Archive for October, 2008

In case you weren’t paying attention

20,October, 2008

Slate V has produced two more – ‘In case you weren’t paying attention‘ videos about the US presidential election.  Here is the link for the two most recent ones.  They are brilliant – if only the election was as fast.

From the Conventions to the First Debate in Four minutes.

From the First Debate to the Last Debate in Four Minutes. 

John L

Wondrous Stories

17,October, 2008

I first met Rick Wakeman on the TV set of Jounglares Live and Unleashed.  I arrived at the rehearsal completely unprepared.  In my defence I had had a tough week with a death in the family and then on the day before the show, when I had planned to prepare, my son broke his arm.  On the day of the recording I just grabbed my most recent trick – the levitating cigarette, and drove to the set.  It wasn’t until I got there that I realised I hadn’t gotten permission for the music that I used during the trick.  There was no way I could get the rights in time.  I asked them if they had any copyright free music and the TV company said, no.  I didn’t know what to do.  I needed some spooky music but it was four in the afternoon on a Sunday.  The producers and the director couldn’t come up with a solution, that’s when Rick came over.  I had been an avid fan of Yes and owned all of Rick’s solo albums.  One of the main reasons I did the show was to meet him.  But instead of a proper introduction the first thing I ever said to him was, “If I can find a little Casio keyboard will you play some Bach behind me?” I meant it as a joke but he replied, “No but I can do a little Rakmoninoff.”

So off I dashed to find a keyboard.  The only thing open was a car boot sale.  I found all manner of flutes but no keyboards -then I found a Stylophone.  The Stylophone was a tiny electronic toy  keyboard that came out in Britian in the 70s.  It was sold on TV by a famous personality in the UK named Ralf Harris.  It came with one of those floppy 45rpm records to teach you how to play songs like: Greensleeves and When the Saints Come Marching In.  The one I found in a market stall was in mint condition, in the original box with a perfect floppy record.  The guy wanted a fortune for it but I didn’t care.

When I got back I showed Rick the flutes – he wasn’t enthusiastic – then I showed him the Stylophone.  I’ve never seen a man so excited.  Rick apparently bought one of the original Stylophones as he was walking down Oxford Street on the way to a recording session where he was playing keyboards for David Bowie.  You know that sliding electronic sound in Space Oddity of the rocket launching?  That was Rick on a Stylophone. He said, “I’ve been looking for one of these for ages.”

I told him if he played for me on stage he could have it.  The big man (Rick is like 6’3″) wandered on stage in his full glittering robe and with his hair-swishing best he played Rachmaninoff on a tiny tinny Stylophone while I levitated a cigarette.  How cool is that?  We’ve been friends ever since.

Rick has just published a memoir called Grumpy Old Rockstar and other Wondrous Stories.  It’s a delight.  When you are not laughing out loud, you are whispering under your breath, “Oh my god.”  It’s like sitting down with the great man himself.  Buy a copy today and then eagerly wait for volume two – cause this ain’t even half of the wondrous stories that this guy has got.

I got me a new Casio A220W-1QY

10,October, 2008

I got me a new Casio A220W-1QY Futurist Vibrating Alarm Watch.

I had one ages ago and lost it but I saw that is selling them again and I got me one.  So why so exited?  Well for a stage performer this baby is great.  You can set the timer for however long your act is and then it vibrates when your time is up.  You never have to glance at your watch and the audience is none the wiser.  

The first time I ever used one of these was at the Ealing Comedy Festival. The gigs were in big 1000 seat tents in the park.  On the day I was performing it had rained and there were a few puddled around.  At the moment I touched the mike stand the vibrating alarm went off.  I freaked – I thought I was being electrocuted.  It was not one of my coolest moments on stage.


John L

A Secret Chapter

9,October, 2008

A pair of socks goes to osirisoflight as the first person to notice that in fact there is a chapter in the printed version of Shadowmagic that is not in the podcast.  When my publisher Scott read the manuscript he felt it needed one more adventure.  So I elaborated on Fergal and Conor’s meeting.  The episode introduced a new race of characters who are becoming very important in book two.  I’ll fill in the listeners in a prologue of podcast two – when I get there.

I posted socks to Matt today.  If I owe you socks remember to email your snailmail to  john(at)gratuitoussocks(dot)com 


PS thanks osirisoflight for alerting me to my websites being down.  I’m paying the bill now.



A Movie Moment

8,October, 2008

I was driving down the road and flipped on  BBC London Radio and heard Danny Baker say this:

So I pulled over and called the station:

My voice was a bit squeaky but I was excited – it was like one of those moments in a movie when the bank robber turns on the radio and there is a news report about the heist.


Well helllooo

3,October, 2008

I just watched the vice presidential debates.  Am I having some sort of strange right wing, midlife crisis or did Sara Palin really wink at me?

John L

Palin the Poet

2,October, 2008

I’ve always been a great fan of the Haiku and now it looks as if my favorite Alaskan governor is popping them out by accident.



These corporations. 
Today it was AIG, 
Important call, there. 

S. Hannity, Fox News, Sept. 18, 2008)


Slate has a lovely article on the poetry of Sara Palin.  Check it out.


A pair of socks to the first

1,October, 2008

I’m being remiss in keeping track of my own blog.  The award (and maybe a pair of old socks) for the first Shadowmagic book review goes to my old podcast fan, Craig Anderson on his fine blog – Reviews and Other Stuff.  Have a look here.