Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm Too Sexy for This Blog Entry

We have been watching an interesting series of programmes in which persons addicted to botox and cosmetic surgery are introduced to persons with horrible disfiguring medical conditions. Over the course of every show, it is of course the job of the latter to open the eyes of the former to the fact that It’s What’s Inside That Counts. This show could use a bit of My Left Foot, the Jim Sheridan film in which Daniel Day-Lewis’s author/painter/poet main character had cerebral palsy…and was largely an insufferable asshole. If it’s very possible that the disfigured are generally sweet, it’s no less possible that a few, at least, are frightful jerks.

This past week’s show featured a 21-year-old “glamour model”, one who makes her living pouting at lads-mag photographers with her collagen-engorged lips, flaunting her silicone-engorged breasts. Maybe I’m getting old (no maybe about it, big boy!), but these girls don’t arouse me in the slightest; I find them sort of desperate and pathetic, and often not entirely human-looking.

The model's hairdresser dad explained that he paid for her original breast enlargement because she had earlier been a suicidal bulimic. Better, we were to understand, to have a professional slut as a daughter than no daughter at all. I wondered if it had occurred to him to hire a psychotherapist rather than a cosmetic surgeon. Wouldn’t having a daughter who feels so ugly as she really is that she needs to submit elective surgery, and then makes her money arousing strange men, make you wonder if you really ought to keep drinking your coffee out of a mug that says World's Best Dad?

Not, of course, that I’m in a terrific position to advise fellow fathers of troubled young women.

I often wonder who actually reads the lads mags, just as I used to wonder who really reads Playboy and Penthouse. They’d like you to believe that it’s the kind of hip, affluent, self-confident, stylish young man you yourself would most like to be, one who’s forever receiving video messages on his iPhone from leggy young beauties with fantastically glossy hair and lips that needed no collagen, but I suspect that in a majority of cases it’s some misshapen, doughy embarrassment who can’t get a date.

Ooh, mama, let me fondle your implants.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Johnny the Human Puddle

People my age and younger have begun dropping like flies, and I often find myself wondering which of the various diseases that have claimed them will eventually send me an email asking, “You didn’t honestly think I wasn’t going to get you too, did you?” At this moment, though, it doesn’t seem that it’s a disease that will kill me, but the feelings of purposelessness, boredom, and despair from which I’ve suffered pretty nearly all my life, and which seem to become more threatening with age.

Having no work: the silent killer. I love to hurl myself at huge undertakings, but have nothing to work on but my own stuff. I wake up in the morning and wonder how I’m going to spend the next 16 hours so as to make them feel even a little bit meaningful or satisfying. The world’s wanting nothing from me is excruciating.

Early this year, I wrote a dozen half-hour radio comedy scripts for submission to the BBC. Their spurning the first half-dozen (even though they’re inexpressibly brilliant, to one extent or another) led me to believe it was futile to send any of the others. I then tried to get a foothold as a maker of personal legacy films. No takers. I made several videos, musical and otherwise, as my comic alter ego Manny Finkelman. I worked very hard on them, and a lot of people were amused. The most watched, though, was seen by fewer than 2000. An American girl with very large breasts who pretends to be giving lessons in Japanese gets literally millions of view.

I started a spoof campaign to get my little corner of England to secede from the UK and apply for American statehood. That amused a local newspaper and the local BBC, put not a penny into my pocket, and led to no work. A couple of months ago, desperate for something to do, I began writing a novel, of which I produced around 30,000 words, even though my existing three full-length novels and two short story collections on Amazon are selling a combined total of zero copies per month. I sent query letters to several dozen UK agents, two of whom agreed to have a look. They’ve both now said thanks anyway.

I’ve always felt that I’m a better graphic designer (and actor, and songwriter) than writer, but there are times when I wish the world were rather less intent on affirming that judgment, especially when nobody’s interested in my other abilities.

Normally, I’d be Johnny the Human Puddle at the moment, devastated, but I’m somehow fighting off the familiar feelings of worthlessness and futility. I’m reminding myself how I always used to exhort my prone-to-misery mother to play the cards that life had dealt her, rather than those she felt herself to deserve, and that any of the people my age who’ve died recently would kill to be in my position. I’m reminding myself of the wise words of Ms. Rita Ovens, the last psychotherapist to whom I appealed for succour (two years ago, in New York): “If your blog has attracted 18 subscribers, you’re going to have to find a way for 18 to be enough.”

I’m heartened by the fact that an old friend of the missus, an accomplished musician, is composing music for the huge armful of lyrics I wrote while relaxing on the edge of the Aegean in May. I’m heartened that the proprietress of nearby Broadstairs’ chicquest bed-and-breakfast has invited me to perform — for actual pay! — my one-man show Wm. Floggin’ Buckley as part of her series of showcases of local talent.

Maybe I’ll get through this.  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LGBT: Let's Get Behind 'Torum!

As a Santorum supporter, I am commonly asked if I share the candidate’s fear that the legalization of gay "marriage" will lead inexorably to wholesale bestiality and other even more unspeakable perversity. In candour, I do not, but only because the vast majority of Americans now reside in urban and suburban environments in which they rarely encounter the sorts of animals that are good for sex, such as sheep and a couple of the more docile breeds of goat. I do of course accept that once a man has rammed his lubricant-coated procreative organ into another man’s anus, only a fool or so-called progressive would suggest he might have few qualms about ramming it into livestock, just as a woman who has stimulated another woman’s clitoris with her tongue is apt never to look at a stallion in the same way again.

That I don’t believe that homosexuality leads inexorably to bestiality doesn’t mean that I don’t recognise the homosexual's natural promiscuity. We are forever being deluged by stories of so-called gay couples who’ve been together 37 years, since they were sophomores in college, and asked why such a couple isn’t allowed to marry while a secular homosexual like Kim Kardashian or Newt Gingrich is. What’s never mentioned is that over the course of those 37 years, the homosexuals have probably had countless hundreds of affairs between them — not all, as we've seen, with other human beings. Do you suppose they stay at home in the evening, watching Glee with bowlfuls of microwave popcorn? Hardly. They are out dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive at garish discotheques, or wearing different-hued handkerchiefs in their back pockets at leather bars. And on the rare evening that fatigue or illness or lack of cabfare does keep them home, you may be assured it isn’t with popcorn, but with amyl nitrate.

If the homosexual kept his promiscuity to himself, or between him and his countless partners, it would be one thing. But study after study has affirmed that he enjoys nothing more than “turning” a normal Christian young person into a pervert exactly like himself, usually as a way of getting back at the so-called straight world for ridiculing or otherwise bullying him or her in adolescence.

The homosexual commonly prides himself on his taste, but one need look only at his flag to realise that gay tastefulness is an invention of the liberal media; rather than a subtle grey, it garishly contains all colours of the rainbow. Where’s the great tastefulness in being unable to decide on only one, or a complementary pair? When the homosexual does deign to imitate heterosexual style, as during the period when every gay man on earth had short hair and a mustache like Freddie Mercury’s, there’s invariably something palpably ironic about it. The mustache will be rather too carefully trimmed, or the hair too artfully cut. The body odour won’t be the result of honest toil — the homosexual sweats only when at the gym — but a designer fragrance.

You may have heard about something called lipstick lesbians, but the feminine female homosexual too is a creation of the liberal Jewish media. Your genuine lesbian is actually more masculine than most normal heterosexual men, stocky, close-cropped, and with a gait that suggests bellicosity. She enjoys softball and bowling, and reeks of cigarettes and testosterone. She cannot cook or sew, but can plumb. She is no threat to livestock, but for anatomical, and not moral, reasons.

As for the transgendered, it is my belief that no such thing actually exists — though I am of course aware of RuPaul — and that the liberal media dreamed the whole idea up in an attempt to make so-called gays and lesbians seem relatively more palatable. It didn’t work.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sen. Santorum Solves the Illegal Immigration Problem

There have been been nearly as many proposed solutions to the problem of undocumented aliens pouring into our country looking for low-paying, degrading, and often dangerous work (removing asbestos — that sort of thing) as national politicians. For several years, I favoured the idea of rounding up all the undocumented residents of the country and getting them to join hands along the length of the Mexican border. This would have had the dual benefits of getting them out of our cities and making it difficult for others like them to scurry into Texas and Arizona and so on in dead of night. But I recognise Sen. Santorum’s newly unveiled idea as far superior.

As you probably know, the senator fervently opposes abortion, even when medical science (how I hate even to think that word, let alone type it) is pretty sure that woeful birth defects will be present. In many cases, these defects involve deficient organs. Sen. Santorum’s idea is to offer undocumented aliens amnesty in exchange for access to their and their children’s transplantable organs — their hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers, pancreases, and spleens. In rare cases, as when a real American has been burned or involved in a tragic accident or a war in Afghanistan, they might also be called upon to give up their faces, facial transplantation having accelerated markedly in the 21st century.

We’re forever hearing about how the Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, or other who sneaks into the country has done it principally to benefit his or her family. The Santorum plan offers such persons an opportunity to put their money where their mouths are, so to speak. Want a better future for little Dieguito? Allow your ticker to be harvested for implantaion into an actual native American (as in born here, preferably to two white parents, rather than the tomahawk sort) with heart disease.

Speaking of facial transplantation, it’s obviously in its early stages; those who have their faces replaced generally look less alluring than terrifying. In a decade, though, I predict surgeons will have greatly refined the technique, and expect that women and vain men will have their visages changed as casually as they have their breasts enlarged today. Cosmetic surgeons’ reception areas will be filled with plain janes looking through glossy sample books depicting the various looks on offer. In every club and discotheque, there will be multiple Angelina Jolies. The boardrooms of major corporations will be lousy with George Clooney lookalikes.

The great benefit of which is that personality will come to enjoy the paramount importance the parents and other comforters of the plain have long falsely ascribed to it. Nearly everyone will look sensational, so young men will decide in whom to deposit their seed on the basis of how charming or even bright a prospective partner is.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sen. Santorum and the Sanctity of All Human Life

After church yesterday, my colleagues Earle and I — Jennifer felt she needed to have her fingernails attended to, though they looked fine to me and Earle — travelled to Sniffingham, in the southeast corner of the county, to talk about Sen. Rick Santorum’s compelling conservative vision of the American future with Wally and Deb F—, originally from Fresno, California. The couple repatriated to the UK in 2006 because of their adoration of the music of James Blount, apparently not realising that the singer/songwriter had himself moved to Los Angeles, whose name most Brits are unable or unwilling to pronounce properly; mispronouncing foreign place names is Brits’ second favourite recreation, after alcoholism. Wally works as an author of adult ebooks, while Deb devotes herself to home-schooling their mentally disabled daughter Nancy, whose biological father is the uncaught rapist who lowered the boom on Deb one night in 1998 in the parking lot of the Fresno Stop-n-Spend, where Deb worked as a product demonstrator. Deb believed then what Sen. Santorum has bravely gone on record as believing now — that a child conceived via rape is no less a gift from God than those conceived by a married couple with the lights out in the missionary position, with neither experiencing pleasure beyond that of doing God’s work.

If the sanctity of not-yet-born human life were the only issue, then, the F—s’ vote for Sen. Santorum would be what is commonly called a slam dunk, even though that term comes from basketball, a sport dominated by non-white athletes. But they turned out to have other concerns. Wally, for instance, is troubled by the Senator’s having been endorsed by the late folk rock singer Bono, who is of course very much alive. Given their druthers, in fact, the couple would vote eagerly for Gov. Sarah Palin.

As you can imagine, this revelation caused me no little delightt, as Gov. Palin has no more avid a supporter on the planet than I. But my first priority is of course to help remove from office the Kenyan-born socialist extremist whose idea of sound domestic policy is to redistribute the wealth of hard-working white Americans to swarthy welfare cheats who will use their new riches to buy crack and folk rock CDs and abortions, and at the moment Sen. Santorum seems to be the most viable Republican. On his way out to the garden for a smoke, my colleague Earle shot me a look that said, “I’m well aware you would prefer to rhapsodise about Gov. Palin almost until it’s too late for us to catch our train home, but we must remain on task here,” so I didn’t let on how much I’m secretly hoping that Sen. Santorum and Gov. Romney will be deadlocked going into the big convention in Tampa in August, and that the party will implore Gov. Palin to accept its nomination.

In the end, I was able to persuade each of the F—s to buy a Santorum Brown 2012 badge for £1.50 each. Wally bristled a bit, musing, “So what’s your markup on these bad boys, around a million percent?” I told him I didn’t have the actual figures in front of me, and that I would far sooner have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy, LOL, and urged him to bear in mind that the money would help ensure that future rapists’ children get to enjoy the same chance at life that he and I and Earle and Deb had all had, and he seemed mollified.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Running Mate for Sen. Santorum

Why, at the beginning and end of debates, do politicians who’ve been spending millions of dollars trying to convince TV viewers that their opponents are the lowest form of human life beam at those opponents as though at long-lost friends? They seem to imagine they weill be seen as fantastically good sports, the sort with whom one might wish to shoot nine holes on a weekend afternoon. They’re mistaken. What it makes them appear is horribly two-faced. If they genuinely find their opponents so deeply odious, how can they bear even to be on the same stage with them?

Back in the days before my conversion to social conservatism, there wasn’t much about John McCain I didn’t loathe, but I sort of admired that he made no bones about his loathing of Obama.

Wouldn’t a significant portion of the American electorate be even more likely to think, “My kinda guy!” if Candidate 1, whose poll numbers have plunged since Candidate 2 received a huge donation from some rich Zionist and began running a series of ads depicting Candidate 1 as a lowlife nincompoop who secretly likes the idea of sodomists being allowed to marry livestock, opened the debate by breaking Candidate 2’s nose? Who’s the faggot now, bitch? And given the power of the NRA and the ongoing popularity of movie action heroes and hip hop, wouldn’t Candidate 2 stand to make himself look manly and decisive and a very firm supporter of the Second Amendment by lovingly placing his Glock on the rostrum before him while inviting Candidate 3 to make his day?

Americans love martial arts movies too, of course, but in the face of American xenophobia (we don’t much cotton to the idea of a French-speaking president), a candidate might be doing himself no good whatever laying out his opponents with a few karate or other Asian-conceived kicks. Real American men don’t kick, not unless they’re outnumbered by at least six to one.

Real American men hate feminism, and know how to discourage their women from getting any stupid ideas about embracing it. After his recent Grammys performance, during which he oozed sexiness, the girlfriend beater and singer Chris Brown inspired mass longing among the nation’s womenfolk, a great many of whom tweeted that a bloodied nose and a few loosened teeth would be a small price to pay to party with him. Sen. Santorum might do very well to consider him as a running mate. If the Democrats object, as they surely will, on the grounds that Brown isn’t legally old enough for the vice presidency, the Santorum campaign can spin their doing so as racist. There are few things we social conservatives enjoy more than accusing the other side of racism.

Friday, February 24, 2012

American Expats for Santorum - Day 1

I began working for American Expatriates for Santorum in earnest yesterday, and it was by turns exhilarating and frustrating — exhilarating because it feels so good, so right, to have committed myself to the causes of decency and American exceptionalism, the second because there are so few prospective converts in Kent, the county on whose coast I reside. Such notables as Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and the mathematician and philosopher Alfred Whitehead were all born in Kent, mostly in the London suburbs in the county’s northwest corner, not to mention The Beatles, David Beckham, Michael Jordan, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Ali, and H. G. Wells, but AES could give me and my colleagues the contact details of only 117 Americans of voting age here, so we spent most of our day on buses and trains, rather than changing hearts and minds, as I’d have much preferred.

My male colleague, Earle, is in his late fifties, which is to say that he seems rather a whippersnapper to me, though the bags under his morose, colourless eyes are those of a septuagenarian who doesn’t get enough sleep. Back in his native Maryland (a name the British are strangely unable to pronounce), he owned a model airplane shop, and later served several years in prison for an inappropriate relationship with one of his customers, 11 at the time it began, male, and obsessive about such World War II-era British aircraft as the Hawker Typhoon. But if one can, as I have, accept that Speaker Gingrich, for instance, has come to Christ following many years as a fornicator, why can he not accept that Earle has genuinely foresworn pederasty? Indeed, my problem with him isn’t his criminal past, but the fact of his being a smoker, which doesn’t make him the most fragrant person near whom to sit on the train from Sniffingham to Headcorn, for instance.

On meeting our female colleague, Jennifer Erics, I reflexively asked if she got teased about her name. She had no idea what I was talking about. Generic, I said, winking. She still didn’t get it, and I decided I’d been foolish to presume that she, a la Aniston, at least in the checkout stand tabloids, is called Jen. She is very attractive in that hanging-on-for-dear-life way of women in their deep 40s, with a coiffure not seen since the early 1970s, and fingernails on whose maintenance I would bet she spends a great deal of money. I think she may be alcoholic, though it isn’t mine to judge, but not a smoker, and for that I am grateful. Often there is lipstick on her teeth, but I haven’t said anything, having put her far too much on the defensive as it is with the joke about her name. I believe she wears a push-up brassiere, and know for a fact that, having been aborted herself early in her mother’s second trimester, she was drawn to Sen. Santorum by his having condemned abortion more strongly than all the other candidates combined.

Our first visit was to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles D—, in Hurling, down the A2014 from Tonbridge. The couple retired to the UK rather than Florida because Chuck, a lifelong depressive, likes dampness and gloom. Mrs. D—, who insisted we call her Ruth, was palpably delighted by our visit; her and Chuck’s only contact with other Americans these days is via Skype, which they don’t know how to use, and all they have is dial-up, and all their now-adolescent grandchildren ever seem to talk about anymore is whether they can "borrow" money. The couple have apparently been leaning toward Romney for the simple reason that he’s by far the handsomest of the remaining Republicans. Ruth acknowledges that looks are a crap reason to favour a particular candidate, but argues that all politicians, even social conservatives, are lying, thieving whores anyway, so why not favour the one easiest on the eyes. “Last time I looked,” she chuckled, her own a-twinkle, “it wasn’t against the law in this country for an old woman to fantasise,” whereupon Earle excused himself to step into the garden for a smoke, and Jennifer reflexively poo-poohed the idea of Ruth being old. I’m not sure which country she was actually referring to.

Because her younger daughter, Parvaneh Shahrestaani, owns a fruit stall in Tehran, Ruth is concerned about Gov. Santorum’s belief that the West should bomb Iran. As only another woman could, though, Jennifer pointed out that Sen. Santorum is a lot closer to Gov. Romney than to Speaker Gingrich in the physical allure department, and Ruth agreed to read through the brochures we left behind for her as soon as she roused Chuck long enough to take his medications.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Piper Laurie at the Gates of Dawn

Yesterday was the most momentous of 2012, or whatever year it is now, so far. In the morning, I received my first injection of human growth hormone. In the evening, in a movie I’d never heard of before the missus ordered it on a caprice, I saw a bully forcing a smaller, weaker classmate to eat a urinal cake. In the middle, I decided which Republican presidential candidate to support. I also had three square meals and received medical treatment from the National Health medical treatment.

I have been reading in Vanity Fair about HGH therapy now being very popular in Hollywood, on whose outskirts I used to reside. My understanding is that it restores one’s handsomeness and virility, and that no less than Sylvester Stallone, whose work I have always admired so much (Rocky XI and all the Rambo movies being especial favourites), was recently found at an Australian airport to travel with a suitcase full of the stuff. It has now been 31 years since a woman I didn’t know from Adam, or Eve, slipped me her phone number as I returned to my table in a Los Angeles restaurant from the gentlemen’s room, and I won’t deny that I miss it — not the gentlemen’s room, but the advances of strange women. Not 16 hours later after my first injection, the ghastly creases that have in the past decade come to make my forehead so unsightly look slightly shallower, my speaking voice has become more resonant and authoritative, and I feel like ambling down to the harbour, here spelled as I have just spelled it, and starting a fistfight with a longshoreman, though I think they call them something else here, and though I think they are ordinarily found not at harbours, but at docks.

The treatment is expensive, but what price peace of mind? For the time being, because I inherited a nice chunk of change when my mother died in 2007, and I am very (all right, maddeningly) circumspect about money, I can afford it. I don’t want, as an even older man, to have to throw myself on the state’s mercy, but I equally don’t want to die with a lot of money in the bank. Most people will tell you they prefer not to know when they’re going to re-join Jesus, but how can one who doesn’t make sound fiscal decisions?

In the afternoon, I decided, after months of agonised to-ing and fro-ing, that I would support Sen. Rick Santorum for the presidency. Knowing that I am an avid Palinist, attentive readers will wonder why I have chosen Sen. Santorum over Speaker Gingrich, whom Gov. Palin herself has endorsed. They are both Catholics, and both men of great rectitude, which is in no way to be construed as a reference to their rectums, of which I lack all personal knowledge, and hope to continue to do so. It’s just that the senator is more youthful and dynamic, and has a spouse who didn't fornicate with him adulterously for half a dozen years while he was married to another, as the fetching Callisa Gingrich did with Newt. Also, I am uncomfortable with Speaker Gingrich’s campaign being bankrolled in significant part by a Jewish proprietor of Las Vegas casinos. Also, I believe Sen. Santorum to have articulated a uniquely compelling vision of the American future.

I had hoped, of course, that, on learning of my decision to join it, the Santorum campaign would fly me back to America, and get me ringing doorbells in swing states, and perhaps the odd bebop one as well, but they don’t have Sheldon Adelson writing them million-dollar cheques at the drop of a hat, and advised that, at least in the short term, I would have to ring the doorbells of fellow American expatriates here in the United Kingdom. Bad news, as the last time I interacted with other American expatriates, at a Thanksgiving get-together in London in around 2006, I didn’t enjoy it, as they’d all become sufficiently anglicised while living here to drink themselves stupid before the first course was served, and thus less receptive to my zany flights of fancy, my puns and hyperboles and what-have-you.

In any event, we proceeded after dinner to watch the little-noted (as in worldwide box office earnings of $4327) Hesher, about a heavy metal psychopath who inserts himself into the lives of a grief-stricken family in what looked to be one of the less salubrious backwaters of southern California. I felt sure the title character would wind up teaching the urinal cake-eating 12-year-old Valuable Lessons about What It Means to Be a Man, but he didn’t, not really, and I liked that. I liked also that the doomed grandmother in the story turned out to have been played by Piper Laurie, whom I’m old enough — hence the need for human growth hormone therapy, you see — to remember as Paul Newman’s love interest in The Hustler.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Deporting the Poor

Writer. Composer. Videographer. Husband. Father. Brother. Senior Vice President, Development. Taxpayer. Conscience of his generation. Contact lens wearer. Voter. Allergy sufferer. There are many things you can call me, but first you must call me a patriot, by which I do not mean expatriate. They’re two different things — they are apples and oranges, Beatles and Stones, chalk and cheese, as my present neighbours would probably prefer.

I am full of non-alcoholic cider and love for country. I have never been prouder to be an American than I am this morning after the passage of the historic Deportation of the Disadvantaged Act, whereby those Americans living below the poverty line must choose, within one calendar year, between being deported to Liberia and making their eyes, lungs, hearts, livers, and kidneys available for harvest by the rich’s personal physicians.

I by no means wish blindness or death from organ failure on fellow members of the privileged classes, but I will admit to hoping that the vast majority of the poor opt for deportation. I am sick to death of seeing them loading their shopping carts with highly caloric junk food in the Korean-owned supermarkets in which they shop. I am sick of their causing traffic jams in the decades-old, pollution-spewing luxury cars they buy with their welfare checks, and of reading about the moronic, semiliterate tweets with which they befoul the ether. I am sick of their producing most of the nation’s running backs and soldiers and Jerry Springer guests. I am sick of their exclaiming on such shows, “But I couldna gotten Sha’niq’ua pregnant; we only partied the one time!”

(The misplaced “only” is the champagne and caviar of grammatical mistakes, an Ivy League-educated rich person’s mistake. You will see it in the glossiest magazines, those that reek of perfume samples, those with high-priced copy editors in bowties. We partied only the one time.)

If the poor imagine their living conditions are woeful now, let’s see how they feel about Liberia, where the average annual income is less than $4, and where the national dish is boiled sewage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[My Music, Not That You Asked] — I Quake

[Decades hence, I will surely be celebrated posthumously as one of the great songwriters of the last quarter of the 20th century, and of the first quarter of the 21st. But I see no reason why we shouldn’t begin a detailed consideration of my oeuvre right now, while I’m still around and able to comment.]

So this Miranda Lambert person, who apparently isn’t a character on Sex and the City, but a country singer, was miffed at this Chris Brown person’s being featured at the Grammys, and tweeted that he needed to listen to her song about domestic violence.

Well, I’ve got a song about domestic violence of my own. I wish I were able to play you a version with a woman singing it, as nature intended, but the right woman hasn’t come along in the seven or so years since I composed it, so all the singing is my own. (No pitch correction software was harmed in the recording, but not for lack of trying; I was just never able to get Autotune to work as advertised.) The backing track is of course an homage to Memphis’s Stax Records, though there will almost certainly be those who will imagine, as ever, that I am trying to sound like The Kinks. (Because I wrote adoringly about them before I completely stopped liking them, circa 1971, people have traditionally imagined that I am trying to sound like The Kinks. No such thing has ever been the case. Which of course isn't to deny that I have aspired to write songs as heartbreaking as Shangri-La.)

I find that I can quite vividly remember moments of inspiration, in which the creative process was pretty nearly unconscious, many years after the fact. I remember very clearly being in the upper deck of a London bus in a roundabout just south of Marble Arch, talking to the missus about her brother, when I say the wrong thing and I get slapped/ There is no right thing that I can say/ I feel trapped/ This territory’s unmapped came to me all at once, in one lovely piece.

Lyrically, I was writing for a British audience. Keeping schtum is equivalent to the American keeping mum. When Brits go to the pub, they order their lager and beer by the pint. Going mental means going crazy.

I’ve never struck a woman, not even when one was striking me with all her might, not even after the one tried to put her cigarette out in my face. Not even, come to think of it, when another made me watch the second Sex and the City movie with her.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[My Music, Not That You Asked] - Sadie Sings' Wombats

[Decades hence, I will be celebrated posthumously as one of the great songwriters of the last quarter of the 20th century, and of the first quarter of the 21st. But I see no reason why we shouldn’t begin a detailed consideration of my oeuvre right now, while I’m still around and able to comment.]

Not long after moving to the UK for the first time, in the summer of 2002, I resolved once more to become a famous producer, a dream I’d entertained briefly in 1973, with the Reform School Girls. I ran an ad somewhere or other and heard, among others, from Sadie Sings (I’d changed her last name, because changing singers’ names is a time-honoured tradition), an extremely pretty young theatre student who also happened to be a real sweetheart. She had a theatre school vibrato, but reminded me a bit of Ronnie Spector.

I wrote the posh girl's rap Wombats for her, about the unlikely fashionability at the time among London and other UK nymphets of jungle combat trousers. This was a rare case of my writing the words first. I got the missus to sing background vocals, and, as ever, did the balance of the backing track myself. I also got Sadie to sing I Hate My Audience, which I’d written on my honeymoon after reading about Roger Waters' penchant for literally spitting in the faces of Pink Floyd audience members. Let me know if you'd enjoy hearing it.

I thought of making a video with Sadie. I thought it might open with her dressed as Alice in Wonderland, and that the camera would pan down to reveal that she was wearing white dominatrix boots with eight-inch heels. But my computer at the time wasn’t powerful enough to edit video very effectively, and dominatrix boots aren’t inexpensive. I contented myself with designing a Website on which I made up an elaborate story about her being the erstwhile scion of French aristocrats. It made Sadie giggle.

I leaned on the famous English producer Chris Thomas, who decades before had produced my own group, Christopher Milk, to give me some English record biz names and contact details. The only one he coughed up was Geoff Travis, at Rough Trade. Geoff wasn’t remotely amused, but at the same time Rough Trade was pushing The Libertines with all its might, and I found The Libertines horrid. I hadn’t much liked The Smiths, his earlier Big Discovery, either.So there.

Monday, February 13, 2012

[My Music, Not That You Asked] - Me at My Worst

[Decades hence, I will be celebrated posthumously as one of the great songwriters of the last quarter of the 20th century, and of the first quarter of the 21st. But I see no reason why we shouldn’t begin a detailed consideration of my oeuvre right now, while I’m still around and able to comment.]

As with virtually all my songs, I composed the music for Me at My Worst before the lyrics. In devising the arrangement, I will now admit that I was inspired by Ms. Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time, which achieved remarkable propulsiveness in spite of its sedate tempo. That which I worked hardest on were the false-alarm endings of the first three verses. I aspired to make the listener feel each time as though the big chorus were imminent, only to make him wait through another verse, and then another. Coitus interruptus! The greatest pop records, and I always think of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline in this context, land on the verse-ending five-seventh chord in a way that makes the arrival of the chorus almost a physical necessity. It was my hope that when my chorus — It turned out that an iron fist… — finally arrived, the listener would experience huge relief, and that it would feel exactly like exhilaration.

Up until the gorgeously evocative Drive, I always detested The Cars, whom I regarded in many key ways as a lame rehash of Roxy Music. And yet you will notice that the second line of the chorus begins with an uh-oh of the sort Mr. Ric Ocasek deployed so implacably. The attentive listener will detect that it’s there simply to provide the additional beat required to make that second line match the first and third metrically. I don't often sink so low!

There are entirely too few good rhymes for love in English.

As for the lyrical subject matter, I had begun corresponding with the thoughtful Englishwoman who would later become my second wife around the time I composed this song. The lyrics were inspired by her account of her 44th birthday celebration at a restaurant in Hampstead, north London. She’d invited the first great love of her adulthood, whom she'd eventually left, with the utmost regret, because of his alcoholism decades before. Although she knew very well that she shouldn’t, she’d been mightily miffed by his bringing along to her party a too-attractive date. Recounting how she’d reacted petulantly to Too-Attractive's being gracious on top of too attractive, she noted, “I used the olive branch to spear the dove,” which I thought far, far too good not to use in a song.

This is from my self-produced 2002 album Sex With Twins, the first I recorded with modern music software, in this case Logic, which enabled me to do the instrumental backing track on my own. My daughter Brigitte, who hadn’t yet stopped speaking to me, found the idea repulsive, so I changed twins to twinge.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Visit Egypt

It’s tricky leaving a very cold place for a week’s holiday in a supposedly very warm one. You don’t want to freeze while waiting for the bus to the train station, or while awaiting connecting trains, but you also hardly want to land in Egypt weighed down by the gigantic hooded winter coat you bought during your brief self-banishment to Wisconsin. You wear a hooded sweatshirt, resolve to think warm thoughts, and hope for the best.

The first train takes you through a panoply of wondrous places with names like Pluckley and Headcorn and Wye. When the soothing recorded voice on the intercom advises, “Our next stop will be Wye,” it is quite impossible not to think, “Well, why not?” When you arrive in Tonbridge, though, there to await the train to Redhill, there to await the train to Gatwick Airport, you are too cold for further self-amusement. But wait; they turn out, 100 metres down the platform, to have a heated waiting room, in which perhaps 20 Brits are doing what they do best, at least while in transit — pretending not to notice each other’s presence.
At last you arrive at Gatwick, in whose vicinity you will spend the night because you’d never have made it from easternmost Kent in time for tomorrow morning’s early-ish flight, and decide to abandon the second person, from this point onward, for the first.

We fly to Sharm El-Sheikh on easyJet, one of the UK’s two principal budget carriers. We have bought a big bagful of delicacies from Marks & Spencer at the airport because not serving an onboard meal is one of the ways in which easyJet can afford to fly us from the UK to Egypt for a pittance. Because they save further money by not having reserved seating, we are lucky, to get aisle seats in the same row. Once aloft, I listen to Fresh Air podcasts and curse iTunes, by which I remain hopelessly baffled, as I search in vain on my iPad for the Bill Maher shows I had thought myself to have downloaded onto it, but apparently have not. Instead, I watch Final Cut Pro X tutorials. I am a very nervous flyer — even though it has occurred to me that it would in many ways be much preferable to die in a plane crash than from cancer — but there is wonderfully little turbulence.

We land safely in Sharm, the elegance of whose airport surprises me; I’d expected Third World squalor, as in Kuching, Malaysia. A local called Aqmad herds us onto a comfortable coach for our ride to the hotel, en route to which he regales us with his views on polygamy, as practiced even as we speak by Egypt’s Bedouins, and tells us to tip in paper money because the locals dislike coins. Because I have only £20 notes, the locals will have to grin and bear one-pound coins.

We arrive at the hotel, and how delighted I am by its luxuriousness, and by the warmth of the Egyptians who get us all signed up, and who attach bright green plastic bands to our wrists, and by the complimentary glass of orange juice an Omar Sharif doppelganger brings us on a tray. We are taken by golf cart (the resort, comprising multiple dormitories and as many swimming pools as there are lakes in Minnesota, is roughly the size of Rhode Island) to our room, which is huge and swanky, albeit with a window through which one can see easily into the bathroom. We head eagerly for the dining room, using directions supplied by a couple of young men from Moscow, and I am there delighted anew. The hot foods look no more appetising than they did in Tunisia in 2007, but what a gorgeous array of cold salads, and tahini, and hummus! For dessert, I get myself a whole honeydew melon that would cost £3 back in easternmost Kent. It is the sweetest honeydew melon I have ever tasted.

I take a long walk each morning while Spousie snoozes, but there is little to see outside our compound. There are the tawdry souvenir shops, and the Bedouin teenagers hawking camel rides in front of them, and the desperate taxi drivers. Behind the souvenir shops there is only desolation, either great expanses of sand, empty but for trash or the occasional uncompleted edifice. I buy myself a long-sleeved T-shirt from the proprietor of a little shop (actually, a glorified stall) called Jamaica T-shirts. He claims to be Bob Marley. I wasn’t born yesterday, and, moreover, have always regarded Marley as significantly inferior to Jimmy Cliff.

I go alone (Spousie is afraid of being abducted by masked Bedouin gunmen, as two American women were in the area in the past 24 hours) to the actual town of Sharm El-Sheikh, the Old Market. I hope not to be kidnapped (what a prize a Jewish American would be!), and to see the locals living their real lives — buying provisions for their dinners, for instance. I am sorely disappointed. Several shops sell spices, but otherwise it’s all tourist crapola. As I wander around, a couple of shopkeepers try to coax me into their shops. I finally allow one to do so, and quickly regret it, as he makes an extravagant display of disgust after failing to sell me anything. I’d have bought a fez, except my head seems to be larger than the average Egyptian’s, as it is larger than the average American’s.

We go on excursions. We ride quad bikes in the desert, and I think I must be the stupidest person on earth for having imagined I’d be able to do so without discomfort in spite of my hard contacts lenses. By the time we’ve gone a kilometre, I am blinded by the grit in my distance eye (the other is corrected for reading), and by the dust of those ahead. One of our Sherpas keeps pulling up alongside me and exhorting me to close the gap between ourselves and the bike just ahead. Easier said than done when blind, bruv! When finally we stop, I curse myself for not having had the sense to bring along my contact lens case and some wetting solution. I literally spend 10 minutes trying to blink the grit away.

We go star-gazing. We are collected by Aqmad, from the evening of our arrival, in a huge coach. He reminds us of his views on polygamy. From the moment we emerge from the hotel, a local with an ancient huge video camera is braying at us to do this and that, to give him the thumbs-up, for instance; it is customary on these things for them to try to sell you a video of the experience. Little imagining that the missus will prove to want one, I studiously ignore the guy.

We ride camels. Mine is led by an adorable Bedouin tyke named Ahmad, who is enormously solicitous until the moment when, after dismounting, I slip a 10-(Egyptian)-pound note into his little hand. We ascend a slope and observe the sunset. We are treated to dinner, and then invited to buy trinkets. We dance around the old campfire, though no one refers to it as such, and then traipse back into the desert to look at stars through digital telescopes. I am sorely disappointed by the near-barrenness of the heavens, but the missus is delighted by the photo of the moon our Sherpa takes through his digital telescope.

We had hoped to sign up for the overnight excursion to Cairo, passing the pyramids en route, but the Sherpa advises it has been temporarily withdrawn in the wake of the 73 deaths at the football match in Port Said 24 hours before. We content ourselves with a snorkelling excursion on which I see too few fish, and ingest far too much salt water; there seems to be something amiss either with the snorkel I bought myself on Amazon, or with the person using it.

We are home in time for me to enjoy the water slides. I go on the two straight ones, and then on the spiral, whose entrance one can’t see from the pool. Two-thirds of the way down, time stands still as I collide with a little boy of around 10 who apparently imagined it would be fun to traverse the slide backward. I marvel at the horror and embarrassment on his little face. I am able to bellow at him, “How could you be so stupid?” in full before we hit the water. As he staggers away whimpering apologies, holding his head, snivelling, I realise my left hand hurts like the devil; it will remain swollen for the next five days. Even as I write this I am unable to make a fist. What’s the matter with kids today?

We stuff ourselves at dinner, as every night, and then, much later (because someone somewhere decided that discos weren’t discos unless they opened at bedtime), after having imbibed much complimentary (we are on the all-inclusive plan) alcohol, to dance. My body craves a workout, and we dance up a small storm. I have no way of knowing whether it’s admiration or amusement that makes the mouths of the gay Russkis with whom we share the dance floor drop open, but I do know they’re gaping.
Speaking of the Russkis and Ukrainians, who together make up around 90 percent of our resort’s clientele, at every meal they pile their plates high with food, most of which they then proceed to abandon, although none seems old enough to have survived the siege of St. Petersburg. We witness instances of stomach-turning Russki rudeness and high-handedness to our Egyptian waiters and busboys, as sweet a bunch as you’ll find anywhere. Little wonder the Egyptians are said to detest them.

On our penultimate day in south Sinai, the weather goes south. Insistent cool breezes blow, and the sky turns a despairing white. Unable to enjoy the sunshine, we experience intense boredom. Between meals, we lounge in our gigantic room and watch BBC World Service, and see the same news items — about the bombardment of Homs, about the Santorum primary victories, about the cold in central and eastern Europe — over and over and over again. We read, though we don’t very much like the books we’ve brought along. We watch a couple of old movies, with Arabic subtitles that we are quite unable to read, but don’t need to, as we are native English speakers, albeit with a zany accent, in one case.

Collecting us at the hotel, Aqmad reminds us of his views on polygamy. Married himself, he in short believes that one wife is trouble enough for any man. Ta-da-DUM! We fly home. The cold in London isn’t exactly homicidal, but vengefully bitter, and here I am with only my hooded sweatshirt over the long-sleeved souvenir T-shirt I bought from not-Bob Marley.