I Had an MCR Listening Party, Come Join Me

This evening I posted on social media about MCR, which is not unusual, but I guess listening to MCR is becoming less and less everyday for me. This is partly because I have a couple of jobs that require a communal radio and/or relative silence and partly because there are other demands on my ears these days. Troye Sivan. Lorde. The sound of my conscience as it reminds me I haven’t worked on that giant writing project I want to finish drafting by spring. But My Chemical Romance is My Chemical Romance and the world is better with My Chemical Romance in it, so as I wrote this I had a little listening party at my desk. And as a My Chem listening party is a rock ‘n’ roll Wednesday night pursuit, I thought I’d make it into a helpful step-by-step guide so you too can mosh on a weekday!

Step 1: Compile MCR’s discography into Random.org

Hit ‘randomise’!

Step 2: Pick the first 5 songs that appear

  • “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”
  • “The End.”
  • “Sing”
  • “Mama” (featuring Liza Minnelli)
  • “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Deathwish” (listed as “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish” in the album liner notes)

Step 3: Youtube that shit, even though you have every song legally on a disc somewhere

Vampires Will Never Hurt You

Until I looked for the official Eyeball Records video and couldn’t find it, I hadn’t realised I’d never sat through the entire video for Vampires (although I think I have it on about 3 DVDs, so). Anyway it is here it is courtesy of some kindly soul:

I had never considered what Ray Toro might look like with no hair, and I am discomfited to realise he looks exactly like Ray Toro, except if Ray Toro was in a choir. Frank, man, I am so glad you got rid of those dreads. You remind me of the stoner kids I see in Southend. The Way brothers are, of course, changeless. Musically I have never had a clue what Vampires is about other than vampires – death? Rebirth? Betrayal? Time running out? – but I feel a short story coming on. Also I have a feeling the ‘like ghosts in the snow bit’ is gonna be way more fun if I do this exercise again after a couple of drinks.

The End

Fortunately when I entered the discography into Random.org, I included the track numbers. The End in this case was Track 1, thus the first song on The Black Parade, not to be confused with To The End, track three on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Easy mistake to make though, and I have made it approximately 8000 times in my 11 years as an MCR fan.

Fun fact: the first time I heard this was on an iPod shuffle (look it was 11 years ago) and when it ended abruptly I thought I’d hit a button and went back to play it again. I still love the bleep-bleep-bleep intro, and harbour a dream that if I’m ever unlucky enough to be on a heart monitor, I’ll just think it’s an MCR song and sit back happily while doctors panic over the rate of the bleeps. I also feel fond of the line ‘when I grow up I want to be nothing at all’ because in my old age that has become a comforting thought.

SING

The song that inspired the name for The Webways. The song that infuriated that FOX News man. The pop song that’s kind of a punk song?

Other than the greatly improved haircuts, my favourite thing about this video is the number of Mindless Self Indulgence members who make an appearance. I’d forgotten how rich the storytelling is: the wall projections, the posters, the freedom-fighters-versus-the-powerful narrative. It’s kind of ironic that Danger Days was set in 2019 – nuclear war and brightly coloured kids protesting the government was kind of novel in 2010. Now it’s the news.

Mama

No one in the universe is currently making music as interesting as this song. That is all.

It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish

When I was 16 I did an intricate art project in which I worked MCR lyrics from every song into a giant ‘MCR’. With boarder. I did not photograph it well; the end result did not reflect the work I put in. The lyric I chose for Deathwish was ‘you get what everyone else gets/you get a lifetime’ as those lines are as close as I have come to finding a mantra to live by. How can I feel spiritually enlightened by a song that also makes me want to throw red paint at a church altar?

Ugh, to be 16 again and have the time for leisurely listens and fansites. I love the new music I listen to now, but 5 years ago I did not go near pop because pop was not substantial. MCR was substantial. These days I feel like pop might be one of the only substantial things around. I read an entire article the other day about how Hayley Kiyoko and Troye Sivan kinda-sorta made queer/pop history by releasing their videos on the same day. No one had previously normalised same sex attraction in such a way, apparently (I can hear George Michael’s ghost rolling his eyes though). MCR broke new ground every time they released an album, because every album took what was expected of them and rolled it on its head… I don’t really get those vibes from rock any more, but maybe that’s because I stopped reading Kerrang! when they started comparing MCR’s drummer situation to that of Spinal Tap’s. Or maybe I have responsibilities now and need soft lil pop sounds to ease me into my mid-twenties. Who knows. I might weave some MCR into that project I’m working on. I might spend my next wages on an overpriced MCR shirt. I might go to California in 2019.

Probably can’t afford the shirt and the plane ticket though, ha.

The Six O’Clock News: President of America Too Embarrassed to Visit Great Britain Due to Fears He Might Be Hounded Out by 91 Year Old Lady and Some Scots

As this goes live, I’ll be on a plane to Barcelona. I want to leave you all with the warm fuzzy feeling that I’ll have while in Barcelona (good weather! Food! Historical buildings!) so I thought today is a good day to resurrect The Six O’Clock News. For those of you who weren’t following Indifferent Ignorance back in 2012/14, The Six O’Clock News was a weekly segment I did while studying my politics A Level, in which I dissected and/or took the piss out of a news story. It died off a bit when I didn’t absolutely need to follow the headlines, and then Trump and Brexit happened and I thought ‘why read the news when I can read dystopian novels?’ When I was putting together the Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2017 it occurred to me I should probably spend more time focusing on the good news than all the other headlines, because a) 2017 was depressing and b) 2018 will probably be depressing so let’s spread some rare news-related joy before Trump declares war on North Korea/Iran/everyone.

So sit back and enjoy the feeling of warm fuzziness that the following – current – news stories impart!

Dog’s Leg Regrown in Laboratory; Same Procedure Could Be Used on Humans

According to the BBC, Eva the spaniel (I think spaniel?) broke her leg, and her bone was regrown in a lab by coating bone chips with plastic. This is a triply good story when you think about it, because a) the dog gets a happy ending, b) human trials using the same method could start in the next three years and c) plastic has some uses after all!

Plane Skids Off Runway and No One Dies

Probably shouldn’t be looking up potential plane crashes when I’m about to go to an airport, but when the Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 skidded off the runway at Trabzon Airport a couple of days ago, it stopped on the side of a cliff and zero people were hurt. Zero! All 162 people on board were fine! I am looking forward to the Tom Hanks film retelling.

Plan skids off runway onto cliff, Trabzon Airport, Turkey
from The Telegraph/AFP

President of America Too Embarrassed to Visit Great Britain Due to Fears He Might Be Hounded Out by 91 Year Old Lady and Some Scots

That was the headline, right? If Trump ever comes to the UK as president, he won’t get a state visit, he won’t get a warm welcome from anyone in power and when he goes to one of his golf courses, he will meet the wrath of the Scottish people. It’ll be like in Home Alone when the two baddies go from seeing the kid as a minor inconvenience to a devil child. I almost wish he was coming in many ways, because it’s been a while since I had the opportunity to write the words ‘fuck off’ on a large surface area using a permanent marker.

I won’t make it to London for the Time’s Up march, but I may throw a small party when Obama’s invited to the Royal Wedding and Trump isn’t.

Queen Elizabeth II in Word War II
from British Pathe

I must say it was trickier finding good news than I anticipated. I will persevere, though. If you see a good story, leave a comment, send it to me on social media or email transmissions@indifferentignorance.com! I’m hoping to have enough material to do one of these a fortnight but let’s not get too excited…

Sleeper Bus Hell and Luang Prabang, Laos

You guys. I can’t tell you about the beautiful country of Laos without first reliving the journey from Hanoi in Vietnam across the boarder to Luang Prabang in northern Laos. It’s one of those events that I look back on and, instead of coherent words, all that appears in my head is a large question mark, like a Homer Simpson thought bubble. Since I am going to Barcelona on Monday and have a serious case of itchy feet, I’ve decided to tell this is in second person to really make a connection with you all and so you get itchy feet too!


5pm. You hop on a minibus from your hostel to the bus station. ‘Hop’ really means ‘sit squashed for approximately forty minutes’. The regular bus is not promising. You’re in the rearmost part of the bus next to your younger brother, who is hungover. Usually sleeper bus bunks look like faux leather recliners with little frames attached, but the ones at the back are more like faux leather mattresses, and you squish in right next to a couple of other people, including your brother who you force to sit in the uncomfiest bit of the bed because that’s what you get for travelling with a hangover.

8pm. You have dinner in a small establishment that kept a large bird of prey on a leash. You do not take photos because you have the distinct feeling that the bird of prey is a warg.

10pm. You take diazepam for the first time in your life because you wish to sleep for the next 20 hours, which is approximately the duration of your journey. You try to read a book you picked up in Hanoi but the diazepam kicks in and you start to drift into a surprisingly restful sleep. You wonder briefly if you’ve misunderstood the rudimentary Google search you did before approaching a pharmacist and have misread the possible side effects of diazepam. You briefly contemplate what will happen to your brother if you die right here in the faux leather mattress bed.

7am. You’re awake, but you’re almost comfortable. You’re at the boarder between Vietnam and Laos. It’s cold and misty – you must be at a high altitude. Everything is grey. You creep off the bus wearing flip flops and a t-shirt, clutching your passport and valuables and… you’ve walked onto the set of an apocalypse film?

Nam Kane Boarder Crossing Vietnam/Laos

Aside from about four officials sitting in drafty rooms with mugs of coffee and lots of dark wood furniture, the town’s only inhabitants are dogs. You exchange glances with your equally bemused brother and join the queue for visas. You’re pretty sure it’s twenty dollars for a visa but you’re charged thirty because there is a ‘regional cost’. You go to the loo in what may once have been a military barracks and wonder if they’ll let you come back one day to shoot the apocalypse film.

The diazepam knocks you out for several more hours; when you wake up it’s 3pm. Maybe. you’re closer to ground level and the sun’s out. You stop for food and visit a toilet lit by a single burning candle that in retrospect looks like something one would light to summon the devil. Why is a restaurant toilet lit by a single burning candle when there is definitely electricity in the building? Why are you asking that when you’ve been in Asia for six weeks already? The British are the only people in the world for whom health and safety is a way of life. You notice a series of burnt-out missile shells lined up against walls of buildings and recall something about an American war. You return to your giant bus bed.

You doze off and wake up briefly… up another mountain? You don’t remember the guide book mentioning so many mountains? Maybe it’s all one mountain.

Roadside view en route to Luang Prabang in Laos

5pm. You’re in Luang Prabang. Your hostel has hot water, lockers that work and a mysterious bottle of Jack Daniels next to your bunk that will not move for the duration of your stay.

You don’t know it that, but that’s one of the nicer Laos-related journeys you will take.


Right I’m off to listen to the new Troye Sivan masterpiece and look up the weather in Barcelona!

In Which I Climb a Mountain in Flip Flops | Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

To be completely honest, we planned our route through Vietnam using the route the Top Gear guys took in that Christmas special a few years ago. Ha Long Bay was one of their stops so it was one of ours too. We went with a group from our Hanoi hostel to stay on one of the bay’s islands for a night, because Ha Long is ages out from Hanoi and the occasional group trip is good for you, probably. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO site and, on Top Gear, looked sparkling and beautifully emerald. We went on a cloudy day, so it actually looked like this:

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam on a cloudy day

But we’re British, so it was just like being at home for the summer! Speaking of home, the dock we boarded the boat from reminded me so much of Southend on a bad day that I had to take a photo:

Dock Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Mud: check. Giant container ships on the horizon: check. Grey skies: check. There were a million little crabs trotting about on the mud, which made a nice change from the crap you normally see on Southend’s mudflats, ha.

So as part of the group trip we were required to partake in group activities. Number one: canoeing with a friend. Or, in my case, my wee brother who is actually a lot taller than me and way more into the sport of canoeing than I am. We nearly came to blows about my ability to paddle right after this photo was taken:

Canoeing Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Not as bad as Monopoly at Christmas, but close.

That night the island hostel had a beach bonfire. We tried a local type of dance with bamboo sticks that I have since found on YouTube because I don’t know how to explain it without overusing the word ‘ankle’…

The next day we took a walk up a hill. Or, to be more accurate, we climbed a mountain. Climb because it was made of rocks and mountain because there’s no international definition for what constitutes a mountain so although it may have been a large hill, I’m going to call it a mountain. Also, I did it in flip flops. This was because as we were leaving the hostel in Hanoi, someone mentioned there would be a hike of some sort. I had packed a tiny bag and left my proper shoes in a locker, because when we booked no one mentioned a hike. ‘Should I go back for my shoes?’ I thought. Everyone had shoes apart from Maxim and I. ‘Ah, live a little,’ I told myself. ‘You always over plan and over pack.’ So I left my shoes.

I am never living a little again. It was a fucking mountain.

Ha Long Bay island mountain

There were monkeys on the other side of the giant pile of rocks, which was nice, although they were basically trained to be nice to tourists which was gross. Also, when we were done saying ‘hey, a monkey’ we had to climb all the way back over the bloody mountain. I ripped the elephant pants I bought in Saigon. Always over pack, kids!

Monkey in a tree Ha Long Bay Vietnam

We had to leave our hostel the morning after we got back from Ha Long, because we’d forgotten to book another night, so we relocated to a slightly different part of the Old Quarter. I know I hate group activities, but I was sad to leave some of the people we’d been with on the trip. I don’t really do casual friends but I guess it’s hard not to bond with people over bamboo dancing and rock climbing. So if an American named Suzie (maybe Suzie?) who au paired in London before flying to Hanoi and lost her phone is reading this, hiiiii. Also: an English girl named Claire studying in Australia the English guy travelling with her wearing several ear piercings. We compared passport stamps. It was nice to meet you, and I never say that and mean it.

Oh, by the way, the bathroom of the hostel in Ha Long Bay had no window. This was the view while we cleaned our teeth:

Ha Long Bay view Vietnam

Emerald waters might be slightly overrated.

How to Digital Detox in 5 Minutes and Win 2018 | An Almost-Scientific Study

HELLO 2018. I AM WINNING THIS YEAR SO FAR. Okay so technically I woke up 45 minutes late this morning and am wearing a pair of unflattering tracksuit bottoms that I actually said I was going to stop wearing so much last July and technically I embarked on my new year’s resolution on Boxing Day. I also went back to my office job yesterday and thought I was actually going to die when my alarm went off.

But.

So far.

Hell yeah 2018.

Who else is feeling good about themselves? Who wants tips? Of course you do.

Remember when I wrote about new year’s resolutions? I thought about them a lot over Christmas and the only one I really wanted was the third one I talked about: making my writing and art succeed financially. So I worked backwards and thought about how I use my time and the level of discipline it takes to really focus on achieving something important. Then I decided to get rid of my smartphone.

It sounds drastic, but my phone is on the blink anyway and those old-new Nokias with no 3G are pretty nifty. I decided to use a non-smart (stupid?) phone generally and use my computer or iPad for Etsy and social media a couple of times a day. I WILL BE FREE OF BLUE LIGHT AND DISCIPLINE WILL BE MINE, I announced. I WILL SUCCEED FINANCIALLY.

Baby Groot Dancing in a Plant Pot GIF

Francesca, pointed out my entire family, you really need Google Maps. They had a point, so I’ve decided to just get a cheap and cheerful smartphone with a mildly-working camera and enough space for Google Maps. And my banking app, because I have no idea how society functioned without the ability to check their balance whenever they fancied (also it’s probably good to know your cash flow when your heart’s desire is financial stability, ha).

Midway through my thousandth free-from mince pie on Boxing Day, I faced up to the uncomfortable truth: the issue with me having a smartphone isn’t that it’s a smartphone. It’s that I use it too much. Buying a stupidphone might stop me from checking the Internet, but I’d just become obsessed with checking my iPad instead. I never go online on Christmas Day except to message people – I don’t think I ever have – and every year I think ‘why don’t I do this more often?’ So since Boxing Day I’ve been trying this thing where I only use the phone for five minutes at a time. I’m not rewarding or punishing myself for sticking to it or going over, I just wanted to see if it freed up my time. Shocker: it absolutely does! The general Christmas holiday notwithstanding, I reckon I’ve done in three days what usually takes five: I’ve got loads of studying done, written about 1000 words of a super secret writing project and even remembered to order contact lenses. DISCIPLINE IS MINE.

Jerry and a Canary from Tom & Jerry GIF
from Twitter

So there you have it: to WIN AT 2018, you just need to put your phone down!

You’re welcome.

In the spirit of finding success, I am linking my Patreon page again. I love to write and make art, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to try to cover my blog or portfolio domain costs via the very blog I’d like to fund. I will absolutely consider 2018 a roaring success if I reach $6 a month in total pledges (the grand sum of my domain costs), because then I can focus on blogging and not on how to pay for the blog. I can also focus on the super secret writing project but it’s only 3rd January so I’m staying super secretive until it’s progressed further. Watch this space, literally.

Happy new year!