LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: V IS FOR VIOLENCE

I’m such a slacker and part-time babysitter, as The Crime Minister ensures me I am, that I was up until 2am this morning completing a Kahoot quiz for my students to prepare them for their upcoming online/not-online/they’ll change the rules on us again at least once before this shit is over term.

So I’ve got nothing witty to say this morning. I’m too tired.

V is for violence. Insert something cogent and satirical and hilarious about how that fits into the current world situation here.

And here’s the Violent Femmes, and a song about America being the place where we keep all the fuckwits.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, get your kicker boots on and kick about through this lot:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: U IS FOR GETTING UGLY

I don’t know about you, but for a guy who’s verging on the bald, if I don’t get a haircut soon I’m going to be the source of a rash of Bigfoot seen in wilds of Karratha suburbs rumours coming your way very soon…..

It’s the end of the first week of school holidays, and as intimated by Scum the Crime Minister yesterday, Luscious and I are enjoying slacking off by being at the school, writing stay-at-home programs for our students for next term and creating online quizzes to give them something entertaining to do while they’re in lockdown, because as teachers we are, in equal parts, essential, sacrificial, and scapegoatable.

Scum the Crime Minister is a floating piece of weasel shit, and after he is voted out, he and his fascist lackey the Oberstumfuhrer Potatohead should be brought up on as many criminal charges as can fit on the charge sheet. But you already knew that, from watching their corruption, illegal gaoling of refugees, and acts of malice towards the democractic state already. And if you didn’t, either wake up or take the Lieberal-coloured sleeping mask off your eyes.

Continue reading “LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: U IS FOR GETTING UGLY”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: T IS FOR THOMAS

If Hell is other people, why are so many people complaining right now?

Here at the Batthaim, our personal Hell has become a routine of clothes folding, washing dishes, computer work, online teaching, Dungeons and Dragons, TV, movies, cool drink, crisps, home cooking, sleeping in until gone 9 in the morning… wait, what was the question?

I frigging love social isolation. I could do it forever.

The truth is, I’m already beginning to turn into exactly the kind of person people have been worried about me turning into for years. Another couple of weeks and I’ll be eating raw fish, complaining about tricksy hobbitses, and lava diving with the best of them. But, you know, quarantine is all the reasons I’ve been enjoying living in Karratha writ large: the lack of pressure, the lower social crush, the slower speed of living, the lack of external options (cinemas, restaurants, etc) giving me more time to spend at home….

Seriously. I could do it forever.

My own personal descent into Leonard of Quirmishness aside, it’s music time! And who better to describe the geography of my inner mental tesseract than that time-displaced voyager of electric steamfuturezappowcracklepunk, Thomas Dolby?

Dolby hit the 1980s like that distant Uncle who came back from the War full of stories, with strange objects hidden all around his person and a chest in the attic which you must never — under any circumstances — open, and who just didn’t give a fuck what your parents thought. His songs She Blinded Me With Science and Hyperactive and their accompanying videos were, well, hyperactive screams of squirrel-chasing insanity at a time when electronic music was typified by the pimple-free soft-skinned baby faces of Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw*, and their blonde-tipped ilk. Mainstream radio laughed nervously, asked Auntie to pass the salt, and resolved never to invite him to dinner again.

In response, he’s gone on to create a career of singular wonderfulness and individuality, positioning himself as some sort of steampunk Uncle Fester of electric satire. This particular track is from the soundtrack to the movie Gothic, and if anything could be said to sum up his approach to the music industry, and my approach to being removed from having to interact with the outside world, a madman screaming about scorpions having sex inside his head and becoming poet laureate of Satan’s playground is just about it.

 

 

 

*Just for the record, I like Nik Kershaw, and totally love Howard Jones. But, you know, they really are Dik Brownes** to Dolby’s Charles Addams.

**I love Dik Browne, too. This is not a comment on quality, just approach.

***If you can read this, you’re too close.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, dive into the fetid swamp of past imagination and have a splash:

LEGO 250 REVIEWS: 70424 GHOST TRAIN EXPRESS

Back to the Hidden Side today, with the second-largest set released so far, and the largest one in my collection, 70424 Ghost Train Express.

As much as I’m a fan of all things spaceship, I am singularly not a fan of trains: not in the real world, and not in the realm of toys. They’re boring.

So how did I end up with two of this set?

Continue reading “LEGO 250 REVIEWS: 70424 GHOST TRAIN EXPRESS”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: S IS FOR FOR SOME SWINGING SQUIRRELS.

If, by now, you’re not talking to squirrels and living in your own personal version of Hell, are you even doing Covid-19 properly?

This post is literally nothing but an excuse to expose you to my lifelong love of swing music, and revel in its 90s revival.

Swing, you dogs!

 

 

If you’re late to the party, get a few down your neck while you catch up to the rest of us:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: R IS FOR THE REVEREND

As the realisation that the conditions under which we’re living will continue for the foreseeable future hits — West Australian premier Mark McGowan is talking openly about maintaining our hard border closure for at least six months, and the Education Department has instructed teachers to prepare for home-based learning for all of next term, and to consider similar measures for term three — even the hardest hard-line brainless fuckwit morons anti-vaxxer flat earth climate denying conspiracyvirus yappers are coming to the conclusion that just maybe this has something to do with more than Greta Thunberg wanting the playground all to herself.

Not all of them, obviously: stupidity is notoriously hard to get out of fabric, and it knows no boundaries of class or intelligence.

It’s no surprise that people are turning to nutty theories, pretend sky wizards, and charlatans in a time of uncertainty. People have always preferred easy fallacies to difficult truths, and always trusted a facile smile more than a complicated, unflinching, logic. We are creatures of fear and logic, stretching back to a time when we were nothing more than slow-moving meat. In such a time, comfort food, comfort drink, and comfort removal-of-personal-responsibility provide much more… well, comfort… than the idea that we might have to suffer for a while and still, possibly, not prevail.

Religion and drinking. There are so many ways to combine them. Here’s one for today.

I first discovered The Reverend Horton Heat on, of all things, an album of TV cartoon theme song covers, where they tore up a dual cover of Jonny Quest and Stop That Pigeon like crazy people. I’ve loved rockabilly since The Stray Cats and punk since The Clash, so psychobilly was always going to be right up my personal alley: the moment I discovered The Cramps, it was all over, red rover. So yeah, I became an instant fan, and have remained so ever since.

That’s the religion part taken care of. Here’s the drinking. A special treat: two songs from The Rev, covering two-fifths of Larry Miller’s legendary ‘five levels of drinking’.

Mix up a bathtub of margaritas, climb in with your favourite straw, and enjoy.

(All those messages of surprise I received when people read my Orbital post and learned I like dance music: can’t wait to see how many I get now the rockabilly is out of the hill…)

 

 

 

If you’re late to the party, get a few down your neck while you catch up to the rest of us:

RIP, TB-T: SOMEBODY CALLED

One of the things that has been highly noticeable about the spread of Covid-19 is that it is no respecter of rank, position, or privilege. Like a true plague, it has struck indiscriminately, from Prince Charles, to Boris the Bastard, to Kenny Dalglish, to fathers and mothers and siblings and offspring less famous, but just as necessary to the wellbeing of the world.

Sadly, for everyone who contracts the virus and recovers, we suffer a painful loss: at the time of writing, over 144,000 lives have been lost worldwide, and the number grows daily. And while it could be argued that some figures might improve the world immeasurably by no longer being in it*, we’re also seeing the loss of people who have enriched our experiences through their work and their legacies. Gita Ramjee has died. Lorena Borjas. Terrence McNally. And last night, as Luscious and I were heading to bed, news broke that brought us both to tears.

British comic actor, writer, and absolute pillar of my childhood memories, Tim Brooke-Taylor, succumbed to the virus at the age of 79.

Continue reading “RIP, TB-T: SOMEBODY CALLED”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: Q IS FOR THE INEVITABLE CHOICE FOR Q

Yeah, look. I tried. Honestly. But Queens of the Stone Age suck arse, and all my Quincy Jones is stuff he produced for others, not any of his own material. So it’s Queen, okay? Of course it’s Queen. It’s only a matter of which Queen track to choose. We want something that offers some kind of comment on what’s happening to the world around us, but also something that you might not have heard before, just in case a taste of new music is what you need right now.

Not so easy with Quee….ah, got it.

It’s an easy out to blame everything that’s going wrong on a cookie-cutter old-white-man-in-a-suit boogie monster, but by the same token it’s also not exactly a really long stretch, either. The truth is, white-man-politics-with-money is at the root of an absolute fucktonne of the social, cultural, racial, and economic issues that Australia finds itself contorted by. And the truth is, many of those issues are the result of the ingrained xenophobia, racism, misogyny, empire-building, religious zealotry, and all-round just being stupid dumbshits-ery brought over with the Western European diasporas that have hit Australian shores with stunning regularity over the decades. I’m sure no other countries have issues with historical European imperialism.

So, you know what? Suck it up.

And I say that as an increasingly old white man from good, old-fashioned, racist English stock who has had to overcome a whole lot of inherited psychological bullshit over the years. You’re either part of the solution, or shut up. Nobody gets to be proud of being part of the problem anymore. That shit has to stop.

Adapt or die. The new world needs it.

And, hey: a Queen song you might not have heard a billion times on the radio. That’s something too, right?

 

 

If you’re late to the party, you can still get timey-wimey and listen to everything that has come before:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: P IS FOR PAINTING

Easter Sunday. Let us sit upon the couch, and tell sad stories about the death of our chocolate egg supplies.

We know, those of us who stare at each other through our computer screens and wonder what fresh catastrophe the mishandled greed and corruption of the Megabusiness Lap Dogs we trusted to run our societies will unload upon us, and just what will remain when we emerge, shamefaced and cowed, to look upon the aftermath of toilet paper riots and border-closing xenophobia we brought upon ourselves. We know.

We know that to return to the old way of things is to have learned nothing. We know that something has to give, that this epoch of money-worship and cultural isolation has been as close as anything else to bringing us to this point, where we blindly threaten our own survival simply so Frank and Edna can have that boat they only ever sit on the water and drink beer in, and so that Drumpf and Bezos and Reinhart can wipe their arses with ever-thickening wads of fifties. We know.

We know, and still we contribute to it.

Continue reading “LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: P IS FOR PAINTING”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: O IS FOR ORBITAL

Surely, by now, at least one of you has danced around the house in your underwear. Doesn’t even have to be your underwear. Doesn’t even have to be your house. Or inside. Or in underwear. Or clothes.

Look, just send me videos of naked people dancing, okay?

Dance music is some Marmite stuff. Either you love it or you don’t. But while we’re all tucked up in our living rooms, and the gym’s closed, and they’ve changed the locks to the gate at the pool so my your key is useless, you’ve got to do something to maintain that clean, high-energy lifestyle you’ve been telling yourself you’re just about ready to commit to any time soon, right? (The prosecution would like it noted that the defendant is literally eating a plate of cheese, pickled onions, and crackers while typing this unwarranted slur on everybody else’s reputations….)

Orbital are great. High energy, high octane beats with a ridiculously large slice of satirical side-eye and a self-awareness about the popular culture that surrounds them which borders on the perverse. They played a huge part in bringing dance culture into the mainstream, headlining Glastonbury in 1994 and delivering one of the all-time great gigs before becoming movie soundtrack staples throughout the 90s. They’ve been a staple of my playlist for years: songs like Satan, The Sinner, Belfast, and Chime are mood-lifting staples for when I really need them.

And then there’s this: the song that first brought them into my… uh… orbit. The song that brought Lord 15 into dance music. A song that should remind us that everything changes, everything evolves, everything continues, even if the surface details may alter from time to time.

I can think of no more resonant and symbolic cultural figure to hold onto in these times than The Doctor, and so here we are: Orbital, and my favourite of their tracks, Doctor?, performed live at the scene of their greatest triumph, with a special appearance by… well, let’s just say it’s perfect.

So, no matter what happens over the next few weeks and months, no matter what we suffer through, and endure, remember: One day, we shall come back. Yes, we shall come back. Until then…..

 

 

If you’re late to the party, you can still get timey-wimey and listen to everything that has come before:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: N IS FOR NINA

The school term is officially finished. All the little darlings are officially at home for two weeks, arse-glue liberally applied to the couch and TV-eyes firmly fixed in place. And Luscious and I have the joy of officially trudging into work every day to sit in empty classrooms, setting up and creating content for the next ten weeks of disinterest and objections that this is stupid and why do we even need to learn this crap anyway?

Of course, the truth is that we’ve been in this position for the last two weeks. But as of today, it’s at least official, and that makes all the difference.

So in the spirit of not even really trying and not giving a damn about the end result, I’m not even trying to link today’s musical choice to Covid-19, the political landscape, or the toxic, semi-liquid filth currently gagging Boris the Rock Spider’s brain lungs. And I don’t care about the result. So there.

I love a bit of Nina Simone, and have done ever since I discovered her via the medium of a short Aardman animation film, back in the days when they experimented with stuff instead of squeezing out a bland, never-ending package of twee homages to a Little England that resembles nothing more than being trapped inside the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society album and never once realising it’s supposed to be satirical.

So here it is. Settle back, mix the third breakfast margarita of the day, and enjoy the serenity. See you tomorrow.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, this is your perfect opportunity to catch up before the numbness reaches your fingertips:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: TIME FOR MADNESS

Oh, let’s be honest. Given that I’m sitting here in my Madness tee-shirt, and my Madness tattoo on my arm, writing on my website that uses a Madness quote in the sidebar to try to sum me and my lifetime’s effort up, with my lifelong conviction that Madness is the greatest pop band in the history of absolutely everything… it wasn’t likely to be Melodious Mikey and the Mangled Meltheads, was it?

Besides which, what better band name to sum up everything that’s happening throughout the world right now?

Lucky for you, Madness is one of those rare bands that actually get better as they get older. Idiot Child comes from their 2009 masterpiece The Liberty of Norton Folgate. It’s a perfect anthem for any of the Trimvirate of Evil Morons– apply it to Scum the Crime Minister, the Orange Humgruffin, or Boris the Bastard as you will.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, this is what the rest of us have been fiddling to while our respective corners of Rome burn:

EXIT, WITHOUT SO MUCH AS KNOCKING

Sad news this week, with the passing of Australian poet Bruce Dawe.

Like many Australians of my generation, Dawe was my first taste of contemporary poetry. His collection Sometime Gladness was a school staple in the 1980s. Unlike many of my peers, for whom using two forms of cutlery in the same meal was considered forensic proof of poofterdom (1980s. Rockingham. Because homosexuality was something to be feared and beaten, often with cricket stumps or boots, based on nothing more than a certain level of intelligence and perhaps not liking AC/DC that much. At least in my case.*), I fell in love with both Dawe’s work and poetry in general. It’s a love that has never left me: in my day I’ve been reader, writer, and performer of poetry, with a handful of sales here and there to salve my somewhat notions of credibility.

Continue reading “EXIT, WITHOUT SO MUCH AS KNOCKING”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: L IS FOR LISA

Deep into the second week of isolation, and apart from the dildoes up the road deciding that 2am is the perfect time to have themselves an Aussie-Standards-and-Shouting-at-the-Top-of-Their-Moronic-FIFO-lungs party last night, life is just frigging peachy.

Luscious is isolated more by (ill) luck than design, having taken a fall at work on the last day of term that we really shouldn’t have been here for anyway, which seems to have ripped half of her muscles away from her ankle bone. For those who have been playing along, no, the other ankle. Chance is a fine thing. It does, however, mean that she and Webex are working from home this week, while I sit in an empty classroom wondering just what the hell I’m doing here, anyway?

Weird that it takes a lack of students to realise what a second-rate teacher of students you are, but there it is.

Anyway, today’s listening is Britstralian songwriter Lisa Mitchell, who somehow managed to finish sixth in the 2006 season of Australian Idol behind the vacuous talent-free black holes of Damien Leith, Jessica Mauboy, and three blokes whose names I forget the moment I read them. Her first album, Wonder, was released when she was 18: it’s a delightful confection of whimsy, lilting tunefulness, and the sort of musical arrangements that must exist inside Stevie Nicks’ head when she’s in full elf-dancer mode. Since then Mitchell has moved further and further into a template of bog-standard female in her 20s Australian Music Industry plastic electric stylings, but for a moment she was the most original thing to hit Australian music in decades.

Oh, Hark! is a witty rumination on the fear of death, and particularly the things that lurk in the shadows between death and resurrection. It’s a fitting conversation starter for these times, when we sit between — hopefully –the death of right wing capitalism and wholesale destruction of the planet to fill the pockets of old, white, happy clapping zealots as the predominant thoughtform, and the potential for birthing something more fitting for the times to come.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, here’s all the ways you could have self-harmed with the rest of us:

LEGO 250 REVIEW: 11910 MICROSCALE SPACE CRUISER AND ‘GREAT LEGO SETS’ BOOK

Every now and again, Lego-preferred publisher DK Books  puts out a tome specifically designed to part a fool and my money. Often, that book includes a special minifigure, or tiny build that you wouldn’t, for a moment, think of purchasing separately, but now that it’s attached to the front of a $50 book you’ll flick through once or twice and leave on the shelf to gather dust and give the cat asthma, weeellllll, all of a sudden, there it is, on your shelf, and the cat’s sneezing its box off…..

Anyway, this is one of those ‘tiny build’ examples.

Thing is: DK put out pretty good books. And the tiny build in question is one that, you know, has some resonance. Which is all well and fine and stuff, but is it any good?

Continue reading “LEGO 250 REVIEW: 11910 MICROSCALE SPACE CRUISER AND ‘GREAT LEGO SETS’ BOOK”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: K MEANS GETTING KINKY

Eleven days into self-isolation. By now, you’re beginning to see faces in the bowl of custard that’s been sitting in the fridge since January, and you know they’re starting to look pretty suggestive.

And let’s be honest, you’d be getting on with it, if it wasn’t for those damn neighbours spying on you via 5G radio waves, and the French trying to poison us all by blowing ill humours across the channel with giant bellows, and I don’t like the way that squirrel is looking at me, and being followed by a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman….

It’s at times like these that a hero will rise and teach us all to lead the way. A Texan hero. A Texan Jewish hero, with spangly hat and a suitcase full of detective novels. A Texan Jewish hero with a fine line in tasteless, controversial, and unbelievably hilarious songs… provided you’re of a certain state of mind.

After eleven days of erotic thoughts about hatefucking expired custard, you’re probably in just about the certainest state of mind you’ve been in since Scum stole the election, and ready for some advice on what to do next. Kinky style…

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, here’s all the things we’ve listened to:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: J IS FOR JAMES

The second week of our Covid playlist arrives, and for some of you it’s been a lifetime since you’ve seen a human face that you remember you used to love but can’t quite remember why. Toast supplies are running low. Some bastard has put the Nutella back in the cupboard with less that a scrape in the bottom. The bottle shop knows you so well they have your daily three bottles under the counter waiting for you. Even floating photos of Scum the Crime Minister in the toilet bowl so you can play games of Stuka Dive Bomber has lost its allure.

Chin up, guv’. Worse fings ‘appen at sea. Spirit of the Blitz ‘n all that.

It’s probably no surprise that I’d pick James for this entry. Luscious and I have been mainlining the band for several months now. Laid and Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) were playlist staples for several years, but we’d never really thought beyond that until we let Google Home keep playing beyond those two once, and realised how many brilliant songs were following on from each other while we listened, agog.

There’s something about the band’s sound, and both the voice and look of lead singer Tim Booth, that remind us inextricably of Blake. They help keep him with us, and the pain is both bittersweet and bearable.

Crash is the opening track from their 1999 album Millionaires: arguably their finest, and one I will be taking with me any time I fly just in case I’m marooned on a desert island. The title might describe the way many of us are feeling right now. The lyrics certainly do.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, because you’re not allowed out unless you’re somebody society is willing to sacrifice or this is a potential booty call, here’s what you could have been listening to instead of saving lives or bonking in the name of exercise:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: I’S NAME… IS IAN

It’s Sunday. Why are you even up?

If you haven’t heard of Ian Dury by now, you’ve managed to get to today years old without experiencing one of the most unique, magnetic, and brilliant wordsmiths to ever rise from the world of popular music.

I envy you. Oh, the things you’re going to discover as you lie about today, flicking from youtube video to youtube video, exclaiming “How the fuck did I not know about this?”.

Yes, the world is gloom. Yes, it’s doom. Yes, we still have to look at the smug, Dunning-Kruger, punch-here arsefaces of Scum, the Orange Humgruffin, and Boris the Bastard.

But it’s Sunday. Time to relax, just for a day. Time to think of reasons to be cheerful.

Why don’t you get back into bed?

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, because you’re not allowed out unless you’re somebody society is willing to sacrifice or this is a potential booty call, here’s what you could have been listening to instead of saving lives or bonking in the name of exercise:

MIXED MOVIE QUOTES: THE FLY

If there’s one thing Covid-19 is good for, it’s good for us no longer quite giving the shit we used to give about Lord 15 and movie ratings. So last night was The Fly, the 1986 R-rated remake version. Even after almost 35 years, Jeff Goldblum is amazing and Geena Davis…. has…… legs…… anyway: The Fly, mixed movie quote style.

 

The Fly

FIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL MINI-REVIEWS: XJLA OF THE UNCANNY GALAXY!

Well, at least if I don’t have to do any important grown-up things over the next couple of weeks, like herd the next generation of community leaders towards understanding why new dialogue should always start on a new line, at least I can do important grown-up things like read comic books and catch up on my Lego reviews.

Being grown up. Because they won’t let me be a kid anymore.

So let’s talk Justice League, X-Men, independent titles from decades ago that you’ve never heard of, and why you can’t go 80+ years without creating some absolute dud characters along the way…

 

Continue reading “FIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL MINI-REVIEWS: XJLA OF THE UNCANNY GALAXY!”