Wind of change: Podcast review.


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Patrick Radden Keefe of the New Yorker wrote and presents the latest odyssey by Pineapple Street , Crooked Media and Spotify. it’s produced by Pineapple Street’s Henry Molofsky and it’s enthralling.

It’s a conspiracy theory story with unexpected depth and more rabbit holes than the disused railway line that sits across from my house.

The idea stems from a rumour that Radden Keefe heard from his friend, Michael, an ex-CIA undercover agent that The Scorpion’s global blockbuster hit, Wind of Change, was, wait for it, written by the CIA.

Follow The Moskwa down to Gorky Park, listening to the wind of change intones Klaus Meine the frontman of The Scorpions, better known for classics like “Another piece of meat’.

But Meine is not normally the songwriter, those duties are taken by the bands guitarist, so it’s surprising that their biggest hit is from their equivalent of Ringo.  It was huge, I mean mahoosive, all over the Easter Bloc.

It’s a beautiful ballad about change running through post Berlin Wall communist states (but written two months before its fall).

What this leads us on is a journey through CIA intervention in popular culture (Dr Zhivago, Satchmo, Nina Simone, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Argo) and sets up the hypothesis that the song, is, not for the first time, propaganda intended to foment insidious cultural unrest in the Eastern Bloc towards the end of the Cold War.

It brings in drug running and secret plea bargains.

(Even the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles get a namecheck.)

It’s fascinating.

It’s brilliantly scripted, narrated and produced.

It’s bonkers.

But is it true?

You’ll need to tune in to find out.

I’d recommend that you do just that.

 

Dictionary Pic of the day #13.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 13

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-29 at 19.37.51

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 12

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 21.00.56

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Dictionary pic of the day #12.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 12

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 21.00.56

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 11

Screenshot 2020-05-27 at 14.00.10

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Homecoming: Podcast review.


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I’m late to this but given that less than 1% of the population probably listen to podcasts I’m betting you are too.

I’m increasingly drawn to the medium of the podcast because they are so absorbing and allow you to do other things while you are listening.

So far this year I have enjoyed:

  • Athletico Mince (for some time now in fact)
  • Desert Island discs (of course – and also for years)
  • Soul Music (from Radio 4)
  • The Media Show (from Radio 4)
  • More or Less (the wonderfully nerdy stats programme from Radio 4)
  • The CoronaCast (from the BBC)
  • Stay Free: The Story of the Clash
  • Slow Burn (the Watergate series – brilliant)
  • Slow Burn (the Lewinski series – Brilliant)
  • Slow Burn (the Tupac series – nah)
  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon  (Apollo 11)
  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon (Apollo 13)

But I’m saving the best for last (unless Wind of Change continues as brilliantly as it has started).  That’s the electrifying Homecoming in which Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer set fire to your earphones.

It’s been adapted (unsurprisingly as it is so great) for TV by and starring Julia Roberts in Catherine Keener’s role as a ‘caseworker’ in a mysterious military establishment who looks after ‘homecoming’ ex military who are suffering from PTSD.

But the motives of the mysterious organisation that runs the facility in collaboration with the DoD  (Department of Defence) is, at best, questionable.

So sets in motion a 12 part, 20 minute game of cat and mouse (and dog) that is full of twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the, admittedly slightly disappointing, finale.

To say any more would be to stray into spoiler territory, so just suffice it to say, it’s as good as any movie you will watch this year.

It’s gold.

Love it with your ears, then thank me.

 

Dicktionary Pic of the Day #11


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 11

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-27 at 14.00.10

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 10

Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 15.10.22

Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 15.10.38

 

Dicktionary Pic of the day #10


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 10

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 15.10.22

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 9

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Dicktionary pic of the day #9.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 9

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-25 at 19.48.49

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 8

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Dicktionary Pic of the day #8


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 8

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-24 at 18.11.50

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 7

Screenshot 2020-05-23 at 16.12.24

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Dictionary Pic of the day #7.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 7

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-23 at 16.12.24

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 6

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Screenshot 2020-05-22 at 13.50.12

Dicktionary Pic of the Day #6.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 6

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-22 at 13.50.02

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 5

Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 14.04.12

Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 14.00.47

Dicktionary Pic of the day #5


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 4

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 14.04.12

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 4

Screenshot 2020-05-20 at 06.28.40

Screenshot 2020-05-20 at 06.29.06

Dictionary Pic of the day #4.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 4

What classic (but low-selling punk) album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-20 at 06.28.40

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 3

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 08.47.17

Screenshot 2020-05-20 at 06.28.56

Dicktionary pic of the Day #3.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m sharing it here.

My ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of this simple question.

Day 3

What classic album cover is this?

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 08.47.17

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 2

Screenshot 2020-05-18 at 15.59.39

 

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Dicktionary Pic of the Day #2.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m gonna share it here on a daily basis.

The ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of the simple question.

Day 2

What record is this?  (Ignore the R6.)

Screenshot 2020-05-18 at 15.59.39

Answer given tomorrow.

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer to Day 1.

Screenshot 2020-05-17 at 15.58.05

Screenshot 2020-05-18 at 15.59.51

 

 

Dicktionary pic of the day #1.


The ‘Pictionary’ round in my weekly music quiz has proven to be a hit so I’m gonna share it here on a daily basis.

The ‘drawers’ have 30 seconds to recreate a classic record, either from seeing the sleeve (as in this one), or by being given the name of a song.

The results are the basis of the simple question.

What record is this?

Please don’t answer here but please do click like if you think you know.

Answer will be given tomorrow.

Screenshot 2020-05-17 at 15.58.05

My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan: Book Review


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It might take you longer to read this post than it took me to read My Purple Scented Novel, by the king, back on fine form, Ian McEwan.

I began reading this little treasure at 11.30 last night and finished it before midnight.

34 pages long.

Short pages.

3,600 words short.

Most novels are at least 80,000 words long.

At a ‘words-per-penny’ rate (it cost me £1.99) My Purple Scented Novel weighs in at a miserly 18.1 words a penny.

So, if you spent a penny whilst reading My Purple Scented Novel you would only get as far as “You will have heard of my friend the once celebrated novelist Jocelyn Tarbet, but I suspect his memory…” before having to cessate your flow.

A penny spent luxuriating in your ‘average’ novel would probably allow you the luxury of a swiftly delivered poo AND a wipe.

But size, we all know, is nothing and this little McEwan gem, that crams in jealousy, revenge, conceit, criminality, schadenfreude, love, and many other glorious plot lines and devices into its dinky, seemingly disposable, being, is cherishable as only great McEwans can be.

It’s a writerly conceit (he has an inclination towards that) and therefore could be seen by many as vanity. (and it takes a fairly hefty swipe as ‘rival in writing’ Martin Amis.

I loved it.

It is crafted to within an inch of its microscopic life and for that reason, and the fact that it’s bloody clever and bloody funny, I’d recommend you shell out the exorbitant price (relatively speaking) that it demands.

 

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer: Book Review.


Everything Is Illuminated - Wikipedia

This is a quite remarkable literary experience.

It’s kind of three books in one that overlap and interlink in ways that are often difficult to grasp and that come together in a strange and inexplicable way.

It does no justice to the novel, written at the turn of the millennium, to try to literally explain it.  Indeed much of its joy is in deciphering it as you go along.

In turns horrifying and hilarious it tells the stories of a young American (and very Jewish) novelist visiting the Ukraine to trace the history of his ancestors as he writes their story, beginning in 1791, in the village of Trachimbrod – a Jewish settlement on the River Brod.  The village plays host to so many inconceivable traditions, that are often ludicrous, that it becomes an entity and character all of its own.

The novelist, Jonathan (also the author) speaks no Ukranian and enlists a translator (Alex) whose grasp of English is learned through Thesauri which leads to the mangling of the English language (with so many words seemingly out of place, but after pondering on them are simply inappropriate synonyms for what he is trying to say) in a way that bestows much of the book’s humour.

Post-trip, the author and the translator communicate (we only see the letters of the translator, with amusing references to the return correspondence) as the translator writes his own (awful) novel about the trip and ‘critiques’ the efforts of Foer as he pieces together his, and Trachimbrod’s, history.

The stories are interlinked and culminate around a terrible Nazi atrocity that occurs at the end of WW2.

What Foer achieves in writing so badly, telling a story so ridiculous, but underpinned with holocaustal horror, is like nothing you will ever have read before.  Think Monty Python meets Jonathan Littell (The Kindly Onesreviewed here).

It’s unique and compelling and funny and savage all at once.

That said, it’s a difficult read.

I’m not sure I really fully unravelled it and the whole experience would probably benefit from a second reading.  But it’s magical in many ways.

It’s one to read in only a few sittings with a real focus on it.

I fear I took too long to break it down.  But if you have the patience and the time to commit to it I’d strongly recommend it.

 

The most impressive images of Edinburgh you will see this year. Covid-creativity at its best by Emilie Lumineau.


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New York magazine starts an article on the epic movie  I Am Legend, this way.  

A virus hits in 2009, infecting everyone but Will Smith. By 2012, New York is rife with monsters at night yet empty during the day: a spookily beautiful dystopia.”

Although it’s a great film we all know that the best thing about it was the abandoned cityscape that time had created.

So imagine my jaw dropping when I saw Emilie Lumineau’s virus-inspired vision of Edinburgh, should the lockdown continue in the same way.

Emilie is a graduate of Napier Uni and is working in the hospitality marketing sector but it is her private work that has caught me eye and you can see more of it here.

I have to say, it is truly outstanding work.  Simply the most interesting and exciting (and frankly beautiful creative idea I have seen about the lockdown since it started.

Thank you Emilie.

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My guilty schadenfreudey secret.


Why The Coronavirus Testing Target Is A Distraction From Other ...

Is it just me or is my schadenfreudey hatred of this hideous government’s behaviour getting in the way of my humanity?

All last week I watched Matt Handjob’s 100,000 testing target coming more and more into the spotlight the closer and closer it came to failure.  By Tuesday it looked dead in the water but then, lo and behold, amidst fanfare, triumphalism and a smIle bigger than Priti Patel could muster at a successful tribunal, he hit gold.

Not only was the target met, it was smashed into oblivion. (Better not just to creep – appropriate word in the context – over the line, eh?) But, you know, even as the printer ink was evaporating on the press releases one could see that the 122,000 declared tests included 40,000 tests that were ‘in the post’.

And of course the 122k, is now under 80k today: Sunday.,

And today it also transpires that last week’s tests included 31,000 that had been sent to care homes with inadequate instructions and, guess what, only 7% have been carried out (that’s under 3,000 and so knocks a further 28,000 out of his numbers for the week; although perhaps not the day).

Many of those home deliveries appear not to have been supplied with return envelopes – so what are people supposed to do with these tests?  Pop down to their GPs and hope the queue’s short enough to avoid the risk of infection?

So, target met (yet not met) then immediately fallen short of.

(When I ran, a golden rule when taking on steep hills, was to run through the top, not hit it and slow down.  That leads to momentum loss and more harm that good.  Seems a decent metaphor for this.)

I should, surely, on a human level, be pleased about the meeting of this colossal target. I, surely, should be celebrating this mammoth achievement.

But I’m not. Mostly I’m guiltily revelling in the schadenfreude of it all.

Why?  Because this government makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.  Not in a Trump-buffoonery way.  (He’s mentally ill, so he kind of almost doesn’t even really count.)

No, it’s a much more considered (and by that I mean ‘thought out’), systematic, partizan-political, stomach-churning approach to mass mis-communication that they have taken.

That it’s a conceit conceived by conceited cunts where headlines are much more important than head-counts is what makes it all so galling.

I feel I am living in the middle of the greatest lie ever constructed by a political elite that can’t, won’t, don’t know how to rail against the sort of eugenic-tinged canker that Dominic Cumming spouts and Boris, puppet-like, blurts out on the hustings.

But this isn’t hustings, those are long over.

This is the real thing.

The time for grown-up leadership, something I can’t even begin to conceive of from this burke.

And I too feel like a cunt, for wanting them to fail in hitting their targets – because it makes it feel like I want our healthcare to fail, which, of course I don’t.

It’s actually only this government that care about these numbers that are meaningless.

What is the significance of the 100,000 number?

Absolutely nothing, apart from the headlines.

I don’t really want to contrast this approach with the deliberately low-key tone of the Scottish government’s because you will probably immediately accuse me of hypocrisy and my own political point-scoring.  So, I will acknowledge that the Scottish job is arguably easier, even if health and social services is devolved.

Decision-making and, more importantly, its communication comes without fanfares in Scotland and our usual political infighting has largely been parked by all sides – to all-sides’ credit.

I’ve not touched on the PPE lies here.

Nor the late start as Boris was bungling Brexit, before turning flaggingly-late to the pandemic.

It’s piss-poor and I simply have to get over myself.

Rant over.