Archive for April 27th, 2005

Yo, El Inculto

BBC reports on the death of Augusto Roa Bastos. For those of you thinking ‘who dat?’ he was ‘famous’ for his 1974 ‘masterpiece’ I The Supreme. The only reason I mention this is because after the Don Quixote post the other day, I got thinking about all the books I have bought myself but have never quite managed to read. I The Supreme is one of them. Normally I get turned off in the 1st 30 pages, but there are some I have dumped on the way to the finish line.

Here are a few more:

Underworld by Don DeLillo

Stopped after about 500 pages.

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

After about 300 pages. It was entertaining enough, but reading it conflicted with Euro 2004. So I stopped for a few days and never went back.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I already knew she was going to top herself. I turned off round about the time she gets involved with her toyboy.

The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

First page.

Murphy by Samuel Beckett

‘The sun shone down on the nothing new’ (or similar) is about all I can remember about this book. And I think it appears on the first page. In fact I’m not sure if it was Murphy, it could have been Watt because I did the same thing with that.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

I stopped about 250 pages in, after he conducts a fictitious MTV interview with himself.

Ulysses by James Joyce

20 pages or so.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I would love to say that I stopped this one before the end. But I didn’t.

The Kids Are Alright (Without Voting)

The yoof vote in Northern Ireland is a piddling 35%, according to the BBC.

The Man from the Electoral Commission sez:

‘”Our research would indicate that young people are much more likely to discuss political issues than any other section of the population, and yet they clearly aren’t making the connection between the issues they are passionate about and the ballot box,”‘


The Man from the Guardian sez:

Even if a minority are working harder than we ever did, most still have plenty of leisure. They simply choose to spend it in different ways. They would rather drink than demonstrate. They are more passionate about sport than the fate of Iraq.


The Kids Aren’t Alright

I bought Ben Folds’ new album yesterday. In Songs for Silverman he is mostly on cracking form, with the usual mordant wit and piano-driven, character-based songs. There was one song I found rather worrying, though – one where (unless I am missing something) he sings plainly and sincerely about his worries for his daughter growing up.

Almost without exception, pop songs about children, or more accurately pop songs about the singer’s children, are two-fingers-down-the-throat moments. There are few things more tiresome than a parent who witters on to all and sundry about how wonderful his kids are, blissfully unaware that the rest of the world couldn’t care less. Yet so many musicians feel the need to rend a musical homage to their offspring. Provided they do it in the privacy of their own homes, I have no difficulty with it, but I wish they would refrain from unleashing the results on the music-buying public.

Other offenders include:

John Lennon – Beautiful Boy

Sentimental doggerel dedicated to son Sean. Immortalised in Richard Dreyfus mega-turkey Mr Holland’s Opus.

The Beach Boys – When A Man Needs A Woman

A frazzled, gibbering wreck after the abortive Smile sessions, Brian Wilson adopted a more pared-down approach to making records, resulting in two pretty underrated albums: Wild Honey and Friends. When A Man Needs A Woman is off the latter, and although musically interesting, contains the diabolical lyric ‘Pretty soon we’ll be a family of three/Then it’s not gonna be/Just you and me/We’ll share all the goodies with the ones we bring in the world..’

I often wonder if this song inspired Charles Manson.

Jimmy Webb – Christian, No

‘You can’t prevent the world from being repossessed’, Wichita Lineman composer Jimmy Webb sings to his 3 year old son Christian. ‘I must confess that we’ve left it in a sorry mess/But you can save it if you try to do your best’

Christian responds by becoming a semi-rock star with The Webb Brothers.

Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely

She may well be, Stevie, but the tune stinks to high heaven. Stevie always had a sentimental streak, but this is a severe blot on Songs In The Key Of Life. Nearly as bad as I Just Called…

Other dishonourable mentions go to Madonna (Little Star), Joni Mitchell (for that one off Blue – Little Green I think it’s called) and, of course, Eric Clapton (Tears In Heaven). Not forgetting Cat Stevens/Boyzone (Father and Son), Harry Chapin/Ugly Kid Joe (Cat’s In The Cradle).

Any others?

I on Twitter

April 2005