Monday, 7 July 2014

A guide to alternative education courses/ Summer '14. + Andrew Weatherall's 'Music's Not For Everybody' NTS Radio residency. Pt 1.

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The number of college bulletins and adult-education come-ons that keep turning up in my letterbox convinces me that I must be on a special mailing list for dropouts. Not that I'm complaining; there's something about a list of extension courses that piques my interest with a fascination hitherto reserved for a catalogue of Hong Kong honeymoon accessories, sent to me once by mistake. Each time I read through the latest bulletin of extension course, I make plans to drop everything and return to college. So far, however I am still an uneducated, unextended adult, and I have fallen into the habit of browsing through an imaginary, handsomely printed course prospectus that is more or less typical of them all;

Summer Session.

Economic Theory: A systematic application and critical evaluation of the basic analytic concepts of economic theory, with an emphasis on money and why it's good. Fixed coefficient production functions, cost and supply curves, and nonconvexity comprise the first term with the second term concentrating on spending, making change, and keeping a neat wallet. The British banking system is analyzed, and advanced students are coached in the proper method of filling out a deposit slip. Other topics include: Inflation and Depression - how to dress for each. Loans, interest and welching.

History Of European Civilisation: Ever since the discovery of a fossilised eohippus in the men's toilets at Mario's Cafe on Station Road in Ashington, it has been suspected that at one time Britain and Europe were connected by a thin plinth of land that later sank or became Blyth power station, or both. This throws a new perspective on the formation of European society and enables historians and alcoholics to conjecture about why Europe sprang up in an area that would have made a far better Asia. Also studied in the course is the decision to hold the Renaissance in Italy.

Introduction To Psychology: The theory of human behaviour. Why some men are called 'lovely individuals' and why there are some others you just want to punch. Is there a split between mind and body, and, if so, which is better to have? Aggression and rebellion are discussed. (Students particularly interested in these aspects of psychology are advised to take one of these Winter Term courses; Introduction to Hostility; Intermediate Hostility; Advanced Hatred; Theoretical Foundations Of Loathing.)

Philosophy 1: Everyone from Plato to Camus is read, and the following topics are covered in depth. Ethics: The categorical imperative and six ways to make great fish soup. Aesthetics: Is art the mirror of life, or what? Metaphysics: What happens to the soul after death? How does it manage? Epistemology: Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this? The Absurd: Why existence is often considered silly, particularly for men who wear pointy shoes? Manyness and Oneness are studied as they relate to Each-Otherness. (Students achieving this will move ahead to the next course, Twoness.)

Philosophy XXIX-B: Introduction to God. Confrontation with the creator of the universe through informal lectures and field trips. The New Mathematics: Standard mathematics has recently been rendered obsolete by the discovery that for years we have been writing the numeral five backwards. This has led to a re-evaluation of counting as a method of getting from one to ten. Students are taught advanced concepts of Boolean Algebra and formerly unsolvable equations are delt with by threats of reprisals.

Fundamental Astronomy: A detailed study of the universe and it's care and cleaning. The sun, which is made of gas can explode at any moment, sending our entire planetary system hurtling to destruction; students are advised what the average citizen can do in such a case. They are also taught to identify various constellations, such as the Big Dipper, Cygnus The Swan, Sagittarius the Archer, and the twelve stars that form Lumidees the used car salesman.

Modern Biology: How the body functions and where it can usually be found. Blood is analyzed and it is learned why it is the best possible thing to have coursing through one's veins. A frog is dissected by students and it's digestive tract is compared with man's, with the frog giving a good account of itself on everthing, except curries.

Music Appreciation: In order to "hear" a great piece of music correctly, one must: (1) know the birthplace of the composer, (2) be able to tell a rondo from a scherzo, and back it up with action. Attitude is important. Smiling is bad form unless the composer has intended the music to be funny, as in 'Das Burgermeister', which abounds in musical jokes (although the trombone has all the best lines.) The ear, too must be trained, for it is our most easily deceived organ and can be made to think it is a nose by bad placement of stereo speakers. Other topics include: 'The four-bar rest and it's potential as a political weapon,' and 'The Gregorian Chant: Which monks kept the beat?' Yeats And Hygiene, A Comparative Study: The poetry of William butler Yeats is analyzed against a background of proper dental care. (Course open to a limited number of students.)

Writing For The Stage: All drama is conflict. Character development is also very important. As also is what they say. Students learn that long, dull speeches are not so effective, while short "funny" ones seem to go over well. Simplified audience psychology is explored. Interesting aspects of stage history are also examined. For example, before the invention of italics, stage directions were often mistaken for dialogue, and great actors frequently found themselves saying, "John rises, crosses left." This naturally led to embarrassment and, on some occasions, dreadful notices. The phenomenon is analyzed in detail and students are guided in avoiding mistakes. Required text: A.F. Shulte's 'Shakespear: Was he Four Women?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


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"Haaargh! Haaaaaaaaaargh! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaargh! There's water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. But empty vessel's make more noise," a wise man once said.
It's a fact of life that hookers, lesbians, Gianluigi Lentini's French bakers haircut when he signed for Milan, Lester Freamon off of The Wire and Rubicon fruit juice are the coolest things to have roamed the planet. As well as Pirates of course! In order prove this fact, and it is a fact and as part of the annual 'Pirate Week Celebrations' I've put together a handy go-to reference guide to the Champions league of navel badmen full of iron clad facts and stats as proof of this. Enjoy. 

Francis Drake: Probably best known for his prowess at Crown Green Bowling and his dope MCing skillz, Sir Francis Drake was an Elizabethan privateer with an evident hatred of the Spanish. Not content with routing their Armada, Drake routinely attacked and robbed Spaniards at every opportunity. His attack on Cadiz and along The Veronica's in Tenerife are the stuff of legend as are his devastating raids on the Spanish Main, earning him their fear and grudging respect. In his ship The Golden Hind, Drake Was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, even claiming a portion of California for Queen Elizabeth along the way and installing Errol Flynn as it's first governor.

Henry Morgan. The Welsh pirate plundered robbed and generally annoyed the Spanish on their own so-called Main, ie; their South American colonies. In 1668 Captain Morgan attacked the Spanish mainland, plundered their cities and had it on his toes with a quarter of a million pieces of gold. Later he led an army overland to plunder Panama, but short of food and water, his men were forced to eat every dog, cat and mule they could find. Morgan still managed to sack the city, before doing a nash with most of the loot for himself. He was later knighted by Charles II, made Governor of Jamaica and later, Mayor of Bensham. A position which had just been vacated after 2 terms by Graham Cartwright.

William Kidd: Having initially received a royal commission to apprehend pirates in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, celebrated 17th Century British outlaw Captain Kidd decided being a pirate was much more fun. In 1698 he took his most valuable ship, the Quedagh Merchant on a looting and pillaging spree along the North American coast, but a year later, suddenly worried about getting caught, Kidd scuttled the stolen ship with it's huge treasure haul and travelled to New York to persuade it's governor of his innocence. After a likely rebuttal of, "You're a funny fuckin' guy, yeah, you're like a fuckin' comedian! Why I oighta,,,,," Kidd was extradited to England and hanged. Despite receiving a fabulous character reference from Errol Flynn.

Long John Silver: With his eye-patch and talking parrot, Silver was a big noise in the Pirate biz. Immortalised in early issues of a Haynes publication penned by Robert Louis Stevenson,'The Granada 3.0 Ghia Owners Manual', Silver spent his time robbing ships and burying the treasure on small islands all over the Caribbean. His fondness for cabin boys called Jim, pieces of eight, "Hahahahaha's" and "me hearties" were legendary, and some sceptics have even claimed that Stevenson made the whole thing up. Some historians claim that Long John invented underwear, and his first mate, Dave 'Jolly' Rancher, a happy-go-lucky type, gave his name to a famous mint.

Captain Pugwash: First off, lets get one thing straight, he never had a crew member called Seaman Stains, or Bot the cabin boy or anything daft like that, though Bosun Cunt-chops (pronounced 'Cunt-Chops') was a trusted confidante of his. The erstwhile cap'n of the fearsome 'Black Pig', Pugwash was one of the most violent and psychopathic pirates ever to plunder the Spanish galleons of the new world. Legend has it that Pugwash would flay the skin from his Spaniard captives to make fashionable scarves for his cabin boys in order that they would look 'smart' next time they dropped anchor in Ibiza and nipped down the Ku. Pugwash was in fact such a nutter that his ever nervous crew defected one by one until they left him with just a skeleton crew to man his ship, and when that ran aground in Jamaica, he was captured by a group of native 'badmen' who proceded 'dash him up' then tore him limb from limb. Contrary to popular belief, at the time of his death Pugwash had retired from competitive beatboxing.

Anne Bonny: The best-known female pirate, Anne Bonny was said to be a "Well endowed lass with a fiery spirit and a temper that matched that of Quincy M.E.". Fighting in men's clothes, she was a bit tasty with a cutlass and was first over the side with any boarding party. In 1720, when Anne was still only a 20 year old hewa, her ship was captured in the Caribbean, but she escaped execution on account of being up the duff and then mysteriously vanished from official records. She is thought to have been ransomed by her father and allowed to start a new life in America becoming one of the original members of Destiny's Child. She later married and had 5 children, possibly with Errol Flyn.