Tuesday 30 June 2009


Where is Jarvis Cocker when you need him?


Shepherd in £60m Newcastle offer

Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd is heading a consortium that is set to launch a £60m takeover bid for the Magpies, BBC Sport understands.

Alan Shearer has been lined up to carry on as manager at the club, who were relegated to the Championship in May.

Owner Mike Ashley was asking for £100m but BBC Sport understands Shepherd's offer is likely to be accepted.

Shepherd sold his Newcastle shares to current owner Mike Ashley two years ago as part of a £134m deal for the club.

Ashley's total investment in the club is estimated at £244m, which includes paying off debts and buying new players.

When Ashley first put the club up for sale last September, he hoped to get around £300m.

Shepherd became chairman in 1997 when Sir John Hall and his son Douglas were the major shareholders and negotiated the £15m signing of Shearer.

Always a controversial figure, Shepherd was forced out of the club when Ashley bought his controlling interest.

Several other groups, including investors from Singapore, Oman and South Africa, have also shown interest in buying the club.

The man in charge of the sale, Keith Harris, the chairman of brokers Seymour Pierce, has said he expected a deal to be concluded by the end of this month.

From http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/n/newcastle_united/8125576.stm

Sunday 28 June 2009


With apologies to http://www.forteantimes.com/



REUTERS: Negotiations have been launched to fill the now vacant Michael Jackson gigs at the 02 Arena in London, starting next month. Jim Henderson - aka Cousin Jim - is to perform a selection of his legendary monologues live on stage. They will include 'The Bishop's Story', McConkey's Jacket' and 'The Deer Story'.As a concession to the Jackson legend, Jim has agreed to wear a white glove on his left hand when delivering the comic masterpieces. Tony Slattery will be the support.In the unlikely event of fans wanting a refund, please call Peter Yare on 0191 4286734.Jackson has cancelled the concerts, citing death as an excuse.

Some Ragged Glory



Saturday 27 June 2009

Johnny Divides Opinion

Phil Thirkell

These and other good photos of this part of the world can be found at Phil Thirkell's photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/63008913@N00/

Newcastle's Victoria Tunnel

Information at http://www.newcastlecommunityheritage.org/content.php?level2_id=5


Pappy Beauregard






Bret Jr.

Uncle Bentley - father of Beau, but bearing a distinct resemblance to Bart

As my Pappy used to say:
"Work is fine for killin' time, but it's a shaky way to make a living."
"No use crying over spilled milk, it could have been whiskey."
"Man is the only animal you can skin more than once."
"A man does what he has to do - if he can't get out of it."

The Golden Closet

Eleanor Parker's pink nightdress in The Naked Jungle is yours for a mere $950.00 (plus postage, I guess).

This and other 'bargains' at http://www.thegoldencloset.com/

Friday 26 June 2009

Grill-a My Dreams


Tonight is Johnny's guest movie night. 7.30pm start.

Words Fail Me - Lisa Marie

"I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible," Lisa Marie tells ET. "I am heartbroken for his children who I know were everything to him and for his family. This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me."



At home. A massive coronary, apparently. Just about to embark on a major tour. But no tribute from Lisa Marie, as yet.

Michael Jackson RIP

What on earth happened?

Thursday 25 June 2009

Farrah Fawcett RIP

Farrah Fawcett dies aged 62
Thursday, June 25 06:34 pm Jill Serjeant

Actress Farrah Fawcett, the "Charlie's Angels" television star whose big smile and feathered blond mane made her one of the reigning sex symbols of the 1970s, died on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. She was 62.

Fawcett, first vaulted to stardom by an alluring poster of her in a red swimsuit, was diagnosed with anal cancer in late 2006. It spread to her liver in 2007, proving resistant to numerous medical treatments in Germany and California.

"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," Fawcett's long time companion, actor Ryan O'Neal, said in a statement.
"Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."

Fawcett's death in a Los Angeles hospital came just six weeks after the TV broadcast in May of a video diary she made chronicling her battle with cancer and her final months. Called "Farrah's Story," the documentary was effectively a self-penned obituary by the actress, who was bedridden and had lost her famous hair by the time it was shown. O'Neal said she had wanted to tell her story on her own terms.

Fawcett's close friend Alana Stewart, ex-wife of rocker Rod Stewart, told Entertainment Tonight after leaving the hospital on Thursday; "I just lost my best friend. Her death was very peaceful."

Fawcett, born February 2, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas, was an art student in college before she began modelling, appearing in shampoo ads. She started guest-starring on TV in the late 1960s and appeared on the television hit "The Six Million Dollar Man" after marrying the show's star, Lee Majors, in 1974. The couple divorced in the early 1980s.


Fawcett's career took off thanks to a poster of her posing flirtatiously with a brilliant smile in a red one-piece bathing suit. It sold millions of copies and led to her being cast in 1976 in "Charlie's Angels," an action show about three beautiful, strong women private detectives.

As the tanned and glamorous Jill Munroe -- part of a trio that included Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson -- Fawcett was the hit show's most talked-about star. She left "Charlie's Angels" after only one season but lawsuit settlements brought her back to guest-star in subsequent years.

Fawcett's face appeared on T-shirts, posters and dolls. She came to epitomize the glamorous California lifestyle and inspired a worldwide craze for blown-out, feathered-back hair. The New York Times once described that hair as "a work of art ... emblematic of women in the first stage of liberation -- strong, confident and joyous."

"Her hair needed its own phone line," "Charlie's Angels" co-star Smith recalled later.

In late 2008, Fawcett shaved her own hair when it began falling out because of her cancer treatments.


While Fawcett's early career was marked by lightweight roles, the actress sought to play down her sex symbol image in more challenging dramas in the '80s. She earned critical acclaim for her performance as a battered wife in 1984's "The Burning Bed," for which she received the first of three Emmy nominations. The off-Broadway play and subsequent film "Extremities," in which Fawcett played a woman who takes revenge on a would-be attacker, earned one of her six Golden Globe nominations.

Fawcett posed for Playboy magazine in 1995, the same year she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She had one son, Redmond, with O'Neal. Redmond O'Neal, now 24, was arrested on several occasions in 2008 and 2009 for heroin and methamphetamine offences leading to time in jail.

In the last few years, Fawcett appeared frequently on entertainment TV, where she shared details of her battle with cancer. But she was outraged when news of her deteriorating condition was leaked to tabloid newspapers. A Los Angeles hospital employee was charged in 2008 with stealing and selling Fawcett's medical records, leading to a new California law imposing tighter controls on medical files and stiffer penalties for privacy breaches.

(Additional reporting by Alexandria Sage, Editing by Frances Kerry)

An Angel Dies

Farrah Fawcett RIP.


Wednesday 24 June 2009

Setlists at The Cottage

Set 1
Long May You Run
After The Goldrush
Country Girl

Set 2
One More Time (Debut performance)

Bizzare night. Only one of the organisers turned up. He only had an amp and a mike. Had to lend him a mixer, cables etc so that the gig could go ahead.

Neil was great last night in Nottingham by the way. He always is.

Joe Di Maggio - by Paul Simon

The Silent Superstar

My opinions regarding the baseball legend Joe DiMaggio would be of no particular interest to the general public were it not for the fact that 30 years ago I wrote the song "Mrs. Robinson," whose lyric "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you" alluded to and in turn probably enhanced DiMaggio's stature in the American iconographic landscape.

A few years after "Mrs. Robinson" rose to No. 1 on the pop charts, I found myself dining at an Italian restaurant where DiMaggio was seated with a party of friends. I'd heard a rumour that he was upset with the song and had considered a lawsuit, so it was with some trepidation that I walked over and introduced myself as its composer. I needn't have worried: he was perfectly cordial and invited me to sit down, whereupon we immediately fell into conversation about the only subject we had in common.

"What I don't understand," he said, "is why you ask where I've gone. I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I'm a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven't gone anywhere."
I said that I didn't mean the lines literally, that I thought of him as an American hero and that genuine heroes were in short supply. He accepted the explanation and thanked me. We shook hands and said good night.

Now, in the shadow of his passing, I find myself wondering about that explanation. Yes, he was a cultural icon, a hero if you will, but not of my generation. He belonged to my father's youth: he was a World War II guy whose career began in the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and ended with the arrival of the youthful Mickey Mantle (who was, in truth, my favourite ballplayer).

In the 50's and 60's, it was fashionable to refer to baseball as a metaphor for America, and DiMaggio represented the values of that America: excellence and fulfilment of duty (he often played in pain), combined with a grace that implied a purity of spirit, an off-the-field dignity and a jealously guarded private life. It was said that he still grieved for his former wife, Marilyn Monroe, and sent fresh flowers to her grave every week. Yet as a man who married one of America's most famous and famously neurotic women, he never spoke of her in public or in print. He understood the power of silence.

He was the antithesis of the iconoclastic, mind-expanding, authority-defying 60's, which is why I think he suspected a hidden meaning in my lyrics. The fact that the lines were sincere and that they've been embraced over the years as a yearning for heroes and heroism speaks to the subconscious desires of the culture. We need heroes, and we search for candidates to be anointed.

Why do we do this even as we know the attribution of heroic characteristics is almost always a distortion? Deconstructed and scrutinized, the hero turns out to be as petty and ego-driven as you and I. We know, but still we anoint. We deify, though we know the deification often kills, as in the cases of Elvis Presley, Princess Diana and John Lennon. Even when the recipient's life is spared, the fame and idolatry poison and injure. There is no doubt in my mind that DiMaggio suffered for being DiMaggio.

We inflict this damage without malice because we are enthralled by myths, stories and allegories. The son of Italian immigrants, the father a fisherman, grows up poor in San Francisco and becomes the greatest baseball player of his day, marries an American goddess and never in word or deed befouls his legend and greatness. He is "the Yankee Clipper," as proud and masculine as a battleship.

When the hero becomes larger than life, life itself is magnified, and we read with a new clarity our moral compass. The hero allows us to measure ourselves on the goodness scale: O.K., I'm not Mother Teresa, but hey, I'm no Jeffrey Dahmer. Better keep trying in the eyes of God.
What is the larger significance of DiMaggio's death? Is he a real hero?

Let me quote the complete verse from "Mrs. Robinson":

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates' debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at it you lose.
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you
What's that you say Mrs. Robinson
Joltin' Joe has left and gone away.

In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence.

Fatty and Harry

Pinched from http://tsutpen.blogspot.com/



Tuesday 23 June 2009


Let's hope these photos of Fiona Apple sate the appetite of those shallow FNB followers who are obsessed only pouting lips, baby blue eyes, a trim figure, tight flimsy clothing and perfect skin. There are other qualities to admire. Right? Hello?

Walter tries out for the FNB

His moves were fine, in that post-whisky, pre-taxi kind of groove, but ultimately we had to refuse him because his surroundings didn't qualify as salubrious enough. Keep trying though: you're our kind of guy. Maybe you could play bass with Ian at the Egypt too. We hear everyone else is...

High. Wide and Handsome Demos

High, Wide and Handsome Promo:

Sunday 21 June 2009

Bobby Van

Bob sings Stephen Foster



... and Walter Matthau

... and William Powell and Henry Fonda

... and Shirley MacLaine

... and James Garner

... and Tony Curtis

... and Ed Harris, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin

Saturday 20 June 2009

Brian Wilson and Mike Love with future murderer...

...while Bobby Hatfield looks on righteously.

Friday 19 June 2009

New Song

As previewed in the Egypt Cottage on Wednesday.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Wednesday's Set List

I Need Loving Too*

*Debut of new song - a country waltz - written just an hour or so before the gig. Accompanied by the double bass player from The Bluegrass Boys.

Wednesday 17 June 2009


Da made a strange suggestion while pondering where the FBs should start off this week. "Let's go to Sunderland," he said, before explaining: "Now the Mackems are our footballing masters we need to integrate with them." (Who thought he'd ever say it!) Da's obviously been giving it some thought as he even suggested a location - The Queens at Ryhope. Of course we need to dismiss such defeatist talk out of hand. We're meeting instead at The Cherry Orchard in Gromley Road, Billingham or The Central bar in Gateshead. Which ever floats your boat.
See ya there!

Albert Steptoe Sings

Amazing performance, however.

Tuesday 16 June 2009


ASPEN – On a live recording I heard recently, from a 1994 London concert, Randy Newman announces his intermission by saying he would be back after a costume change. The line got a laugh, and presumably the singer, songwriter and pianist didn’t actually return in a different wardrobe. But the idea of taking on a new role with each song feels real to Newman, who says that he feels more and more like an actor these days.

It’s easy to see why. Newman’s music requires an enormous range of expression: from broad comedy to sharp political commentary, from sweet sentimentality to dark lamentations, from sexy come-ons to historical re-creations. His fallback position is comedy: There is something about his staccato piano playing and his voice that oozes irony, and his songs tend to be tight — sometimes less than two minutes — that make them feel like one-liners. But Newman is also capable of writing, and then getting inside, the impossibly warm “Feels Like Home,” the closing tune from his recent album, “Harps and Angels.” And his compassionate, fact-based “Louisiana 1927,” to no one’s surprise, became an emotional anchor in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Newman spent a few early years in New Orleans, and frequently visited his mother’s family there. That history is evident in Newman’s piano style.)

“Lately it can be like an acting job to bring it off,” Newman said of working all the facets of his music. “It requires kind of a performance art.”

At 65, Newman seems to be adding more balls to that juggling act. “Harps and Angels,” released in August, is often a contemplation of death, and Newman, especially on the title track, mixes sorrow and humor, directness and sarcasm more vigorously than ever.

“That’s where it feels like a tightrope walk,” said Newman, speaking from his home in Los Angeles. “That’s tough to do. But it should feel easy.”

Among the broad public, Newman is best known for two roles: as the creator of the novelty-like hits “Short People,” from 1978, and “I Love L.A.,” from 1983; and more recently as a movie-music machine, churning out scores and songs for a slew of films. His specialty is animated films, composing music and writing songs for “Cars,” the “Toy Story” movies and “A Bug’s Life.” (Newman tied the record for most Academy Award nominations without a win — 15 — before breaking that streak by taking a Best Original Song Oscar for “If I Didn’t Have You,” from 2002’s “Monsters, Inc.”)

Newman has accepted those roles, though he doesn’t exactly embrace them. Talking about getting into movies — which began in earnest with the score and a song from 1982’s “Ragtime” — it sounds as if he reluctantly went into the family business. Several uncles and cousins composed music for films.

“There must be something genetic. We’re like a bad Bach family,” he quipped.

Creatively, working in the movies has been a double-edged sword. After writing with no constraints — and performing customarily as an unaccompanied act — he found it enjoyable to collaborate with others, and work within the confines of a story.

“Movie music is something subordinate to what’s going on in the picture. You make an album, you’re the center of attention. I like getting these assignments where I’ve had to subjugate my ego to the job.”

Technical advances, however, have made it possible for a film director to practically re-write a score. That seems to be more collaboration than Newman is comfortable with. “That makes it a little more difficult,” he said.

As for his occasional and unexpected moments of widespread fame, Newman is equally ambivalent. “Short People” got him on the radio. It also got him accused of being bigoted from those who took the chorus — “Short people got no reason to live” — at face value, rather than his typically cockeyed commentary, this time on societal standards. (A bill was introduced in Maryland to ban the song from radio; it was never passed.) Perhaps worse, “Short People” led people to see Newman as primarily a writer of novelty songs.

“It’s attention you don’t want,” said Newman of getting his biggest measure of fame for his “most blatantly, crazy song.” “It’s funny the things you get known for,” he added, noting that his latest mainstream exposure came from being made fun of on “Family Guy.”

“But I was grateful to get a hit. I’m glad they know me at all.”

Newman is reconsidering his career priorities, and has decided the role he wants to play more is that of singer-songwriter. “Harps and Angels,” which ranked No. 13 on the list of best-reviewed CDs of 2008 by the website Metacritic, was his first album of new songs in nine years. “Ridiculous,” is Newman’s own assessment of that fact. “Needless to say, I can’t do that again.” Then, apologetically: “I have bad work habits. I’ll get back to it sooner. I’ll concentrate more on it this time. It would be better to do two albums than five pictures.”

Newman is at his funniest and most politically pointed on “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country,” which praises the recently departed leadership of the U.S. by noting that Hitler and Stalin were way worse. The title track is mordantly funny and, for a song about near-death, most comforting. Newman gives his twisted take on social inequality, American-style on “A Piece of the Pie”: “Jesus Christ it stinks here high and low/ The rich are getting richer ... And no one gives a shit but Jackson Browne.”

As rich as the lyrics are, Newman is most taken with the music. Newman brought in two top producers, Mitchell Froom and Lenny Waronker, to create layers of strings, choir and horns that amplify both the comedy and the drama of “Harps and Angels.” But Newman did the arrangements himself, and is convinced he made his best orchestrated, and most ambitiously orchestrated album yet.

“If I thought I was getting appreciably worse, I wouldn’t do it,” said Newman, who performs a solo concert tonight at the Wheeler Opera House. “There’s a lot of evidence that people in this business do their best work before they’re 30. But I’m getting better at some parts — arranging, singing to an extent. So I’ll do it again and see where I stand.”


Monday 15 June 2009

Jeff Bridges sings


With Duke Ellington in the audience

With Louis Armstrong

with Oscar Peterson

Salinger Aims to Block Catcher "Sequel"

Salinger in 1939
Frail, Deaf Salinger Fights On
Agent: Reclusive author personally authorized "Catcher" lawsuit
JUNE 8--Though he is frail, deaf, and has been confined to a rehabilitation facility since breaking his hip last month, J.D. Salinger personally authorized his literary agent and lawyers to try and halt the publication of a book that has been described as a sequel to "The Catcher in the Rye." In a U.S. District Court affidavit, agent Phyllis Westberg offered a glimpse at the reclusive 90-year-old author's life. "I communicate in writing with Mr. Salinger (he is now totally deaf) frequently," Westberg noted in her June 1 filing, adding that the writer "has several age-related health problems" and "last week, he broke his hip, required surgery, and is now in a rehabilitation facility." Westberg is president of Harold Ober Associates, the New York literary agency that has represented Salinger for nearly 70 years. Last week, Salinger filed a federal copyright lawsuit seeking to stop the U.S. publication of "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," which Salinger termed a "rip-off pure and simple" of "The Catcher in the Rye." The new book, whose authorship is credited to "J.D. California," is currently available in England and is scheduled to be available in the U.S. in about three months. In her affidavit, an excerpt of which you'll find below, Westberg stated that Salinger was "fully aware of the existence of this unauthorized sequel" and directed his representatives "to institute this action to halt this blatant violation of his rights." Salinger, Westberg noted, has long refused to "allow any manipulation or derivative works" of "The Catcher in the Rye," and "feels strongly that he wants his fiction and his characters to remain intact as he wrote them--unstaged, unfilmed and free of outside interpretation by actors, directors, producers, set designers, etc." However, if Salinger decided to publish a sequel to his most famous novel, "it would command substantial payment, including at least a $5 million advance." A June 17 court hearing has been scheduled on Salinger's request for a preliminary injunction enjoining publication of the purported "Catcher" sequel.
From http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0608091salinger1.html?link=rssfeed

According to the Dead Caulfields site, Phyllis Westberg, J.D. Salinger's literary agent, has let it be known that the author has recently suffered a broken hip that required surgery and is presently mending at a rehabilitation center.
From http://www.deadcaulfields.com/DCHome.html

Neil Double Whammy

Whammy 1: ITV2 had been plugging Neil's performance at the Isle of Wight for weeks. They showed exactly 20 seconds of "Down By The River". Bastards!
Whammy 2: Parcel Force will not release The Archives without a payment of £51 to HMRC. Bastards!


Sadly, the FNB were (once again) passed over in the Queen's birthday honours list and we take umbrage because we've always been loyal subjects - except for the Fenians amongst us. More than one of us shed a tear when TV stopped closing down around midnight with the playing of the national anthem and we regularly salute the flag, pay our taxes, shop at Marks and Spencers and drink good British ale. Our association with McConkey was in the past, ma'am, surely you can't still be holding that against us? You rewarded Jimmy Bolam...

Friday 12 June 2009