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‘Dear Gary Numan’: Two old geezers’ hilariously cranky letters to rock stars
11:34 am


Wilf Turnbull
Derek Philpott

It’s not unusual for retirees to have eccentric hobbies, but Bournemouth, England’s Derek and Wilf are probably the only two old age pensioners who spend their free time dissecting rock and pop lyrics and sending garrulous letters to the offending songwriters. No one is safe from their scrutiny, not Gary Numan, Squeeze’s Chris Difford, Toyah Wilcox, Suggs, Alice Cooper, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Daevid Allen, Men Without Hats, Suzi Quatro, Sparks, Dave Stewart, Sting, the singer from A Flock of Seagalls or even Captain Sensible. Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond have also been cleverly targeted.

Their letter writing campaign began at a DJ’ed wedding, where they started criticizing the songs being played. Their questions involve taking whimsical or deadly earnest lyrics to their logical conclusions and wondering the imponderable like why hungry like a wolf in particular? Why not a penguin? Or a raven? Why would someone choose to live in a box voluntarily? How does someone extract the milk of human kindness, let alone deliver it? To their surprise, the musicians started responding.

Here’s an example. Derek’s bust-a-gut funny letter to Rick Wakeman imploring him to play at his grandson’s school fundraiser so they they won’t be forced to go with the “Dick Fakeman” tribute act instead

Dear Rick Wakeman

As a fellow parent, I hope that you can be of assistance
Regretfully I must confide that my grandson’s school has been lagging behind somewhat in the department of GCSE pass grades, according to the official Ofsted statistics. Upon close scrutiny of said cavillous data, a vast chasm of success between certain subjects included in the field of the humanities was unveiled. In order to rectify this situation it has been decided that the Secondary Modern should meld an area in which they excel with one that requires improvement, in order to perhaps subliminally spur the deficient pupils into favourable academia. They will therefore be staging a special event ‘going for the one’ area of the curriculum that the students are most adept at, Music, and combining it with History, where they are clearly floundering. This unique affair will be billed and promoted as ‘Pastonbury’.

As the original artists have not as yet come back to us we have implemented a contingency plan by putting down 10% refundable deposits on tribute artists Phony M (Rasputin), NO.M.D (Joan of Arc and possibly Enola Gay) and West London’s foremost piano / vocal ‘soundalike’ Feltham John, who will be performing ‘Candle In The Wind’ twice (covering off Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana for no additional fee) before travelling back in time for a pre-booked engagement at Isleworth Royal British Legion.

We wonder if you would be willing to help out by coming along in the afternoon and doing your King Arthur after the tombola. As the event is pencilled in for mid-May there is unfortunately little chance of the playground freezing over in deference to The Empire Pool recitals, so we would be having you indoors, although you should be put on notice that the parquet flooring, not unlike the aforementioned auditorium’s performance surface, can be particularly treacherous when newly waxed, especially when negotiated in socks.

One of the Heads of Year, Ms. Braithwaite, who is a keen enthusiast of ‘progressive rock’, mooted that as you would be here anyway you may as well play ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ in its entirety. However, although she was thanked for her pro-active suggestion, which was duly minuted, the Board of Governors voted to the contrary on the grounds that sadly they only had use of the Main Hall until 8pm, at which time it would have to be vacated in order to make way for the caretaker, and also that, being an instrumental piece, the children may become fidgety if sat cross-legged for such a long period. Furthermore, the organisers had not the resources to stage a slide-show or ‘power point presentation’ with the facility to depict an image of each ecclesiastical revisionist spouse in order to distinguish one set of your ‘moog stylings’ and going up and down the keyboard as fast as possible from another. It was therefore instead decided that they would ‘go with’ the remnants of Hermans Hermits, as a far less convoluted if admittedly factually inaccurate reference to said morbidly rotund tyrannical Tudor patriarch.

As they are somewhat restricted in terms of budget, it has been proposed that your fuel costs to and from Bournemouth would be fully re-imbursed upon provision of valid receipts, and in order to save your back you will not be expected to bring your ‘banks’ of synthesisers, ‘mellowtrons’, electrical harpsichords and other such
paraphernalia. You will instead be provided with two nearly new Bontempi organs temporarily borrowed by the gym mistress, Miss Mallard, from the stockroom of the local Sue Ryder shop on Wimbourne Road where she volunteers two hours of her time of a Saturday. This is an additional bonus for the co-ordinators as stage space is at a premium (although thankfully, not vertically, given that the vaulted ceiling would provide ample room for your pointy hat)

Sadly, Mr Balakrishnan, whose daughter Neeta often brings authentic homemade dishes in to school to share amongst her classmates and her tutors, will not be in attendance as he will be away visiting relatives in Tamil Nadu. He would have been delighted to have provided you with bindi bhaji, stuffed paratha and Bombay aloo (of a fashion familiar to those inadvertently ordered by yourself on the Tales From Topographic Oceans tour and consumed during a lengthy ‘percussive interlude’) , but as a compromise we will be happy to send the school captain out to go and get a 60 piece Indian platter from the Iceland on Christchurch Road, which will be balanced ‘close to the edge’ of the instruments during your recital.

My wife, Jean, is something of a wizard seamstress and, as a token of thanks for your time, has acquiesced to run up a cape to add to your probably already varied and vast wardrobe, free of charge. The kaleidoscopic dolman would be adapted from last term’s Year 10 production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’s backdrop, and she has asked me to enquire after your collar and chest measurements, as well as your height, so that she can ensure a perfect fit

We anxiously await your response Sir and sincerely hope that it is one of acceptance, in order that we may not be forced to resort to Dick Fakeman .


Derek Philpott

For Wakeman’s considered response, I direct you to their website.

Some of their greatest hits:

A delightful response from Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory when Wilf and Olive feel they have to turn down his offer to “Come Live with Me.”

Wilf asks The Stranglers about peaches

Short and sweet answer to Pete Townshend

Dear Mr. Dan: Derek scrutinizes the meaning of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”

Wilf berates Alvin Stardust for his supposed lewd lyrics and “creepy Edwardian sneer”

Derek has a question about Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine”

Derek demands an answer from Ms. Alice Cooper about “School’s Out.”

Haysi Fantayzee’s Kate Garner even wrote a song in her reply to Wilf’s query about “John Wayne is Big Leggy”

Derek writes to Gong’s Daevid Allen and the pothead pixie’s reply

“Walking on the moon?”: Stewart Copeland of The Police finds himself replying on behalf of Sting

Bruce Thomas hilariously responds on behalf of Elvis Costello and The Attractions

An (obviously) unanswered letter to Ian Dury about his diet of sex and drugs and rock and roll

Derek wants to makes lots of money with The Pet Shop Boys

The pensioner amigos’ conceit as completely clueless old guys is slightly questionable, since they’re still in the upper range of prime baby boomer years. Come on, they could have been at, if not Woodstock, then at least the very first Isle of Wight festival. Honestly, they’re almost peers of Rick Wakeman’s (he’s 65). To the bewilderment of their wives, Olive and Jean, the two gentlemen have developed a cult following and receive ongoing invitations to concerts and backstage guest lists all the time. Jean began her own side project, Philpottery, making clay fridge magnets based on some of the rock stars her husband has corresponded with, among them Nine Inch Snails, Axolotl Rose, Pete Dogherty, and Piggy Pop. It can only be a matter of time before a book deal beckons.

Derek also amusingly made iconic album covers over into much more polite versions for NME along with some politically correct and eco-friendly rockers:




The animated adventures of Wilf Turnbull: “Dear Gary Numan…”:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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‘Wish you were here?’: Unbelievably boring British postcards from the sixties and seventies
06:08 am



I still send postcards to friends and relatives and those who are young-at-heart and find enjoyment in receiving a missive from some far-off locale. Indeed, I still write letters, but find my correspondents dwindling as the preference for thumbed messages grows. When sending postcards, I have a tendency to choose those that best capture the visited town or city from some previous decade, where the images look like stills from 1950s feature films—overly colored with azure blue skies, hot pink flowers and lime green lawns. Of course, these postcards can often be of the most boring and mundane things—a roundabout, the civic Christmas lights, a multi-story car park, a shopping mall, a newly opened motorway.

Like this little bundle of postcards, which could have been the kind of thing J. G. Ballard might have enjoyed, or at least one of his characters might have sent from a high rise in London, or an airport hotel, or a shopping mall on the M25 to some scar-worn lover. The postcards show what was once considered important, beautiful, or worthy of civic pride: the bus station, the flyover, the interchange, the mall. While the pictures tell one story, it would be interesting to know what was written on the other side—maybe something like “Glad you’re not here?”
Before the London Dockland’s Light Railway.
Bolton, Town Center.
Broxbourne, Civic Hall.
Central Clock Tower, and Tunnel Fly-overs, Birkenhead.
Chapel High Shopping Center, Brentwood.
East Kilbride Shopping Center, Scotland.
More postcards from the edge, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Dick’ Butt, rest in peace
11:17 am


Dick Butt

They played it straight when they posted this one over at Death and Taxes this morning, for obvious reasons:

On Friday, 93-year-old Richard A. “Dick” Butt passed away in his hometown of Spokane, Washington, after struggling with heart disease for several months. He was born in Washington state on April 4, 1921, and had seven siblings. His parents, Will and Helen Butt, raised him on a farm. The obituary in the Spokesman Review noted that, in high school, Dick “was remembered for his pitching prowess.”

He’s probably recalled for something else, too…


Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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More Siouxsie Sioux makeup tutorials than you can shake a lipstick at
10:30 am


Siouxsie Sioux

I had no idea just how many Siouxsie Sioux makeup tutorials there were on the Internet. There are tons! Since Halloween is looming around the corner, I thought I’d help you get your Siouxsie makeup on with these handy tutorials. Practice makes perfect, right?

Some of these ladies nail it, while others just end up looking like Hot Topic mall goths or “punk” extras in the 1982 CHiPs episode “Battle of the Bands.”



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The Russian dash-cam video to end all Russian dash-cam videos!!!
12:33 pm


Dashboard Cameras

I’m not going to explain what’s happening here. You’ve seen enough Russian dash-cam videos to know the drill. But this one in particular stands out on its own because, well, something unexpected happens. You’ll just have to watch and go with the flow.

BTW, I’m repeatedly clicking my heels together like Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz and telling myself, “Please let this be real. Please let this be real.”

As someone on reddit points out, “He’ll never tell a soul what happened that day…”

via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Texas woman sees Jesus on moth’s wings; others see THE DEVIL
08:42 am



Texas-based mother Yvonne Esquilin swears God was trying to send her message through the yellow and brown patterns on the wings of a large yellow and brown Imperial Moth that came to stay in her home for a few days.

“At first it looked like Jesus,” she said, “and I still think it looks like Jesus.”

Esquilin had been praying for a way to continue her daughter’s education, and believes that the timing of the moth’s appearance is significant. The family also discovered that the color yellow symbolises hope, and brown represents important news.

“I believe this was a sign,” she explained. “God is letting me know good news is coming and to keep the hope.”

Okay sure, whatever you say, lady. Keep the faith! Still other observers of the moth, which does appear to be emblazoned with an image of a man with long hair and a beard if you squint a bit, aren’t sure if it’s the Son o’ God or maybe it’s like an evil sorcerer or sumpthin’.

“People also saw an image of the Devil which is kind of creepy but after staring at it for so long it almost looks like it,” Ms. Esquilin said.

Hard to say what this mixed moth message means, isn’t it?

via Christian Nightmares and Christian Today

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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So, yeah, there’s now an artisanal vegan prison tattoo kit…
07:39 am

Stupid or Evil?


So you want a shitty amateur tattoo, obtained without the hassle or expense that can accompany experienced professionals and sterile environments, but you’re not SO obtuse as not to fear the Hep C, tetanus and necrotizing fasciitis you can get from using a safety pin and ink harvested from a ballpoint pen? Stick and Poke is here, claiming to render safe your brave and likely idiotic choice with their home tattoo kits, containing sealed needles, basic sterility supplies, and vegan ink, which is important for some reason.

WHAT I AM NOT GOING TO DO HERE:  There will be no tattoo shaming. I’m inked, so I’ve obviously got nothing against the practice. There will be no hipster straw-manning, as I’m arguably in a glass house on that count, too. There will be no ripping on vegans, even sanctimonious ones. There are far worse things in this world than a food scold. All I’m saying is the trendlet for tiny little homemade blackline tattoos all over one’s self has already saturated to the point where Miley Cyrus forfuxsakes has a bunch of them on her hands. Is that who you want to be like? Miley Cyrus? If there’s any doubt that this is aimed squarely at over precious, faddish tweepeople, check out the flash they offer, which look like the study hall doodles of an inapt 7th grader.



Understanding that people have been doing this on their own forever and will continue to do so, it’s surely better that it be done with a modicum of safety in mind, so I sought the opinion of a qualified, long-standing professional in the field to pick his brain about these kits. Ladies and gentlemen, meet The Human Furnace, singer for hardcore/metal lifers and Relapse Records artists Ringworm, and co-proprietor since 1997 of 252 Tattoo, now with two locations to better serve Northeast Ohio. I asked him for his take on the safety of these kits, and while I expected he wouldn’t be fully on board with them, I didn’t quite expect him to projectile-vomit a nest of hornets:

Wow. This is pretty hilarious. I particularly like the page of the manual that warns “Consult your physician before getting a tattoo. Consult a professional tattoo artist before getting a tattoo.” Huh? What’s this kit FOR, then? Isn’t the entire “WARNINGS” section one giant oxymoron? And the “professional vegan ink” has such a nice ring to it. This pretty much takes the whole “kit tattooing” thing to a more ignorant level, as a tattoo machine is too technical for some, and let’s face it, sometimes the spare room in your mother-in-law’s trailer doesn’t have any outlets. Just stick ‘em with a needle!

Basically, someone just packaged up about $3.50 worth of crap in a box and is marketing to the extra large percentage of idiots around the world. On some levels, I enjoy things like this because its soooooooo enjoyable to make fun of the results when people fly the huge “Hey look! I’m an IDIOT and I don’t even know it” flag, so I appreciate them saving me some time in getting to know them. I’m a busy man. And, I must admit that there was a time (a loooong time ago) that I was hand-poking The Germs (O’s) tattoos on my buddies shoulders on front porches in the summer time while drinking crazy horse malt liquor and listening to the Exploited, but things where different then. I dunno. Perhaps I’m wrong. Tattooing and the whole tattoo industry was completely different 25-26 yrs ago. It wasn’t hip. The prom queen, star quarterback and student council president didn’t have full sleeves of Sailor Jerry tattoos or Mumford and Sons song lyrics written across their ribs. And, as much as this type of stuff amuses me, it really just takes another bite out of the professional tattoo industry. Young Idiots like myself and many many others worked really fucking hard to get tattooing to a legit level. It’s disheartening sometimes to realize that crap like this is just a by-product caused by the mainstreaming of tattooing.

Should this type of thing be illegal? There’s a strong case for it. Professionals have to be certified (and these days, certifiable), have blood-borne pathogen classes, follow codes, follow professional standards, ethics (well, maybe not ethics, but that’s a whole other story) etc. Will this type of thing ever BE illegal? Fuck no. You’ll never be able to stop this type of stuff. As long as there is an angle to make some cash and exploit some popular trend, somebody’s going to do it. So, Get in on it while ya can folks! Make extra CA$H from Home! Why pay outrageous professional prices? Fuck your best friend up! Fuck your brother up! Fuck your sister! Oops, I mean, fuck your sister up and even fuck yourself up with the Stick and Poke Tattoo Kit from Ronco! Fun for All Ages!.....ughhhhh. Someone come get me when this is all over. I have some tattooing to do. On the bright side, our hospitals are going to be getting a nice influx of staph and sepsis cases to keep them busy. We’ve got healthcare now right?

So there you go, straight from a pro. A smartass, rant-prone pro, but among his many points, he’s got a damn good one about the expense. The kit goes for $40—a “bargainous” $70 if you get the nauseatingly precious “partners” set—but fifty tattooing needles in sterile packaging retail for about $6, ink for about $3, and much of the industrialized world already has gauze, rubbing alcohol and bandages socked away in the bathroom cupboard. This is an expensive box of bullshit, made of unbleached brown paper so its dainty consumer can feel planet savingly eco-friendly about the completely wasted packaging. But I guess it doesn’t matter how that handlebar mustache gets on the side of your index finger, just as long as it gets there.

I would totally let Beth Piwkowski use one of these kits to tattoo Foot Foot on my neck in gratitude for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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7-year-old redesigns condiment label so that it doesn’t look like turds
07:21 am


brown sauce

There is packaging that is corny and packaging that is ugly and packaging that is lame, but most of the time we can ignore bad design. But then there are cetain labels that look like shit—not “shitty,” mind you, but like actual, literal shit. For example, the original packaging for Waitrose brown sauce appeared to feature feces—apparently they’re dates (Where besides Palm Springs would they serve dates with breakfast? I say they’re cat poop.). Luckily, intrepid six-year-old (now seven) Harry Deverill sensed something amiss, and wrote to the company a helpful letter, politely skirting the obvious resemblance of the dates to something less nutritious…

Dear Mark Price,

I am writing as the other morning I had Waitrose essential Brown Sauce with my bacon sandwiches. I asked Daddy what the picture is of on the label. Daddy didn’t know and neither do I. Please could you let me know. Mummy says I am good at drawing so if you would like me to draw a new picture for the label I would be happy to.

Kind regards, Harry Deverill, aged 6

You can see Harry with his adorable (and identifiable) redesign in the picture below. The traditional English breakfast is unfairly maligned in my opinion, but its reputation isn’t helped by fecal graphics. So well done, Harry! May all your breakfasts be devoid of scatological imagery!

Via Fast Company

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Brickjest,’ the LEGO version of ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace

“These are three Deans—of Admissions, Academic Affairs, Athletic Affairs. I do not know which face belongs to whom,” p. 3
Infinite Jest, the famously brilliant and famously unread 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace, frequently described as the most important novel of the 1990s and then some ... finally has inspired a LEGO muse to take up the task of executing a brick adaptation. It is called BrickJest. Infinite Jest is about many things, including tennis, addiction, filmmaking, corporate sponsorship, and terrorism. It’s a rich tapestry that positively cries out for the medium of brightly colored plastic bricks.

Charmingly, the photos below (just a fraction of the whole) are the fruits of a collaboration between Prof. Kevin Griffith of Capital University and his eleven-year-old son Sebastian, who “created all the scenes based on his father’s descriptions of the relevant pages.” They were jointly inspired by The Brick Bible by Brendan Powell Smith.

“‘I am not just a creatus, manufactured, conditioned, bred for a function.’ ... ‘Sweet mother of Christ,’ the Director says,” p. 12

“He felt similar to the insect inside the girder his shelf was connected too, but was not sure just how he was similar,” p. 19

“And out of nowhere a bird had all of a sudden fallen into the Jacuzzi,” p. 44

“The tall, ungainly, socially challenged and hard-drinking Dr. Incandenza’s May-December marriage to one of the few bona-fide bombshell-type females in North American Academia, the extremely tall and high-strung . . . Avril Mondragon . . .,” p. 64

“So but when Schtitt dons the leather helmet and goggles and revs up the old F.R.G.-era BMW cycle . . . it is usually eighteen-year-old Mario Incandenza who gets to ride along in the side-car . . .,” p. 79

“Feral hamsters are not pets. They mean business,” p. 93

“Video telephony rendered the fantasy insupportable,” p. 146

“1610h. Weightroom freestyle circuits. The clank and click of various resistance-systems. Lyle on the towel dispenser . . .,” p. 198

“Gately now shares the important duty of ‘breaking down the hall,’ sweeping floors and emptying ashtrays . . .,” p. 360

“Clipperton plays tennis with the Glock 17 held steadily to his left temple,” p. 409

“Gately has to smile at the Wraith’s cluelessness . . .a drug addict’s second most meaningful relationship is always with his domestic entertainment unit, TV/VCR or HDTP,” p. 834
via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Miniature marvels: Welcome to the fabulous world of Subatomic Tourism

Subatomic Tourism is the fantastic miniature world created by “bequiffed” Edinburgh-based visual art Mirren Audax. As he describes it on his site:

Subatomic Tourism is an ongoing project to big up the small with a hint of Irwin Allen and Richard Feynman, along with a touch of Marcel Duchamp and Ray Harryhausen; to bring by way of Joseph Cornell and Gerry Anderson a celebration of the wonderful world-sized diorama we find ourselves living in.

Audax photographs scenes created with toy figures placed in urban settings that resemble stills from classic TV series, science fiction films, pop culture and surreal portraiture. With references to Doctor Who, Star Trek, H. P. Lovecraft and American road movies, Audux’ fabulous images allow the viewer to invent their own narrative for each image.

See more Lilliputian worlds here, and you can follow the Museum of Subatomic Tourism on Facebook and Twitter.
Migration Tracking.
Lost In The Supermarket.
Silver Foil Nemesis.
The Saucer.
More miniature marvels after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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