ISSUE #20 February 26th-March 6th

Sister Janice and the Void
The silence, and the darkness, and the loneliness connect with a part of me, deep within. Just for a moment, I can sense what it really means to be Without, to become part of the void, to let go...
By Sister Janice Slejj

Melt Me
Someday you'll go on vacation. Someday you'll get married. You can throw all your somedays out in the street to get hit by that someday car. In such a perfect sunset, they are useless. You need a chair instead.
By Emily Ann Potter

A guide to fashion!
The girl and me have very different opinions of what looks good on a dog.
By Belle

Managing your hangover
Correct me if I'm wrong, but vomiting the remnants of congealed kebab meat and cheap white wine at 5 in the morning is hardly my version of heaven. There's no serenity, no angels, no great light, no sacred tunnel of overwhelming love, just carrots, and bile, and the occasional regret.
By Paul Williamson

The past, present and a few trips to Space: An interview with Morose
That was the ontological motivation of the songs: to freeze myself, to take a polaroid of THAT ME in THAT particular moment. I think of my music as a sort of X-ray photography.
By Stefano Santabarbara

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Sister Janice and the Void

Sister Janice is our new agony aunt. She used to be a nun, but after becoming involved in an accident at her convent involving a papal emissary; the mother superior; the convent dog and a bottle of 'citrus fresh' bleach, she decided it was time to find herself a new career. These days she travels through the galaxies in a converted garden shed.

Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer.

Hello my little moonbeams of carelessness,

Thank The Sweet Lord Baby Jesus Christ I'm out of that convent. This was one of their favourite times. As the day approached, you could feel the air tingling with the essence of their shared excitement.. There were a couple of times every year that The Convent Of The Uptight Fuckers let themselves go a little. One of them was the annual viewing of The Sound Of Music, and the other was right about now..

On Tuesday, they'll be pulling out their lemons, flipping their frying pans and indulging in all sort of public merriment that they would normally regard as rather sinful. You'll see them racing through the countryside villages, flipping pancakes as they go, laughing and panting and shouting all the way.

It's a day about letting go, you see. A day when you use up everything you have, and then you let yourself fall into the void. Once you've let go, you have to learn to manage with nothing. That was the point of Lent. That was what got them excited, that was what they really loved.

Most of the miserable mares just loved the hardness of it all. They LIKED eating dry bread and water. They didn't MIND not using deodorant for a month and a half... of course they didn't. They believed the Lord Jesus kept them fresh and sparkling. Try and tell them that a little touch of Impulse wouldn't go amiss and they'd talk to you about the Devil, tempting Jesus to defilement. They would talk to you about the necessity of allowing oneself to be without.. they might even suggest you gave up playing the extended mix of Lady Marmalade whilst they were trying to have their prayer hour...

It paid to keep your gob shut. After a while, I tried not to talk to them at all. And when I did this, they would lecture me about 'the interactive needs of a community'. Damn those self-help books.

Relgious types are difficult. God, its there in black and white in that book they all love so much. Jesus didn't go into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights just to get a SUN TAN. He went there to get AWAY from the fuckers. And who, quite honestly, can blame him?

Forty days isn't so much. Jesus made a song and dance about it, of course, but he always was a drama queen. I passed my fortieth night in Space just last week. And if you think the sodding desert is quiet you should HEAR it up here. I'm only glad I have the Grace Jones version of 'The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow' to fill up the emptiness.

But, there are days when I play nothing. I stare through the window of this little shed, and I allow my mind to drift into the void. Some days, I even put on my space suit, open the door and go for a little walk outside. Just the nothingness, and me... one enveloping the other, becoming part of the other. The universe enters me as surely as I enter the universe.

No, not in THAT sense.

I mean that the silence, and the darkness, and the loneliness connect with a part of me, deep within. Just for a moment, I can sense what it really means to be Without, to become part of the void, to let go..

And then.... I pull myself back in, and I make myself come back. The temptations of the wilderness are stronger than you might think. The temptation isn't to escape from the silence, it is to stay there, in the peacefulness, in the emptiness, in the joy of being Nothing.

But you'll get that, soon enough. We all will. There's no point in hurrying there.

I put on a Sylvester record, and open the window, imagining the sound flowing out and filling up the blackness around me, flowing out to the nearest star and echoing upon the ears of some unfortunate little alien who has never, before, heard a disco record.... If I listen carefully enough, I can imagine a high-pitched alien voice (something like a smurf, I think, but less American) singing along:

'You are a star
Everybody is one
You are a star
And you only happen once'

Quite right. Stay out of that convent. Enjoy the noise, and the silence, while it lasts.

God, I should probably stay off the home-rolled when I'm writing. Back to your regular service:

'Dear Sister Janice

My husband has recently been staying out till all hours, presumably screwing that bitch from number 47. I've told him she isn't a natural blonde, but I suppose he's already discovered that for himself. pursuing a number of new leisure interests that mean I see less of him than I used to. He says its important for his career, and that I'm selfish to complain, so I say nothing.

In the mean time, I've discovered a new use for the suction nozzle on my Dyson Deluxe.

Unfortunately, it appears to be stuck. I've tried pretending I'm having a Nervous Episode and that I'm taking the Hoover for a walk because I think it is some sort of family pet, but that still doesn't explain why I've got the 'lead' hidden somewhere under my dress. And its yellow, so it clashes with my shoes.

Please help.


Good god.

As it happens, I do have some experience of this sort of thing. Candles were forever going missing around the convent, if you catch my drift, and from time to time you'd encounter a sister with an... uncomfortable expression.. on her face, one who refused to sit down.

Dear D.

Try vaseline.

Failing that, try to relax. I know it isn't easy right now but it's the best way to lose your little problem. You could try a number of techniques. Many people find self-hypnosis effective. I don't recommend yoga. Not in your position.

And next time, try it with the power OFF.


Sister Janice.

Like I said, we all need to feel the emptiness from time to time. Some of us more than others.

Be blessed, my little turntables of joy. May your Lent time be laviscous


Sister Janice Slejj

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Just melt me. Make me fall down. Be so beautifully human, so rarely real, so awkwardly you that I won't be able to stand up anymore, and you and gravity can just pin me down in a very unfair wrestling match. I have no choice but to let you win every time.

I haven't wrestled Bryce yet, but he's a mountain man so I don't stand a chance. Since he hasn't ventured to his log cabin yet due to the season's bad weather, you'd only know of his mountain gruffness if you came to my house Friday afternoon and you stood exactly where I was in the driveway. Victimed tree branches were to be collected, slaughtered and burned in my fireplace that day. I, the heartless spectator, stood by to watch.

Anyone in the world who gets more excited about wood than Bryce, please step forward. Oh, but it's so much more than wood. It's getting a job done. It's that ache feeling in your muscles that proves to you that biceps and triceps really do exist in peaceful harmony together. It's that relief feeling that says yes, that's real live sweat hanging off your nose. For me, chopping wood with an ax and wearing big hearty brown boots can be compared to the world's truest, and most rare works of art.

Before that fire was ever built in my fireplace, I was absolutely melted to the ground. Bryce had no idea. He was simply living. Something from him, so pure and alive, radiated the sky around us. He made the sunset's oranges and reds a little brighter. He made the tired sun want to hover in the air just a little longer to feel someone else's warmth for a while.

I was the luckiest one. I was only one embrace away.

He melted me down. In all his brilliant humanness, his sincere soul-filled delight, his sure and unapologetic living. I found breath and twilight enough to tell Bryce what his wood chopping soul has done to me. I found warmth from his afternoon radiance enough to indulge in his newly washed, prickly mountain face. He watched my exhaling embers with a child-like fascination.

Then he studied all his own thoughts that trickled up from his last exhale to the examined point on the ceiling and said, "You get happy about little things." And my thoughts chased his up the wall.

"Tell me, please, what else are people waiting for?"

If not watching someone chop wood, what? What do people want? Someday you'll go on vacation. Someday you'll get married. You can throw all your somedays out in the street to get hit by that someday car. In such a perfect sunset, they are useless. You need a chair instead. And they don't keep you very warm either. I'll ask Bryce if he'll chop your wood for you.

Melt me down, all you real live people out there! Sweet humanity, you don't even know how beautiful you are. You have taken my breath away so often. You have made my heart skip vital beats. And because of you, I have discovered the intricacies of many floors. Until my dying day,may my knees be permanently and most gloriously weak from falling.

Emily Ann Potter



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A Guide To Fashion

The girl and me have very different opinions of what looks good on a dog. She is a bit more conservative than me and believes that a nice collar and with gold name badge will do very well thank-you very much. I'm not saying that I don't like my collar and gold name badge. I'm actually quite proud of them and I know that girl is too because often when the girl is talking to someone she calls me over to have a look at the name badge.

"I will remember my number one of these days" she laughs

I think the number is a special code which tells people where to buy name badges and collar. It makes me very happy that so many people want name badges just like mine.

So to be honest I don't think the girl's taste in fashion is too bad. It's just that I like to experiment. After all what is life without a bit of variety?

I have recently discovered that if I can get in to the greedy plate licking machine just as the girl has put something nice and drippy into its top shelf, not only can I get a to eat some of the food before the machine does but I can get an instant new look.

Yesterday for instance the girl had given the greedy licking machine a cup with a little bit of that bitter brown drink that I really don't like. Just as her back was turned I managed to nip underneath the cup and hey presto I had a new look! Suddenly my head had brand new dark brown streaks in amongst my natural white colour. However, for a more drastic all over new look you have to take more drastic action.

One of the quickest and most foolproof solutions is to find your nearest, muddiest river or canal and jump right in. Not only will you get an all over colour change but you have the added bonus that you are guaranteed to smell beautiful for a few days at least!

Fashion accessories can be more than just a look, as I discovered on the day I stuck the lollipop to my foot. I was thinking to myself how good it looked and how original too, when I discovered that it tasted great too! Whoever created such a wonderful fashion accessory must be a genius!

Unsurprisingly the girl isn't often all that impressed with my new looks.
"What have you got in your hair now belle? Come here let me get that out for you" and she brushes at my head until my new look vanishes.

Or I she will utter the dreaded words "I think you need a bath now belle", and she pours horrible smelling water all over me. I'm not sure where the girl gets her water from but I think she should try getting it from somewhere else. Her water smells quite strange. But not only that it has foam on the top. Anyone with any sense knows that water should not have foam on top of it!

If the bath fails to remove my latest fashion accessory the girl resorts to using the scissors! And she cuts my hair shorter until she has got rid of the leaves or lollipop or whatever that I had been so proud of wearing.

Perhaps it should upset me that all my hard work goes to waste, but honestly it doesn't. I know that I'll experiment with plenty more new looks, that the girl will disapprove of. And no matter how many times she pours water on me and wipes away all my efforts, I will keep experimenting. After all just think how boring life would be if I gave up trying new things just because of a few set backs?!




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Managing Your Hangover

Near death experiences. People talk about 'near death experiences' after a triple heart bypass that has gone belly-up, or after they have been stabbed in the street by a 12 year old drug dealer, or when they have been mown over in a usually quiet cul-de-sac by a drunk driver, and it's all bloody white and peaceful and grand gestures of God and gargantuan lights paving their hallowed path to the next world, and all that stuff, and it's so flippin' serene that, the way I see it, you can't possible call it a 'near death experience'.

Hangovers, on the other hand, personify a far more culpable version of the Grim Reaper than a million wonky bypasses. Correct me if I'm wrong, but vomiting the remnants of congealed kebab meat and cheap white wine at 5 in the morning is hardly my version of heaven. There's no serenity, no angels, no great light, no sacred tunnel of overwhelming love, just carrots, and bile, and the occasional regret.

Now, I'm neither a magician, a genius, or a omnipotent being- I can't stop hangovers happening. What I can do, friends, is share with you several tried and tested solutions for curing hangovers which are, in effect, our very own near death experiences. Some might work, some probably won't but, trust me on this, I have tried them all…

     i) Tomato based products ie tomato soup, tinned tomatoes, ketchup. I have tried this solution several times, with varying degrees of success. It usually only works as a stop-gap remedy, that is, you will feel perfectly fit and relatively able for anything up to 2 hours, after which the dreaded feelings of nausea begin to surface from their tomato-induced slumber. Freakish, instantaneous vomiting may also occur either side of the 2 hour curfew so, no matter how healthy you think you feel, you must, on no occasion except actual death, remove yourself from the near-vicinity of a toilet.

     ii) Water. Yeah, yeah, I know the so-called medical 'experts' tell you to drink a pint of water before bed or spend the next day re-hydrating yourself but, let's face it, it's not very nice is it? Remember, we are in hangover mode here- water, on it's own, is tasteless and plain and, as a result, it will do little to remove the taste of last night from your tonsils. You could, therefore, try Diluting water, say with Ribena or Robinson's Orange, if there's any in the house but, in my own opinion, water, diluted or otherwise, isn't enough on it's own to cure a raging hangover. Moreover, if, on your inebriated gallivant the night before, you drank spirits, Pernod in particular, then the chances are that a glass of water the next morning serves to kick-start that dormant spirit and you will find you are drunk again very quickly. And cheaply.

     iii) Sex, with a boy, girl, goat, hoover, or whatever, is widely acclaimed as being a great hangover cure. However, as a cure, it is dependent upon the other person not suffering from similar symptoms of a hangover because not only are you, in your hungover state, unable to initiate much in the way of sexual liaisons, if the other person is blighted in a similar manner then the chances of physical, sexual activity are close to zero. Moreover, you may want to forgo the idea of sex completely if, in your inebriated state the night before, you 'pulled', as it were, Ulrika Johnson…

     iv) Tablets, aspirin, ibuprofen etc. Well that's what they are for aren't they? Short of a haemorrhage on the brain, the manufacturers of the aforementioned tablets claim these little pills cure just about any ailment. Do they cure hangovers? Well, they alleviate, somewhat, the throbbing headache associated with many hangovers, but if you take them too soon after waking up then, in my own experience, all that happens is that you vomit violently within 20 minutes, bringing both the tablets and a gallon of bile back up. My advice in this respect would be to hang in there for at least an hour after you have risen, and then try taking an aspirin or two. If, after an hour has elapsed, you take the pills and still bring them back up, then you are a freak of nature and should seek medical advice.

     v) Alka-Seltza. The greatest con since Tony Blair became Dictator. It does not work- it is as simple of that. Many Monday mornings have I reached for the alleged 'professional' hangover cure, only to be brutally sick within minutes of taking it. I'm struggling to think of anything good to say about this ludicrously expensive sherbet substitute, just don't do it kids, take it from me- it's evil, evil stuff.

     vi) Hair of the Dog. This requires an element of bravery and stupidity that I have only occasionally acquired. It does, however, work surprisingly well. The only downside is that you are basically putting off the dreaded symptoms of a hangover, and to keep them at bay, you have to keep on drinking. Get my drift? Recommended for alcoholics and temperamental would-be alcoholics only.

     vii) Time, unfortunately, is the best cure of all. Oh, and a cup of tea, if you can stomach it. The trouble with time as a solution is that is that you have the rest of the day to ponder what you had forgotten about the night before, and, if you are not careful, the bastard will also try to asphyxiate you with a mountain of regrets. Do your best to avoid these regrets, my friends, and you will find time, despite his initially menacing appearance, will be a very good remedy to the ills of the night before.

Paul Williamson

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The past, present and a few trips to space

Morose are an all but typical trio. In their subtle, suspended, allegedly 'soft' electro-acoustic records, beside the use of a down-to-earth guitar, bass and drums, is the flavouring elements of ancient accordions, child xylophones and chimes. Just look at how they define themselves:

"We are Mauro, and we consist of some souls that live inside this 172cm tall (small) body. Both of us are waiting for the extraterrestrials to come, we fear baldness, and listen to the tapes and cds that people send to us by mail".

And [Saranza]:

"He spent his life collecting evidence to prove that the mercy gene is NOT located on the X chromosome. One day, while working as a street sweeper, he heard something like a miaow near a rubbish bin, and he found 5 lonely kittens curled up inside a broken-black-guitar".

Their first two releases- "lifespace at a given moment" and "Best regards from Hungary"- have been released for Ouzel records, who are also going to release their latest work "La mia ragazza mi ha lasciato", in a coalition with Cane Andaluso, Kimera and Under My Bed. The Friends of the Heroes, never ones to shirk a challenge, got them talking about the past, about the present, about age, and, erm, space explorations.

What is the most important thing then according to you, where things happen or when?

(saranza) you cannot take the two dimensions separately. The concept of LIFESPACE doesn't refer merely to the fisical ambient, but also to the psychological one. That was the ontological motivation of the songs: to freeze myself, to take a polaroid of THAT ME in THAT particular moment. I think of my music as a sort of X-ray photography.

Your first two full-length records are pretty different. Are the differences inspired by different dimensions (ie outer space and planet earth)?

(saranza) I think the difference could be between INNER SPACE and planet earth: best regards is less…autistic. Ayear ago I could see a clear cut difference. I can't see that anymore. (mauro) As we said before, a recording is nothing but a photograph of a particular moment of a band's history. The band is the same, but the (given) moments are different.

You entitled one of your albums ”Best regards from Hungary”. Have you ever been there?

(saranza) No I haven't, I'm used to talking about things that I don't know anything about, in a language that I can't even speak: if everyone would do this, conversation would be more interesting and imaginative.

You were described for a while like an Italian version of Pavement. I think it is time to leave this label behind what do you think about this? Which bands do you like to listen recently, by the way?

(saranza) I always thought that the Pavement-label is not the right way to describe Morose. I never listened them that much, even though "Slanted and enchanted" is a great album. I feel I'm in debt to Lou Barlow, Beat Happening, Smog, Will Oldham, Leonard Cohen. I love YO LA TENGO and CALIFONE.

(mauro) I still cannot understand why people compare Morose to Pavement. I am very glad about it, because I really love Pavement, but our sound is quite different: we don't have hardly any songs arranged only with guitar, bass + drums, and we rarely use distorted guitar sounds and the typical Pavement drumming, so I really don't know the reason of this frequent comparison.

These days I am mostly listening to (and so maybe - but not necessarily - influenced by, while arranging the new Morose songs...) Notwist, Black Heart Procession, Smog, Hood, Demolition Doll Rods (uh, sorry, I just listed the CDs that are on my desk right now...).

All of your releases are accompanied by research graphic design. How important is this element for you?

(mauro) I think that an album has to be intended as a unique thing made both of sounds and images, and that's why I think that the artwork is really very important.

Is there another question you would like to answer?

(mauro) Just tell your readers to check our website: I try to keep it updated, and there are also some mp3s for free download. If anyone wants to learn more about our music, the best way is to listen to it.

Stefano Santabarbra