Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sexiest 10 Songs of All Time - Part 2

So my rather subjective list of the sexiest songs ever goes on and no there's not going to be a place for Barry White, the walrus of lurve. Too much of a cliche - sorry. As far as Marvin Gaye goes - watch this space.

Sexy is in the eye, or in this case, the ear of the beholder, so a song may not be overly sexy to put one in the mood - if you know what I mean. Neither of these song would probably appear in anyone else's top 10.

8 - Say It Right - Nelly Furtado

This song is pretty stylish and sexy for a vertically challenged Portuguese Canadian, although I have never seen it appear in any list of sexy songs. The sound is apparently based on Eurythmics from the 1980s...speaking of which...

7 - Love is a Stranger - Eurythmics

Love is a Stranger is my favorite Eurythmics song, even if the video with Annie dressed as a man and that sinister hand puppet is anything but sexy.  The heavy breathing is none too subtle either, but all and all Love is a Stranger is still a seriously sexy song that goes straight to the paradoxical heart of love. So there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Big Reveal - A Blog Hop Within a Blog Hop

When my good bloggy pal Mina Lobo first suggested The Big Reveal - A Hop Within a Hop, I wasn't quite sure what she was talking about but thought what the hell.

I don't think I'm a big hopper. If I was a frog this could be a problem. I'd probably just fall off the lily pad, flop into the pond and drown. Coincidentally wouldn't it be bad to be reincarnated as a frog and then to realize you were living in France? One of the few circumstances when being a toad would be something to strive for.

Something of a digression that. Anyhow The Big Reveal is about revealing your theme for the A-Z Challenge before the A-Z challenge and generally - I'm assuming hopping. So go ahead now and shove on this badge. It will be worth your while, I assure you. You will get your reward in heaven and if you fail to make it there, maybe the horny devils in the other place will prod you one fewer time with their pitchforks if you can produce this badge. No guarantees, though, and don't send your singed lawsuits in my direction if they merely laugh at the badge.

OK here's the official stuff adapted from Mina's blog Some Dark Romantic and I'm off to find me a linky link thingy thing.

(Instead of "Your Name," type your blog's name), slap this badge on the sideboard of your blog and link it back to either Mina or me, then on March 21 you reveal your A to Z theme for 2013. Oh, and it'd be groovy if you checked out other participants' Big Reveals as well.

I should note that Mina and I are hosting The Big Reveal (Hop-Within a Hop) and that the good people over at Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2013 are not involved in, though they did inspire, it.

Probably goes without saying you should have entered the A-Z challenge to enter this (we get people from the Fens you know).

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Sexiest 10 Songs of All Time - Part 1

I was moved to write this post by my recent discovery of this list of the 50 sexiest songs of all time by billboard biz.

Put simply this should be retitled the 50 suckiest sex songs of all time. According to the list Let's Get Physical by Olivia Newton John is the sexiest song ever. Says who? My dad who had a big crush on her back in the day.

Unless you happen to find that late 70s, early 80s workout video look sexy, I doubt if you will concur with this list. Nor does a song have to be directly about sex to be sexy. Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer may have lots of rude meanings but that doesn't make it a great song to make out to.

Still I never knew that about Prince's Raspberry Beret having always assumed it was about a girl who wore a red beret. There are perils to having such an innocent

My top 10 countdown list is purely subjective but, at the very least I'm hopeful it's better than the billboard one. Try not to die of anticipation by the time we get to Number 1.

10 - Etta James - I Just Want to Make Love To You

James' clear, soluful and sultry voice makes this the most rrrrrrrr version of this song, in my humble opinion.

9 - Need You Tonight - INXS
The first time I heard this song and INXS hit my radar was as an undergraduate. I always associate its breathlessly sexy sound and lyrics with those parties. Like Jim Morrison of the doors, who he seems to be emulating, Michael Hutchence was clearly thinking 'come on baby light my fire.' Also see I is for INXS. Another cup of tea anyone?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

On the death of a rose grower

Just sometimes a stray word or reminder can open a window on a chapter that we have forgotten.

In this case it was a Facebook status update, reference to the funeral of a prominent rose grower in a small town in Norfolk, England.

Still the name stirred something within me. Every day for four years or however long it was, I had driven past the sign for the nurseries. Then I had been gone, seldom to return. Life had moved on to other vistas.

Roses (Leonid Dzhepko)

Almost as soon as we first moved to Attleborough, I wanted to leave. I remember a New Year's Eve spent in the nondescript pub on the High Street, looking out at the yellow lights, wishing I was was somewhere else.  I remember another cold morning waiting for an airport bus to take me away to Tel Aviv.

In hindsight the church was impressive with its squat tower and its crooked grave stones. But I preferred Wymondham up the road with its partially ruined abbey towers, gaunt against the wide open Norfolk skies and the small, quaint pub in the shadow of the abbey.

We lived a life that was unremarkable. The house was identikit but pleasant. The sofa was too large and expensive. We made the home borderline Bohemian with touches from Habitat and Terracotta and yellow paint. Inevitably we were rearranging flowers while Rome simmered around us. The human spirit can achieve great things but the only certainty is disintegration; of certainty and love and the human frame.

In the face of a disintegration that would shatter us as surely as the gaunt towers of Wymondham Abbey but set the stage for rebuilding, we organized barbecues. People even came and drank too much and ended up crashed out in beds. Still the better parties were in the older houses as if the characters of the place and the spirits of revelers past, added to the fun. Our construct was flimsy.

Wymondham Abbey (Evelyn Simak)

In the end after the discordance, there was silence. It was just me alone in the house with the muted green carpets. I still remember the man with the truck who decided to buy it, Moroccan color scheme and all. He worked for the rose grower. And I drove away from that cul-de-sac that could be anywhere U.K. and never looked back. The oversized sofa looked ridiculous in my rented apartment. Eventually someone took it away for less than 10 percent of the purchase price.

Still there are times when the small town comes back to me in my dreams. I remember the two pubs at the end of road, coaching inns from time gone by. I remember how the thatched roof of one made me think of a rural idyll I never quite  realized. I think of the bike rides down small lanes thick with wildflowers.

Two years ago I was back in Norwich for a night out with friends. As I drove back to London, nursing a hangover I saw the sign to Attleborough. I hesitated and finally took the road half remembered. It was strange how the old familiarity set in as I remembered each turn to take. Yet here and there I passed something different.

I drove into the cul-de-sac and looked at the house. The garage door was now white and there were neat pots outside holding flowers with pale edges. It was a silent Sunday morning. Fog swirled the air and I could hear a distant church bell across the fields.

Still there was nothing for me here. I got back in the car and took the road back, passing the sign for the rose grower who had always been there, who had probably tended his nursery each day of the 10 years I had been there. Until now.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why I signed up to the A to Z Challenge

After last year I vowed to never again enter the A-Z blogging challenge.

Which really doesn't adequately explain why I have just signed up again for the third time in a row.

Yeah I was there at the outset before there were thousands of people rushing to join the hoppiest of blog hops. I feel like one of those grizzled blokes who is dismissive of people who climb Everest.

"Na. Went up there one time with a broken leg: another with an arm behind my back. Seen it done it. Where's the pub?"

The only worrying aspect is I aimed to write quick and breezy blog post last year but there were still nights when I started writing close to deadline and ended up pulling my hair out doing research. Sure I'm used to that from my days in journalism, but even so.

BTW for those of you who have been under a big, dank blogging rock for the last few years, the A-Z challenge takes place in April and you have to blog a different letter of the alphabet each day. Needless to say X is always great fun. It's only half way through February and already more than 650 people have signed up. It's amazing how few of us have a life.

This year I really do plan something really simple. Um. Said that before.

I suppose I recanted because of my competitive nature. I saw fellow veteran A-Zrs (if that's a proper term) like Tim Riley and Mina Lobo signing up again and thought why not?

Who knows if I will still be saying this in 10 years' time by which time it will probably have become like a high school reunion. We all meet up at some spit and sawdust place outside Moosejaw etc. and compare our false teeth.

It's true my blog needs new followers - more so new hits - as anyone who has read my dark and depressing entry about my blog dying, will realize.

But there's more to it than the blogging shot in the arm, the high of the spike on the blog graph. The most important thing about the A to Z challenge is the lovely people we meet along the way. Enjoy the ride. Now I'm going to find me another badge dammit.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Saved from the Daily Grind by the Sunset

After a year away from it generally relaxing, behaving badly and being selfishly feckless in small measures, I found myself back in the world of full time work again this week.

I can't tell you what a shock it felt like to be rooted in the same place for such a long time surrounded by the same people. What's that about? Robinson Crusoe didn't choose to be shipwrecked did he.

I survived, although by Monday I was rather convinced my sorry ass would be canned before the end of the week, reminding me of a former friend who landed a job in public relations only to quit on the first morning after she was asked to do some filing and another friend who went running out of her first teaching job, foaming at the mouth at the end of the first week, and never returned.

Journalists have a lot of transferable qualities, as I like to tell former LA Times star writers who now wait tables. But realizing we are right back at the bottom of the food chain again, fighting for mutant pieces of plankton isn't one of them. It's hard to realize we can no longer pick up the phone to the mayor of wherever and put the fear of God into them by talking about backhanders.

"Don't you know I have four Pulitzers" cuts little ice in the private sector as someone is asking you to shove 400 business cards into pocket books.

It's not all bad. I have my own office for the first time in my life. I even succeeded in setting up the printer.

My boss' favorite saying is "Little by little" which a semi diplomatic way of saying I am slow.

Today I learned the most important lesson of office life that employees are afraid to ask; namely where the toilet paper is stored.

I am happy that I have survived a week without going crazy. The woman I was throwing Styrofoam peanuts at in the middle of the Interstate during the soggy morning commute deserved it. She cut me up.

Anyway, what I thought might be the most depressing day of the year so far was saved by an amazing sunset that took my eyes away from the ugliness of the houses and the lumpen school, the play equipment rusting in the cold and the whine of kids.

Maybe things are getting back on track. Little by little.


1 - Styrofoam peanuts feature prominently in which famous American novel?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chewing My Head off at Marketing Boot Camp

For four nights this week I am in marketing boot camp at some obscure technological start up place in Hampton, Virginia. In fact I'm here right now.

I usually blog with about half of a brain but tonight am blogging with a quarter of it because I am supposed to be leaning about branding. Cue large cow's backside and red hot iron. I digress.

We talk about vision and colors but what about language? Symbiotics is the study of signs. I hope they can send over the notes tomorrow. I am feeling very sleepy right now.

So when you can say apple and think of the company Apple you are hot on branding. Not that it did Steve Jobs much good in the overall scheme of things. Semiotics actually as opposed to symbiotics. Reach for a box of Kleenex - it becomes the verb. Still makes me think of my skanky former students when they would go crazy for Kleenex. God I have gone through a lot of jobs recently, probably more than Steve, without showing a great aptitude for any.

Oh crap first branding exercise. I need my brain back for a second.

Half way through this course it has come to my attention that everybody on this course seems to know each other but I don't know anyone. Do I stand up now and say I have no mates. Do I get out my violin? To be fair it's a good course. The presenter is keeping me awake with exercises.

Competent is a very good word, says the instructor. Inept sounds a lot more fun, though, right now. I slap myself around the face, yearn for black coffee and try out the competent thing,

God I'm not even a third of the way through this course and I am twitching and going crazy for a beer. In general I would say the world needs another blog like a hole in the head, says the instructor. Which is nice to know, blog. But who says the world doesn't need a hole in the head?

Probably cue for a drum roll and this week it goes to Juliette. If you remember during the A-Z challenge last year (there I go again) I moaned about not reaching 200 followers. Well I forgot about it since but I am pleased to see Juliette is now my 200th follower which is a big cue for some kind of meaningless bloggy award or another.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Is My Blog Dying or Dead Already?

They walked through a swirling mist, through the Blogisphere, to a place on a howling heath where a tall building rose from the fog.

The wings of gargoyles rose from the dank masonry high on the side of the mausoleum, and ravens flew screaming from the high eaves, empty gantries now where stone is scoured.

Mausoleum der Großherzoge von Oldenburg auf dem Gertrudenkirchhof in Oldenburg (Corradox)

The mummers walked in silence their mouths closed up, their faces expressionless in thought. A slow murmuring seeped from the ground once they were upon the granite floor. There was an open casket, shattered now and weakly pulling on the last rays of light that struggled through the stained glass high up above.

This was once a summer house but they converted it long ago when he died. It's been years since these empty spaces tinkled to the laughter of children. They peered into the contents of the box, at the withered remains.

Lo. It was my blog. The 400 hits a day of a few weeks ago are now a distant memory - down to 120 and falling fast to the crypt without me even realizing I was looking at a corpse. Desperate thoughts cloud my mind at the start of the long dark night of the soul. Can I rally yet, can I rage against the dying of the light? Do I have to face the ordeal of the A-Z Challenge again - its impossible lows and amazing highs. Or maybe I just have to blog about Justin Bieber. Does Justin Bieber have an alcohol problem? Ha.

A is for abject, B is for buried, C is cremated and D is death.

I Don't Queue : Does That Make Me Unpatriotic?

I'm bemused by the scenes from Westminster today. People are queuing for 24 hours to see a wooden box. OK, it's a fancy box surround...