Thursday, 20 October 2016

Face For Radio Episode 0 [For Real This Time!]

Taking procrastination to new levels. Episode 0 of my "TV show" where I discuss the colour Blue, narcissism, and famous Leos.

Disclaimer: I own nothing! No copyright infringement intended.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Dear [REDACTED] #1

1st in a series of unsent emails I wrote a while ago.


I had the sneaking suspicion, which first emerged when I started writing 'Tony Goldwyn and His Kind', that I may have been writing to impress you. I've been in awe of you for quite a while. You weren't my "first" though.  The first didn't actually teach me, it was [REDACTED]. And I became so enthusiastic. I wanted to read everything and better myself on the off chance that if I ever met him again, well... he'd think I was good. 

[REDACTED], I want you to think I'm worth something! I can't remember if it was you or [REDACTED] with the O Captain, my captain thing.

My writing is bad. It's so claustrophobic and insular. It's so me me me. I said I wasn't going to write personal essays anymore but that's all I've written. Ever.

I also have a mentor. I need to take action and meet him again though. You know, be proactive and what not. 

I heard a recording of you reading your own poetry and it gave me heartburn. I'm sorry.


Friday, 7 October 2016

The Ceefax Man

Bamber Boozler, Patriarch of the Boozler family and Quizmaster. Also: Not The Ceefax Man I am talking about

Does anyone remember Teletext? Those TV signals like Ceefax (BBC) and Teletext on 4 (Channel 4) that broadcasted everything from football starting lineups to raunchy sex stories in glorious analog. All the teletext pages got replaced in 2012 by the digital equivalent, where many a continuity announcer would remind you to 'press the red button'. That was just four years ago!  But it seems so archaic. I find it so strange how I am only 22 but have already lived long enough to see so many forms of technology become obsolete. Almost completely forgotten. But those garish colours and that blocky text are forever associated in my mind with one of the most strange and slightly terrifying episodes of my childhood.

You know that white noise in between channels? Strange liminal spaces. Sometimes I'd stare at it for ages and swear I could see people moving around behind those vibrating pixels. Teletext pages were another example of those weird space, like TV's alternate universe. Television was about movement, and to an extent, naturalism. Teletext was static, and dark, and with its eclectic range of content reminded me of niche corners of the internet despite it being broadcast by mainstream television networks.

Teletext pages were just games to me as a child. I didn't really use them to find out the weather or to win competitions. I'd just press buttons and see how "deep" I could get, feeling like a spy, or like a hacker. There was of course one famous game on teletext. It was called Bamboozle. It was a quiz hosted by Bamber Boozler, a "cartoon" man with a round bright yellow face, black pixels for eyes and a perpetual smile. Logic tells me this must have been the face of the man that scared me all those years ago as a child. But logic and rationality are not often the purview of the child, and, besides, I remember another teletext man.

Bored out of our minds, my younger sister and I turned to Ceefax, the BBC's teletext system, to mess around. I'm going to say it was Ceefax because that is how I remember it, but it may well have been Teletext on 4 or maybe even ITV. We "clicked" randomly until the very large disembodied red and yellow face of a bespectacled man appeared. Think the teletext version of this mask of Richard Osman. It stared at us unsmiling, and it was so large it took up most of the screen, like Big Brother in the 1956 film version of 1984. I picked up the remote and tried to change the channel but nothing happened. I tried again but still he stared. The more buttons I pressed, the angrier he seemed to look, and the more violently vibrant the red and yellow of his face seemed to glow. I was really mashing the buttons into the remote now, trying not to cry. After a few more futile attempts I turned the TV off, and stood with my finger on the switch, listening to the crackle of the static. After silently counting to ten, I pushed the button to turn it back on and waited for the familiar voice of a children's TV presenter.

But instead there he was again. Seemingly infuriated by our attempts to get rid of him. We must have pressed every damn button on that remote but nothing could make him disappear. We turned off the TV and left the room. Perhaps he would leave of his own accord. We played instead, making guns and grenades out of hair rollers, or maybe we drew, or had a Coke burping contest,  I don't remember. But after some time had passed, we went back into the living room, stepping tentatively towards the TV. I turned it on, snapping my hand back as though burned. I knew he was there before he fully came into view but I still screamed. Only the sound of the key in the door could make us emerge from our hiding place in our bedroom. With mum there, the teletext man didn't seem as disturbing, but I kept my distance nonetheless. Mum to the rescue. She vanquished the Ceefax Man.

I don't think I used any of the teletext services again. If I did I don't remember. We got digital TV (Freeview) in about 2005, and the passing of teletext went with barely, if any, attention on our part. Perhaps in my memory I amalgamated the faces of characters from the Boozler family with those of other characters that appeared across the teletext pages of the three main networks. Who knows. But here's a tribute to teletext and ceefax in all its blocky 8bit glory.

Advert for Sci fi series Blake's 7. I thought this could be the Ceefax Man but the last episode of this aired in 1981.
The Family Boozler from Channel 4 Teletext's Bamboozled

Somebody please tell me what Sexscope was?

Forget Tumblr After Dark. It' all about Teletext After Hours.
Found the Sexscope!

The Millenium Bug! Is this for real?! Ahh the nostalgia is almost painful now! Bring back teletext!
Apparently they might be bringing it back

Shout out to the Teletext museum for the images

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Dennis Cooper Thing

Dennis Cooper by Joel Westerndorf

I went to hear Dennis Cooper read and speak about his work. He read from Ugly Man. 'The Boy on the Far Left', 'Graduate Seminar' and 'Santa Claus vs Johnny Crawford'. I liked them. I liked him. He is tall, and kind of softly-spoken, and his face seems really familiar to me. Or maybe it's just that I find him somewhat adorable.

The lecture theatre we were sat in was quite small. Intimate. While he read we all laughed the bits that seemed, by our reaction, "objectively funny", or perhaps where the boldness of a few people's laughter had carried around the room like a Mexican wave of obligation.Then I laughed silently at the things I thought were funny but no one else seemed to, not wanting to impress my opinion on the room.  I scribbled down a note: social pressure in colloquium - laughter. 

People say 'Laughter is contagious' and use the word we use for the spreading of pestilence. Isn't that funny? There are certain environments, like the cinema, the lecture theatre, (both enclosed spaces) where I feel laughter takes on a less ... democratic (I don't think I'm using this word correctly but whatever) character. It becomes a measure of intelligence (general and emotional), and a sign of belonging. Oh, everybody's laughing. Should I have laughed at that? What did I miss? It's a language, almost. Loud: in on the joke. The wink and the gun. The chuckle: it takes a certain kind confidence to chuckle, I feel. So many things could go wrong. If it doesn't come out right, strong enough, then it just sounds terrible. Like something malfunctioning. The titter: this one sounds nervous. Then there's the kind / What can't make up their mind. 

I do the one through the nose. That's the hardest I feel. Because you alone are aware of the force, the effort, (so much that you can feel it in your chest) with which you push out the air, in a strange semblance of a laugh. Like a can of compressed air. When I don't do the laugh through the nose, I laugh in my head. Sometimes just a somewhat monotonous, but (I promise you) sincere 'Ha!' I know that I definitely did have an actual laugh, you know like a doctor-hits-you-on-the-knee-with-a-mallet type reaction. But I can't even remember it. What I remember is this realisation about the awkwardness (for me anyways) of laughter in those kinds of spaces. 

I'm always very aware of the seemingly unbreachable gap between what I mean and what I end up conveying. What I think I mean is this:

The talk was great. I like Dennis Cooper. At moments I felt awkward about the laughing. I'm going to read up on Dennis Cooper. Shout out the the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence at my uni. 

George Myles
Bob Flanagan Sick doc
Social Pressuer in colloquium - laughter

w/ every piece try to destroy your own voice + start again

More Dennis Cooper talks
Lee Edelman and Queerness and death-drive. No Future

Thursday, 29 September 2016

An Ode to the 1994 Version of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle

My mother and I dissolved into fits of laughter this afternoon because my dressing gown got caught on one of the dining chairs. It wasn't the actual act that caused the laughter, it was more that it had seemed almost inevitable that I would fumble after my constant spinning and prancing around the living room, and she'd just been waiting. My jumping around had only an internal soundtrack; I was replaying New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle, one of my favourite songs, which has stuck in my head since my late night dancing session yesterday. 

This single originally came out in 1986, but my favourite version is the 1994 one. Normally, I'm there with the 'original is best' crew, but I feel like original actually means 'the one you heard first which had an irrevocable effect and of which no other incarnation can replicate and you'd be damned if you let it' and so in this case Bizarre Love Triangle '94 is the 'original', my original. 

Lying in bed afterwards, I wondered whether the fact that 1994 is the year of my birth, had anything to do with my preference for this version. I cannot lie, I am just narcissistic enough to have a higher regard for cultural events that occurred in that year. What's the best fully animated Disney film? Why The Lion King of course! (It actually is though. Fight me!) But no, it isn't that.

It isn't that I don't like long build ups and intros either. (The original version of Blue Monday has a pretty long intro to which I love to shake my shoulders awkwardly.) Shep Pattibone's 12" single remix of Bizarre Love Triangle has a long intro and is the version I would say is the most '80s sounding'.  With that phrase I am hoping to evoke every cliche you know sprang to mind. Big hair, high leg underwear, simultaneously strange and compelling movements of the body. It's enjoyable, it's great, it's incredibly textured, and there's a cool breakdown around 5 minutes but I can't lose myself in it because every 20 seconds there's a new sound in the back I'm trying to work out. It's the version for the electronica nerd, an ode to the digital synthesizer.

The original version is brilliant, but I don't know, that low pitched synthesizer at the start... I get it. It's... anticipatory. A build up, again. New Order are great at that, But there's something about the way the '94 version starts. With those drums! 

Every time I think of you, I get shot right through with a bolt of blueee

It's kind of like crooning. Crooner songs are the best songs to sing along when you're by yourself. I almost always have my eyes closed and my face turned upwards towards the warm orange glow, my hands up too, reaching, and I'm slowly shaking my head from side to side. 

Every time I see you falling, I get down on my knees and pray

And my hands form that sign for prayer. It's my one-woman dance routine. 

To me this version is a night out, standing under the warm glow of the streetlights shivering, but only slightly, from the breeze. It's the neon of the high street, and contagious laughter, like with me and my mum. It isn't as heavy and layered as both the original and the Pattibone remix. There's a lightness in it that just buoys you up. The 1994 version is magic. Pure magic!