Man of the Woods. Bunker of Awesome.

…. and then Bobby walked into the bathroom and Pam knew it was all a dream. No-one shot JR.

Feels like the past 18 months could out-Dallas, Dallas.

Relieving, then, that Justin Timberlake* should release a new album round about now. *Henceforth known as JT.

Here, at the House of Hairbrain – there is no time to dig through crates of vinyl for hidden gems. I leave that to the specialists on MixCloud and always read someone else’s review first; saving myself from the utter inconvenience of being ahead of the pack.

Today is no different. So, after the seventh ‘mixed review’ of a ‘mixed bag’ of an album, it was time to find out what went wrong with JT’s latest work.

Turns out, a whole bag of nothing went wrong and JT is alive and well (if hiding out in a concept-bunker with “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” looped on the Plasma of Survival – and Pharrell wigging out in the corner on a brown acid tab from Woodstock he ‘bought off of eBay’).

Cut to the chase – every track has a berth in the Bunker of Awesome. Man of the Woods will survive Trump (how many on the Axis of Evil can say that?), Man of the Woods will hunt, gather and flavour up his pop with whatever tools he can find, out there, in the hinterland of the Neptunes studio.  True, Perry was quicker off the mark with Chained to the Rhythm but JT is no also-ran here.

Do yourself a favour – to carry this out authentically, you may need some brown leather sofas and shag pile ceiling carpet – and give yourself a good old fashioned concept album listening afternoon, staring at your shoes, nodding ferociously because you DO have a sense of rhythm.

Here are some of my notes – but you can make your own:

Track 1: Filthy – Alice Cooper scores “007: Man of the Woods” before Daft Punk takes over the whoopty whoop machine. JT’s punchy recitative melts into sweet west coast road-mixtape melody. Funky guitar n bass hoves into view before Daft Punk whoops and swoops in aluminium tracksuits. Alice reprises straight outta nowhere. Stop. Turn on a dime to Daft Punk this time sporting Timo Maas  sensibilities. JT is sassy ol’ self (not unlike George Michael in tuneage). Finish with absurdist spoken monologue.

What’s not to love?

(My full album listening notes for the boffins will be posted elsewhere.)

So why the bad press then? Maybe they don’t love Country / West Coast Yacht Rock / Alice Cooper / Pixar-worthy “put you in my left pocket” balladeering? The man was a Mouseketeer!! If anyone is going to put you in his left pocket, it will be JT. And you will enjoy it (promise).

Or maybe they do.

Once upon a time, in a hot, sweaty WWII weatherboard shed (not unlike JTs bunker, sans the acid) on the NSW Uni campus Music Department – one Dr Jill gave us the following essay topic: Is Yothu Yindi’s “Treaty” an Australian aboriginal song with Dance music elements bolted on – or is it a Dance track, with an aboriginal song flavour?

Burning issue, Ethnomusicologists! But for all the whys and wherefores (it was an Aboriginal song primarily) was it a) awesome and b) could you love it if you got out of your own way and gave it a proper listen?

Yes we can.

The Merchant of Brexit


It’s Shakespeare on skates on a rollercoaster. It’s The Pound. It’s the Vibe (we are heading into constitutional law, so that’s as technical as I get).

Well, like many, many, many (how many millions?) of others, I am punching the air and googling “EU Flags & facepaint” on Amazon. I know what they are, I want to know if the kids can fashion a school uniform out of them?

Following today’s court ruling against the government, here comes the town crier:

“A plague on no-one’s house. A PLAGUE ON NO-ONE’S HOUSE!!”

That was a different play.

It’s all Greek to me.

Can I get an Amen?*

*HuggeeBear’s text to me today.






Hello World!

Get in touch …. whoever you are. What’s happening there?

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My broken European heart

How we feel.

nb This is written today, amidst the greatest uncertainty we’ve ever experienced in my lifetime, in the tattered remains of a postwar political consensus. I’m hurting. Be kind. 

I am European. I was born in 1974, in a European country. I love being European, and I love being British. There’s no contradiction there; I am also proud of being from Sussex too, with all the traditions that brings. And will always love my hometown, Worthing, which has its own identity, quirks and ways within the wider county. Think of it like Russian dolls, a Worthing boy, my Sussex identity nestled inside my Britishness, inside a European shell.


In the last few years, I have been very lucky and, for the first time in my life and thanks to work, I have been able to travel. We had a couple of childhood holidays – Austria with PGL, Paris – but I…

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Blog: Flip Chart Fairy Tales “Looking Behind the Brexit anger”

Was the referendum result the revenge of the ‘left-behind’ voters? Not the most recently left-behind, says the Resolution Foundation’s Torsten Bell. Those areas that have experienced the sharpest fall in income since EU enlargement might have been expected to vote most strongly for Brexit but, as Torsten shows, “there is no relationship between how an area’s prosperity […]

via Looking behind the Brexit anger — Flip Chart Fairy Tales

The Real Housewives of Westminster.


I’ve not suffered grief, not as an adult. The last time someone really close to me died, it was 1979. It was the simple sadness of childhood and long forgotten by now.

A cancer diagnosis for a close relative (and not my own) probably is the closest I’ve come. That thing, when you wake up and wonder ‘yeah, why am I sad?’ and the thud when your brain reminds your heart. Apparently this happens because you can’t process it in one hit. Your mind ‘reconstructs’ the way things were before ‘the thing’ as you follow the usual pattern of your day – and then the thud. Yeah, here comes that thing again.

So it goes with Brexit.

Shocked, bemused, frustrated, livid, INCANDESCENT, frightened, swearing at my mum on Skype about all those other motherfuckers (sorry Mum), Over it, On top of it, laughing out loud on the train at the futility and receiving dagger eyes from the other camp, getting drunk (lotsa booze folks), Blubsy in the Corner, gigantic bags of crisps (it works), one eye on the Bloomberg channel ticker feed, one eye on the Guardian, one eye on the Kardashians (What a bad time to be all up to date with the Housewives of 3 major US cities? Big assed Kardashians are a poor substitute I know, but my GOD, Those People! And I’m slightly enamoured with the way they bleat like lambs when they laugh. It’s soothing. Kanye remains silent throughout. He’s a Remainer, God love him).

But not the Queen. God is not going to save the Queen – after her bloody dinner party Parlour Games, giving the Bingo set young and old their coded message: Give me 3 good reasons to stay in the European Union. [Give me 3 good reasons to keep the Monarchy, M’am] She may as well have sent a guilty-edged note on vellum, rolled into cigarillo formation and tucked into the collar of a Corgi to every doggone household ‘up and down the country’ (I hate that cliché, I rue the day it was coined) with the words. VOTE LEAVE. Way to go QEII.

“But Grandmama, you’ve lost half of the realm. It was our future. Now what?”

“They were rude.  I never liked them.”

“That was the Chinese Ambassador.”

“Where am I?” *carks it*

They really are just like the rest of us after all. Whodathunkit?

Pop-up government. Eton Rifles at Dawn. Collapso Politico. They nearly ruined Wimbledon, FFS. Nearly.

This cluster fuck did not happen in isolation nor in a vacuum. WWLRS? (What Would Lisa Rinna Say?) Own it. OWN. IT.own your shit

Then for the love of Mike, Fix It.



Are you Feeling the Burn? 21st Century American Politics through the medium of Smoothie

Well that’s a mouthful – and welcome back!

When I’m not toiling away at the new job, tending to the next generation of genii, or mixing up a metaphor or two – my mind wanders. Imma hearing & seeing all good things about Colonel Bernie Sanders (via Facebook mostly) and I sense that he’s taken a leaf outta Obama’s “Big Book of Winning” and got his southern fried ass onto Social Media toot sweet.

“Feel the Bern” they tell me.  “America shouldn’t be run by the Billionaires” they tell me. And no doubt that’s all true – but where are the answers Bernie? How are you going to shut down Gitmo? How are you going to take the guns out of all those idiots’ hands (and the murderers too). I’m hearing the propaganda (I had to check my definition – yes, it was taken from the “big book of definitions written by old, white men a long time ago” – just a disclaimer) but I’m not feeling it.

Time to fire up the Blender of Truth!

Maybe I can make sense of this dilemma through the medium of Smoothie?

I’m calling this one “Feel the Burn” in honour of Senator Sanders’ bid for the White House (or at least the Democrat ticket for the bid for the White House).

As I’m a newbie smoothie chef, t’internet must provide the recipe. A few key ingredients googled later and it’s “Men’s Health” magazine which offers the following irresistible “Fat Burning” elixir.

Ooh – a miracle drink. It burns your fat and makes you thin. Whatever next? Gorgeous.

I call it: “Feel the Burn #1”

9 x strawberries (at the height of their powers …..right ….. NOW)
100 ml Turkish Yoghurt (only 10% fat, but better than 0% . I suppose)
Half a chilli (deseeded)
Frozen Blackberries (I had ’em already blended, sieved and frozen – don’t suffer the pip people)
1 frond of Kale
400 ml of cold Green Tea (requires forethought, or an impatient hour slamming freezer doors)

feel the burn 1

Looks fabulous doesn’t it? Pink & frothy – wonderfully placematted with Marilyn via Warhol (did you know you can pick up a “second run” Warhol print of Marilyn down in the fabulous SE1, for £900? WANT!)

… except it tastes like shit.

Life is too short for a sour pink drink. It’s not at all hot, it is watery and without any body and let’s face it – it was never gonna get mine back into a bikini. It’s PROPAGANDA in a goddamned cup.

If my “Frozen Monkey” triumph (Facebooked on a whim; to be repeated here in the Autumn) is a 9/10 – this disappointment is a 2 point meh. I don’t know about you – but I don’t trust food that looks “All that and Dim Sum” yet hides a paltry performance on the tongue.

I think what Bernie is trying to tell me via my Blender, is that you can’t judge a book by its cover (well that’s an age-old proverb and I think I knew that already, thanks Bernie) but also – that I can do better than some hack at “Men’s Health”, if only I would “persevere”, trust the taste in my own mouth and find the truth. It’s out there.

I give you: Feel the Burn #2

6 x strawberries
1 x large granny smith apple, cored; skin on
2 x large chillies and leave the seeds in (DO NOT do this. My chillies were essentially Capsicums wearing a chilli suit. Yours will be hotter so you should start out with 1 chilli + seeds and take it from there)
3 x slices of sliced tinned mango
1 x pitted medjool date (Who moved Medjools?)
1 x frond Kale
100ml Green Tea (lukewarm, with ice cubes; only so much perseverance in my kitchen)
200 ml coconut milk
leaves of mint

feel the burn 2

Huh? Huh? Looks like a cup of curry, doesn’t it? I have styled it accordingly with a nod to our local “Mogul Dynasty” and it was met with knitted eyebrows from my tasters.

Trust me – it tastes good. It’s a 7/10 now. It has most of the “miracle” properties of #1 (so if ever those claims of ‘fat burning’ are true, you’re not turning your fat back on them) with a bit more sugar via the dates and mangoes (sue me). The coconut adds a little Hawaiian slide-guitar into the mix.

So what does it all mean? In the Great Big Smoothie of 21st Century American Politics, all that is Pink & Frothy is not delicious and sometimes, you gotta make an ugly drink to “Feel the Bern”.

I Felt my Burn – how about you?

Next week: Apple Corbyn-tini

Flashback Friday: ZZ Top “Tush”

There I was, slaving over a Gary Rhodes shepherd’s pie recipe when all of a sudden the DJ Boba Fett “BAd BReaks” mixtape I was listening to threw up a monumental blast from the past, which always makes me stop and smile.

SPOILER ALERT – Turn that mad mix of music and mayhem OFF when the dialogue turns unfamiliar; you really don’t want to know what happens next via a bloody mixtape.

The track in quzztop41 fuzzy guitarsestion was ZZ Top’s “Tush”. (Play it LOUD. You know you want to)

I do raise my head out of the Disco nosebag from time to time.

In fact, my formative years (16 – 25) were spent watching all manner of rock’n’rollin bands in some of Sydney’s best and worst establishments. I just about managed to ride the tail end of the Sydney pub rock scene right on into the Hordern Pavillion “Acid House” parties. But that’s not the blast to which I refer ….

No, as I recall, “Tush” was last played (nay, BLARED OUT) of my old friend Rurbler’s hotted up Holden Commodore. No biggie, except we weren’t on solid ground. We were on snow, with no chains, no traction and toggling disasterously between life and death: either crashing into the hard shoulder or veering perilously close to the edge of the road, which dropped away somewhat, being the Perisher ski fields and all.

“Slip Sliding Away” would have been more appropriate soundtrack, but Rurbler sure did love his ZZ. Didn’t we all?

We, being the car crammed full of teenaged passengers, screamed for all we worth. Demanded to be let out of the car; to slow down. But it was no good. Rurbler was having too much fun smokin’ and ridin’ that trail home to Jindabyne like a big ol’ steer at a rodeo. Being teenagers, we accepted that this could be our last hurrah and added our voices to that unholiest of choirs full throttle; equal parts terror and delight:

Lord, take me downtown, I’m just lookin’ for some tush.

*BIG sigh*

Back to the pie.



I been up, I been down.
Take my word, my way around.
I ain’t askin’ for much.
I said, Lord, take me downtown,
I’m just lookin’ for some tush.
I been bad, I been good,
Dallas, Texas, Hollywood.
I ain’t askin’ for much.
I said, Lord, take me downtown,
I’m just lookin’ for some tush.
Take me back way back home,
not by myself, not alone.
I ain’t askin’ for much.
I said, Lord, take me downtown,
I’m just lookin’ for some tush.
(Learn the words; they come in handy when in peril)

Mother Nurture: Whatsa matter you … D&G?

If anything, this latest BOO HOO of some super-duper celebrities highlights just how damaging the speed of the internet can be.

There is a very interesting book out on that very subject: “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson. More of that later ….

vogue italiaIf the contentious ideals of la famiglia normale espoused by D&G had been written up in a 1970s Vogue article – then the comments would have been read by Sirelton and David on the patio with breakfast and tut-tutted in private, the Vogue possibly ending up in the bin and retrieved, and binned and retrieved and binned and ….(projecting my own approach there). So what’s all the fuss about?

dehumanisationActually, D&G have managed to insult every child conceived by IVF by labelling them “synthetic” – a more dehumanising term I cannot think of. Dehumanisation is a slippery slope, as we all know #Harmondsworth #Woomera .

Here’s a secret admission: I used to think IVF was tampering with Mother Nature too. Yes, I did know it was a lot of people’s only hope to conceive but still, I thought, can’t those people just adopt a child in need?

I guess, I didn’t know anything about a) parenting (I mean, what’s so great about having kids?) or b) how bloody difficult it is to actually get the chance to even adopt a child. I did have the good sense to keep those opinions to myself – and not rush to the nearest loud haler (a device used to blow your own horn before email! I’m a survivor of ye olde days).

Not so, one of my lecturers at university. She stated right out of the blue in the middle of a tutorial:

“I think IVF is immoral.”

I was stunned,  as she was the original Earth Mother figure. I never did get to the bottom of this outburst but I think it had something to do with gender-selection when promoting a viable embryo. If so, there is a point to be made there too. But then, I’m pro-choice when it comes to abortion – so I think those two arguments cancel each other out?


Now that I have children, I get it. Smarter people than me got it before having children – or at least those with an urge to nurture. David & Sirelton obvie have a very strong urge to nurture and so went down the IVF route (twice) like so many others before them. Why not them?

elton david familyAccording to D&G, it’s because science is involved in the creation of life and because mother nature made David & Sirelton gay – so they’re not actually supposed to have a family because they won’t be able to be proper parents (and if they do, then it’s not a “real” family anyway). Che cretinata!!

Having utilised science to save my own life (chemo / radiotherapy etc) – it would then be a gross hypocrisy for me to deny science to others to bring life about. I mean, Cancer is nature’s way to thin out the population (some would argue) why fight it? Hmmm …..

popeMamma Mia! Aren’t D&G just a product of their own environment?: heavily catholic* older generation Italy, with a traditional view on family.   *Not all catholics agree with D&G and I’m not slating that religion (Mum, I’m looking at you), but I’m fairly sure the Pope agrees with D&G on this one matter, so there’s that.

In their rather ‘more of the same / shame’ follow up comment – supposedly to counter the slapped gauntlet of Sirelton on the call to ban D&G goods (not on my shopping list to begin with Sirelton but I feel your passion on the subject), D&G helpfully clarified further:

You don’t go to to the greengrocer for his views on IVF. You go because his produce is the freshest” Dolce and/or Gabbana

or words to that effect. My italian is rusty.

rusty italian

Gather ’round D&G, let’s settle down with one of Ye Olde Vortex’s tales from the Maelstrom: Once upon a time in suburban Surrey, England, I overhead the little cafe owner comment that the lady sitting outside his coffee-joint must have been “a jew” as she was rolling her own cigarettes. Needless to say, and in spite of the fact that he was the only person to serve molto bene Illy coffee in a 10 mile radius, I gave his cafe a wide berth in eterno – and I let friends know about it too.  So Dolce (or Gabbana) I do go to my greengrocer for her views on IVF. I think most of us do?

Si or no?

GOOD NEWS: JC’s HRT-joke is ‘taxing’ and a fallen Madonna bounces back.

I find him ... taxing
I find the little man … taxing

First Up: Jimmy Carr’s joke about Madonna’s stash of drugs (erm, HRT) wasn’t all that. He should find himself encircled by a hot-flash-mob of HRT-deprived ladies one day and crisp up in the face of Mons Fecking Vesuvius.

I just find the little man ….taxing ….these days. (boom tish but probably a boom tish for UK residents only: JC was embroiled in a tax avoidance scandal a few years ago. When Cameron thinks something is morally wrong, you know you’ve gone too far)

And so, to the fallen Madonna;

or as she’s known in the Vortex: La Madonna Caduti

Fallen Madonna
“La Madonna Caduti” (Fallen Madonna). Cape on Stair, circa 2015

Last night, I had every intention of getting off the Twitter at a reasonable hour when a little birdy told me that Madonna had just fallen from the stage at the Brit Awards! And … I was still in time to catch it on ITV+1.

Happy Days! I was preparing myself for a car crash of epic proportions and had to sit through a few more awards / performances/ant+dec unfunny ‘bits’ to get to the moment of interest.

Then it happened.

“Oh Sh*t!” I shouted at the telly.

It was really awful to see and I’m surprised ITV+1 aired it, to be honest. Surely Madonna’s “people” would do some fancy footwork of their own to ensure that bit would be edited out of the delayed coverage? Madge, you need some new “people” on the books.

At the start of the performance, Madonna stood atop 5 largish steps, her ginormous cape about to be whipped away from her neck by dancers in the dark. However …. the cape was fastened far too tightly and yanked Madonna instead – occasioning her to fly backwards over all the steps, landing on her ass – legs akimbo.

Kinda looked like she did a bit of a jump in there to aid some ‘bounce’ at the bottom? Imma running with that. (I’mma on the Imma bandwagon of late because I’ve only just worked out what Imma means and Imma use it all the time now). [Hard learning a new dialect? Innit?  Imma get the hang of it real soon – Ed.]

Apart from the booming backing track there was silence in the 02 Arena (quite the dichotomy, no?). The dancers look confused (and not a little terrified). When Madonna rose, I sensed the sheerest of rages sweep over her face and she looked F*CKIN FURIOUS! She brushed back her hair and carried on. With lyrics such as: “If I should fall” etc, I didn’t know where to look! My hand was still covering my mouth for the rest of her performance (Just in case, you never know).

You know what else? I felt nothing but pride for the lady. What a monumental joke gravity played on you love – so undignified – and yet you went ON WITH THE SHOW like an OLD PRO. It’s going down in history (pardon the pun) as one of showbiz’s best recoveries. The audience went wild at the end and I’m guessing she got heaped with praise backstage for making a silk purse outta that sow’s ear. I had a cursory look around The Face Book (I joined today in a personal capacity, hate it already – you’ll only find the Vortex on Google+) and yes of course people are making crude jokes about a hellish stuff up and worse; making fun of HER for falling.

People, no. I think the take-home message is one of triumph and I am going to renew my Madonna Fan Club status TOOT-EFFING-SWEET.

What did you make of it?