Thursday, 30 September 2010

Just A Quickie.

I'm off to London in a mo for a little gig I will be doing.
This is the picture they are using to promote it.
I think it's pretty cool.
It's at a place called The Betsy Trotwood. I've never been there.
I'm doing an about 15-20 minute set of my poetry.
I'm pretty excited as last time I did a gig in London, it was the best performance I've done yet.
The theme for the evening is 'Hippies Vs Beatniks.'
Sweet G is trying to convince me to wear a suit.
Hmmm... We'll see.
One of the other acts is a guy called Emit Bloch who recorded his whole album on a dictaphone.
I thought it was pretty good. I'm looking forward to seeing him live.
Anyway, must go. Want to shower and make myself delicious.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

"The Suburbs" or Me & Arcade Fire Down By The Schoolyard.

As some of you may already know, I've never been the worlds biggest Arcade Fire fan. Almost everyone I know seemed to gush themselves dry over 'Funeral' and 'Neon Bible' and I never really understood it. All I heard was bad sixth form poetry over the type of epic, bombastic music that always used to put me off listening to most English classical composers. I always just found it massively off-putting. It felt to me like they just all crashed in at once with huge sounding choruses to mask the fact that their songs weren't actually very good.

Then, this year, they released their third album. 'The Suburbs.'

I read reviews saying that it was a change of direction of sorts. That it was a toned down version of Arcade Fire. That by taking the subject matter of often ignored suburban areas (of America/Canada), they had ditched the bombast and created a more personal and involving album. Everything I read got me intrigued. I thought I'd give it a listen to see what it was like.

I love it.

I suspected I thought it would be good, judging from what I'd read about it, but I wasn't expecting to love it quite so much. The reviews were right. Gone is all the pomp and instead we have a very human sound. Songs you can relate to. Songs that invite you into them. Songs that make me start writing really pretentious sounding things about them.

Yes, I never thought I would say this, but the new Arcade Fire album is absolutely brilliant.

I said this to a couple of workmates who've always been big Arcade Fire fans and they both said the same thing. They can't get into it and they find it a bit boring. No offence to them, but this kind of backs up why I like it so much, because it doesn't sound like Arcade Fire. It sounds like like a fucking great band who've made a really REALLY good album.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Part 2 Of My Performance At Truck.

Beware The Half Moon.

The Half Moon in St Clements, Oxford, is one of those pubs that looks like a bit of a dive from the outside, but is actually pretty nice once you're inside. As a pub I like the Half Moon.
There is something very strange about it.
Being in there has a weird effect on me.

Now, most people who know me will be able to tell you that I am quite often pretty socially awkward. Introduce me to a new person and I usually have no idea how to have a conversation with them. Put me in a situation with people I don't know and I will be the odd little man who doesn't say anything, stares at inanimate objects for hours until someone asks, "Are you alright?"
Yes, as I'm sure I have said many times on this blog before, I am pretty much socially retarded.
Apart from when I'm in the Half Moon.

See, when I'm in the Half Moon, it's like I become possessed by the demons of socialising.
I ended up in there again on Thursday after a (very good) meal at a mates house. Now, last time I was in the Half Moon I ended up ignoring the people I'd gone there with to talk for ages to this German guy who said he had very few friends in Oxford. After a couple of hours talking about about I don't remember what, I gave him my phone number and said we should hang out and that I would come to the Half Moon a lot more. The next morning I instantly wished I hadn't, which turned out to be okay because he never got in touch.
But what was I doing? I not only have no idea what we had been talking about, but I NEVER give out out my number to people I've only just met. If people think I'm awkward in person, they should hear me on the phone. It's painful.
That is the power of the Half Moon. It seems to remove my inhibitions and turn me into a social person somehow.
But it wasn't all that bad. I mean, at least this German guy was a pretty nice, decent person.

On Thursday tho, oh dear.

I somehow started to talk to these two American guys. It started off nice enough, you know, they were asking where I come from, I was born in Oxford, oh so you're local then, yeah, nice, so where are you guys from, oh we're from DC, etc, etc, etc...
They were at college in Washington, one of them was a "Frat boy."
Then we started talking about alcohol. Apparently, and contrary to what I believed, you CAN get cider in America, but it's not very popular and if you are seen drinking it people think you're a "Fag." Spirits are more widely available of course, but if you drink them in a bar instead of beer, people think you're a "Fag." Basically if you drink anything other than beer in public, you're a "Fag."
Then they asked me for tips on how to "Pull British chicks."

Now, normally I would have made some excuse like "Oh, I'm really not the guy to ask about that. I have to get back to my friends," but after hearing them tell how they "Pull chicks" back home and because I was drunk in the Half Moon, I had entered this frame of mind where I suddenly thought to myself "You know, these guys actually seem alright. Sure, they have a pretty unsound view of women and use the word "Fag" far too much, but maybe I can change that! Maybe if I talk to them in a way they understand, I can make them see the errors of their ways and get them to respect other people more!"
So I started to say things like, "You know, what you guys do in America won't necessary work over here. You have to treat women with a bit more respect." Although I probably worded it in an even more patronising way, and probably a bit more of a sexist way too, coz y'know, I was trying to change their minds on their level and that.
"So, what you're saying is I need to treat women as if they're like they're equal?"
Now, what do you say to that? Seriously, if I had just been blunt and said "Now look, there are a number of things wrong with what you just said..." they would've either got that glazed over look in their eyes, or they would've called me a fag, which I would've pulled them up on, an argument would've ensued and they would've probably decided I needed to be taught a lesson (and one of them was fucking muscly, so I didn't want him trying to). So I tried to carry on with the whole talk-to-them-on-their-level thing, which lead to me saying something that made Genevieve leave the pub when she heard me say it.
I had clearly lost the point and turned into some sort of hideous sexist, but I wasn't willing to give up just yet. In a flash of inspiration, I gave them my e-mail address and told them we should hang out more and they should totally message me and we'll go for a drink and talk more about stuff.

Friday morning, pretty much the first thought that came into my head was, "Why was I talking so much to those guys and why did I give them my e-mail address?!"
Luckily, they haven't messaged me and without wanting to sound too harsh, I really hope they don't. I don't think they will. I'm pretty sure the frat boy thinks I'm a fag (he didn't like it when I hugged the muscly one as a goodbye and was happy that I only gave him the half handshake, half hug thing that you see guys doing on tv, saying he felt "Much more comfortable with that. I'm not comfortable with guys hugging me.") and won't want to meet up again, and the muscly one is hopefully one of those guys who's all talk but won't actually have any intention of getting back in touch, instead relegating me to a story about "This weird English guy I met in a bar once."
Having said that tho, a certain part of me now having written about them, kind of wants to meet up with them again to see what would happen.

I'm sure that's a bad idea tho. Isn't it?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Right. Time To Get Serious.

So, I'm a writer, right?
Because I never actually bloody write anymore. This is a serious impediment to someone who wants to one day write for a living.
See, I've become one of those really boring people who spends far too much free time on the internet doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
So, time to properly resurrect this blog. This will actually get me writing something for a change. Also, I've written a bit more on here recently and have been enjoying it again.
Now, I know I've made bold statements on here before, and I know how broken-record this is going to sound, but here goes.

From today onwards, I intend to post something on here everyday.

See, on days that I write on here, I've found that I actually use the rest of the time in my day more productively. My brain seems to go into a 'Oh, I've just done something! What else can I do?' mode.
At least, this is the theory.
In about a week or two's time when I'm back to being an internet slug, you can all say 'I told you so,' because I know that what few regular readers I still have left will have got bored of me saying/doing stuff like this.
But, if in a week or two's time I'm still writing stuff on a much more regular basis, maybe it'll kick start my other writing into gear. That's what I'm hoping for anyway and I SERIOUSLY need to start doing some actual fucking writing again.

Either way, let's see what happens.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Part 1 Of My Performance At Truck.

I've been meaning to put this up for a while now and FINALLY got round to doing it last night. I'm gonna put the other parts (I'll probably split the whole thing into 4) up over the next couple-few weeks too. As you can tell, I'm was pretty nervous and it took me a while to get into it, but I'm still pretty proud of what I did. I hope you enjoy it.

The Failed Pope Post.

I kept trying to write a blog post about the Pope's visit, but everytime I tried to write it, it either came across as too preachy and self-righteous, or just very dull, so here are some points that sum up the Pope's visit to the UK.

* What is the point of having a bulletproof car if you still have to have 8 security guards walking alongside it?
* I found the backlash against people opposed to the Pope and his visit from the people who didn't care one way or the other about it to be rather worrying. (What, we're expected to have this thing shoved in our faces all day every day and NOT react to it?)
* Constant, continual news coverage is kind of killing the quality of tv journalism. (I think Charlie Brooker has already well and truly covered that point much better than I ever could tho.)
* Some people said some stupid things.
* I cannot take the word "Popemobile" seriously.
* On the subject of the Popemobile, didn't it look and move like a massive motorised wheelchair?

* Some people said some really stupid things. One particularly stupid thing I copied and pasted from I can't remember where read, "I can't help but think it's the protestors who are the real bigots, not the pope. "thou shalt not have a different view to mine"=hypocrisy" which managed to give an opinion on the protestors while entirely missing every single point of the protests themselves. Now that takes some kind of Fox News style skill in the art of complacency.
* Fuck off, Pope.

There. A far, far less coherent post than it would've been, but one that can now have a little pin placed in it for the Potato Farm to move on from.

...and the next post will be something I hope you will all enjoy.

Monday, 13 September 2010

This Is The 400th Potato Farm Post.

Oh yeah.
No bold statements of intent to mark the occasion this time, as I never keep to them.
No out of the ordinary item or quirky thing, as I'm at milady's Mum's house and I can't really think of anything special to do for it anyway, but I don't want to lose the new found momentum I've regained with writing this blog.

However, today I found out that Hannah Simpson aka Cakeyvoice:- , who is also by the way the lady responsible for me even having a blog in the first place, gave birth to a boy, so my 400th post is a soppy sentimental wish of a happy and healthy life for Frank Vincent Lewis. His parents are awesome, in fact Matt Lewis, Frank's dad, is responsible for what is considered by many (myself included) to be the best post ever posted on this blog:- , so this is bound to be one pretty awesome dude.

Happy Birth, Frank Vincent Lewis.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Other Day...

...I heard someone knocking at my front door. I opened it to see a man with a cardboard box that had a collection of change in it.

Man At Door: "Would you be interested in donating to charity, yes or no?
Me: "Errrrrrrrrrrrr..."
MAD: "I'm collecting for a children's charity. If you have any change even just one or two pounds, it would be very much appreciated."
Me: "Errrr... Let me see what I've got."
I opened my little change purse to find I had 62p. I took it out.
"I've got 62p. You can have that."
MAD: "No, keep it. Keep it for if you are out and you need it for parking or something."

Now, there are a few things that strike me as odd about this. One is the fact that his cardboard box just had "COLLECTION FOR CHILDRENS CHARITY" written on it in a marker pen. Another is that he didn't tell me what the charity was or what it did, but most of all, what I find most odd about the whole thing, is that in spite of all this really quite dodgy stuff, I was willing to give him money, and he refused to take it! Now, I don't know about any of you, but whenever I've dealt with people collecting change for charity, they will take whatever you can give them and are generally pretty happy that you're willing to give anything at all in the first place. I have never had a donation of change turned down because it wasn't enough.

So, what the Hell is with that? Anybody? Something dodgy going on, or is he just a very odd man?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Derren Brown's 'Hero At 30,000 Feet' Programme.

WARNING: This post is VERY boring.

Did anyone see this? I'm sure it's on 4OD if you wanted to but missed it.
Anyway, if you didn't, Derren Brown took a very shy man who wouldn't say anything if there was a fire in a room because he wouldn't want to be the one to bring attention to a situation, and over the space of thirty days turned him into a man full of confidence who offered to help land an aeroplane.
Now, there's been some backlash against this programme. People have been saying on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc, that the show wasn't real. It couldn't be. It was so unconvincing and badly acted, they said. Someone (I'm pretty sure it was Andrew Collins) even cited the music they chose to soundtrack certain parts of the show as a reason it couldn't be real. Now, whatever your opinion of it, you cannot cite bad soundtracking (and some of it really was terrible) as a reason to believe something is fake. Bad acting, yes. Bad music choices, no.
The one scene that seems to be cited as sure-fire proof tho, is the train tracks scene. In this scene, Derren Brown puts his volunteer into a straightjacket, gets him to lie down on some train tracks and then ties up his legs, just as a train is about to come. He then offers little help to the guy to get himself free, but this guy doesn't really seem to be panicking that much. He seems to be a bit startled and worried, kind of like if a vicious dog was barking at him and trying to bite him but was still firmly on a lead, but not really anything approaching panic.
Now, is this bad acting, or is it just that maybe people just sometimes react to things in ways we wouldn't expect? Is it bad acting, or is it that in fact, there are so many individuals that surely there can never be a standard way of responding to any situation no matter how intense or grave?
Anyway, back to Andrew Collins again, his problem with the train tracks scene seems to be that he just doesn't believe that there is any way that Derren Brown would be allowed to do this (I'm filling in the blanks here. He hasn't explicitly said that this is his problem with it.). Now, this is an interesting point. Would a tv programme ever be allowed to take a member of the public and put them in such a position of danger?

I could go on biting into the details of this programme, but it just be me repeating myself agiagn and again. It all just boils down to whether you believe it or not.

Personally, I think Derren Brown is far too intelligent to drop the ball like this, but there are some bits that just don't seem right.
Now, my theory is that if this whole thing was staged, it was staged to act as a trigger. At the end of the programme, Derren said it was time for someone else's journey to start and started a clock to count down from thirty days. I reckon that there could be another show coming up telling about how people who've watched this programme have had their own experiences of changing something in their lives over the course of thirty days, starting from the day this show was broadcast.
Though, writing that and reading it back, it does seem a little far-fetched.
Maybe it is all real and just because of the way it was presented, or because of the high profile Derren Brown has now, people just want to not believe in it, want to pick it apart, want to find fault in it.

One thing is for sure. This programme has got a lot of people talking about it and thinking about it. So no matter what this show was, it has been very clever in the way that it has got into people's heads.

Derren Brown, you're in all our heads, aren't you, you little bighter.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Deal Or No Deal.

I hope this series of 'Deal Or No Deal' is shorter than the last one.

When Deal Or No Deal started, I found it really interesting. I really liked watching the way people dealt with odds and how they decided to play them. It used to come across as a form of extreme gambling at times, as people were faced with cold, hard decisions they didn't know how to make.
Then somewhere along the line, a dirty word started to become involed.
Suddenly, the numbers had meaning. Personal association came into play. The programme became less about a person's decision making process and more about personal spiritual journeys.
Then it got really creepy. It started turning into a televised cult where everyone would hold hands and try to send positive energy into an almost empty box.
Luckily, before the series got into everyone drinking poisoned kool-aid or going on a murderous rampage, someone saw sense and decided the series must have a little break. Put Noel Edmonds in an ice bath before he exploded and let every one of his disciples some time to calm down.
Now it's back, and while it's certainly better for having had it's cooling off period (on a serious note, during one of the episodes where they were doing the 'everyone hold hands and send out positive energy' thing, I actually thought they were going to start chanting), it still seems to have calmed down. Noel still works them up a treat tho, to the point where they permanently look on the verge of breaking point, even when they're doing well. There are still some of the spiritual tell tale signs though. A little bit too much about instinct and 'believing in yourself.'
And this time, it's like that from the off. By the end of this series, I wouldn't be surprised to see them all attempting levitation, or trying to determine what was in all the boxes thru some sort of collective conciousness or an attempt to dematerialise into a form of cloud in which everything reverts to the same base molecules and then reforms so that every box has £250,000 and everyone wins everytime and live happily ever after as the same collective being.
And Noel Edmonds would be the conductor of this orchestra of amalgamated beings. And they would probably take over all of us, whether we wanted them to or not.

And that's why I hope this series of 'Deal Or No Deal' is shorter than the last one was.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Who Wants To Read Some Poems I Wrote When I Was 15/16 Years Old?

Come on. WHAT part of that doesn't sound like a great idea?

So, there was a "Comedy Special" edition of the Chester Arms open mic night and I was going to read these poems out at it. The idea came from listening to the Andrew Collins & Richard Herring 6Music podcast. On their show, they did a segment called "Poetry Smackdown" where they would each read a poem they wrote in their teens. Of course, the standard of poetry is an embarrassment, that's the point, and the segment is always at the very least quite funny and at the most, pant-wettingly hilarious. I remember walking down Cowley Road listening to one particular podcast episode and I got some very odd looks due to the fact that I had to stop walking as I was almost crying with laughter when Richard Herring read out the line "The only water that was pure, was from an orphan's tears."
Anyway, for reasons I won't go into now, I couldn't go. I was going to do them at the next months one instead, but couldn't make that one either. Then I was going to at last night's one, but there were only about 8 or 9 people there due to a) the torrential rain we had in Oxford yesterday evening, and b) George's admission that he had done virtually no promotion for it this month. Hey, cut him some slack, he's just moved into a boat. No, seriously.
Anyway, the atmosphere wasn't there, so I didn't feel comfortable with doing it, so as a sort of punishment for neglecting this blog, I'm going to post them up on here. These poems are the ones I selected to perform from the worrying amount of dreadful teenage poetry I found in my old bedroom at my Mum's flat. I hope you find them amusing.
Just to reiterate, I know these poems are embarrassingly bad, that's the point. When I found these again, I couldn't stop laughing at how bad they are. When I was 15/16 though, I actually thought these were really good and profound and meaningful. How stupid I was.

Right. Are you ready? Here goes.


Ain't cool.
Full of fools,
Stupid schools.
Loads of teachers,
Bloody preachers.
Children go there,
People don't care.
Children do well,
Further Ed. Hell.
Children fail,
Parents wail.
"Best days of your lives,"
The ageing Grandpa cries.
How the bloody hell would he know?
For him it was so long ago.


Hit the wall,
it was small,
He was tall.
What an unfortunate thing to do,
But he knows lots of tall people have done this too.
He's walking along with his head in a cloud,
Eating and talking and walking so proud.
But now, Oh my God, it has happened again,
All of his proud thoughts have gone down the drain.
And now all the harsh words are hurting his brain,
And he'll probably go off and die of the brain.
You know Paul was actually never that sane,
And now his poor death is all in such vain.

August The 1st.

I'm sorry, but I don't find it funny,
How stupid people spend all their money.
They throw it away in desperation,
To buy a new car with a new registration.

Some do it to chuckle, snigger and sneer,
At those who have not got a car of this year.
Why do they do it? (Sad bastards!) Who knows?
I just hope they rust and decay when it snows.
That would teach them!

Some people of course, do have good reasons,
They're not like the ones, just after the seasons,
new choice.
A new voice,
That's what's needed, before we all go mad.

There are more important things than cars you know!...

Mung Bean.

I'm a mung bean,
Put me in your casserole.
Then you'll eat me,
And I will die inside your body.
But I'll be happy,
For it's the only place I want to be.
I love you.

Right. I think that's enough embarrassment for one day.