat" when he describes his work backstage at the Folies Bergere, and mentions the low sum of money involved. "That's not much!" says the other person. "It's all I can afford" sighs Woody.

I don't mean to obsess - it's just a subject that fascinates me. I didn't get bourgeoisified either in the 60s the 70s or the 80s or the 90s (not for lack of trying, some misguided folks might say). And yes I have had benefactors and patrons, I've even had a good income intermittently. I even started out with a reasonable education (of the old-fashioned, pre60s, kind). I have also been at the bottom quite often (most recently in 1995) when I would do anything to survive.

My friends in places like Sweden, Denmark, Finland don't entirely understand, because their countries have worked on elimination of social inequality. Even my friends in places like France and Germany have lived as citizens (not subjects). If you want to understand why Catch-22 remains one of my favourite books, try reading Chapter 2 of Polly Toynbee's most recent book "Hard Work", in which she tries to find out what help she can get from the State - if she suddenly found herself at the bottom of the pile - say, because "I might be a woman fleeing a violent husband. I might be a refugee family. I might have had my home repossessed after losing my job and defaulting on my mortgage".

She is a Guardian journalist, and, by her own admission, comfortably off. She says "MPs earn more than 96% of the population does, and many of us earn yet more." Still, her attempt to actually live on the low earnings of the bottom third of British society is revealing. So I am not knocking her intentions at all - I like reading the Guardian, too (it's one of the few intelligent, secular, balanced, rational papers available). Nevertheless, their holiday offers, their wine column, their fashion pages and gift suggestions, etc. come from an entirely different world from mine. I might as well consider mimicking David Bowie's holiday plans.

Anyway - Catch-22 is that The State doesn't give you money to get out of difficulties any more. It lends you money from the social fund. "I may be in a crisis but the state's response to my need is based on the mood and attitude of the officer, on the amount of money left in the pot, and on my ability to pay".

Crazy. I'll misquote Jesus here (everyone else does) because I know this was said in a different context - " For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. " (Matthew 13:12)

And Jesus wept. ((John 11:35) (not bad for an atheist, huh?)
"If privacy isn't already the first road kill along the information superhighway, then it's about to be"

Wired 2.04, p.40

Monday, March 22, 2004

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein

And while we are talking about unified fields, I came across this Theosophical text about Vegetarianism (from 1913) which was probably known to my dad, and the reason I have been a lifelong vegetarian. And no, I am not preaching to you - I don't care if you reach enlightenment or not, I ain't no stinking Bodhisattva...

In fact, my vegan friends are still appalled at my cheese-eating. I try to pick Spanish Sheep Cheese, etc - and things that hopefully were not factory farmed, at least, but I am not a zealot. I wish I was, but I still like silk and I still like honey....so I am certainly guilty of exploiting insects and such. And, better late than never - watch The Meatrix - it's funny as hell, and not preaching at you, but it still may change the way you think.
Captain Clark Welcomes You Aboard

"Hail Eris!"
Of course, I am aware that most people read this backwards (i.e. this is the most recent posting and appears at the top of the page, but refers to the previous item, which is BELOW this)

The other great number is 23. If you have never heard of this, then have a look at DisInfo. It's quite an old-established number enigma, or is it just a mind-virus or meme? Certainly 42 seems more suited to clean-living, jolly H2G2 fans, but 23 lurks around the odder types like fans of Burroughs, Anton Wilson, Crowley, Genesis P.Orridge, etc.

My partner thinks you just notice it because you focus on it, and ignore the others - which is true to some extent. But she is just restating the secret addendum to the Law of Fives (everything is related to the number five....given sufficient ingenuity on the part of the investigator)

The Law of Fives
The Law of Fives is summarized on page 00023 of the Principia Discordia:

The Law of Fives is never wrong.

In the Erisian Archives is an old memo from Omar to Mal-2: "I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look."

As a relatively unesoteric example of this Law in action, a Discordian would consider it significant that the Law of Fives is described on page 23, because 2+3=5.
Julie will be 42 on Friday.

42, huh? Isn't that supposed to be a significant number?

"As any digital hardware engineer, or software engineer, can tell you, the number '42' in base ten is equal to '101010' in base two. This alternating pattern of ones and zeros illustrates DEEP Thought's indecision about the Ultimate Question.
Of course, in the original Hitchhiker's Guide radio scripts, when Arthur has the "cave man" put out Scrabble stones and the sentence "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?" emerges, and then Arthur says "Six by nine? Forty-two? You know, I've always felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with the Universe." -- it is at this point that a faint and distant voice says "base thirteen!".

42 (base 13) is equal to 54 (base 10). (Of Course -- Douglas Adams has been quoted as saying " You just don't write jokes in base 13!" )
To dispel any myths about 42 (and to make Douglas Adams Happy!), Douglas Adams also wrote on USENET: The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story"

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Quick message for Keili, and about Keili. First of all "sorry to hear about the back, mate - take good care of yourself"...It would have been nice to spend the Equinox together (but I am not very often together, as you know.....)

I still hear friends of mine mispronounce Keili's name. I guess it's unusual, starts with "K" and he lived in Oz, so when they say 'Kylie' they don't mean any harm, nor are they being stupid, thoughtless or pig-ignorant (whoops!).

I'd like to offer them all a way to get it right...just remember that I agreed to this unusual name because it sounded like Ceilidh (an Irish gathering or party). Of course, most people can't pronounce Gaelic, either, just from looking at it...so I'll try KAY-LEE, that should do it.

For Keili: when looking for an interesting link to the word Ceilidh I immediately found this bulletin board software, made by Lilikoi Software, Inc! Now THAT'S AMAZING... it even has a juggler graphic.... Small World, huh?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

I did an entry the other day with references to the semi-fictional aspect of a blog, and the characters who may appear in it. I deleted it (without copying it first) so I have no real memory of it, but one of the things I was thinking of when I wrote it was this wonderful site about Erik Kraft's Hyperfiction writings about a character called Peter LeRoy - and there is commentary from a fictional character called Mark Dorset, who is the webmaster, and can be emailed.

Or start at the home page, and go into the Fiction area.
Hey ho, and rather a lot of jolly drinking and music for St Patrick's Day - and a big thanks to Jules for the meal, which made all that drinking possible!

Just came across a reference to a Jerry Garcia band "Old and In the Way" - great name for a band of grey-haired old dogs....
Hi people

I don't put my private life up here, whatever anyone thinks, but it is St. Patrick's Day, and even an old atheist has to go out for a silly drink in honour of beating the (favourites) English at Rugby the other day. Or whatever.

Dylan Moran rules, OK (that's no rules, to you...) "Up the Moriarty's" ('sounds Italian' said a German woman at the bar....)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

As I always thought of this as my own notebook - that I can write in from anywhere, and pick up from anywhere else - I haven't considered the fact that there is a sort of 'audience' out there. If I start writing it with someone in mind then I will freeze up. The whole point seemed to me to be to have a place to jot everything down, and I have no desire for a 'what I had for breakfast' kind of diary.

Still, I have decided that this is lacking entertainment value. I am going to carry a floppy disk around again, for my own research stuff (which, as you can tell, was notes towards the money piece I never completed for the ecology centre - something like Henry Miller's 'Money, and how it gets that way' covering alternative currencies, my extremely limited grasp of financial tools from gambling odds to insurance schemes, from pyramid selling to pension plans, with sidetracks into wealth distribution, real wealth and illth, etc.)

It's all got too personal now, so I am pulling the notes down until I can compile them. There's a quote from Henry here

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The web is a free publishing medium - I love it. Of course, just like standing on the corner doing a street show to pass the hat, maybe nobody will pass, or those that pass won't stop.

Hey ho. I have information overload, like everyone else, so the chances of ANYONE reading this, or caring, is infinitesimal, but I have invited a few people over. You can probably get more interesting gossip in my local bar, if that's your thing.

One warning, from a friend's experience, if you get into Blogging just be aware that the choice of public/private only relates to Blog's own published lists. Mark it private, then publish it on the web, and Google might still find you through keywords. Just be aware.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

When asked, the I Ching today said "The Thunderclap!"

When the thunder comes,
be on your guard, yet smile and talk cheerfully.
When the thunder terrifies everyone
within a hundred miles,
be like the sincere worshipper
who does not spill a drop of the
sacrificial wine.

That's a pretty clear Spring message.....
The material here is just undigested stuff which doesn't fit into my website anywhere, yet. I am just trying to slowly get away from living in a room full of fire-hazard paper; papers that have been lugged from place to place, buried, dug up again, shuffled, pruned and copied. (Oh, and occasionally put in a pile and burned). Anyway - I found this Intro to one of Henry Miller's shorter pieces. Sorry if you think he is a sexist, sadly his portrait and his reputation got re-written in the 70s by people who never (apparently) read any of his stuff. Or just read the porn that he and feminist Nin wrote for cash. Hey ho. So here's the natural mystic.

"No, things have not changed a whit since Tropic of Cancer days, unless for the worse. La vie en rose is definitely not for the artist. The artist - I employ the term only for the genuine ones- is still suspect, still regarded as a menace to society. Those who conform, who play the game, are petted and pampered. Nowhere else in the world, unless it be in Soviet Russia, do these conformists receive such huge rewards, such wide recognition for their efforts.

So much for the dominant note. As for the subdominant, the thought is don't wait for things to change, the hour of man is now and, whether you are working at the bottom of the pile or on top, if you are a creative individual you will go on producing, come hell or high water. And this is the most you can hope to do. One has to go on believing in himself, whether recognised or not, whether heeded or not. The world may seem like hell on wheels - and we are doing our best, are we not, to make it so? but there is always room, if only in one's soul, to create a spot of Paradise, crazy though it may sound.

When you find you can go neither backward nor forward, when you discover that you are no longer able to stand, sit or lie down, when your children have died of malnutrition and your aged parents have been sent to the poorhouse or the gas chamber, when you realize that you can neither write nor not write, when you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird. The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realize it. The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous."

Friday, March 12, 2004

I have never really been able to explain about my melancholy moods. It isn't the great 'depression' that is so common in our society of high aspiration. It is far worse around other people (they seem to take it so personally - and either get angry, shouting "pull yourself together! Snap out of it! Stop indulging!" etc OR they feel sorry for me "There, there..." OR they become personal trainers "Do therapy" "try meditation" "don't dwell in the past", etc. I am sure there are other reactions, but I want to move on to the positives. (see, it works...)

There is nothing wrong with sadness. It's natural.

When I am in this state I am happier with nature, or animals, than people [the unnatural animals]. I can sit and watch the sea, or the sparrows at play. I can lie in a hot bath. My face relaxs from the grinning mask that society demands, and falls into deadpan relaxation (which is read as miserable in our extrovert culture).

I only feel futile or grumpy when confronted with humans. I scoff at tv ads, I perceive human endeavour and aspirations as futile and presumptuous, I am sardonic, sarcastic, cynical and generally unpleasant (I am told). But the curious thing is that I am content inside. I think it was in my depressed teens that I first came across Chinese poets, and they seemed to catch the mood exactly (even in translation). I gather that they (and the Japanese) have many words for these kinds of mental states....I can walk through the park without hope or despair.


All men are wreathed in smiles, ever merry-making,
As if feasting after the great sacrifice, like ascending a tower in spring.
I alone am inert, like a child that has not yet given sign;
Like a new-born child that cannot smile yet.
I seem to be homeless, I droop and drift as though I belonged nowhere, completely unattached.
All men have enough and to spare;
I alone seem to have lost everything; I am like one left out.
Mine is indeed the mind of an idiot, my heart must be that of a fool,
I can look dull - muddled, nebulous!
The world is full of knowing people that shine;
I alone am dull, confused.
I seem to be in the dark.
They look lively and clear-cut self-assured;
I'm alone, depressed, maybe patient as an ocean,
Blown adrift, seemingly aimless, never brought to a stop.
All men can be put to some use; as worldlings have a purpose.
I alone am intractable and boorish,
I seem to be rustic, stubborn and uncouth, yet differing from most people,
But I differ most from others in that I prize no sustenance that does not come from the breast of 'mother nature '

Lao Tse Verse 20
Woke up to SNOW!

I am still a bit glum. You know you are getting old when you wake up to see snow and go "Oh no! What a nuisance!" instead of running out into it with childish glee.

TweedleGlee and TweedleGlum. What a pair.

I guess glum is related to 'gloom' in those old Saxon words (see Sunday 7th)? And it certainly was gloomy light this morning with the snow on the ground. It wasn't bright and crisp and twinkling, more grey and slushy in the city...

[morning, Freud!] I just typoed that as "I wasn't bright and crisp and twinkling...."

Still, I'll just go home and crank up The Soggy Bottom Boys (from "Oh Brother, Where Are Thou?") singing Man of Constant Sorrow, and sing along - it always cheers me up pretending to do that nasal Southern twang:

For six long years I've been in trouble,
No pleasures here on earth I found.
For in this world I'm bound to ramble,
I have no friends to help me now.
(He has no friends to help him now.)

[While looking for the lyrics I realised I am not alone in this, as I stumbled over this Karaoke site for country music!]

AHAH! checked out in the Oxford Dictionary and 'glum' and 'gloom' ARE linked, but what I found that really made me laugh was this:

glummish - somewhat gloomy. hahahahahahahahaha So I am only glumm-ish...

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Yesterday I played the Ry Cooder CD that Judith gave me, and remembered that great song "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" Dates from the 1920s (Depression/Prohibition, etc)

There once was a time when everything was cheap,
But now prices nearly puts a man to sleep.
When we pay our grocery bill,
We just feel like making our will --
I remember when dry goods were cheap as dirt,
We could take two bits and buy a dandy shirt.
Now we pay three bucks or more,
Maybe get a shirt that another man wore --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?
Well, I used to trade with a man by the name of Gray,
Flour was fifty cents for a twenty-four pound bag.
Now it's a dollar and a half beside,
Just like a-skinning off a flea for the hide --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Oh, the schools we have today ain't worth a cent,
But they see to it that every child is sent.
If we don't send everyday,
We have a heavy fine to pay --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Prohibition's good if 'tis conducted right,
There's no sense in shooting a man 'til he shows fight.
Officers kill without a cause,
They complain about funny laws --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Most all preachers preach for gold and not for souls,
That's what keeps a poor man always in a hole.
We can hardly get our breath,
Taxed and schooled and preached to death --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Oh, it's time for every man to be awake,
We pay fifty cents a pound when we ask for steak.
When we get our package home,
A little wad of paper with gristle and a bone --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Well, the doctor comes around with a face all bright,
And he says in a little while you'll be all right.
All he gives is a humbug pill,
A dose of dope and a great big bill --
Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Blind Alfred Reed 1929

Monday, March 08, 2004

OK OK - so I did a poverty rant below, but it's not just me I am talking about - here's the library's synopsis of Polly Toynbee's Hard Work: life in low-pay Britain:

"Could you live on the minimum wage? Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee took up the challenge, living in one of the worst council estates in Britain and taking whatever was on offer at the job centre. What she discovered shocked even her. In telesales and cake factories, as a hospital porter or a dinner-lady, she worked at breakneck pace for cut-rate wages, alongside working mothers and struggling retirees. The service sector is now administered by seedy agencies offering no prospects, no screening and no commitment. Most damning of all, Toynbee found that despite the optimism of Tony Blair's New Deal, the poorly paid effectively earn less than they did thirty years ago. Britain has the lowest social spending and the highest poverty in Europe. As the income gap between top and bottom has widened, so social mobility has shuddered to a halt. The low-paid are caught in an economic double bind that victimises them and shames the rest of us. "

For what it's worth, and in case you think I am exaggerating - in 2002-3 I earned £284 per week (and after super-annuation, tax and national insurance that's a take-home pay of £216 per 5 day week, even including weekend work and my First Aid allowance.) So I am above the official poverty line. DON'T SPEND IT ALL AT ONCE! (And more importantly - comparing myself to show biz friends - hey, they pay me to be on holiday five weeks a year, which never happened when I was self-employed - and they even pay me if I'm off sick.) LUXURY!
Just in case anyone reads this regularly, and wonders why I am whingeing about feeling poor (now that I have a steady job and don’t work in the notoriously badly paid area of show business) I should point out that Library and Information Services are famously badly paid, partly because (I guess) they are non-profit making (!) and partly because it is work that has traditionally been female-dominated (and women still earn considerably less than men on average.) Oh, and Wales is one of the worst paid areas of the UK. For the mathematically challenged, I offer this from the Socialist Party web page:

What is a typical wage?

AVERAGE WAGES can be very misleading. An arithmetic mean average includes a small number of very highly paid individuals, some earning tens of millions, which distorts the average upwards.
Only a third of British workers actually earn as much as the mean average.
To get a better picture of what a typical worker earned when Thatcher came to power in 1979 and when the Tories lost the election of 1997, it is more useful to look at modal and median averages.
If every wage in Britain were written out in order from highest to lowest the median income is the wage that is right in the middle of the distribution.
Half of all workers earn less than the median while half earn more.
The Modal average is calculated by sorting each individual wage into ranges and then determining which range covers the greatest number of workers. The modal average is the most commonly paid wage in Britain.

I wont do the figures here, but - in case you are wondering why I don't just move on - I was lucky to get a 'real job' at the age of 52 - after a lifetime of self-employment - and probably got it simply because most people couldn't settle for this kind of income. Imagine NOW trying to move on at the age of 58 (with 6 years work experience!) Duh. yeh, sure.

So, I am sorry for filling this board with complaints. It was, after all, my choice to drop out at the age of 18, and I wouldn't change a thing. It's just hard when breaking my glasses and having to replace them means not drinking for a month. Needing a new pair of shoes means no new books or CDs for a month or two. It's tight around here.

Still I am above the national poverty line, but then I live with a high earner: here's Polly Toynbee this time last year:

"It is not as if the poverty line is generous. Set at the EU official rate of 60% of median income (the median being the mid-point at which half the population earns less, and half earns more) it shoots at a vanishing target: the richer society gets, the harder it is to stop the bottom falling behind. In cash, the poverty line is currently only £165 a week for an adult couple to live on, (after housing costs). Consider too, said Professor David Piachaud, how many people never feature in the poverty figures because by working 90 hours a week on low pay, their total incomes stay above poverty level. "
"Their idea of "middle class" ignores the fact that the median wage is £20,000 a year: half the population earns less."

Or try OXFAM's take on this:

"With a quarter of Britain’s population living below the national poverty line, and three million households in debt to door-to-door money lenders, life is bleak for many in this apparently affluent country. Poverty rose sharply during the last two decades, particularly in the 1980s. "

And poverty isn't just not having enough toys and luxury goods fnord - food poverty

Food poverty means having too little money and other facilities to be able to eat healthy food. This has come about in the UK because traditional local shops are rapidly going out of business as large supermarket chains are being built on the outskirts of towns and cities. This means that people often have to travel some distance to buy their food. Poor people who cannot afford their own transport have to pay for public transport, which may be infrequent or unavailable. In a country where few own land where they can grow their own food, this situation makes life very difficult for poor people.

Sustain (a national development organisation) is working with Oxfam GB to help people to develop local schemes, such as a network of community cafés, food co-operatives, cooking clubs and voucher schemes to enable people in poor communities to have a healthy diet. Sustain and Oxfam also work with government departments to create policies which tackle food poverty. "

And here's the UN:

"The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP's) Human Development Report jumped into the debate in 1998 with the presentation of its Human Poverty Index-2 (HPI-2), which aimed ‘to capture the multiple dimensions of poverty in a composite measure’. The index gives equal weight to four measures of deprivation, chosen to represent four dimensions of life:
· income – the percentage living below 50 per cent of national median income
· length of life – the percentage of people not expected to live to age 60 [I might make that with luck]
· education – the percentage of 16 to 65 year olds classified as functionally illiterate
· social inclusion – the percentage of long-term unemployed in the labour force."

And finally - In the last three years I have worked my way up above the the Low Pay threshold - whoopee

"UNISON’s Low Pay Campaign

UNISON continues to campaign for a minimum wage figure of half of male median-earnings, with a minimum wage target of £6 an hour and no lower youth rate. The updated figures for 2003 for half male-median earnings are £5.68 an hour, or £215.95 a week, or £11,260 a year."

It's a funny old world. Can't you hear me laughing?

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Ah me - another glum day. Actually, it started well, with sunshine and all that, but I blew out a trip through just having a wave of glum pass over me. I don't call it depression, because I don't think it is that. What I have always suffered from is not angst, either - or frustration or envy - let's see - what else isn't it?

Anyway, cut to the chase - I think what I get is despair. I despair of humans (don't watch the news), I despair of myself. Glum, like I said. I can't think of a better word. Sounds like a good old Saxon word to go with the day that turns grey and rains.
And I don't suppose it helps to contemplate the past too much - maybe it just makes me feel old. And perhaps it doesn't help that I have been spending intermittent days without drinking or smoking - I don't have hangovers much anyway, but I guess withdrawal is worse (otherwise why would we get addicted to habits?) Or am I just dog-tired?

Did I put you off yet? I could write this stuff in a closed file, quite happily, and keep up the appearances, but a diary is a diary. Still, Mali did describe this as a 'column' which I hadn't thought of it as. I rather like that. A journalist with a readership of a dozen people. Actually, it is to keep up my typing skills, and to write routinely to keep the flow going, and to leave a little trail for my son [and my daughter, Yolande Jodi Philpott - if she ever seeks me out - Hi Yo!] or my sister, or my friends abroad to catch up (I hate phones) - but mostly it is notes to myself (because I can write to it from home or from work, or when travelling...and I end up with a journal of my year).

When trying to remember the past (when writing for the website) I always regret the loss of so many photos, diaries and papers over the years. The stuff I have managed to hang onto is a small personal treasure trove (although visitors seem to think my room looks like a hamster cage of paper...I guess I identify with small, timid, seed-eating rodents, so that's fine). On a bad day like this I feel like I am running in a treadmill in a futile way...I might as well join a gym and run on the spot at great expense (with video of road going by) for all the adventure I feel I am getting right now.

Glum. A word to savour. I prefer the times when I feel glee. Indeed Saxon entertainers were called gleemen, which is one of the great lost words.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Wow - that's amazing! I just looked in the guest book and found that Hadass had dropped in to visit. I guess anyone who has met me, or read anything I wrote, knows that I have spent more of my time 'dropped out' than safely settled.

I enjoyed it all, though it was intensely insecure...

One year I was unexpectedly made homeless - the people who had sub-let their house to me and Mick decided they didn't like teaching in Thailand (or wherever it was) and they came home abruptly one November. They even wanted to be 'back in their home for Christmas' but we said we had expected to live there for two years and needed at least that month to rehouse....So we stumbled through - and Mick and Pauline found other accommodation, while I decided that IF I only had £800 to my name, and had to either pay the Inland Revenue £800 in January, or put a deposit on some new rented place or just go optimistically crazy - went off to travel...

I failed to reach Turkey with my Finnish traveling companion, but instead I turned right in Switzerland and took an overnight train, to wake up alone in Barcelona. Fantastically right choice for me. I hung out there for a month or two (also renting a place in Sitges for a while) on that money...went back to the UK only long enough to get some juggling and magic gear, then returned to busk on The Ramblas and settle in.

Hadass was then one of the artists working in chalk on the Ramblas...and we became good friends...although I was probably in a pretty unstable state at the time...no fit state indeed...but I was truly desperate, and the street life culture was great (there weren't too many jugglers around back then) . Somehow the bohemian thing carried me through, with much joy and delight of living in the moment, and to hell with futures.

Yeh, I paid the Inland Revenue off next time I got a film job....
PS: yes I know you have to ignore the 'exclamations and ejaculations' to make that 46 thing work. It's not 'amen' in this case, but 'Selah'.

Know what that means?

Selah - a biblical term used in the Psalms that invites the reader to "pause and reflect" on the message.
The DVD was better when I found out how to brighten the image on my PowerDVD.

I enjoyed Larry Charles' commentary, brings out the stuff I know is happening, and assures me I am not making it up (they did it on purpose) - the language is stylized, theatrical, biblical, shakespearean, etc.

Reminded me of that thing about Psalm 46 - count 46 words in (in the king James Version) and you'll find the word "shake" and 46 words back from the end is the word "spear" so did Shakespeare work on the King James Bible or not? After all, most of the magnificent language we still enjoy is from 17th Century England, not biblical times.

Hey, and I know that 46 'is' 2x23 OK? How many chromosomes do you think you get from each parent? I didn't make this stuff up. fnord

Friday, March 05, 2004

DAY OFF slept through - enjoying drifting in and out of dreamless sleep, and then some dreams, too....

Got up late. Had a good time with the people of the household, now skimming through my DVD of Masked and Anonymous. I know the reviews of it, as a movie, are as bad as any Bob movie reviews. Looked at as a DVD, however, with outtakes, scenes you'd like to see again, etc - it is quite fun. I don't care if the linear movie is great or crap, really - it's trying to work on another level - re-packaging. As a vision of the world it resonates for me.

If you do happen across it, I truly enjoyed the little girl singing "Times they are a-changing" in Chapter 20. Val Kilmer with the animals in chapter 13 is interesting. "I'll Remember You" is a great piece in chapter 18. Wanna see Jeff Bridges? He's all over the place, try chapter 25. "Cold Irons Bound" in chapter 26 is a pretty good take. etc.

Well, we all have our own obsessions - I may not be a Bobcat (I just ordered a life of Marcel Duchamp online, and only after that discovered we have a copy in the library -Doh!) but I still enjoy a bit of multimedia from an artist I enjoy... Why not?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

I have a whole thing about the origins of my name (more vanity publishing!) but I will probably make a page up for it. This guy has come up with most of the elements (puppet dog, biblical, toby jug, etc)

Meanwhile, the connection with Toby Jugs (drinking mugs in the shape of a person) seems to have started with this 18th Century song (or possibly Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's Twelth Night) about a famous drinker who died, but whose clay was later dug up to make a jug in his image....all those biblical hints about humans being made of clay, too....as well as something much older (vessels in the form of humans or animals are thousands of years old).

Toby Filpot or The Brown Jug

Dear Tom, this brown jug, which now foams with mild ale,
In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the Vale,
Was once Toby Philpot, a thirsty old soul,
As e'er cracked a bottle, or fathom'd a bowl;
In boozing about 'twas his pride to excel,
And amongst jolly topers he bore off the bell.

It chanced as in dog days (fnord) he sat at his ease,
In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please,
With his friend and a pipe, puffing sorrow away,
And with honest Old Stingo sat soaking his clay.
His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut,
And he died full as big as a Dorchester Butt.

His body when long in the ground it had lain,
And time into clay had dissolv'd it again,
A potter found out, in its covert so snug,
And with part of Fat Toby he form'd this brown jug;
Now sacred to friendship, to mirth, and mild ale ---
So here's to my lovely sweet Nan of the Vale.
I seem to have made myself glum with the thought that I just can't afford to go to California in July.

It IS sad, I know, to think that you ought to earn something BEFORE you spend it. I am stuck with that - it's a generational thing to some extent - it's also to do with my bad attitude to 'business', which is always a gamble, but is also the only way a future evolves.

If it was down to the hand-to-mouth, cash-in-hand people like me then culture would never have evolved beyond trading any small surplus you have for something else you need. In Mexico I traded entertainment for food and shelter (and money hardly figured in it for months). I have never grasped investment of surplus wealth for a measured return, or 'hedging your bets' on the future by buying insurance or pensions (why don't you just save your own money and gamble it on the Stock Market?)

And I do apologise for that 'dumbing down'. I know it's more complex than that, and I know it's easier than that - perhaps I am forever stuck with living down being a healthy, white, middle-class, educated British male. Because of everyone else's prejudices (or 'positive discrimination' as we say these days - with the assumption that all those characteristics are unfair benefits....) I have had to continually affirm my right to poverty - if it is 'voluntary poverty in the Western world' it must appear smug (and probably claim to be 'spiritual' of course) and if it is involuntary it is (around here) considered incompetent...there's no way out.

If, like me, you don't think that 'enlightened self-interest' is the perfect defence for greed and self-indulgence then you are thought to be some sort of grumpy leftie.

I am still having trouble getting into the middle ground simply because I don't want MORE than anyone else until everyone has ENOUGH. It seems obvious to me.

And yes, I haven't been drinking for a week, but had a bottle of wine tonight. OK.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

J has just discovered the problem with being an 'early adopter' - you are the guinea pig, and will spend most of your time in chat rooms slagging off the manufacturers for not providing drivers, and looking for a hack.

I did try to explain that computers are different from many other capitalist products in that they are continuously evolving, so that a stable product doesn't ever exist. Better to buy a slightly behind the times system which has had time to settle in, AND check all compatibilities before buying (not just what some young salesman on commission says is OK). If you buy several brand new state-of-the-art items there is an excellent chance you can't plug them together and get them to work.

I'll bet that both these printers will work with my home XP system - (although a couple of years ago I was going through the same compatibility problem with my then 'new' XP system....)

I bite my lip, and haven't said 'I told you so' once - so here it is, leaked out on the net! sigh
K seems to be out on the road with a travelling troupe - the best life there is!

I have decided not to go to San Diego and be the poor relation...locals will be signing photos, taking cash, and jumping into taxis to head to restaurants - I would spend half the time fretting about selling enough to cover my costs...and even if I did very well, and got into profit, I would be unlikely to feel flush. I guess the chip on my shoulder from hanging out with richer people never quite goes away - it would be particularly ironic to be living that kind of 'poor relation' thing when all the fans would be assuming I have the magic touch - the show biz glam - the lucky break.

In one way, of course, my low status attitude works well at conventions - I am approachable, generous, friendly, co-operative, open and honest - so I would hate to turn into a penny-pinching, greedy old hasbeen.

That's as bad as if I had carried on doing comedy juggling and magic - and found myself as a sad old uncle clown doing kids' parties. NO THANKS!

So, I keep on moving and changing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Just read Boomeritis. I have never been a great Ken Wilber fan (I design and research my own eclectic systems). For broad-spectrum discussion of human potential I'd choose chatty old Colin Wilson, and for cultural criticism with jokes I'd pick Robert Anton Wilson.

I enjoyed it enough - even if it does get a bit dry and heavy at times. At least jokes against ourselves are usually good value. Even self-referential jokes.

In the spirit of self-reference, I will quote the book probably talking immodestly about itself (!):

"that is why the great post-modern novel will never be written. But if somebody ever managed to pull it off, it would indeed be a heartbreaking work of staggering genius." pp 324-6

It does not appear to be that good to me, but it's quite amusing if you haven't read this kind of thing before.....

Monday, March 01, 2004

Although I heard from K this weekend, he is on the road and out of touch. I don't think I can change my decision about not going to San Diego. I thought about it a lot, and of course it would be fun to go, see Dave B, hang out at the Lucas booth, etc, but it just doesn't add up. It's too large an investment (at my scale) to go so far, deal with jet-lag, not really have a holiday, work my little socks off being jolly and friendly and WITH LUCK just about break-even.....of course, maybe I'd make some money, who can tell?

That is not the issue with money for me - it's to do with how much I have to lay out compared to what I stand to gain, and this is like betting on a odds-on favourite - everyone AGREES that you'll probably make money - but it will only be a small percentage on top of what you have to stake at your own risk.

I might gamble real money I had in my pocket - like my visit to Hawaii a couple of years back - it seemed extravagant, and my plans didn't all work out, but when I got back I didn't OWE anything as I had paid cash up front. THAT I could live with....
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