The Best Worst Music Ever

wing best worst music everWhat’s the worst music on the planet? It’s a good question. I am a huge fan of terrible music. From Wing to Steve Wilson to Maxine Swaby and Jan Terri and back, I’ve spent so much time listening to terrible music that I know some of it (lyrics included) even better than the music that I profess to love. So this article on the BBC News site caught my attention.

What doubly caught my attention is that my hometown is mentioned via Portsmouth Sinfonia, which was a 70s project to get a bunch of people with no previous musical knowledge or ability to start an orchestra. Nowadays this is the stuff of ‘hilarous and entertaining’ fly-on-the-wall documentaries, but back then it was quite the idea. But even so, they were trying to be worst, and I’m not sure if that can count.

Thing is, I’ve never been that interested in the intentionally bad. I’ve only really got off on stuff that was truly dreadful by complete accident, despite efforts to make it great.

And I include the song McArthur Park in things I deem decidedly terrible, to the extent that the last time I was in The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy I drank a cocktail dedicated to Richard Harris who, to my mind anyway, sang the quintessential bloody awful version which you can hear below. Thank goodness they’ve lost the recipe to this one.

Top Ten Albums With Influence 1-20

Ok so recently there was a thing going around Facebook to show the ten albums that made the most impact on you, meant to be shared over ten days. Of course this is basically impossible so I decided to keep going. So here’s the first 20. I’ve written a little bit about why each album / track had a place in my life and included a playlist for you to listen to. Hope you enjoy it.

Rite Of Spring / Firebird – Stravinsky conducted Bernstein
This was the first piece of music I really connected with. We only had a crappy old record player and a few records, but I played this one over and over again and used to jump up and down on the bed to it when I was about 5 years old.

Take Five – Dave Brubeck
Brubeck was the guy who first got me into jazz. I wrote some music for a piano recital when I was 14 and some guy came up and asked me if I liked Brubeck. I guess those rhythms had a big influence.

Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack Album – Various Artists
I was living in France when this came out, and my friends were desperate to buy the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album, even though they couldn’t see the film. There was much surprise when the Bee Gees sounded rather high.

Discovery – Electric Light Orchestra
The first pop album I ever bought (I’m not including War Of The Worlds) and the first time I started wondering how it was all done and reading the sleeve notes of albums. What’s an engineer? And what the fuck is a mellotron?

The Golden Age Of Wireless – Thomas Dolby
This was one of the albums that got me into synths. Thomas Dolby really pushed the envelope with Windpower, and later got pretty funky with Hyperactive which I used to love. Continue reading →

The Determination Engine

determination engineWhilst labouring away at other pieces of long-form fiction, I’ve written a short story so I thought I’d get it out there.

It’s sci-fi / dystopian fiction and it’s called The Determination Engine.

You can grab it for free on the Kindle store between 15th – 16th July here – The Determination Engine On Amazon. It’s a fairly short read, between 20 minutes to half an hour; would go well with a coffee over the weekend.

I hope you like it. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon; it’s one of the few things self-published authors can rely on to help drive engagement these days and I’d really appreciate it.
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Race For The Galaxy: The Greatest Game Of All Time?

Race For The GalaxyOk. Apart from chess. And some other classics. But apart from those, Race For The Galaxy is hard to beat if you can overcome the initial brainache.

So what is it?

Race For The Galaxy is a card game that revolves around creating as large a space empire as possible in the shortest possible time. Why do I say shortest possible time? Because the way you play the game can force the game to end to your advantage.

It has its roots in the game Puerto Rico, a resource / worker placement game. In Puerto Rico, players take turns to choose one of six different actions, the fun bit being that everyone performs the same action, but choosing the action gets you a bonus. (You can watch a video of someone explain the origins of the game here)

In Race For The Galaxy this is taken a step further; everyone chooses their actions in secret, and then each type of action is made by every player SIMULTANEOUSLY once they’re unveiled. This means you can try to second guess what other player’s are going to do to try and get yourself more useful moves each round. And this simple fact is what makes the game so special; you have to watch everyone else’s game like a hawk, and make sure you can leech off their tactics.
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Tiki Surfer Witches Want My Blood (and I’m not complaining)

Tiki Surf Witches Want BloodIf you know me personally then you’ll know I have a bit of an obsession with anything Tiki related and I love a good cocktail. So I was kind of thrilled that, while I was searching the internet for Tiki stuff in preparation for a project I’m working on (which may never see the light of day, but hey) I came across a comic book whose story is not only 100% Tiki, but includes cocktail recipes as part of its modus-operandi and features more gratuitous boobs than Game Of Thrones.

Tiki Surf Witches Ritual

Tiki Surfer Witches Want Blood wasn’t that easy to track down. I first came across a search that took me to Amazon to buy an ebook version, but I struggled to find a physical copy and after a bit more searching found that it was published by Sex And Monsters. Continue reading →

The Elements Of Eloquence

Elements Eloquence Mark ForsythIf you’re into writing or reading in any way (and you probably are, if you’re reading this), then The Elements Of Eloquence – How To Turn The Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth is a must have book.

I was lucky enough to get this as an xmas present a couple of years ago and once I’d started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I now always keep it around and dip into it every now and again (along with some other books I’ll tell you about in another post).

It’s definitely one of those books that’s a lot more fun as a physical version as a digital version as once you start flipping through the pages you’l want to share it with someone else.

For instance, do you know what Anadiplosis is? Here’s an example:

If the soup had been as warm as the wine, and the wine as old as the fish, and the fish as young as the maid, and the maid as willing as the hostess, it would have been a very good meal. – Anon Continue reading →

The First Draft Of Recital Abigail

Well finally I’ve finished the first draft of Recital and it’s come in at just over 73,000 words. That is to say, I wrote the last word of the book and it was the 73659th. The most exciting thing about this is that, regardless of the fact that there are massive gaps in the narrative and whole sections where I’ve said things like ‘something happens here’, I actually managed to make it to the end. I’ve printed it out to have a read through and it feels nice to hold something physical. Flipping through the pages makes me feel like an author.

What’s amazed me is how long it’s taken me to get here. Several false starts (with an initial version of 10k words and a second, longer attempt discarded) and a huge amount of procrastination (when the narrative confuses me I have a tendency to stare into space) have meant it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. I’ve kept myself going through the years with the mantra ‘Just think how good you’ll feel when it’s finished’. And it’s kind of true; I have the first draft sitting on my desk, and it does feel kind of good.

However, I’d call this the ‘musical chairs’ draft. By that I mean that the mechanics of the plot work, the characters behave themselves in space and time and everyone gets to where they need to be for things to happen. That’s not to say it’s told eloquently as there is an awful lot of chaff (pointless explanations and redundant text) and for the most part there’s not enough close third person (too many people going from place to place without a window into what they’re thinking). Although there’s quite a bit to pull out, there’s quite a lot more that needs to go in so I’m expecting the next draft to end up around 90k. Continue reading →