Saturday, 14 .June, 2008, 14:47 - English Entries, Music, Politics

Hard to know, whether there are more people still reading this blog than writing - but that is no excuse to for writing just the next entry. Yes, I still exist, I still live in Helsinki and I am not keeping contact as regularly as I should.

Here are two songs I wanted to point out to you for your last weekend in spring - be sure to read the lyrics.

Kill the poor sung by Matthew Grimm & the Red Smear (lyrics). I know, the Dead Kennedys once did a song with the same title - this one here is the 2008 update.

World turned upside down sung by Billy Bragg (lyrics).

That's at least part of what activates me at the moment - hope it helps you too.

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The Ringmaster ist dead 
Sunday, 15 .July, 2007, 10:26 - English Entries, Literature
"[...] I beg your tolerance. There is nothing I can do to make things any easier for any of us, and you will have to accept being addressed by a disembodied voice just as I accept the compulsion to speak out even though I am painfully aware that I am talking to an invisible, perhaps nonexistent, audience. Wise men have regarded the earth as a tragedy, a farce, even an illusionist's trick; but all, if they are truly wise and not merely intellectual rapists, recognize that it is certainly some kind of stage in which we all play rolse, most of us being very poorly coached and totally unrehearsed before the curtain rises. Is it too much if I ask, tentatively, that we agree to look upon it for as a circus, a touring carnival wandering about the sun for a record season of four billion years and producing new monsters and miracles, hoaxes and bloody mishaps, wonders and blunders, but never quite entertaining the customers well enough to prevent them from leaving, one by one, and returning to their homes for a long and bored winter's sleep under the dust? Then, say, for a while at least, that I have found an identity as ringmaster; but that crown sits uneasily on my head (if I have a head) and I must warn you that the troupe is small for a universe this size and many of us have to double or triple our stints, so you can expect me back in many other guises. Indeed do many things come to pass."

From the first pages of: Illuminatus! - The Eye in The Pyramid, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

Yesterday I read, that Robert Anton Wilson returned to his home for a long winter's sleep under the dust. He died in January this year, but I did not get aware of it till now.

For many years I would have said, that there was never a book in my life, that influenced me like Illumniatus! did. Lots of things Wilson wrote and thought might sound strange or stupid, but there is one thing that he taught me, that there is nothing that cannot be followed by a pair of brackets which hold the sentence "do you really believe this?"

Thanks for the script, RAW - the rest of us now please back on stage.
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The White Stripes - Icky Thump or: What the hell would you want in Hell? 
Sunday, 01 .July, 2007, 14:23 - English Entries, Music
It's my third day of listening to the new White Stripes Album "Icky Thump". From finding out that it will come out to finally finding it in my mail it took over three weeks, during which I was wondering whether Jack and Meg would manage to make some sort of step forward after their last album "Get Behind Me Satan". I will save you from my praise for the band as such and the music they made so far - I'll maybe come to this at another point in time and space. Let's go through the new album.

The Songs

You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) sounds like a song from the good old 80's that was pushed into a puddle of mud, kicked from all sides and finally got stripped off all unnecessary effects. The song did not get any more intelligent lyrics due to that, but most likely we should not ask for that and just let the music let have it's turn. A good song - but it makes me a bit afraid: is that all, that they will do on this album? Enriching existing styles?

From a song titled 300 M.P.H Torrential Outpour Blues one would not expect to start soft and gentle and basically going on with this for about five and a half minutes. There are sequences when Jack gets serious, which usually he does by avoiding singing and letting his Guitar do the work and Meg hits on the drums and the world is just a good place. Here we have a true blues, that makes his way straight to the listeners nervous systems and rattles it around. Other bands can do that as well, but the style is really White Stripes and the lyrics are touching and rich of metaphors that never miss the point. Well done.

Well done, indeed, that becomes even more clear, when Conquest starts. Even after listening to this for several times, I cannot stand this song. It is in a not acceptable style pathetic and overdone and anyhow it seems to be a cover, at least I think I know the song. Just jump to the next song and use the joker on this.

Bone broke is wild, confused, hard - a good rock song, no doubt about that. But we are not here to listen to everyday Rock'n'Roll, we want to know whether Jack and his sister are worth to play high up on mount Olympus or whether they are already on their way down from there.

So next song: Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn. Don't listen to the lyrics - they do not help at all, at least not in the first place. The song just open the windows to the meadows and hills of some Sunday morning country, over which we can jump and la-la-la sing and the angels, in which we do not believe anymore, fly around us, together with the fairies and the air is fresh and everything, just everything is so intensive and green and lai-di-lai-oh-ho. Listen to it twice and your brain will be in this half-retarded, half-childish state, that everybody needs every now and then and then just go on and read the lyrics. Yes, right, they do not surprise you anymore. Lai-di-Lai-oh-oh. I like it - some may hate it.

Prickly Thorn fades over into St. Andrew (This Battle Is in The Air) in which we hear a piper (he most likely comes straight from the green hills of the last song, but he must have sniffed something strange inbetween) and Meg talks stuff and then there is the drum and every time we hear the guitar, we somehow understand, that the friendly Lai-di-lai-oh-ho has turned into a severe nightmare. It only lasts 1:49 minutes, but it leaves you with something to chew on.

And then Jack counts "1, 2, 3,4" and Little Cream Soda starts. Here we go - there is no doubt left anymore, these are the White Strips and we are in the middle of some kind of war or something similar. Nothing talks about the good things in life, besides when telling us, that they are over. Jack does not even try to sing here - he just sermons about the misery in his life, he complains about getting older and still keeps a straight attitude, without ever going into whining. Mount Olympus, they are coming!

Rag And Bone just goes on with being great. The two siblings have a little conversation and first it was not clear to me, what happened, but once I understood that they are breaking into peoples homes, I got the rest. Jack offers all the stuff that belongs to other people to his sister and they keep ranting along. It ends with a friendly recommendation to all those people owning stuff: "so lock it up, whatever you still want to own" - better do that, the White Stripes are coming and they are breaking in - no doubt about that anymore.

I'm Slowly Turning Into You is another love song that starts acceptably normal, offers a psychedelic chorus and then gos on to be a typical White Stripes song, including some guitar strangling, till it ends (slowly turning into you) in another "a-la-la a-la-la" repetition, a very different one from the lai-di-lai of "Prickly Thorn".

A Martyr For My Love For You is a sad song that knows it has to stay quiet, even when it lets out rage in some hard riffs. A well told story, a good piece of music, a blues that doesn't try to be anything more than a blues. Jack and Meg know they territory very well - there is not a single step out of it, they fully obey the frame that music sets them - but within these borders, they do everything possible.

Did I say Blues? Here's another one: Catch Hell Blues. They take 45 seconds to agree on what to make out of this song and then it rolls like a train on hard drugs. Jack finds it appropriate to start to "sing" after one and a half minute and he does things to the guitar that you better do not try at home, at least send the children to bed first. And back to the beginning, finding the way into the song again - and boom da da boom boom - let it roll. Another song to close your eyes, listen to it and play it again and afterwards you most likely just stay on "repeat song" for a while. Catch Hell, it's worth it.

And with Effect and Cause the album ends already, another blues - straight from first to last second, with Jack singing and nothing special happening. Perfect ending.

Did I miss something? Of course, the first song. Icky Thump - that is already played all over the charts. Breeding, aggressive, wild, dirty. Guitar, drums, voice - and in-between excursions to strange musical realms that are bordering to unacceptable noise. Also here, in all this hard driven, dark composition, Jack puts in his "alalalalala" and - how the hell did he do that? - it works. Icky Thump not only gave the album its title, it is also a blue print of it. It opens the door and shows you everything that you can expect. But you have to experience it all to really get it.


So what about it? Are the two siblings from Detroit now playing in the league of gods? Well, who cares? Jack and Meg obviously do not think at all about making their names live forever - they just hit drum and guitar and let the need for being special far behind them. Whatever they are, they are definitely divine.

Their sound does not give cheap elevations for a few moments of pleasure. Their lyrics are not comforting and more than once Jack finds it terribly uncool to get older and besides just getting on with it he has to offer no solution. Here's finally the guy who admits it: it's pure shit, so what?

The White Stripes rip open spots where the skin of music anyhow was thin and vulnerable, they play their heart blood into it and whatever was itching before, has lalalalala gone away afterwards. The retarded lalaling shows itself in different shapes and offers no stupid escape, it is the way to kick back on the world.

Icky Thump is no hippy sound, no intellectual high-fly and is for sure nothing easy to swallow for generation-E(soteric). Last time, they left Satan behind them, now they conquer his realm and if you do not want to go there after this album, you never were into Rock and Blues in the first place - so what the hell would you want in Hell?
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Friday, 29 .June, 2007, 21:21 - English Entries, Literature
There was a little parcel waiting behind my entrance door today. I just came back from a bit more than a week in Amsterdam and Lisbon and was not immediately looking through the mail that loitered on the floor - usually I only get advertisement, credit card bills and other not very personal things.

When I finally flipped through it, I saw the said parcel, that had hid under the other papers. It contained a thin green book and when I read the title, a good shot of happiness and pride went into my system.

Three month ago I sent one of my (German) poems to a competition, just to give it a shot. The competition is the "Jokers Lyrikpreis" and it is held once a year. One of the nice things about it is that the jury choses 100 of the received poems and publishes them in a book.

So, my little "Gewitterdichtung" (thunderstorm-poem) made it: from out of about 8000 participating poems it is one of the 100 that was published. Ok, it did not get among the first 14 ranks or one of the special-prices - but seeing it printed on paper is already more than expected.

So I am having a smile in my face today and that's worth writing an entry here.

If you are not speaking German but still would like to read a poem by me, just click here and forgive me the mistakes - I am not a native speaker.

My dear readers: sit back, open a book of your favorite poetry and a bottle of wine and dwell in language and imagination. Cheers!
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J. K. Rowlings Homepage 
Sunday, 24 .June, 2007, 01:41 - English Entries, Literature, Online/Blogs
I tried to read Harry Potter several times, but I never got into it. It is not the type of literature that fascinates me, which is a pity as my daughter loves the books and it would be nice to talk with her about them.

Nevertheless, by clicking around this evening, I came across the text version of homepage of J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. I admire this page, honestly. It has the same appearance as most websites had 12 or 15 years ago.

Everything is plain text, there are no pictures, the navigation is very simple, no section (not even "news" or "diary") offer an RSS feed, there is no CSS or tables and the colors are yellow, cyan and blue on black background. All entries are short and entertaining to read, there is no unnecessary text and Rowling always keeps to the subject.

Again - I am honest about this. I like her page. And no: I do not want the whole internet to look like this (again), but it is a nice feeling to see a reminiscence to the days of limited bandwidth, ASCII layout and focus on the texutal content.
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