AV: the campaign catches fire!

February 19, 2011 at 12:53 am (Champagne Charlie, David Cameron, democracy, Lib Dems, trivia)

The electorate can scarcely contain themselves on the burning issue of the day:

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Ambridge shocker: an everyday story of rural idiocy

January 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm (BBC, Jackie Mcdonough, media, parasites, trivia)

BBC Radio 4, taking a leaf out of recent events on Coronation Street,  promises listeners to tonight’s 60th anniversary episode of The Archers something that will “Shock Ambridge to the Core.” Somehow, I doubt that it will prove to be all that shocking. This bastion of rural idiocy has already brought us adultery, same-sex relationships, steamy shower sex, a fatal tractor accident, fraud and even a rape. As early as 1955 Grace Archer died in a fire – an episode broadcast by a strange co-incidence on the very evening that ITV was launched. None of this has ever seriously dented the series’s all-pervasive atmosphere of smug, dull,  middle class complacency.

According to Mark Lawson in Saturday’s Graun, Philip Larkin is revealed in his letters to Monica Jones published last year, to have been an Archers fan. But even so, Larkin complained in one letter about the programme’s dullness and fantasied about taking over the scriptwriting and introducing prostitutes, violence and crime, with a character “gored to death by a bull.”

Tony Hancock in 1961 went further and dreamt of wiping out half the village and repopulating it with his own relatives.

Let’s see if tonight’s episode is anywhere near as satisfying as the plans of Larkin or Hancock. Somehow, I doubt it it.

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Cage against the machine

November 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm (BBC, Christmas, Jim D, media, music, surrealism, trivia)

Cage: he talked bollocks, didn’t he?

The appearance of  Ian McMillan on Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ seems to have done wonders for the ‘Cage Against The Machine’ campaign. McMillan, an amiable Barnsley poet, chose as one of his eight discs, John Cage’s 1952 “composition”,  4’33” – an exercise in minimalism taken to its ultimate. 4’33” is four minutes thirty three seconds of complete silence. On ‘Desert Island Discs’ all you could hear was McMillan’s stomach rumbling.

For all his down-to-earth Yorkshire persona, McMillan came out with a load of pretentious bollocks about this being a “legitimate” choice, and the value of exploring silence, etc, etc…

This evening’s Radio 4 ‘PM’ programme (with its’ ever-snide presenter Eddie Maire) couldn’t resist exploring the theme further (here: go to approx 0.50.00), with a 1990 interview with Cage (who died in 1992), mumbling on about “the experience of listening…what you hear appears aesthetically…there is no absence of sound,”…but then he was into Zen Buddism and  aleatoric or “chance-controlled music”…

Even more profound stuff came in an interview with one Salome Voegelin, author of Listening to Noise and Silence -Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, which being  informed by the ideas of Adorno, Merleau Ponty and others and engaging with the practice of sound art and the concurrent development of a discourse and theory of sound, as well as establishing an aesthetics and philosophy of sound and promoting  the notion of a sonic sensibility… just has to be a rattling good read, doesn’t it?

The temptation is to simply take the piss, especially when we remember Philip Larkin’s gloating over a Melody Maker review (15 November 1969) of a Lennon- Ono album on which two of the four sides were blank, due (it later turned out) to a manufacturing fault:

“Sides two and four consist entirely of single tones maintained throughout…constant listening reveals a curious point: the pitch of the notes alters frequently, but only by microtones…This oscillation produces an almost subliminal ‘beat’ which maintains interest.” (Quoted in All What Jazz by Philip Larkin, Faber, 1970).

But before we dismiss all this as pretentious bollocks, it’s worth remembering one salient and crucial point: the aim of ‘Cage Against The Machine’ is to keep whatever dreadful “X Factor” crap Mr Simon Cowell has come up with this year out of the No. 1 spot this Christmas, and replace it with blissful…silence. I’d put good money into any jukebox for that.

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“Top” “left” blogs…according to a Tory

September 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm (blogging, Champagne Charlie, Tory scum, trivia)

Top 100 left-wing blogs
September 13th, 2010

“Today, Total Politics announces the top 100 left-wing blogs.”

We Shiraz’ers would consider it an insult to be included.

Quote of the day, from Bob:

“Looking at the Iain Dale list, clearly Shiraz Socialist are not influential enough, while Jim J, Andy Newman and Mehdi Hasan are too bloody influential!”

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Shiraz is #14 in “Worst Political Blog” chart

September 2, 2010 at 6:36 pm (blogging, blogosphere, Champagne Charlie, comedy, trivia)

Shiraz is No. 14 in a “Hundred Worst Political Blogs” chart:

100) Conservative Party Reptile
99) Hopi Sen
98) Burning Our Money
97) Liberal England
96) Norman Geras
95) Through the Scary Door
94) Oona King
93) Chris Paul: Labour of Love
92) Alex Hilton
91) Bob Piper
90) Melanie Phillips
89) Byrne Tofferings
88) Nosemonkey’s EUtopia
87) David Miliband
86) Mr Eugenides
85) Raincoat Optimism
84) Stroppyblog
83) Bracknell Blog
82) Everyone’s Favourite Comrade
81) The F Word
80) Michael’s Thought for the Day
79) Mars Hill
78) Solomon’s Mindfield
77) Mike Ion
76) Modernity Blog
75) Richard D North
74) The Salted Slug
73) John Redwood’s Diary
72) Donal Blaney
71) Tim Roll-Pickering
70) Leftwing Criminologist
69) Back Towards the Locus
68) The Stilettoed Socialist
67) Edmund Standing
66) Martin Kelly
65) Samizdata
64) Rantin’ Rab
63) Daniel Hannan
62) Pickled Politics
61) Chicken Yogurt
60) Shot By Both Sides
59) Butterflies and Wheels
58) Duff and Nonsense
57) Nick Robinson’s Newsblog
56) Though Cowards Flinch
55) Mac Uaid
54) Islamophobia Watch
53) Who Goes Home?
52) Welsh Bloggers
51) Al Jahom’s Final Word
50) Elliott Joseph
49) Luke Akehurst
48) Benedict Brogan
47) The Exile
46) Blurred Clarity
45) spEak You’re bRanes
44) LabourList
43) Aaronovitch Watch
42) Craig Murray
41) Andrew Allison
40) Archbishop Cranmer
39) Freedom Central
38) Nile Gardiner
37) TaxPayers’ Alliance
36) David Osler
35) Bickerstaffe Record
34) The Lone Voice
33) Liberal Smithy
32) Blairy England
31) The Very Fluffy Diary of Millennium Dome, Elephant
30) Dylan Jones-Evans
29) Mr Civil Libertarian
28) ConservativeHome
27) Penny Red
26) The Spittoon
25) Cllr Terry Kelly
24) Tom Harris MP
23) Anna Raccoon
22) The Devil’s Knife
21) Dick Puddlecote
20) Tax Research UK
19) Boatang and Demetriou
18) Old Holborn
17) Bloggerheads
16) Thanet Life
15) Nadine Dorries
14) Shiraz Socialist
13) James Delingpole
12) A particularly litigious blogger I refuse to link to.
11) Tory Bear
10) Liberal Conspiracy
9) Socialist Unity
8 ) Dizzy Thinks
7) Lenin’s Tomb
6) Alastair Campbell
5) Obnoxio the Clown
4) Tim Worstall
3) Iain Dale’s Diary
2) Harry’s Place

The compiler of this list,  AVPS , then continues:

And the number one as voted by the great AVPS-reading public? A blog truly worthy of the title of the UK’s worst:

For the lies, the awful politics, the nastiness, the smugness, the comment boxes, the cartoons (the cartoons!), and despite the best efforts of his stable mates on the “libertarian” hard right, Paul “Guido Fawkes” Staines’ stinking turd of a blog is in a league of its very own. So, well done Paul. You are the Grand Poobah. The King of Crud. The Sultan of Shite. The Duke of Dump. If you keep your execrable standards up you’re in with a good chance of winning next year!

Above: Guido “Staines” Fawkes
(Charlie comes back):

 * Is this good or bad for us Shirazers (on the old Oscar Wilde principle)?

* How, and by what criteria, was this chart put together (I gather, by the ex-Socialist Party renegade “A Very Public Sociologist“)?

* Is it better to be #14 than (say) #94?

As the old imperialist wrote:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools…

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RIP The Bill

August 31, 2010 at 11:08 pm (Jackie Mcdonough, police, trivia, TV)

ITV didn’t know what to do with it. They fucked it about, turning it into a soap, then an attempt at a UK ‘Hill Street Blues’: why couldn’t they have just left it alone?  Now they’ve killed it off. The last episodes were outstanding – at least as good as ‘Law and Order UK’, for instance.

RIP The Bill: the best British cop series ever. Apparently, 19,00 actors appeared on it over is 27  years on the air, so it’s also a blow to Equity. Where will ex-East Enders go now?

NB: the following Youtube video is from a young fan a couple of years ago – it’s a first attempt and (imho) a worthy effort:

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Tory millionaire dumps rubbish on the nation

July 1, 2010 at 11:26 pm (Champagne Charlie, crap, Tory scum, trivia)

A Tory millionaire has been caught dumping his old rubbish on the nation.

The rubbish includes an old bed and and oil slick.

Old Bed

Richard Wilson's art installation 20:50 at the Saatchi Gallery, London
Oil slick

A man as rich as this man should be willing to pay for his rubbish to be properly and safely disposed of. In a fire, for instance.

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“Total Politics”: a boycott that makes sense

March 14, 2010 at 1:13 am (anti-fascism, blogging, Jim D, trivia)

. Shiraz Socialist has received the following – and signed up:

If you’ve come here because you’ve seen an incoming link on your blog, then you’ve probably come to the right place.

Yesterday, we made an initial call to Labour and leftie bloggers to consider a boycott of this year’s ‘Total Politics Blog Awards ’, in the event that this magazine chooses to publish as planned an extended interview with Nick Griffin, the racist leader of the BNP.

The initial call was greeted favourably by some bloggers who saw it, and we are therefore seeking to extend the call by the simple expedient of copying blog links for all those who came in the top 100 Left of Centre or Labour categories in 2009.  Obviously there’s a fair bit of duplication between the lists, and the previous judgment on what is a ‘left of centre’ blog has also been open to doubt. 

If you are convinced by the arguments we set forth in our main post (and see comments also), then please do consider announcing your proposed boycott of the 2010 awards (if the interview is published) on your own blog.  

If you’re not, then we’re sorry to have disturbed you.

If you do want to join the boycott in the event that the interview is pulished, simply email Total Politics when the competition is announced and say you do not want your blog to appear in any of the listings.

Finally, if we’ve missed a blog link that you think we should have, please let us know or simply pass this call on to that blog.  This list is far from complete and currently omits many local blogs that may wish to join the boycott, though we will be trying to fill those gaps.

From: ‘Though Cowards Flinch.’

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That “Top 100”: a churl writes…

September 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm (blogging, blogosphere, Jim D, left, trivia)

  Gratifying as it is to be listed at number 71 (up from 85 last year, pop-pickers!), I have to ask: how the hell are these “top blog” lists compiled? What criterea are used? Does anybody out there know? Or care?

I mean, how is it that we’re ahead of  Neil Clark (74), Oliver Kamm (78) and Paul Flynn MP (95), but behind Bob from Brockley (47), Lenin’s Tomb (42) and A Very Public Sociologist (12)?

Not that we’re bothered about these trivial baubles, you understand. Or by coming behind Stroppyblog (53).


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I’m Confessin’

July 4, 2009 at 3:13 pm (blogging, jazz, Jim D, trivia)

I see that the Stroppy One, briefly stuck for blogging ideas (like us at Shiraz just at the moment), has launched an unprovoked attack on my musical tastes, accusing me of being a representative of “good time” jazz. I may have used that term ironically at one time or another, but it’s not really how I’d describe my tastes. However, Stropps, as a new convert to the politicised free-form of Ornette Coleman, is threatening to descend upon one of my gigs to check me out and report back to the Oslerian jazz police. Sadly, the gig she was planning to attend has been cancelled. So, for the record, here are my heroes, including Wild Bill Davison on cornet, Al Capone’s favourite musician and someone who I once had the privilege  of working with (in the 1970’s): his indomitable wife, Anne, said to me, “Young man: you drink too much and smoke too much and you’ll end up like William.” Well, you could do worse…

[Youtube=<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGxquYERsSw&quot;]

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