Sunday, December 31, 2006

Time Enough

Well, locally, people will celebrate midnight. I got invited elsewhere to celebrate. Julie has to work overnight, so I don't know if I will go join the circus.

After all, Australia started the New Year (Gregorian) about 9 hours ago, New York has another 7 hours to go, and San Francisco about 10 hours more, etc. I use ZoneTick to co-ordinate myself, so all four clocks show on my Desktop. It makes it difficult for me to run out and party...

I have just listened to a great radio show on Time, that Crissie sent me from the USA. It includes reference to the ECOlogical calendar, devised by a guy in California who also arranges theatrical/spatial happenings through Antenna Theatre; an interview with the woman who wants to construct an amazing sculpture in London, powered by The Thames, Alunaand indicating the phases of the moon and tides, etc, which you can find out about here at Aluna; and some great stuff about body clocks - and the effects of night-shift working, as well as the time of day we take medicines affecting their usefulness. They call it Chronobiology now, but it sounds like Paracelsus and other astrologer-healers might say "Duh!"

Thanks, Crissie!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Family Trees

Ah the joys of digging through old records! [Who says I don't do things appropriate to the time of year?]

As the library offers free access to Ancestry.Com and the databases it contains, I have had to learn how to use it (to help members of the public) and the best way seemed to do real research into the family.

I found my way back to Great Grand-Parents on my mother’s side, and feel pretty convinced by all the evidence – but the Philpott family have proved more elusive. Apart from anything else, this surname gets spelled so many different ways. I remember when still getting my name in the papers (!) how rarely anyone spelled it ‘correctly’ (and when they did they often called me ‘Tony’!)
larger file if you click
So anyway, my Great-Grandfather, Richard T Philpott becomes a perfect example.

The 1881 Census has him as Richard T Phillpot
The 1891 Census has him as Richard T Philpott
The 1901 Census has him as Richard T Philpot

He seems to have died in 1908 as Richard T Philpotts

And I just found him, getting born in about 1841 as Richard Theophilus Phelpots

Now I have to search Phelpot, Phelpots, Philipott, Phillpath, Phillpotts, Phillpots, etc – you name it!

I reckon I got his parents (unconfirmed) but data runs out about 1837, and you have to start going around looking at parish records, etc. And a tree like this doesn't begin to trace brothers and sisters, cousins and downright lies (!)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Calling all Sentient Beings...

Nice to spot a Comment from old friend Crissie...I don't get a lot of feedback, which explains why I work hard at this blog, and then lapse at times.

Actually, I don't ever stop posting/writing - I just move around. For instance, on Buddhism, you can find me reporting as Godfrey Zone over in OM.

[use the Index, if you don't wanna use the new option to Search Blogs with the control bar at the top]

That post links to Bobby's great bit about Nagarjuna’s Claim, philosophy which sounds incredibly modern to me (having grown up in a culture inhibited from actual thinking by the threat of getting burned at the stake...

You'll find me both discussing stuff, and purely pontificating (or musing to myself), all over the place - and I try to keep it all linked up, but finally my brain probably represents the only complete collection of thoughts. ?!?!?!?!?

Comments really do work, too! I get notified of them, and try to respond to all and any...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Change afoot for 2007

Given the season, I figure I can slip God in here without anyone noticing... Leonard Cohen wrote novels, not just songs, and I found this wonderful piece in one of them. Buffy Saint-Marie later set it to music, as she said:

Leonard Cohen's book "Beautiful Losers" stole my heart in 1963 and so did the idea of electronic processing on a vocal record.I had a recording session scheduled and Leonard was in town. I propped two pages of his book up on a music stand and I just sang it out, ad libbing the melody and guitar music together as I went along. I've always wanted to re-record it, as I love the way the power of the words obviously commands the music and drives it beyond any consideration of time signature.

God is alive, magic is afoot God is alive, magic is afoot God is alive, magic is afoot God is afoot, magic is alive Alive is afoot, magic never died God never sickened Many poor men lied Many sick men lied Magic never weakened Magic never hid Magic always ruled God is afoot, God never died God was ruler Though his funeral lengthened Though his mourners thickened Magic never fled Though his shrouds were hoisted The naked God did live Though his words were twisted The naked magic thrived Though his death was published Round and round the world The heart did not believe Many hurt men wondered Many struck men bled Magic never faltered Magic always lead Many stones were rolled But God would not lie down Many wild men lied Many fat men listened Though they offered stones Magic still was fed Though they locked their coffers God was always served Magic is afoot, God is alive Alive is afoot Alive is in command Many weak men hungered Many strong men thrived Though they boast of solitude God was at their side Nor the dreamer in his cell Nor the captain on the hill Magic is alive Though his death was pardoned Round and round the world The heart would not believe Though laws were carved in marble They could not shelter men Though altars built in parliaments They could not order men Police arrested magic and magic went with them Mmmmm.... for magic loves the hungry But magic would not tarry It moves from arm to arm It would not stay with them Magic is afoot It cannot come to harm It rests in an empty palm It spawns in an empty mind But magic is no instrument Magic is the end Many men drove magic But magic stayed behind Many strong men lied They only passed through magic And out the other side Many weak men lied They came to God in secret And though they left Him nourished They would not tell who healed Though mountains danced before them They said that God was dead Though his shrouds were hoisted The naked God did live This I mean to whisper to my mind This I mean to laugh within my mind This I mean my mind to serve Til' service is but magic Moving through the world And mind itself is magic Coursing through the flesh And flesh itself is magic Dancing on a clock And time itself The magic length of God

© 1966- Leonard Cohen.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Surprise! = Information!

Funny thing. I really love surprise. My favourite DJ doesn’t play my favourites, but plays stuff I never heard before. I still miss John Peel. Now I have DJ Bob Dylan to surprise me, and make me listen to stuff I never tried before.

My favourite authors offer me words I never heard before, or familiar words in surprising combinations, or both. Robert Anton Wilson edged me into Ezra Pound and James Joyce, and my respect for him made me work at it, give it time, overcome my pre-judgements, and try to get the context, the intent, the 'feel'.

Bob Dylan has turned up to open my ears (not with his own music, but music that he loves, and influenced his development) but the young things around me can’t even listen to his DJ voice, and his stories, and his musical anecdotes – and probably flip channels as soon as he plays something their prejudice says they don’t like.

Bob Harris used to do a great show for eclectic stuff, but ‘They’ let him go eventually.

He has turned up on the BBC again, and nowadays plays Country & Western (and even my hackles go up at the idea) and yet he finds all kinds of stuff I like. I keep saying ‘does this belong in that category? How come I like it?'

Hey ho. I grew up with voices (my dad did all the voices for his puppets, my mum sang and taught actors how to use their voices). I love vocal tones. For that reason (among others) I love W.C.Fields (a master of the drawl) and Bob Dylan (a master of vocal tones, like a great actor – I didn’t say he could ‘sing’ but few people can beat his delivery of his own material). I don’t have any musicianship, but even if I don’t like smooth tones (Sinatra, etc) I can appreciate phrasing and timing and delivery.

I like to feel surprised.

Robert Anton Wilson has pointed out that Information = Surprise (the very slogan of his online academy), but I won’t go into that now.

We just lost James Brown. How about him for a total package of show-biz, phrasing, rhythm, tones, and all?

Ah me, and back to the bland, and safe, and familiar world – no challenge, no surprise, no new information. Nothing to shake up yer world view, or stretch yer brain, as Chinese music did mine, or the Oud, or Flamenco, or just about anything I never heard before.

I don’t really care if no-one much shares my tastes around here. I can find people with equally weird tastes on the Internet.

Hello to all my long-distance friends old and new, and not yet met. Enjoy!

Be Seeing You!

peace, love and understanding to all sentient beings

I have often wondered about the mood swoop that so often precedes ‘Christmas’ for me – that drives other people nuts, as a ‘bring-down’ and party-spoiler.

I suspect it has something to do with my considering the festival one of remembrance of poverty, loneliness and homelessness. I tend to open myself to the distress around the world, and if I haven’t collected myself enough to contemplate the situation with a certain detachment, then I get waves of horror and despair. I so love the Buddha (without considering myself a Buddhist) because he seemed to offer a way of confronting those realities with compassion and poise – neither succumbing to helplessness, nor ignoring them by evasion and self-delusion.

tolerance of all other life-formsSadly, to bring such things to other people’s attention tends to evoke the kind of reaction that non-smokers meet when commenting to smokers about ill health, or teetotallers about drink and violence and bad driving, or vegetarians talking about factory farming, or vegans talking (as they do to veggies like me) about cheese, and leather shoes and animal exploitation, and all atheists find themselves on the end of when commenting on almost any religion. A fairly violent over-reaction, at times, which seems out of proportion to the comments.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." as Shakespeare expressed it (long before Freud) – indicating that some other agenda of guilt or awareness lies behind such a hysterical over-reaction.

If peasants or hunter-gatherers have an occasional feast it makes sense to me - a gathering of the clans, a short break from frugality and the usual careful nurturing of scarce resources.

In fact, when I grew up, just after WWII, commodities seemed very scarce, we had rationing of basic foods and fuels, and no luxuries. Christmas made a certain amount of sense to me then (in spite of the grinding poverty my parents lived under). The first-ever tropical fruit (after years of no imports), as much chocolate as you want (after years of rationing), etc. These all justified one big blowout per year. Presents tended to the practical side (new shoes, food) and simplicity (homemade food specialities, knitware). I still didn’t enjoy the dead animal in the middle of the table, or the reverence for the Queen’s Speech, or the Jesus stuff – but I must have seemed quite a strange child.
the Strange Loop of meditation
Many people in the West can now indulge themselves every day, and live in a way that medieval kings could only dream of. I find it impossible to eat more, or drink more than I do in normal life. I have no need of any more clutter of belongings (I have a roomful of underused toys and souvenirs).
extreme self-deprivation doesn't help others
So I will sit on my own today, and take some time to tune in to the sad and lonely, and spare a thought for my far-flung family (Buddha abandoned his wife and son, as well as the luxurious life of the palace, to seek his answers).

Of course, practical folks will tell me that this, too, represents a form of self-indulgence (as I haven’t gone out to help in a homeless shelter, for instance) and to some extent this remains true. The life of a recluse or contemplative does lay itself open to an accusation of elitism and non-involvement in the world. I don’t particularly hold magical beliefs in ‘good vibes’ helping the planet very much, but I don’t think they do any harm, either, and one more peaceful person always helps.
Ho-Tei - the laughing Buddha - the next incarnation
And tomorrow Julie’s family will turn up, and I will do my very best to join in and share some fun, too.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

It ain't a fit night out for man or beast

'Tain't a Fit Night Out...
Ah me. In this Kafkaesque world where I do not understand how things work, I still put a foot wrong pretty often. For a life-long veggie, atheist, anti-capitalist the Turkey/Jesus/Shopping festival confuses me. In terms of family, my dad died in 1978, my mum in 1994, and my children and grand-child live too far away for me to visit right do my sister and her children...
...for man...
At least Bob's DJ show on Radio 2 [Listen again, here] came through with some wonderful, eccentric Xmas music. Julie works today and tomorrow, so it just seems like Sunday to me. Tomorrow (Monday) which the locals call Christmas Day, I only usually commemorate as the day W.C.Fields died (a good enough excuse for a drink).
[images from The Fatal Glass of Beer]...or beast!

Mr Dylan offered a cool yule quote from Dickens' The Pickwick Papers (chapter 28):
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!

As Bob said "written in 1836, and a far cry from Bah Humbug!"

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I fell at the last fence

Oh well, I tried. I nearly made it too!

I said I would try to stay happy through the Christmas frenzy, make no snide comments, etc.

I didn’t make it. I have a friend with a bad back, a friend who separated from his wife and gets a crappy Christmas handed to him as his gift, even a friend who tries to escape the frenzy, who breaks her arm and can't get on the plane to Borneo. The S.A.D kicked in, and I came home to collapse into five days of rest, only to mess it up and spoil any possible fun going. Sigh. I'm told I do it every year. Spoil the turkey festival. I really must ask Pete Brown (if I can find him) where he goes for his Buddhist retreat, and next year just disappear to meditate on my 'true nature' as a terrible spoilsport.

The news stays full of murder and mayhem, the local priest gets busted for child abuse, the rich (anyone with credit, these days) get stuck in airports instead of making their way to sunny beaches, the Brits carry on photocopying their bums on the office copier, getting too drunk and having sex with office colleagues, before drunk-driving home to randomly kill innocents and spoil Christmas for dozens of other families. The shops can’t give stuff away, as people slightly cut back on their extravagance (4 million in the UK haven’t paid for last Christmas yet, apparently) – so bring the Spring Sale forward to before Christmas has even happened (heh).

When people get upset at my anti-religious rants, and claim it as a 'national holiday for families' I ask why all the stress at seeing the parts of the family they spend the year avoiding, and the sense of pressure and obligation. I don’t think of a holiday as a few days that end with a ‘thank God that’s all over for another year!” I think of it as a time to catch up on my sleep. That may just reflect hitting sixty, of course (grandpa dozing in front of the fire).

I quite like the idea of potlatch. In some tribal communities the richest people re-distribute their accumulated surplus of wealth. They get the prestige, kudos, respect and gratitude of the rest of the tribe – and demonstrate their total confidence that they can generate more wealth (and don’t feel the need to stockpile – always paranoid of thieves) – they disarm any resentment from those poorer than themselves – and the game starts even for next season. This went on within, and between different tribes – and although it generated a reciprocal bond (if you did better next year) it doesn’t really resemble the guilt we often seem to build up (even over a card sent or not sent, let alone the relative value of presents exchanged). The Christian missionaries (surprise!) banned the practice.

What a great model, though! Give your belongings away, take no heed for the morrow, consider the lilies of the fields – Wait a minute! That sounds like Jesus! He’d feel disappointed by a lot of the stuff done in his name these days, I suspect.

Thank goodness we actually manifest a Mithraic festival at this time of year that has little to do with Jesus, so he might not notice when he eventually comes back… [follow link, and scroll down to 'Similarities to Christianity'. The parallels remain disputed by Christian theologians, but 'they would say that' to paraphrase Mandy-Rice Davies on Establishment figures in denial. ]

I feel amused everytime someone does “Bah Humbug” at me – given that the phrase comes from the rich miser, Scrooge, who doesn’t want to share. To me I obviously belong in Bob Cratchit’s family. (underpaid clerk, or library worker). The only real reason I can’t quote that tale, of course, arises from my lifelong vegetarianism. I survived quite well (my mum did her best, most of the year, to keep me well-fed) but I still think of Christmas as the festival where people stick a dead animal in the middle of the table. My cat loved it!

Meat-eaters simply don’t see how off-putting that appears and smells to me (puts me right off my food!) so I can only try to appal them by asking how they would feel at a festival with (say) a dead dog as the main attraction. And then, of course, I get told to stop spoiling 'the fun'.

It got worse since I gave up sugar (no mince-pies, chocolates or Christmas pudding for me, thanks) and simply don’t like (have a lacto intolerance for) cream. So the big meal for me consists of roast potatoes, sprouts and carrots (mmm, delicious, and quite enough to satisfy me).
At least I took up drinking again, after I stopped working as a juggler, so I can share in that.

Hey ho. If you want the rest of the rant (it goes on for hours) just check out the Archives for the blog, in December months of previous years.

Phew I feel better for that. Might even go treat myself to a glass of red wine, before settling down to listen to Bob Dylan as DJ, finally reaching British ears on BBC Radio 2 at 7pm this evening. Cheers Bob! (sometimes he sounds like a fellow curmudgeon, but even he celebrates Christmas tomorrow with a two-hour special).

Stave 5: The End of It from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

"A merry Christmas, Bob," said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!"

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

And just to explain the reference (from a page offering Dicken's own recipe for punch):

A final note, if you feel tempted to imbibe somewhat too freely of these splendid beverages: while he did not hold with "the Total Abstinence Principle" (A Christmas Carol, Stave Five), Dickens was a great believer in moderation (he should have followed his own dictum when it came to a certain young actress named Ellen Ternan). "The widespread assertion that drunkenness was the cause of many evils rather than a result of already existing ones angered him, as if eradicating a symptom in any way dealt with the disease" (Fred Kaplan, Dickens [1988], 198). Although Dickens respected the Temperance movement's goals, in "A Plea for Total Abstinence" (1860) he expresses little patience with those who sought eradicate the consumption of alcohol. His many references to liquor often prompted letters denouncing what appeared to be his advocacy of inebriation. In a letter of 25 March 1847 he answered one such complaint thus:
I have no doubt whatever that the warm stuff in the jug at Bob Cratchit's Christmas dinner, had a very pleasant effect on the simple party. I am certain that if I had been at Mr. Fezziwig's ball, I should have taken a little negus -- and possibly not a little beer -- and been none the worse for it, in heart or head. I am very sure that the working people of this country have not too many household enjoyments, and I could not, in my fancy or in actual deed, deprive them of this one when it is so innocently shared. (Letter , Nonesuch Press, II: 20-21)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sudden Prayers Make God Jump

I always find it strange at this time of year when people suddenly become religious. Although (if pushed) I would mostly claim my status as an ‘atheist’ when confronted by People of The Book (Jews, Christians and Muslims – yes they all belong to the same tradition, hard to believe I know!) but if I forget about THEIR idea of religion then I would probably call myself something like a ‘pantheist’.

A friend who has read The God Delusion quoted the idea that some people think Jesus walking on water counts as a miracle, whereas to Dawkins the water itself seems more miraculous. I can only agree. In the first Yoga book I ever owned Sir Paul Dukes pointed out that many Indians (and Romanies) don’t swim, when he described a yoga position that would let you float on your back. He suggested that if Jesus could swim then people who had never seen that before might well have felt very impressed and called it ‘walking on the water’ for lack of the word ‘swim’. That makes everything pretty clear to me.

But anyway. Walking in to work today I started to think that perhaps the local environment really does affect how you feel religious. If you live in the desert then some days you feel very small and insignificant (“God is not nice. He is not an uncle. He is an earthquake!”) Hence all that ‘god-fearing’ language. Another consequence? You might over-value humans in such a relatively empty space.

If you live in a dense jungle - immersed in vivid, teeming life - you probably wouldn’t kid yourself about human superiority and significance. You might feel far more aware of how much we all depend on each other, and interact with each other. This could lead to quite a bit of ‘placating’ the ‘spirits’ or ‘gods’ and other creatures, so multiplicity and complexity (animist/pantheist beliefs) might feature in your world picture.

I don't know how a city boy like me ended up empathising with all creatures. Perhaps my dad and his vegetarianism and 'mystical pantheism' started me off. My mother belonged to a more rational humanist agnostic stream. God never came into it.

Happy Holidays! (safe but bland)

NB: The joke quote for the title of this post? Comes from a bizarre book from the 60s, called Musrum. I never read the book, but had that slogan on a badge (do you remember lapel badges?)

Monday, December 18, 2006

PS: I regret this

I really tried to play the game this year - I even said I would try to enjoy 'Christmas' this year.
I came home, found Clockwork Orange on the TV - the film I never saw for 30 years of censorship - still haven't watched it all the way through.

I may have drunk too much red (communion?) wine this evening while trying to help my fellow human beings, but I walked home past the boarded-up church in my neighbourhood - presumably boarded-up to prevent the local youths (who mostly annoy me by hanging around on my street corner) from throwing bricks through the stained glass windows (instead of trashing the bus shelters) because the local priest just got busted for years of (allegedly) abusing small children.

No 'bastard child born in a barn turning out as a hero' crib/statues this year - just a shocked set of 'elders' in denial about their hero/priest, I guess - "I can't believe it!" say people who have believed in some benevolent God for some years.

I tried really hard to respect the local calendar, and celebrate their local festival called 'Christmas' (anthropologists and travellers should ideally respect local communities they pass through), but...

Fuck 'em! (sorry) Get yer priorities right.

To the rest of you - Enjoy the Solstice (but I hope that the God that judges that so-called 'priest' as he deserves, may he rot in hell if he did that stuff! )
Actually, I don't believe that - a peculiarly 'Christian' form of curse.

May he live enough lifetimes, and suffer enough weird reincarnations, that he starts to realise that everything he says and does affects other people.
Peace to all amiable and friendly sentient beings...

Sorry, the 'aversion therapy' I don't even remember makes me shocked and appalled.
But even 'they' don't bust priests on a whim...
Getting this drunk on a Sunday night (by mistake) feels like a merely 'venal sin' in comparison.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I just don't understand, sometimes

Ah me, sorry people out there.

Did a little gig today (my day off), and felt rather impressed to find myself making sure that R2D2 (Kenny Baker) got back to his hotel, but eventually got texted that dinner had ended up in (virtual) dog, and found myself back in trouble again.

Deep apologies to Julie who deals with this apparently 'new male' who also does traditional erratic drunk 'male in pub' behaviour.

I always make my life up on the spot.

If too drunk I would say "don't trust me, call a taxi" but I foolishly said "I live in this city and will make sure you're safe before going home. Bottom line - you sleep on my sofa!" As it happens I found Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, to you) and his wife coming to look for Kenny, and gate-crashed into drinking wine while they ate. Shame on me. I really like their company, both feel as over-awed as a fan eating with the stars, and at the same time enjoy show-biz banter that dates back to my childhood in the theatre, 'love'. I hope I didn't end up embarrassingly pissed ('drunk' not 'angry').

Thanks everyone, for all the fun today, I hope everyone got home safely. Great to see Barrie, John and Nicole again, and - well - everyone!

Weirdly enough we all form the current tenants of the planet, so we all have something in common - present time!

Couldn't we come to some arrangement that doesn't involve your great-grandfather hating my great-grandfather's beliefs? I have been to Japan and Germany this year (for instance) and those 20th Century wars already sound weird, depressing, futile, surreal, and pointless. Do we EVER learn anything from such fights?

Anyway - sobering up - dinner in dog, me in disarray as ever, (gave up my time-off for this) and.....

You can find me back at my desk in Cardiff Central Library tomorrow morning.

What a strange life. :-)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Library Thing

You may have noticed yet another new bit sprouting on the right hand set of links, etc.

I came across Library Thing, and like the idea (although it might take me a while to load even my 200 free books before deciding whether to pay for the privilege.

For a brief description (aside from a pretty cleanly designed site) you can check out this article.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bob comes through...

Laughing in Rhythm Yeah, you see. Wednesday again, and Bob finishes his radio show with Slim Gaillard. First, he read the section of Kerouac's On The Road about Slim doing a show. Then he played How High The Moon - what a rhythm section! I love that standing bass with a drummer on the cymbals...the jazz trio touch...but rocking and rapping...I put a link to Slim Gaillard radio here. You may not catch that track, but might see why I find it infectious and life-enhancing fun.

Thanks, Bob!

I'll post the Kerouac section, courtesy of this excellent Beat website

On The Road (excerpt)

'... one night we suddenly went mad together again; we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco nightclub. Slim Gaillard is a tall, thin Negro with big sad eyes who's always saying 'Right-orooni' and 'How 'bout a Jack in 1953little bourbon-arooni.' In Frisco great eager crowds of young semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar and bongo drums. When he gets warmed up he takes off his undershirt and really goes. He does and says anything that comes into his head. He'll sing 'Cement Mixer, Put-ti Put-ti' and suddenly slow down the beat and brood over his bongos with fingertips barely tapping the skin as everybody leans forward breathlessly to hear; you think he'll do this for a minute or so, but he goes right on, for as long as an hour, making an imperceptible little noise with the tips of his fingernails, smaller and smaller all the time till you can't hear it any more and sounds of traffic come in the open door. Then he slowly gets up and takes the mike and says, very slowly, 'Great-orooni ... fine-ovauti ... hello-orooni ... bourbon-orooni ... all-orooni ... how are the boys in the front row making out with their girls-orooni ... orooni ... vauti ... oroonirooni ..." He keeps this up for fifteen minutes, his voice getting softer and softer till you can't hear. His great sad eyes scan the audience.

Dean stands in the back, saying, 'God! Yes!' -- and clasping his hands in prayer and sweating. 'Sal, Slim knows time, he knows time.' Slim sits down at the piano and hits two notes, two C's, then two more, then one, then two, and suddenly the big burly bass-player wakes up from a reverie and realizes Slim is playing 'C-Jam Blues' and he slugs in his big forefinger on the string and the big booming beat begins and everybody starts rocking and Slim looks just as sad as ever, and they blow jazz for half an hour, and then Slim goes mad and grabs the bongos and plays tremendous rapid Cubana beats and yells crazy things in Spanish, in Arabic, in Peruvian dialect, in Egyptian, in every language he knows, and he knows innumerable languages. Finally the set is over; each set takes two hours. Slim Gaillard goes and stands against a post, looking sadly over everybody's head as people come to talk to him. A bourbon is slipped into his hand. 'Bourbon-orooni -- thank-you-ovauti ...' Nobody knows where Slim Gaillard is. Dean once had a dream that he was having a baby and his belly was all bloated up blue as he lay on the grass of a California hospital. Under a tree, with a group of colored men, sat Slim Gaillard. Dean turned despairing eyes of a mother to him. Slim said, 'There you go-orooni.' Now Dean approached him, he approached his God; he thought Slim was God; he shuffled and bowed in front of him and asked him to join us. 'Right-orooni,' says Slim; he'll join anybody but won't guarantee to be there with you in spirit. Dean got a table, bought drinks, and sat stiffly in front of Slim. Slim dreamed over his head. Every time Slim said, 'Orooni,' Dean said 'Yes!' I sat there with these two madmen. Nothing happened. To Slim Gaillard the whole world was just one big orooni.'

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

DJ Bob

Rockin' Good to hear that Bob’s Radio Show will arrive in the UK.

Listening whenever I can get Wednesday afternoon off, and having to offer a new email address every time for an XM Radio 3-Day Trial has exhausted me. I don’t intend to act like a cheapskate, but I can’t receive satellite transmissions this side of the Atlantic (so I don’t buy their hardware) and can’t buy an online subscription. I did ask them about my options, but got no reply. I used all my email addresses up, ended up making a quick Yahoo one today, just to get in (sorry, ‘bout that).
Masked and Anonymous - Jack Fate
So anyway – Radio 2 goes out over the Internet, so you can all hear it in December, and 2007, I reckon. You don’t even have to play at timezones, as the BBC follows a live show with 7-day-anytime access to their programmes.

Slightly more informative writing (grabbed from web):

Called Theme Time Radio Hour each programme has a different focus, such as the weather. The track list for that theme, selected by Dylan, features A Place In The Sun by Stevie Wonder, The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix and Keep On The Sunny Side by The Carter Family.
So Many Roads
Other themes include cars, dance, police and whisky.
Here's Looking @ U kid
Dylan first tried his hand at being a DJ earlier this year with a show on XM Satellite Radio in the United States. He said: "A lot of my own songs have been played on the radio, but this is the first time I've ever been on the other side of the mic."

6 Music and Radio 2 [BBC Press Release with details of broadcasts]will air the shows in 2007 - with a sneak preview of six shows on Radio 2 over the Christmas period, starting on Saturday, 23 December at 7pm running through to Thursday, 28 December (all at 7pm except 5pm on 24 December).
that first ever music video

Dylan's show will then launch at 9pm on 31 December on 6 Music and will be on every Friday night from 12 January at 9pm

Monday, November 27, 2006

By Grabthar's Hammer...

"Take Two! and....ACTION!"
Space Ship in front of the stage
dressed to impress

I went to Germany on the weekend, for a sci-fi convention, the Dark Side Con, being run in a school. I wish my school had been as creative as that! I got collected in a Star Wars/Star Trek vehicle. We saw music and dance shows put on by the kids (which I really enjoyed), and they had done drawings of us all.

Drunk at the bar, with a beautiful barmaid - Gudi - to sympathise (remember, It's Only A Movie!)The truly fabulous Barrie Holland (Barrie Hollywood) kept us amused throughout, and joined me in working on some fan films. One with Volker, set in a bar (ideal for me) in which Barrie played the Landlord serving an alien with too much alcohol, and I got the job of Drunk at the Bar (type-casting!) You can see the clip online, if you go to the Dark Sun website [After clicking on the DarkSun logo you can see "Kleinere Projekte im Downloadbereich" at the top of the right side. There you can find the film to download.]

Another film, set on the Star Trek Barrie Does It His Way, while Markus listens - mesmerizedbridge, reduced Barrie to tears of laughter, as we all acted very unprofessionally when we found we had no idea of the story, and no clear direction, and were going to make a ten minute film in ten minutes, so began to improvise, and make each other laugh. Wicked fun, but in such long days we sometimes get a little hysterical. Who knows how it may cut together!

I met some wonderful people who kept me amused, interested and happy.

I had several wonderful conversations with Satalya, a wise woman, Satalyastory-teller, masseur, and many other lives of which I know nothing (apart from what I can find on her website). Thanks for the Refuge!

KurzzeitheldenI talked quite a bit with Christine Wagner, who has worked on a film project of her own for the last six years, and she showed me a high-production value trailer of Kurzzeithelden [click to see trailer], and told me about the ups and downs and adventures of making your own film with your own money.

Fabia, Philip and Simone - see you later, AlligatorsAmong the graphic artists I found a real friend in Philip Cassirer from the Alligator Farm in Hamburg, and his attractive companions Simone and Fabia (it never hurts your reputation to be seen with beautiful women). I should really introduce them to the Madison Underground Press, who appear in transition from Buddhafart.

I also loved the work of Jörg Schröder. I have always loved books, and particularly hand-crafted books. Jörg Schröder He and his company make hand-made limited editions based on some of the big films (I believe they also make unique copies if you ask them). His company - Crafted Collectibles - make exclusive collector's edition volumes which contain not just words and pictures, but DVDs, etc. He had samples on display for Spider Man, Lord of the Rings, Batman and (of course) Star Wars. Data and Me

Nice times for me as he appreciates my work on The Dark Crystal, which I secretly love, as I had never worked on a film before that and got to see the whole process, from pre-production to production, from Day One to the The Wrap.

After that training and experience, getting the chance to do Jabba didn't scare me too much. Well, not much-ish...
Cousin Itt (or Wookie) improvised
I had a great time!

Thanks everyone! (and especially Mario & Markus)

Bis wieder!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mr Jules - the Last Leopard in Wales

quite why he stuck the fire torches down his trousers I don't know!Great to see my mate Jules (that's Mr. Jules to you, mate!) and have a laugh.
He normally spends rather a lot of time travelling around Europe, so to have him back in Cardiff for a while is a treat.

As his website is down temporarily, I can't point you there. One of his old agencies described him this way:

Mr Jules
Wowing the crowdPresenter, compere, street artist. Mr Jules roams the continent with his own distinctive variety of wit and humour. Slack rope shows, falling over, getting up again, Improvisation and participation. Mr Jules won first prize at the acclaimed Rotterdam Street Theatre festival 1998.
"Quick wit, excellent improvising skills and anything goes attitude... suave, sophisticated." The Catch UK


Your compere for the evening is the inimitable Mr Jules, stupid or just plain dumb in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Desperanto.

As well as performing, he remains a critical link in setting up and running juggling conventions (I went to Ptuj in Slovenia last year, where 3,500 jugglers turned up!

Here's a glimpse of him in 1999 from someone's travel diary online
That's GOT to hurt!
Mr. Jules from Wales juggling three, four and even five clubs on a slackrope. The first four were thrown to him by members of the public. One end of the slackrope was attached to a streetlamp, the other end was held tight by six members of the public. He used a thin yellow sling instead of rope. It was very elastic. It was attached at head-height but hung only 50cm above the ground when Mr. Jules stood on it.

At the end of the show he pretended to fall off and of course the rope ended up between his legs, leading to a nice pantomime.

Because I try to learn the slackrope myself I found his show most inspiring. The mock-accident, with the rope between the legs, happened to me several times during my first practice sessions!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Grown up Jokes

For Ali’s birthday last night a bunch of us from NoFit State went to see Free Jimmy. Really excellent! Apologies to the director that we didn’t stay for the Q&A but we all had a party to go to…
Very, very funny – the first cgi for adults movie – 4 stoners, 3 gangsters, 5 vegans and 4 hunters all in pursuit of a junkie elephant, escaped from the circus. I don’t want to offer plot spoilers, but you can get a bit more detail on their website…

Ali has started working part-time for the Circus Arts Forum, too -

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy Christmaas!

I have had a minor reprimand for neglecting this blog - I didn't think anyone read anything much of mine online (and no-one adds Comments) so I just thought of it as another of my 'experiments'.

I started a webpage because I had stopped travelling with my freelance circus work, and had settled into one city and one proper job (!) at the age of 51 (for the first time ever) - so wanted to collect my thoughts, find my children, publish what traces I had left of my parents (at least the children might find it interesting) and so on.

Well, my kids got in touch, (and a few of my parents' students, too) and I got a couple of gigs out of it all, but eventually the website (made with FrontPage 2000 templates) just ground to a halt. I occasionally proofread a page, and get rid of dead links (or update them) but already it feels like a major project to overhaul it.

A couple of years ago I heard that my favourite author (OK, one of my favourite authors) had decided to do tutorials online. I knew he had done talks and lectures and classes but I dived in (one of the first 15 I believe) and for the last couple of years did workshop/tutorials with him, supported and encouraged the online Academy, etc.

I call myself Bogus Magus (apologies to the games player in Japan who chose the same name). I have written for the online magazine, Maybe Quarterly, and maintain the online blog, Only Maybe.

I have indexed (rather imperfectly) the content we have provided for this insatiable internet environment)...lost interest in my own projects, slightly.a bogus magus in his den of pretend magic

Perhaps things moved again. RAW(Robert Anton Wilson for the uninitiated) became too ill this year to run his course 'Tale of the Tribe' (the great summing up of 20th Century human intelligence) and we students floundered for a bit. Fortunately the Academy has attracted an extraordinary group of tutors, so it may well roll on, but I can't replace my first year of trying to complete 3-4 RAW courses simultaneously. I thought I had taken on too much, but I had dropped one (crucial) course. If I thought I put a lot of work in, Bob said he felt like a one-armed wallpaper hanger. I still thought of him as the man of infinite energy, so to realise just how hard he worked to make all that happen astounds me even now.

Last year (still teaching) he fell down in his house and no-one found him for 24 hours. I don't say that to dramatise the situation beyond saying that none of this leaked out to us at the time - it came out as rueful comedy!

So anyway. This year it became clear that Post-Polio Syndrome, his age, the loss of his wife, who knows - circumstances had got the better of him - the course got cancelled and they gave us our cash back. I didn't want it, but got it any way.

From then on we either wanted him to get back up, and run the course we all so eagerly anticipated, or we knew we had to let him go in peace. When we heard he couldn't afford his rent and medical bills a whole bunch of people around the planet made sure he didn't die penniless and homeless and destitute (like too many of my heroes) and a wonderful Internet event sorted the situation in an astounding 3 days (I reckon Douglas Rushkoff deserves most thanks for the coverage he gave to the situation - but everyone who sent $5 - or $500 - became my friend at least). I went from helplessness and despair to belief in my fellow humans again. That doesn't seem like a trivial matter.

Oh. Why did I say Happy Christmas so early? Most people have me down as this atheist/humanist/anarchist. At Christmas they call me a curmudgeon, and mumble "Bah Humbug" at me, as they spend more than they (or the planet) can afford, complain about visiting their relatives, etc. You can check it out in The Archives if you really care (does anyone read this stuff?)

If you want to buy crazy presents go here, to Grand Illusions.

This year I decided not to buy goats for people, or sulk, or anything. I have decided to act unnaturally cheerful (whatever happens) and transmit "Goodwill to all men/people/humans/entities/sentient beings" IF IT KILLS ME.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, October 13, 2006

No Fool Like an Old Fool

I have reather neglected this blog, as most of my energy has gone into Only Maybe in recent weeks. I did just get an email that might interest some readers, however:

the fool in Spain
* * * *
a rare opportunity to join a workshop with Franki Anderson
Two weekends of FOOLING in Barcelona
November 25+26
December 2+3
At the NEW “Escola de Clown de Barcelona”
tel. +34 933 042 846 PLEASE REPLY TO THIS ADDRESS
The workspace is near the centre of town and there is a youth hostel near-by.

asks "who am I really?"

Do I dare to be different, risk making a fool of myself, to connect with my souls journey?

Using theatre, Franki ‘the fool’ offers to support the individual in their unique process of self-discovery.

By viewing the world through the fools eyes, it is possible to show where normality is going mad.

When there is a wish to change the world, fools begin by changing themselves.

the fool

WORKSHOP weekend

be who you uniquely are

How can I be more creative?

How can I freely improvise in a deep and truthful way?

How can I develop my relationship with my audience?

This workshop explores the basic concepts of ‘the fool’, theatre and the audience.

An opportunity for new and experienced players to improvise dance and play in ‘the empty space’

There will be a limit of 12 places on this workshop

Message to fools

The emptyspace website is down, and Franki needs help to put up a new one, if anyfool has the time and skills to help please contact Franki

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Art as Gift

I have worked on some Trickster material recently, and dug out an unread copy of Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art by Lewis Hyde which I have started reading (having bought it about a year ago).

I also have a copy of The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World , (sometimes subtitled The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property) a book about art as gift rather than commodity. (half read).

If you don't have time to read lots, try listening to 20 minutes of a radio interview with him, to get a glimpse of the work.

Apparently his current work-in-progress has the title Cultural Commons.

You could also look at Cultural Commons where Lewis Hyde did the guest blog for July...
Look at these other names for Tricksters, Fools, Clowns, etc.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Father's Day, apparently...

My son just wished me a Happy Father's Day - having spent his evening with real flamenco music etc.

Lovely to hear from him anyway, but who knew that today counted? Not me. Apparently in Oz it does...

In the US & UK I believe they did this (recently invented) festival on June 18th. Whatever.

After all, on the 'pataphysical calendar, they call today 24 Phalle 133 de l'Ere Pataphysique.

Clock times differ, calendars differ - I just enjoy hearing that he has had some fun - especially when my own little world seems a bit short of that. Last night I had a few laughs (and drinks) and creative plotting with my friend Mr Jules - and today I have a hangover, and find myself slightly in the doghouse.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mad about the books

The Reading Room, now turned into an inert monumentWith my love of reading, long life, tendency to hang out in libraries wherever I go, delight in the detective challenge of research, and tactile pleasure in books (I used to randomly search old bookshops with my dad at the weekend) – I ended up working in a library, with access to The Stacks (soon to move into another building – sigh) and functioning as an unofficial Archivist/Researcher for the Forum I spend most my free time in, at the Maybe Logic Academy.

One of my fellow students there sent me this link to ‘hot library smut’ (pictures of some of the finest libraries on the planet). I used to sit in the old British Library Reading Room with the ghosts of Darwin, Karl Marx, and so many others…thinking that the high dome got made to allow room for the ‘great thoughts’ hovering over people’s heads.

The link came from an intriguing blog called The Nonist. I roamed on from there to a wonderful essay on Arranging Books by Colour...which included this:
Georges Perec and familiar friend

My library is, to borrow from Georges Perec, "a sum of books constituted by a non-professional reader for his own pleasure and daily use." Perec's definition comes from a wonderful essay of his titled, "Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One's Books", and includes such other quotables as "The problem of the library is shown to be twofold: a problem of space first of all, then a problem of order." I am well aware of both.

I remember how Penguin paperbacks had colour coded covers, in my childhood, and later I came across one German publisher, whose name escapes me, who used a spectrum of rainbow covers, and the shelves looked quite beautiful in the bookshops. Perec, however, liked the idea of books getting brought together that would not normally sit alongside each other.
My main shelf in the den

The central issue, as Perec warms us, is that "None of these classifications systems is satisfactory by itself," and he is right. But one idea from his list, "ordering by colour," seems to be gathering a small following of late, particularly among the visually-inclined.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Great Googlie-Mooglie

(spoken:)Man...You know I've been enjoyin' things that kings and queens will never have!In fact kings and queens can never get 'm.And they don't even know about it!And good times? Mmmmmmmmm-mmh!!

(sung:)I have had my fun, if I never get well no more
I have had my fun, if I never get well no more
Oh my health is fadin' on me, oh yes I'm goin' down slow

(spoken:)Now looka here...I did not say I was a millionaire...But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire!Cause if I had kept all my money that I'd already spent,I would've been a millionaire a looong time ago...And women? Great Googlie-Mooglie!!

(sung:)Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in
Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in
Tell her to pray for me, forgive me for my sin

Howlin' Wolf - Going down Slow

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anarchy rules, OK?

I love getting to report good stuff. NoFit State excelled themselves this time. Apparently they won the Cavalcade (street parade) in Edinburgh with the best float.
Best Festival Float - No 46 - NoFit State Circus - ImMortal
Runner up - No 21 - Tempo Musical Productions
Best Community Float - No 55 - Edinburgh Chinese Community
Runner up - No 75 - Bo'ness Children's Fair Festival
Best Commercial Float - No 81 - The Edinburgh Dungeon
Best Speciality Unit - No 33 - Mirage Arabic Dancers
Best Walking Group - No 36 - Jump - Martial Arts Comedy
I find this particularly satisfying, after last year - as Ali says in the newsletter/blog:
Another prize for NoFit State
We are pleased to announce that we just won the best float in the Edinburgh Cavalcade ( Lord Mayors parade) This represents a huge victory as last year the company were removed from the parade by riot police after trying to join the back of the procession without officially entering. The publicity must have been good as the opening shows at the Fringe were all sold out.
heh heh

Review in The Herald

Review in The Guardian

For a longer discussion of what NoFit State attempts to do; and some context on New Circus, try Jeni Williams' article for New Welsh Review, issue 68, 2005 - "Circus with Heart"

Give Peace a Chance

half full I can't believe that after all these years I still have to mark the humans' report cards as 'could do better'. Oh yeh, I know - if I can't even keep peace in my own life, what chance do we have in the Middle East, where tribes have fought since the Old Testament times. I wouldn't mind, but they also managed to impose their god (cause of most of the fighting) on the rest of us. Yeh, yeh, right "All gods are mythical, except yours, huh". How many One True God's did you say existed? Next time you hear a sports person say God helped them, or Bush say 'God's on our side' or whatever - do me a favour - just replace 'God' with Zeus, or Apollo, or something. Apologies to all the gentle, peaceful, true believers out there.

Watching the wheels go round and roundAnger and depression alternate at my own stupidity and that of the whole human race. Despair may arise from internal chemical imbalances, external relationship imbalances, environmental stresses, national/racial/territorial issues, financial stresses and strains, etc.

Right now I find myself humming Lennon (as I often do when trying to cheer myself through glum periods) - jaunty tunes and miserable words (oh, and for those too young to remember - a really anguished scream or two):

Somehow the wires got crossed
Communication's lost
Can't even get you on the telephone
Just got to shout about it
I'm losing you
I'm losing you

worth a try
I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink

I'm so tired I don't know what to do
I'm so tired my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do

You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind

I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid git.
now virtual lennon
You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind
I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind
I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mobile Library

this trolley has definitely had enough
Well, the time finally arrived, and I find myself in the middle of moving the library into its temporary accomodation. You may well ask why the new library didn't get built first, so we could move straight in...

What Cardiff needs (apparently) is more shopping and less parking...(they plan to knock down the current library, several multi-storey carparks, shops, post office, Toys 'R Us, etc - to put up a John Lewis arcade).
We only moved in here 18 years ago
So we move into some breeze blocks (and the old Welsh National Opera rehearsal building) - and patiently wait until 2008/9 for our 'state-of-the-art library' to get built in the carpark of the Marriott Hotel... (sigh)
we have had a ruthless prune of current stock, just to fit into the temp building The regulars suffer most...we have always formed a safe haven for the poor, the mad, the old, the ill, the unemployed (as well as the students, housewives, researchers, etc) - and this month of turmoil has displaced everyone's routines.
half a million books,DVDs,CDs etc 100 computers, - no big deal
It does seem a shame that so many people now see us as irrelevant (see Love Libraries campaign). Why buy books, read them once, and clutter up your home with them gathering dust?

I love libraries because I chose the dangerous and impoverished path of the 'artist' so I have always believed that (to misquote The Furry Freak Brothers) "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."
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