What’s your Band Name?

The Doors

Back in my overconfident university days I played drums in two different bands.

What I remember most from that period, apart from the jokes about drummers being people who hang around real musicians, was all the lugging and setting up of equipement I had to do. Much, much more than my fellow band members. ‘That’s the lot of the drummer’ I told myself, ‘especially one who plays a double-bass drum’. It still didn’t stop me wishing some days I was the group’s harmonicist.

One of those early wide-eyed, group attempts at fame was called THE GROOVEDIGGERS (later renamed DEMENTIA 13 after the 1963 horror movie of the same name, a remake landing in cinemas in 2017) and the other, THE JIVING GARGOYLES. I know what you’re maybe thinking. With names like those, the odds were against us from the beginning, right? Wrong! A quick glance at names of mega-conquering musical acts down through the years can show only one thing: names given to bands are the absolute last predictor of future success.

I got thinking on this topic after a recent visit to my local library. (One day I’d like to be able to write how I got thinking on a topic after a recent trip to the ski fields of St. Moritz or the sandy beaches of Belize, but for now, it’s my local library). I spotted a book about the etymologies (that’s right, etymologies!) of band names. Forty-five minutes later and now seated in a council provided leather armchair next to a sign that read “Reading seriously harms idiocy”, I was still leafing through its pages, proving those rumours of me having a short attention span are completely, OK mostly, unfounded.

Rock band names

There’s been some well documented stories over the years of how certain bands got their names. ABBA was an acronym of the band member’s first names: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid. AC/DC came about after Angus and Malcolm Young’s sister saw the letters on the back of a sewing machine. KISS was thought up by Paul Stanley one day while driving around with fellow band mates in a car. Drummer Peter Criss had previously been in a band called LIPS. DURAN DURAN used to play at a club in Birmingham called Barbarella’s. They took their title from the name of a character in the 1968 movie Barbarella.     Don’t believe me? Click here..

And as for music’s most famous ever band, THE BEATLES, theirs was originally conceived as a homage of sorts to one of their favourite musicians of the time Buddy Holly and his band THE CRICKETS.

band names

Of course there’s never been any shortage of musical groups not afraid to embrace the ridiculous in what they called themselves. Think actor Russell Crow’s old outfit THIRTY ODD FOOT OF GRUNTS or even the ultimate exercise in ironic-naming, the recently reformed British alternative rock group THE THE. With their oddly placed question mark, PANIC! AT THE DISCO (2004 – Present) also deserve mention in this category.
Apparently the lads decided to drop the exclamation mark in 2008 when they released their Beatles-inspired Pretty. Odd. (Punctuation written here as it appeared on the album cover). The fans revolted and the exclamation was reinstalled.

This book had me recalling bands I’d long forgotton, one example being the 80’s British synth-pop new wavers THE THOMPSON TWINS. If you were around back then you probably realise none of the group members were twins or named Thompson. Or related. Instead they derived their name from a character in the original comic strip The Adventures of Tin Tin.

My prize though for the weirdest band name with the most interesting origin story goes to the American alternate rock band TOAD THE WET SPROCKET (1986 – Present). Back when I was teenager there was a Monty Python sketch called “Rock Notes” that hilariously parodied the idea of ridiculous band names. TOAD THE WET SPROCKET took their name from one of the made-up bands named in this sketch.    Listen to it here

the the

So now I’m asking – what would be your band name?

Peak out from behind the tree you’ve been standing behind these last few minutes and drop your idea into the comments box at the bottom – wacky, freak-show worthy, wantonly pretentious or Wembley Stadium headline act sounding – I’m not fussed.

If you get stuck for inspiration you can always resort to the ‘ol DAVE MATTHEWS BAND (1991- Present) formula for group naming. Or… you can use an automatic band name generator like the one found     here     or    here     or       here .

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Ps. In a week that also saw the passing away of 1960’s hippie cult leader Charles Manson and hopefully also the pop-culture phenomena that surrounded him while he was alive, came the sad news for tennis fans of the death of former 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna at the age of just 49. During her 14 year career she won 100 titles (24 in singles and 76 in doubles) and reached a career high ranking of #2 in the world (#1 ranking for doubles). She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

CapturePss. Speaking of sports people, local boxer Jeff Horn now has a biography on the bookshelves. The front cover banner-line says it all – My journey from bullied schoolboy to World Champion.” 

Jeff Horn

Psss. Your bonus read this week is a little story for anyone who enjoys cupcakes.

Taste it HERE

 

 

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They’ve got me this time!

warrant

Not to put too dramatic a spin on it, but there’s a warrant been issued for my arrest.

And though the grammar used to communicate the message couldn’t exactly be labelled Oxford standard, I understood enough to at least begin entertaining the notion, within the deepest,wildest recesses of my imagination, that maybe, just maybe, the jig, as  Humphrey Bogart or someone of his ilk might have said seven decades ago, was finally up.

This is the word for word transcript (grammar errors included) of a telephone message left on our answering machine (yes they’re still around and some folk like me still use them) earlier this week –

Caught. 

We have received a complaint of you from Australian Taxation office. 

We have your reference number as WX 2754.

As there is legal case going to be filed against your name including warrant for your arrest.

Now before the case is sent for execution and you receive a legal course of notification, you can call the Taxation Office on 02 8006 7069.

That number again – 02 8006 7069

Don’t ignore!

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Do these people have any idea who they’re messing with sending an only 98% grammatically correct piece of hokum like this to the likes of me?

I’m not ashamed to admit my inner ‘Cambridge University English Professor’ enjoys nothing more than the challenge of uncovering the weird syntax clues that expose this message to be the bogus imposter of authority it really is.

Pull up a seat (ok, you’re already on one) while this shameless shyster gets dismantled slightly-off sentence by sentence:

  • An opening sentence of just one word? Attention-getting I’ll give them that but in a phone message?  First red flag.
  • “A complaint of you”? No fellas. It’s gonna be either ‘complaint against you’ or ‘complaint about you’. Second strike.
  • Think you forget the ‘the‘ before ‘Australian Taxation Office’. It’s the little things that count.
  • You left out the ‘a’ before ‘legal case’. Whoever composed this piece of comedy has no regard at all for articles. No regard at all I say.
  • Sorry if I’m coming across as a stickler for correctness but that whole line that begins – “As there is legal case…” is not even a sentence goddamit! Sentence fragments just don’t cut it gentlemen!
  • As for the dramatic signoff ‘Don’t Ignore’, I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why this screams ‘non-native speaker riddled fraud‘ so let’s just say while I can maybe picture a finger-waving parent talking to their own flesh and blood in this manner or a born-to-be-stern schoolteacher laying down the law to their class, I’m not entirely convinced the Australian Taxation Department would choose words so dripping in ‘over the back fence’ speak.

And bumping up the weird factor even higher was the fact the ever-so-subtley mangled English was delivered in what might best be described as a robotic, computerized version of a (Sir) Derek Jacobi accent. If you’re not familiar with the English actor, hear him here (he’s the one wearing a tie and black vest in the clip)

To be clear, these shysters will have to get up a lot earlier in the morning if they’re to have any chance of fooling leather-elbow-patch-brown-cardigan-wearing English Professor Donaldson.

Anyone up for a taste of comedy gold should click here for a look at someone hilariously turning the tables on an over-the-phone scammer.

And if that in any way tickled your funny bone, go straight to the three and a half-minute mark of this video and watch a guy call two different random-dial scammers at the same time and then place the mobile phone’s up against each other so each scammer can hear the other one and they think they’re talking to each other. Good humored revenge at its finest!

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Ps. ‘Pun of the Week’ award goes to the 4BC radio commentator I overheard while on one of my marathon (2.5km) morning drives to work, who, when speaking about the news that Canada is in danger of running out of maple syrup, wondered what the local politicians might use instead to go with all their waffling.

Pss. A short while back I mentioned about the release of the 35-years-awaited sequel to the movie BLADE RUNNERThis article shines a revealing light on precisely why the movie failed to ignite the box office.

Psss. Coming soon to movie theatres is a sports film set in an era back when I was totally in love with the game of tennis. See the trailer here for BORG VS McENROE.

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Pssss. This bonus read is a story for anyone who’s ever found a book they’ve tried reading totally or even partially indigestible, for any reason including – an overly complex plot, too many characters to keep track of or highfalutin or period-specific language.

 

Reliving Old Magic

magic

It was funny back in the day but way less funny now.

Recently I unearthed an old notebook, its pages now yellowing with age.  I once owned and used this paper jotter back in my late twenties. Back then this was my little reservoir for storing quotes, witty remarks, memorable lines of movie dialogue and other wordery bits of flotsam and jetsam I thought worthy of preserving.

As observed before on these pages, some things hold up over the passage of time better than others. Written just below an old flames’ phone number, still preserved for memories sake, was this bit of, what evidently my twenty-something self considered comedy gold –

Five things You Don’t Want When You Are A Magician

  1.   When you’ve got a cold and you pull a handkerchief from your pocket but it turns        into a dove before you can use it.
  2.    When the plumber says “You’re the magician.. you unclog it!”
  3.    Caperash
  4.    Stores that don’t accept coins taken from people’s ears.
  5.    When you mistakenly murmur  ‘Abracadabra’ in your sleep and then wake up          to find half your furniture is missing.

Like I say, certain things hold up over the passage of time better than others.

In some quarters I think they call this short-term memory nostalgia.

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Ps. Last week I looked at a book which uncovered the life of bestselling British author Ann Perry and the murder she was involved in as a teenage girl long before she became famous. Another well-known author Sue Townsend (1946-2014), writer of the children’s series THE DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE, was also caught up in unfortunate events early in life. 

Back in 1953, at the age of just eight years old, Sue Townsend witnessed a child being strangled. The then Susan Johnstone had been hiding up in a tree with two other friends in a forest near her Leicester home when a scene of unbelievable horror unfolded incredibly right in front of her innocent eyes.

She and her friends watched helplessly as 12 year old Janet Warner was murdered by 31 year old Dublin born labourer Joseph Reynolds. The young girl was asphxiated with her own school tie. Afterwards, the children climbed down silently from the tree, stepping over the body, and ran to a nearby sweets shop to report the crime. The shopkeeper didn’t believe them and ordered the three out of his shop. The next day the children’s story was vindicated when police arrested Reynolds for the crime.

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PPS. Hot on the heels of actor Tom Hank‘s newly penned collection of short stories titled UNCOMMON TYPE, comes a new short story collection from British author Jeffrey Archer (who famously went to prison for two years in the early 2000’s for perjury) called TELL TALE.

Archer, whose books have sold around 330 million copies worldwide, has now released a total of seven short story collections over the course of his writing career, interspersed with his more popular novels, but TELL TALE is the first in seven years.

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Naming Rights (and wrongs)

Horse

Horses for courses, of course, but really – what’s in a name?

I remember as a child showing interest in the sometimes unusual-sounding names of horses competing in each year’s Melbourne Cup. For the benefit of people reading this who may reside outside Australia, the Melbourne Cup is this country’s number one blue ribbon event on the thoroughbred horse-racing calendar.

It may no longer be Australia’s richest horse race as far as prize money offered to the winner goes (that honour now belongs to The Everest’ event run at Royal Randwick racecourse in which even the horse that finishes 12th still collects $175 000!), but it is without doubt the one race that ‘stops a nation’ and in doing so captures the hearts and minds of the mug punters – if you’ll pardon the expression – who, at any other time of the year, wouldn’t know their way to a racetrack if you gave them a pre-plotted GPS smart- phone and the cab fare to get there.

Back in childhood, the name of the horse is about the only thing you have to go on when it comes to getting a feel for what’s doing on the track. There’s not many nine and ten-year olds that know their way around short course odds, track conditions, jockey weights and who the winning trainers are.

Sad to tell, but in my case not much has progressed since those very early days. The name (and a half glance at the betting odds) is still what persuades me to choose one horse over another.

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And haven’t there been some great names for racehorses over the years! The ones on the list below belong to real horses that all ran on race courses for prizemoney.

Waikikamukau – Pronounced ‘why kick a moo cow’ was an evil trick played by New Zealanders on Aussie race callers.

Maythehorsebewithu takes out the prize for the corniest of Star Wars puns to ever grace the race track.

Sotally Tober – Is this a dyslexic drunk’s idea of a joak?

Muff Diver  What’s so funny? Despite what you may be thinking, this horse was named after a cocktail made from Baileys Irish Cream and Creme de Cacao. Then again, just because you can rationalize it, doesn’t make it right.

Ha Ha Ha – A nightmare for commentators to pronounce without looking stupid, it seems the last laugh was actually on those who named him. In a six-race career, he finished last twice and was pulled up on two other occasions.

Geespot – It might itself make you snigger like little school children on the playground, but the naming is sheer genius based on its pedigree. By the sire ‘Pursuit of Love’ and out of the mare ‘My Discovery’, one can only admire the creativity of the naming of this mare.

AARRRRRRR – Clearly named on ‘Speak Like A Pirate’ Day, this equine athlete was forever a pain for live commentators. On the upside, this hurdle-hopping horse was probably the only animal able to kind of say his own name – a real skill in itself.

I challenge you not to split your sides laughing at this audio of an American race caller commentating on a race which includes the horse ARRRRRRRRR.

Take the challenge here

If that one doesn’t grab you try this one instead.

Final copy

Here’s the list of horse names for this year’s Melbourne Cup –

  1. Bondi Beach 
  2. Max Dynamite 
  3. Johannes Vermeer 
  4. Rekindling 
  5. Big Duke 
  6. Ventura Storm (My pick)  (Jockey Glen Boss) 
  7. Libran 
  8. Wicklow Brave 
  9. Boom Time (My seven-year-old daughter’s pick)
  10. Amelie’s Star 
  11. Single Gaze 
  12. Hartnell 
  13. Humidor 
  14. Almandin (Last year’s winner)
  15. Wall of Fire 
  16. Marmelo (Race favourite)
  17. Cismontane 
  18. Gallante 
  19. Nakeeta 
  20. Who Shot Thebarman 
  21. Thomas Hobson 
  22. US Army Ranger 
  23. Tiberian 
  24. Red Cardinal 

Apart from Who Shot The Barman? (late news: this horse has now been scratched from the field) a little underwhelming in the names department I’d suggest.

Personally, I’d prefer to see a race which included the likes of the following –

  • Fidget Spinner 
  • The Donald
  • Fake News
  • Netflix And Chill
  • Duel Citizen
  • Pork Sausage and Wheat Beer
  • Scenic Writer’s Shack 
  • Accidentally Inspired
  • 2 and 2 Make 5
  • Hayne Plane Crash
  • Smart Phone Zombie
  • Annastacia
  • Palaszczuk For Premier
  • Side Hustle
  • Cocaine Cassie
  • Airbags On Lampposts
  • Rocket Man
  • Coal Fired Power
  • Goneski
  • The Kim Jong Haircut
  • Breakfast Beer
  • Footballers Behaving Badly
  • Vanilla Coke
  • A Man Named Horse
  • Chocolate After Glow
  • Jeff Horn Rematch

More interesting wouldn’t you say?

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Murder She Wrote

The search for Ann Perry

Three words: Damn. Fine. Read.

I’m three-quarters of the way through this page turner which I borrowed from our local library. Not to put too dramatic a spin on it but I’ve breathlessly lived every one of those pages. Fascinating does not begin to describe the vice-like grip this true crime/biography has held me in this past week.

Anne Perry is the international bestselling British author of over fifty novels, which to date have sold over 25 million copies. She is currently 78 years of age. At the age of fifteen she was convicted of participating in the murder of her friend’s mother, in 1954. She changed her name to Anne Perry after serving her five-year sentence.

The centrepiece of this story is the outing of her, and her secret past life, back in 1994. That was the year Peter Jackson’s (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong and the forthcoming Mortal Engines) movie Heavenly Creatures was released. The film, which was actress Kate Winslet’s screen debut, was based on the real life relationship between two New Zealand school girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme who, on June 22nd 1954, murdered Parker’s mother in a Christchurch park. Juliet Hulme was later to become the person the world would know as Anne Perry.

After serving  five years in prison, Juliet Hulme was released and left New Zealand to start a new life in Scotland under the assumed name Anne Perry. By the time the movie came out, people knew Anne Perry only as the crime fiction writer read and adored by millions. A ‘slip of the tongue’ at one of the film’s official launches exposed the connection between the adult Anne Perry and the teenage Juliet Hulme.

 Compelling if you’re into this type of thing and almost as hard to put down as the last non-fiction book I read, which happened to be on the subject of anti-gravity. Heard that one before? Maybe so, but if it’s originality you crave, this story has it – if you’ll forgive the bury-the-body related expression – in spades.♠

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Ps. Not fussed on the idea of writing a 100 000 word novel but still feel the itch to cast the odd mesmerizing word spell? A competition being run by the Queensland Writer’s Centre could be just what you’ve been looking for. Entrants have until November 24th to submit a story of just eight words. The best will be seen on Goa Billboards throughout Brisbane. Go here to see some of the entries.

For the benefit of inspiring others to the firm belief they could do better, here’s mine –

Rich uncle Toblerone was finally off to prism.

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PSS. Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks also a writer?

Who knew?

Hanks has just published his first book of fiction, a collection of seventeen short stories entitled “UNCOMMON TYPE“. Everyone’s got a favourite Tom Hanks movie (mine are SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, CASTAWAY and FOREST GUMP) and now we have a chance to check out his writing smarts as well.

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