Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday's end of the week questions.

1. What's the best present you've ever given/ what's the best present you've ever been given?

2. A friend of mine recently wrote "there are 2 kinds of people...people who believe there are two kinds of people, and everyone else." I used to think everyone was either a brat or a bully. An old friend used to say everybody is either a fool or a knave, and another old friend used to say everyone was either a big goon or an evil gnome. Have you ever developed a reductive theory about humankind? Or heard of any that you'd like to share?

3. If you could go back and have a drink with your 20-year-old self, what would you talk about? What advice would you impart?

4. I don't think of myself as superstitious, but somehow I've taught my boys some superstitions I've picked up along the way...If you kill a spider it will rain. SHoes on tables and hats on beds are bad luck. If your nose itches it means somebody is thinking about you (Left = brown-eyed, Right = blue). Are there any superstitions that you grew up with? Are there any that are specific to the region where you live? Any that you actually believe, whether you're willing to admit it or not?

5. (sorry, music-related) If you could be in a band, what would it be called? What kind of music would you play?


goneforeign said...

#3. I'd say "Don't worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: don't worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

'Cos when I was 20 I had no idea, I'd just got out of the RAF and felt that I should be like other people, like I should be a plumber or a carpenter or a something with specific skills, as it was I felt I knew nothing and didn't know what the future held. I had a job at ICI but I felt insecure in it because lots of my workmates had degrees and seemed to understand what they were doing.
Through a series of circumstances I came to the US and fairly quickly everything clicked and one good thing led to another. It turned out that 'every little thing gonna be all right!'

goneforeign said...

#5 And if in my fantasy world I should form a group we'd call it 'One Love' and guess what we'd play.

ShariVari said...

1. I took my other half to Florence for three days earlier this year as a Christmas present. She absolutely loved it, as any sensible person would. The best present i've ever received was probably a wooden rocking horse my grandfather made me when i was four, or so.

2. I don't really go in for a binary view of humanity. The best i can do it probably 'those willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and those unwilling to do so'.

3. I'm ok with learning from my mistakes so i probably wouldn't tell him much. That said, i'd advise against going to Caracas and mention that Yulia Timoshenko's daughter goes to the same university as him and she might be fun to get to know.

4. My father deployed any number of superstitions in an attempt to win the Pools / lottery, without success, sadly. I do the same but in a very self-aware way. I know it's absurd and doesn't make a difference but somehow feel i should be going through the motions. If i can throw a ball of paper towel from one side of the office kitchen to land in the bin on the other, i'll have good luck.

5. It would probably be Euro-pop / Italo-disco. The name would be something awful like Diabolo Menthe.

tincanman said...

1. present?
I have a brother I haven't been close to or in touch much with for 30 years. When he turned 50 I sent him an MP3 player (he's tech illiterate so wouldn't have one) loaded with his favorite kind of music. It would have come totally out of nowhere for him, which is the best present. MP3 player, happy birthday card, no message needed.
Best I've received is my wife took me to see Dave Matthews without knowing who he was and thinking she'd hate him cause he was my 'weird music.' It was awesome, a long-time dream for me, and as a bonus she loved it.

2. Reductive theory.
Without trying to so9und too pithy, some people walk in other people's shoes, others don't. If you do, you don't make 'two kinds of people' sayings.

Celebrate what you have more than you pine for what you don't.

4. superstitions
I ain't, but a black cat took my bone (or whatever the lyric is)
I'm not but Mrs Tin is, and it's a bugger remembering what I'm supposed to do when I put my shirt on inside out etc. I'll do something routine and she'll yell NO!!!!!!!!!!! It will turn out 7 hours and 7 minutes ago I opened the fridge with the wrong hand or something.

5. band?
The Aubergine Conspiracy. I'd take old American drifter songs and grunge the fuck out of them.

ejaydee said...

1. I'm not sure what's the best present I've ever given, you'd have to ask the recipient. I try to forget most of them because I always assume my presents are unsuccessful. The best present I've got was a Sega MegaDrive, (Genesis in the US), my older brother used to talk about it, but I was never quite sure what was this MegaDrive he was talking about, was it a joystick? What's 16-bit? Then while my dad was shopping for books I saw it, the MegaDrive. Ah so it was a game console. I made myself believe that I wanted one, told my father about it, and he bought it. I was flabberegasted. It was nowhere near my birthday or Christmas, my father never gave us more than a book or a Disney record outside of the accepted dates.

2. I too don;t like this 2 kinds of people thing, but if pushed I'd try and reduce it too people who are considerate and people who aren't.

3. I'd sing him some Diana Ross:
"DO you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?"

4. Last year I went superstition crazy with the football, and it didn't do any good. This year I forgot to wear the right socks, underwear, shirt, etc, and it's been working pretty well. Of course as soon as it turns bad, I might revert to useless habits. I also sometimes challenge bad luck superstitions, like open an umbrella inside, or walk under a ladder, and stupidly it provides a little thrill. I'm more accepting of "good luck" superstitions because there's no harm, and you might as well give it a go.

5. It would be a band like Parliamaent/Funkadelic: same players, different name, different music. Maybe we could call ourselves Senate/Psychunky.

DarceysDad said...

1. Funnily enough, I reckon two of the contenders for given / received happened within 24 hours of each other. Before Christmas 2000, when all was still harmonious in DsMam's family, I'd actually registered and mentally-filed a wistful conversation I overheard between Julie and her sister. They'd commented about the AquaSana at CenterParcs, specifically about how it would be nice to be pampered without the credit card suffering GBH. A bit of a late-night google found a beautiful countryhouse spa hotel with a twin-room offer on that I could just about afford without having to raid the joint account. That weekend was a family get-together, and I mentioned it to one brother-in-law within earshot of the other brother-in-law. Neither had got Christmas for his missus sorted, so I was sent off to source a best-price for all three sisters. Then I got lucky and inspired. The hotel price list included an eye-wateringly expensive suite, taking up the whole end of one wing. Don't ask me why, but I asked about it, and it turned out it had two twin bedrooms in it. Julie, both sisters, and their mum could have a four-night stay in that for a price that - divvied up between the three sons-in-law - was cheaper than the weekend I'd originally looked at for Julie. I printed up four cards (identical but individual) to go into envelopes for under the respective trees. The cards didn't mention the gift being for more than one person. The multiple telephone conversations between three households on Christmas Day, as the penny dropped with the ladies, told us fellas we'd ALL scored big time!!! Bonus points were awarded for originality, as that overheard initial conversation turned out to be pure coincidence, not a hint. And for double bonus points, we hadn't asked our father-in-law for a contribution, but we did include him in the giving, thus saving him his annual grief of stepping outside his frugal-farmer comfort zone.
The only downer when they finally got to the hotel was that Julie couldn't have a lot of the treatments, because on the Christmas Eve, she'd given me a present of a small plastic tube with two blue lines on it: child No.1 - DarceysSis - was on her way!!!

Time to pick up Darce from school: back later for the rest.

nilpferd said...

1. Received- from Sandra, a jacket top she designed and sewed herself. Still about the only piece of clothing I have which doesn't make me look like a complete Gawk. Says I.
Sandra says the best thing I gave her was a strange half german half english nonsense rap poem I wrote onto a long strip of paper and wrapped around a bottle of Laphroaig.
2. I tend to sort people into likeable/unlikeable pretty quickly, based on completely arbitrary properties. I very rarely move them afterwards. Call me a Hippocrit if you will.
3. I think I would have judged my 20-yr old self unlikeable, and would just have sent him an e-mail. I'd have reassured him he wasn't such an oddball as he thought he was, but neither was he God's gift to anybody. I'd also have given him a particular address in Bucharest to meet up with Sandra a couple of years in advance. But I think I'm making an unlikeably manipulative impression of myself here.
4. We combine a nice selection of Scottish and Romanian superstition. Sandra hates spiders, never re-enters the flat having just left it, and has a pathological fear of breaking mirrors.
I don't like to see umbrellas open inside, am able to cause NZ wickets to fall simply by viewing the latest score, and a certain indefinite sense of karma keeps me from killing insects, kicking people when they are down, or crossing if the lights are red. I also tend not to verbalise "very hoped for things" in case they don't come true. Not sure where that all comes from.
5. Well, obviously it would be grungey, electronic ambient garage turbo hip-hop tsigane jazz, and I'd probably stick with the Ko ko mo- I love you so moniker, for reasons of superstition, and hopefully so that I could hire the Ko Ko Mo girls as backing singers.

Abahachi said...

Dammit, lengthy post just disappeared into the ether, and I don't have time to reconstruct it. Brief answers to a couple:

2.Obviously, there are cat people and dog people.

4.Knee-jerk rationalist, me. My mother-in-law salutes magpies to ward off bad luck.

5.Some sort of pretentious post-rock would be fun.

DarceysDad said...

2. Cat people vs. dog people is an old chestnut I actually have quite a bit of faith in. Cat lovers start their relationship with me at a distinct advantage. Don't worry, steenbeck & goneforeign, you have both MORE than made up the deficit!!
I have a work one now - people who can get to grips with rear-wheel steer vs. people who can't. I sometimes wish it was an allowed question on the application forms for jobs as FLT operators; it would save me a whole lot of grief!

3. BUY PROPERTY! Sell it all when you get married. Other than that, I don't think I'd be imparting advice; I think we'd talk mostly football and music.

4. I only have one superstition I take seriously - wear one of my Liverpool football shirts on matchday. Very, VERY scarily, different circumstances have prevented me from doing that over the last couple of weeks, and we've lost four in a row!! Rest assured I will be wearing about six shirts at once this weekend.

5. I'd love to be the honorary fiftieth member of Willard Grant Conspiracy, but that's not what you meant. The best name we could come up with at school was The Swinging Plumsacks, thus guaranteeing we'd never get any airplay. Probably a good job, because if I'm in the band, we must be rubbish!! Back then it was going to be jerky Talking Heads stuff, with revolutionary lyrics. These days it would be altogether gentler, in tone and subject matter.

nilpferd said...

The GU world is of course divided into those people who "recommend" their own posts, and those who don't.

DaddyPig said...

1)The first Christmas Helen (MummyPig) and I were together, and baby Benjamin was already on the way, I gave her tickets to see the musical of Mary Poppins in London, and Fraser Bear. Helen was getting far too attached to the teddy bear we'd bought for baby-on-the-way whilst on honeymoon, so I thought I'd best find her one of her own. Fraser is a family member now, and often my only drinking companion on a Friday evening. Mary Poppins was our first proper night out as parents, and Benjy's first bedtime with a babysitter (thanks Auntie Debbie !).

2) Not exactly a reductive theory of humankind, but I like the opposition of, "knowledge is power" with "ignorance is bliss".

3) If my 40-year-old self had a drink with my 20-year-old self, he'd have said very firmly to stop pretending that being single is best, and that getting laid doesn't matter, because it would only get lonelier and more difficult, and you don't have eternity to sort it out. But my 45-year old self would then have to go back to have a drink with my 40-year-old self and say that it's all working out OK.

4. Somewhere in yesterday's Guardian, there was a quote along the lines of contentment always being wrapped around a little core of anxiety about loss. I find myself at times pointlessly worrying over some of the worst-case scenarios, and I wonder if that's a kind of superstitious activity. Or the kind of worrying that superstitions and rituals can sometimes help with ? Believing we can somehow protect ourselves from unlikely but dreadful random events, by a certain kind of worrying over them ?

5) Probably the band that my 20-year old self was in, when I was unencumbered by the knowledge that I'm not that fantastic a piano player. I still believed that the full repertoire of reggae, soul, rock'n'roll, jazz, funk & punk (as Rock Against Racism used to say) had something to gain from my interpretation. I probably played better from having that over-confidence; you see, knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss !

We had several names, sort of settling on "The Hard-Core Prawns".

ejaydee said...

4. I forgot that I never look at my watch if I'm running late to catch a train. I feel that worrying about it jinxes it. Now that I think of it, I tend to follow the way of the jinx. It only creates bad vibes.

Chris said...

Good questions, steen!
1. The best present I received was definitely my first electric guitar. I'd pestered for ages but the successful outcome was just exhilarating!
I'd agree with ejay, you'd have to ask those on the receiving end which of my presents were any good. But I think my son was quite pleased with the Technics decks I bought him (guiltily) after his Mum and I separated.
2. I thought Team America: World Poilce proved there were three types: dicks, pussies, and assholes? But seriously, I'm still shocked and disappointed when I realise that, in all areas of life, so many people seem to prefer a good story to a good fact.
3. I took up with the woman who appears in question 1 when I was 20. I have an idea what I'd say but a) I don't know if that would be the right thing to do, and b) I doubt my 20-year old self would listen properly.
4. I have been brought up with some standard superstitions (knocking on wood, avoiding ladders, not spilling salt) but I have managed to put them to one side now, I think. I can't help but believe in some sort of karma idea, though, despite it being just a good story....
5. I did play in a couple of bands in ancient times and know how difficult the naming process is. I suppose these days I'd be in some kind of GD-inspired thing and would search for an appropriate lyric or song title that hadn't already been used by all the other GD-inspired bands.

Japanther said...

good Q's Steenbeck..

1. Not sure about given, but received-wise i've got 3. When I was a teenager, my Mum came back from a holiday to Turkey with a pirated cassette of the Sex Pistols' "Never Mind The Bollocks" as a souvenir- I was into grunge, so she thought it was all the same- i'd never heard anything like it and couldn't believe that anyone who so obviously didn't even try to sing could release a record. I loved it! And still do.
The next was the record player I got from my Dad as a 21st Birthday present; ignited my love affair with vinyl. The third (which i've mentioned before) is the original 7" of "Goody Goody Gumdrops" by The 1910 Fruitgum Company given to me by Mrs Japanther after a casual conversation that pretty much sealed our budding relationship. Erm....i've just realised that all 3 are music related...hmm....

2. not people but things. I like to divide into "things that rock" and "things that suck". Simple as that.

3. I'd tell him to get his arse over to Japan sooner rather than later. I'm sure we would have a right old chinwag about music and i'd have to reveal that Menswe@r DON'T go on to become the world conquering megastars they so deserved to be...

4. I'm really superstitious and Japan has got a lot too, so between us, it's a wonder we get anything done! I won't walk over 3 consecutive drain covers. I won't cut my toenails at night (a Japanese one) and if there is even a chance passing of food between our chopsticks by accident at dinner, Mrs J goes absolutely crazy!! (another Japanese one related to the fact that relatives pass the bones of the recently cremated loved one between themselves using (unusually large) chopsticks at funerals)

5. As I teenager,me and a mate formed an imaginary band called Ferocious John and named our album "Unnecessary Violence". Nowadays, I think i'd like to have a death metal band and call it something like Ruptured Innards....

Abahachi said...

1.Not sure about presents given, but the best one received was probably the pink T-Mobile cycle top that gordonimmel hates, followed by various of my favourite ties.

3.I don't think I've changed very much in the last twenty years, partly because I was quite middle-aged to start with - you know the way that one is supposed to have a 'natural' or 'intended' age, and thus to spend one's life either moving towards or moving away from the age that one was intended to be. But we would almost certainly have a furious argument about music, as I was then stuck in the 'modern music is a pale re-tread of everything that's gone before' phase, and I now think that's pernicious nonsense. Advice? Seize the opportunity to live abroad for a bit before you start acquiring encumbrances.

5.Having been in a fair number of bands (The Blue Perforations; The Clap...), and adopted innumerable aliases for my solo recordings, it's quite difficult to think of anything new. I've become very comfortable with my most recent alias, Joe Shlabotnik, so I'd probably stick with that.

goneforeign said...

#1. Presents.
The best present? It's not really a present, I'm not sure what it is. It's luck, the good kind. Is it in the DNA? I don't know, but I know I have it, all my life I've been lucky. When I look back it's hard to believe the number of events and situations that have for no obvious reason been to my advantage, plus, touch wood etc, I've never been unlucky.
It's happened in all aspects of life and seems to be directly related to those 'forks in the road' that I keep going on about. When I was a child and up into early adulthood my grandfather often said in his thick Sheffield accent 'If tha' fell in shit, tha'd come out smellin' like a rose'. I wish I knew what causes it, if I did I'd spread it around. I have two friends who're exactly the opposite, nothing goes right for either of them, everything they do has negative consequences. I think Billie says it all:

Them that's got shall get

Them that's not shall lose

So the Bible said and it still is news

Mama may have, Papa may have

But God bless the child that's got his own

That's got his own.

DarceysDad said...

I like to think it's karma, gf. Somewhere in this life or a previous one, you've done enough to deserve it. Long may it continue.

AliMunday said...

Nice questions, Steenbeck.

1. Best presents received - a sewing box full of coloured silks, needles, colour-topped pins, a pair of scissors shaped like a stork, a sparkly tape measure - from my mum, when I was a child. A Walkman from my step-son last Christmas - unusually and unexpectedly thoughtful. And a framed painting of Bristol harbour from my brother on my 50th. Best given - I try to be thoughtful - incredibly expensive bottles of good whiskey have gone down well with my brothers.

2. I try to take as I find, I don't really have a theory.

3. I'd probably talk about music or books or walking. I'd tell me not to spend so much money on booze etc., not to have anything to do with men, not to waste time in jobs I didn't like and not to take family for granted. But I probably wouldn't listen.

4. I used to be very superstitious but I try not to be now - except ... I throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it (to get the devil in the eye), I have been known to salute magpies if no-one is looking and I try not to think about horrible things in case they happen.

5. Anoraks of Fire. We'd play a mixture of bluegrass, blues, folk and rock.

DaddyPig said...

I'd like to be the piano accordion player in Anoraks of Fire, as long as we could take the bluegrass nice and easy (which kind of defeats the object).

I'm starting to feel like an ungrateful slob for not being able to think of my favourite present received. A friend once found a Leeds United beer tankard from the 1970s glory days in a jumble sale for 10p. If the jumble sale had been in Leeds, it might have cost more, but it was in Middlesborough. I drink a pint of water at least twice a day from it, so it keeps me healthy, and as an immigrant to Leeds and late adopter of the team, it helps me feel more like a proper supporter !

steenbeck said...

I love these answers!! Sharivari - love the picture you posted, a very nice horse indeed. I like the idea of Abihachi arguing very rationally with himself and of Ejay singing to himself. Dsd's application question reminded me of the time I worked in a bookstore, and I snuck a question onto the application, "would you rather be an African elephant or an Indian elephant and why?" The applicant answered, but I don't remember what he said. Nilfperd, we have a bottle of Laphroaig that David's mom brought us back from Scotland. I love it a little too much, especially in this cool autumn weather now that people have started to light their fires.

So much more to respond to, but Isaac and I are going for a picnic while the sun is shining.

nilpferd said...

oh, lucky me- I've been given the chance to invoke a local superstition, scherben bringen Glück.. shards bring luck.

(I just dropped a verdammten plate on the floor)

goneforeign said...

Part b of Presents might be the loaded iPod I gave my wife, it's not something she would have bought and now she uses it all the time, in class, driving and at home, plus she now knows how to add new music.
I've sometimes wondered if I lost mine or if it was stolen would the new owner appreciate what a great new resource they had, 5,500 pieces of music, 95% of which they'd probably never before heard of. To me it's value is in what it contains, not in the bit of electronic gadgetry. When the time comes I'd like to give it to someone who'd be curious enough to put it on shuffle and sit back for 50.2 days.

CaroleBristol said...

1. What's the best present you've ever given/ what's the best present you've ever been given?

Interesting. I have had lots of lovely presents over the years, jewellery, kitchen equipment, books, music but undoubtedly the best present I ever received (and it is the same as the best present I ever gave) was at Christmas in 2006. Nicky and I wanted two Westies and we decided to buy them as Christmas presents to each other, so on December the 19th 2006 we headed off to the breeder to pick up our puppies. Easily the best Christmas presents ever.

2. A friend of mine recently wrote "there are 2 kinds of people...people who believe there are two kinds of people, and everyone else." I used to think everyone was either a brat or a bully. An old friend used to say everybody is either a fool or a knave, and another old friend used to say everyone was either a big goon or an evil gnome. Have you ever developed a reductive theory about humankind? Or heard of any that you'd like to share?

When I was about 19 or 20 I went through a spell where I thought that everyone was shallow and horrible, but that was basically because I was depressed and I felt bad about myself. I have learnt over the years to not generalise about people or pigeon-hole them. So, basically, no, I don't have a reductive theory about humankind.

3. If you could go back and have a drink with your 20-year-old self, what would you talk about? What advice would you impart?

Ha! See above. I'd tell myself not to wallow in self pity and to start making an effort to see the good in others and to stop alienating people by being so agressive and withdrawn.

I'd also tell myself to stop trying to kid myself that I was straight and get on with being a lesbian. Following on from that, I'd tell me to stop lusting after gorgeous straight girls who really don't want to explore their non-existent lesbianity and find some girls that actually do want to sleep with me.

4. I don't think of myself as superstitious, but somehow I've taught my boys some superstitions I've picked up along the way...If you kill a spider it will rain. SHoes on tables and hats on beds are bad luck. If your nose itches it means somebody is thinking about you (Left = brown-eyed, Right = blue). Are there any superstitions that you grew up with? Are there any that are specific to the region where you live? Any that you actually believe, whether you're willing to admit it or not?

I am not in the least bit superstitious. I never have been, neither do I have any belief in any kind of supernatural forces or beings. I've never been religious either.

My Mum was pretty superstitious in a kind of traditional way; she had a lucky rabbit's foot and she avoided anything to do with the number 13. She also used to buy heather from the gypsies that called door to door because she believed that they could curse you if you didn't buy it.

5. (sorry, music-related) If you could be in a band, what would it be called? What kind of music would you play?

If I was in a band, it would have to be a punk/metal/goth/alt-rock type of thing. I know that my listening tastes are more hippy/prog/laid-back but I love playing punk and metal riffs and the idea of playing rhythm guitar in a punk/metal band is so appealing to me. It is a case of plug in the Tele, turn up the distortion and riff away at max volume.

Not sure about a name though, it is a tricky one. Ideally it would be an all-female band so maybe "The Maenads" might work?

Excellent questions.

Chris said...

'a mixture of bluegrass, blues, folk and rock.' Gissa job?

goneforeign said...

DsD: You're al;ways kind and generous, I liked your family Christmas tale.

TracyK said...

Great questions Steen!

1: Jon is a master of the thoughtful present: he loves making me well up, so I think he'd term the greatest success the Tara McPherson shirt/David Shrigley shirt combo he got me one Christmas. Vry rare, very cool, very hard to get hold of. The massive chunk of green amber on a pendant is also much loved.
I recently sent my good friend A some books and the soundtrack to Night On Earth, by Tom waits, which completed his Tom collection. It's hard to get, plus we first saw the film together many moons ago, so he was so chuffed he almost cried. Result!

2: My Kind of People and The Rest.

3: Advice 1: the reason men don't chat you up is your bloody awful haircut: stop telling hairdressers to "do what they want" with it, it's ugly. Just grow it and everything will be much better.
Advice 2: D is not deep and interesting, he's just pretentious. Avoid.
Advice 3: R is not edgy and exciting, he will in the future be diagnosed as a manic depressive and he will play games with you for fun. Avoid.
Advice 4: You are completely right about F, he will indeed break you into a million bloody pieces in exactly the way you predict, but dear god, it'll be worth it. Plus, the night in the cottage in Moriah? He can't sleep because you are the other side of the wall either. Go and get him, at least you'd be warm.

4: Magpies, mainly. A discreet lick of a finger qualifies as spitting in my book and a little salute, and it's averted.

5: I was (very briefly, ie one rehearsal) the singer for my mates' band The Rat Babies. We were Echobelly before their time, except the drummer kept speeding up and our bassist was tone deaf. If I could choose, I'd be in an alt/indie band along the lines of Belly or Throwing Muses, maybe calling ourselves Angry Vagina Music...

treefrogdemon said...

Terrific questions, steenbeck!

1 My father was notoriously hard to buy presents for. We all tried and tried. One Christmas he got nothing but chocolate, because everyone had fallen back on the sure-fire winner. I did succeed once, however. My parents, when they'd got rid of all the kids, moved to Welham Green, near Hatfield in Herts, a small dormitory town with only one claim to fame: a Zeppelin had fallen on it during WW1. There was a spot there called (informally) Balloon Corner. My father had found out about this and used to tell all his friends about it.

When I was living in Shrewsbury (150 miles or so from Welham Green) I looked in a junkshop window one day and spotted an unusual and puzzling object. I went inside and asked what it was. The shopkeeper said it was a cigarette lighter, and it had a plaque on it that said what it was made out of. The plaque said that it was a piece of the Zeppelin that had fallen on Welham Green, Herts, in 1917.

My father was no longer a smoker by then, but he loved his present and got it out at every opportunity so he could tell people about it. I don't know what happened to it, though - it wasn't with his stuff when he moved in with me. Maybe he'd given it to his former next-door neighbour so she could amaze HER friends with it too.

Best present I've received? Got to be the road trip Matt took me on for my 60th birthday. For new readers: I always hope to see the Gourds at least once whenever I visit Texas. This year, the nearest they were playing was Amarillo, which is 600 miles from where Matt lives. He worked out an itinerary that would take us to Shamrock (which the Gourds helped make a film about), along part of Route 66, to the Cadillac Ranch (immortalised in song by Bruce Springsteen), to see the Gourds, and then take us home via Lubbock, birthplace of Buddy Holly. 1300 miles in all. Nothing's going to top that.

2 Well, there's me...and then there's everyone else. No, but I think the cat/dog one is pretty good. I am cat.

3 Don't do it. (But it would already be too late.)

4 I always touch wood, though I don't believe in it. Another thing I do and I think PARTLY believe in is to say White Rabbits on the first of the month - it has to be the first thing you say, though, or it doesn't work. Then I'll be lucky for the whole month.

When we were kids my sister and I did the one where, if you see an ambulance, you have to hold your collar and not swaller (sic) until you see a four-legged animal. Often strangely hard.

5 I would love to be in a band, but I can't play anything so I would have to be the singer. It would be folk-rock, and I'll have to get back to you with the name - though I do know that these days it needs to be something googleable. The Band is not a good name. The Sex Pistols is very good.

Abahachi said...

Cat also. But Siamese and Orientals are fairly dog-like cats in a number of ways, so I'm not completely prejudiced. Honest.

AliMunday said...

Chris and Daddypig - you're both hired. Not sure what my role will be - not a lot you can do with a couple of recorders - but I reckon I could do a mean 'Animal' impression on drums.

Shoey said...

1. Can't think of any - so am obviously ungrateful AND mean.
2. 'Spillers & the rest?
3. Unlikely to say much unless someone else was there to get the conversation going.
4. Should I get off the table then?
5. Don't know, but can't go wrong with adjective or verb + animal: Furious Pig, Frightened Rabbit etc.

severin said...

1) The best present I was ever given was when I was eight years old. It was a model (about ten inches long) of Lady Penelope's pink Rolls Royce. I'm certain I never gave this away but I don't have it today. How does this sort of thing happen?
The best present I ever gave wasn't at Christmas or on a birthday. I think I was about twelve. Our cousins were visiting with our aunt and uncle. The youngest girl cousin was besotted with a sombrero I'd bought on our first ever holiday abroad (majorca). "You can have it" I said. I never expect to get a better reaction to a present than that.

2)I'm with ejaydee on this one.

3) I'd tell him to shave off the stupid moustache, stop worrying about what people are meant to be and buy a nice dress asap.

4) I can't bear to tempt fate. I know it's mad but I can't rid myself of the idea that if you think "well, everything's going to be ok now" it won't be. I think this is called neurosis.

5) It would have to be called "The Four Marys (because that's the law). Something akin to Yazoo/Erasure but with me singing (even though I can't) and a big butch wombyn on the electronics.
Either that or a Pavlov's Dog tribute band.

saneshane said...

1. I got our friends to wait up til Lor (our ace mate) went to bed on the eve of her 21 birthday - we were unemployed - it was very late/early.
Then we decorated 21 presents I'd been collecting, all costing under a quid. Wrapped in newspaper and paint, with little # tags up to 21.
She was dead happy - I love making presents - I'll think of something then save it for the right day - say a grey and wet wednesday.

I have very creative friends too.. so things like the shane song were brilliant - and nilferd sent me a couple of Cds last week- they have made me very happy as most people have given up music presents for me- but I love them. (lovely cover designs too)

2. When I was little it was RICH/POOR that was all.. the poor people always seemed to share what ever they had.. but the rich were selfish.
But I've been proved wrong and it is just a mixed up confusing world with no Black and White.

3. "Don't let the Doctors force those pills down your neck - masking brain ache wont cure a thing"

4. I sigh a lot.. then someone said 'every time you sigh a fairy dies' (or something)
I now feel guilty all the time (but if it kills off all the fluffy pink girlie ones it's okay - the riot grrl fairies can cope with a stupid old hippies sighs)

5. The Glass Bead Shane would play the music in my head... as that doesn't exist I'll keep searching for the tunes everywhere else.

treefrogdemon said...

Rats, I totally messed up my Welham Green story. Balloon Corner commemorates not the Zeppelin but the (temporary) landing in 1784 of the first balloon (the ordinary hot air kind) ever to fly across England. The pilot landed the balloon to let his sick cat get off. So you see, the fact that a Zeppelin then crashed there in 1917 is the first amazing coincidence, and the fact that I found a bit of it in a shop in Shrewsbury is the second amazing coincidence. Sigh.

saneshane said...

don't sigh..

"I now understood why, whatever the advice I proffered, they would soon return with yet more woes. For dogging their steps, growing ever more malicious, were the surviving fairy brethren. Angered by the untimely demise of their kinsmen, they would now ensure misfortune to guarantee the patients’ return. It dawned on me that a chance remark by a little old lady had revealed a new category of patient. These were not just depressed, stressed, or heartsink. They were fairy killers"

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you, every time you sigh you kill a fairy?”

saneshane said...


I just googled my sighing (question 4) and that's the link I got!

is there a modern superstition/saying/ statement:

- googleling for answers will only make it worse... bite an apple to make it better?

Blimpy said...

5. Fucksticks. Shoegaze.

Blimpy said...

2. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are lazy and

nilpferd said...

Cheers, shane! Made my week to hear that.

"My father .. loved his present and got it out at every opportunity so he could tell people about it."

That'd be one of those "whether it was a balloon or dirigible, it was obviously a pretty touching gesture and I'm damn glad I made it" sighs then.. google that one...;-)

nilpferd said...

...or bite an apple..

severin said...

People who love Laurel and Hardy and people who don't.

Yes, that's it.

Makinavaja said...

1. I am not good at presents but I once bought my wife a sewing box that she really loved and was amazed that I had noticed she needed. Not sure it was the best as such but it was certainly well-received. My wife, on the other hand is brill at presents. The list would be endless. One that sticks in the mind is a watch she gave me at the beginning of our relationship that cost her more than she should have spent. She had it engraved with the date. I'm wearing it as I type this.
2. I don't like to pigeon hole and am very wary of us and them attitudes. There is definitely something in the considerate/inconsiderate division, though.
3. To not care too much about convention and to not worry about whether other people thought he was successful.
4. I like to think I'm not superstitious but shoes on tables is common to my Northern upbringing and my wife's Andalusian heritage so you won't see any chez Maki!
5. I was once in a band we only had a name and a broken piano. No songs. No talent but a great name: Cosmospurts!

TonNL said...

1. Best present received: the iPhone I got as a Christmas present from our company last year, didn't think a phone could be so much fun.....
Best present given: probably the animal calender (with all kinds of animals I had the pleasure to meet & photograph personally up in the Swiss mountains..) I made for my six-year old niece, every time I talk to her on the telephone she starts to describe that months picture and how much she loves it....

2. Old IT joke: There are 10 kinds of people, those who do understand binary, and those who don't...

3. 18 'til I die, so, alas, n/a....
But seriously, I would give some serious advice: "stay off the Jägermeister in the very near future..." (the reason can be found in an earlier version of the EOTWQ)

4. Not a superstitious person myself, but love hearing the stories the old people tell about the ghosts walking around looking for lost treasures in the foggy moorlands in that part of the country my dad's from, and being lost in those moorlands in the fog one time I could easily imagine how those stories came into the world...

5. The Revenge of the Heikrekels, punk versions of all kinds of Dutch & German schlagers, just for fun.....

steenbeck said...

Such good answers, and so much to comment on. We were out of the house all day, playing in the park and then walking in the woods, because I always think this time of year that after this beautiful day it's going to cold and rainy until next spring. Plus we got lost and then stuck in rotten traffic. BUT I've been reading comments on the old iPhone all day and wanting to be part of the conversation. Might have to wait until tomorrow though because homework/bath/stories/bed/claire falling asleep putting the boys to bed and waking up discombobulated and then posting strange comments is in the mail.

gordonimmel said...

1. I've struggled a bit with this one since this question brings to mind the memory of so many disappointing presents. But then I remembered that when I was 16 I asked for 'The Times Historical Atlas of the World'. My parents sent off for it mail order but it came late. I spent most of the next month anticipating everyday whether it had arrived before it finally did. It's still downstairs in my book shelf, regularly referenced.
I don't know about any good presents I've given (ask the recipient as ejay said). I'm bad at thinking up good presents. I'll tell you how bad I am. It's my parents Golden Wedding Anniversary today (the Do is tomorrow)and me aand my two brothers still can't think of any decent present to get them.

2. I'm a definite anti-binary theory person (does that make sense?). For any given characterisitic there is a whole spectrum from one extreme to the other and any one person may be at different parts of the spectrum for any given characteristic. This, ofcourse, makes it hard to pidgeonhole people into whole groups and then start being prejudiced about them without getting to know them first but I think I prefer it that way.

3. Difficult, since I believe that you can't go back in time and change anything without changing everything....but I would just tell myself to keep on the path I'm on, the big breakthrough is just around the corner.

4. Not very superstitious atall except about football i.e. if I loudly declare that someone is going to miss a penalty they'll score (and vice versa) or that at a City game I have to concentrate on what's happening otherwise our defense will lose concentration aswell and let a stupid goal in.

5. It would be rock music, ofcourse, and the name would be along the lines of the name of the band I was in as a teenager - Ninevah. I'm thinking monoliths, I'm thinking ziggurats....'towers of stone built up to the skies'.

treefrogdemon said...

OK, no more sighing - thank you, shane and nilpferd!

It was at that same shop in Shrewsbury that I bought a packet of WW1 postcards, all sent by the same soldier to his girlfriend/fiancee/wife from France (you can trace the relationship as it develops). They're very moving because what he writes to her is so banal - they all close with "Hoping this finds you as it leaves me, in the pink" - that they always make me think of Wilfred Owen, who lived in Shrewsbury himself, saying that he wrote partly on behalf of his fellow soldiers, who were unable to express themselves in writing.

steenbeck said...

Just taking a moment to catch up on everything. I think it's remarkable how many favorite gifts were musical - iPods, guitars, concerts. Makes sense, I guess. I love the travelling/spa weekend gifts - FLorence, cadillac Ranch... And Nilpferd's long rap poem. Some of my fav presents from David are when he draws me a card and inside it says I couldn't think of anything to get you. I really love them. Loved TracyK's advice to herself, which could probably apply to my younger self with very m inor changes (and I love the NIght on Earth soundtrack, too.) Love TFD's Zeppelin story. Shoegazer's description of meeting himself as a 20 year old made me LOL. And yes, could you get yourself off the table please, Shoey? Oh, yeah, and Anoraks of FIre is a great name, and is shaping up to be a good 'Spill house band.

I feel a little bad about the reductive theory of humanity question, I'd meant it sort of tongue-in-cheek, and hadn't really thought about the lead-in to prejudice aspect. I was thinking about when I was younger, and I used to develop all sorts of theories to explain the universe, and how somewhere along the line I decided it's all a big muddle with occasional glimpses of light. My brat/bully theory was developed in highschool. I realized that when my mom and brother wanted something they didn't get, they'd pester and bully you into doing it with you, whereas my dad and I would pout in a bratty manner. I think it's sort of the PT Barnum effect - you can see similarities to yourself and other people in any theory out there. By the way, I think I'm actually more cat-like, though I prefer dogs as companions.

The supersition answers are fascinating to me. I didn't realize how many of them I sort of believe myself - touching wood, magpies, salt over my shoulder. All the time telling myself I'm not superstitious at all. Only we say "rabbit rabbit" not white rabbit. I like Shane's Sighs (band name!) one, I've never heard that before. Also fascinating are the comments about worrying about situations as a way to control your worry over them, in a way. Daddypig's quote from the Guardian was beautiful and made complete sense to me - as did Severin's and Nilpferd's fear of tempting fate by not talking about hoped for things. Or even allowing yourself to feel good about something good that happens, which is something I do, which I wish I didn't.

Phew, I've gone on too long. Sorry.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ steenbeck - good questions. I never know, when I don't have enough time to do these things justice, is it better to ignore the quiz altogether or to give half-thought-out answers?

We need a ruling from the pRRotocol sub-committee.

Here goes nothing.

1a. Can I beat the pink bicycle that we gave to the four-year-old BigMissToffee for Christmas? I doubt it.

1b. When I was about six or seven, I got a Corgi Formula One racing car set which was pretty much t he most exciting thing I ever did see. It's been pretty much downhill since then ...

2. I haven't read all the answers yet so apologies if this has a) already been suggested and/or b) already been rejected/ridiculed but I firmly believe that the world can be divided into those who think that people are essentially nice and those who believe that 'they're all out to get you'. I could elaborate. I won't.

3. I would tell him to stick with that young ToffeeGirl - 'you've got a good 'un there, lad'.

4. I utterly reject superstition - yet somehow observe ridiculous superstitions just about every day of my life. If I don't do things is a particular way on a match day, is it any wonder when Everton lose?

5. Big Point Mississippi. We rawk!!!!!

ToffeeBoy said...

@ abahachi

"2.Obviously, there are cat people and dog people."

I'm worried - aren't you both? "An abahachi divided among itself cannot stand", as old Abe put it...

Abahachi said...

So what didn't you do tonight, TB?

Abahachi said...

Sorry, that sounds mean, and since I posted it just as you were posting your last comment, I clearly deserve that. Actually an Abahachi well into the second bottle of wine, partly as celebration of getting the right person for a postdoc RA - sorry, that's rather an esoteric cause for celebration - and partly 'cos Mrs Abahachi had a really bad day and is in need of careful handling, cannot stand either.

Put another way: I'm a cat person who can more or less see what people see in dogs, which is to say that I probably fall into your category of people who try to take a positive view of everyone. Mrs Abahachi doesn't agree, at least as far as Headmasters are concerned, which is one reason why tonight is a little delicate...

ToffeeBoy said...

@ abahachi - I didn't watch the game! I was at work. See? No routine - no result ...

Not Blimpy said...

wahey - we're all pissed!! whoop! i currently have the raveonettes new lp turned up to 4, and am sure mrs mcF will come and shout at me soon!! PARTY HARD!! YEAH!!

steenbeck said...

Definitely better late than never, Toffee! Good answers.

Here are mine...

1. Well, as I've already said, I like when David draws me pictures, because he's a good drawer, as my boys would say. But the best two presents I've gotten were...a windsor writing-arm chair with 3 drawers David made for me while we were in Boston. A thing of beauty, and inspiring & supportive, too, because I'm always trying to write more. And a bright red semi-hollow bodied electric guitar for Christmas when I was pregnant with #1 boy. Perfect perfect gift for a pregnant woman.

The present I was most excited about giving...David loves, shoot, what's his name...Ah yes, Hogarth, and his favorite is Midnight Modern Conversation. I thought it would be nice to get him some little print from the same period, thinking I couldn't afford an actual Hogarth. Well... I found this place in Holland that had MMC, from Hogarth's original plate, at a very reasonable fee. It's from the early 19th c, I think, but it's authentic original stuff. Apparently Hogarth's plates were melted down to make weapons during the 2nd world war.

2. As I said above, I've kind of abandoned all theories that try to explain the universe in anyway. These days I'm convinced everything is a big muddle with occasional glimpses of light. But I'm sure I make judgements about people all the the time based on whether they're male or female, whether they have children or not, what kind of shoes they wear...

3. I'd say -- you're 20 years old, for chrissake, stop being such an insecure lump and get confident, stupid!!

4. Well, I've realized that I have a lot of superstitions--the normal kind, plus the what-I-think-or-wear-or-do-can-somehow-change-the-fate-of-the-universe kind. Sometimes I try to play tricks on myself to reverse the craziness, but it rarely works.

5. Following Shoey's advice and Isaac's malaprop, we'd be called reluctant ratatcoomb, and we'd all wear kiss-like makeup, but. you know, raccoon eyes, and we'd wear tails like Iggy Pop did in that one concert, but they'd be striped, like ratacoombs. As for the music, well, it wouldn't really be about the music, would it...

TatankaYotanka said...

5. Zeiss Manifold and the Shrieking Plasma Exudations

Hard popping, grammatical groovers.

TatankaYotanka said...

4. I remember the 'ambulance' superstition, 'tho holding your collar until you saw a four-legged animal in rural Worcestershire wasn't such a chore. These days I will throw salt over my left shoulder when I sneeze ... the bloody devil is such a twit, if he crept up from the right, he'd have got me years ago.

saneshane said...


and Add to question 5.

the night before you posted these I dreamt that you david and the boys came over to visit.. our house was all finished and we'd built a straw bail music house in the corner of the garden.

during the day we sampled the lads playing with all the drums and ukuleles and thumb pianos.. (and you'd recorded your mum, too)
then the kids went to sleep in the story house we are growing for Zane... then we recorded an album over the nights that you stayed.. it sounded very weird.. with us both whispering over the collected music.

anyway, it was the first non-stressed dream i'd had about the place... thought I'd share, thanks to you all for being in the band!

DarceysDad said...

I'll have a pound of the cheese that Shane's on please, shopkeeper!

BTW, Wealth column is up:

It's true what they say: wealth hasn't made me happy!!!!

saneshane said...

It possibly wont surprise you that I used to sneak down stairs after my parents went to bed, and eat loads of cheese, just to see what effect it would have on my dreams.

the experiment was inconclusive - mad dreams with cheese - loopy ones without.

steenbeck said...

Shane, beautiful dream! I love it!! I told David about it and we made plans to visit you as soon as you're comfortable with your house. (kidding, of course) And I just remembered that you posted a link to some photos that I read on my iPhone at work and forgot to look at later, so off I go.

But before I do...EOTWQ #6 for spillers everywhere If some random, nameless person who was fascinated by blue note covers doctored a photo of herself (or himself!!) to make a profile picture that looked like a bluenote cover, would you think, WHAT A PRETENTIOUS ASSHOLE!!!! How dare you compare yourself with the artists on the covers of bluenote albums??? ?

Shoey said...

Or you could add a few inches to your height or turn your head into a potato.

TatankaYotanka said...

So who do you think would win a fight between a Big Goon and an Evil Gnome?

2. Reductive theory. There are people who wash their hands after going to the toilet and people who don't .... what do you mean, that sounds like a female/male divide? You might well be right.

sourpus said...

1. a) I would think, immediately, life itself, or maybe my first guitar. b) It was a poster I had made up for my mum, made in the style of the original poster to the Wild One, with my 85 year old mum cast as Marlon Brando - she had just a few months earlier, done 200 miles around Niagara Falls on the back of a Harley Davidson

2. I used to believe in the Marxian distinction between the owners of the means of production and the proletariate, but I dont think about it much these days.

3. Dont change a hair mate, you're doing fine. Take your time and stop worrying. It will happen. (Oh, and you'll be tempted by one particular girl in 1997 - resist!)

4. None whatsoever.

5. If I ever think of a great name for the band I still would like to record as, I would never reveal it.
My favorite band name thusfar has been Leicester's own Deep Freeze Mice

Abahachi said...

The distinction between those who control the means of production and those who are forced to sell their labour power isn't reductive, it's the truth, dammit!

And Fever Ray is never going to produce another album? What's the world coming to?