The Orbital Mind Control Lasers will make the National Rifle Association "sensible".

Saw this nice post from solipsistnation last night. Laughed. Particularly recommended for roleplayers, airsofters, and anyone else childishly militaristic.

Also . . . Illuminati, anyone?

Later: Oh, also . . .
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  • Current Mood: Cheery
  • Current Music: cooling fans

Good God.

There are certain things you don't expect to come across over your morning cup of tea, and a press interview with human rights lawyer and all-round hero Gareth Peirce is among them. I haven't been so surprised to see such a thing since . . . Oh, Nigel TufnellBlackwell appeared in the same place nearly ten years ago. If you read one tendentious politically-motivated jeremiad today . . .
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Mood: pleased
  • Current Music: Swans - Eden Prison

A man, a plan, a disabled toilet in a field in Oxfordshire . . .

Which means that once more it's time for the annual hippy-herding expedition. Among other things, this means that the next time we talk I'll be in a position to tell you whether Status Quo are much cop as a live band these days. I suspect the answer's Yes, but I don't see any harm in finding out for certain.

I'll be out of touch, mostly, until about Sunday, so it's probably a good time to get on with all those disgraceful things you didn't want me to hear about. So enjoy yourselves, and remember - safe, sane and consensual (pick any two).
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Mood: awake (just)
  • Current Music: Mimi Goese - Black Hole Sun

Percussion concert tonight

Haven't been saying much lately. I should really get round to some sort of update. It's reached the point of being poked . . . I'm very sorry and will say something substantive soon.

In the meantime, those of you fortunate enough to be in Edinburgh may be interested in this event tonight at the Bongo.

The Processional, Beastie, No Point and Te Pooka drummers, and the Edinburgh Samba School. Five percussion groups for only five of your Earth pounds.

Shockin'ly Spaiked O'er Smot

Many thanks (well, many somethings) to the BBC for reporting this fantastic event at the Belfast Film Festival. Its title, above, literally reads "Shockingly Spoken Over Smut", and of course means "badly dubbed porn".

In this case, dubbed into Ulster Scots.

And the film?

Flesh Gordon. As well-remembered, I'm sure, by anyone who used to go to The Calling at the Q Club.

Three local comedians are to provide a live translation of the 1974 R-rated film.


They always remember the dancing syringes

I've been trying to find a quotation I came across some time ago about ideas and creativity. It roughly says that ideas are flying about above us all the time, and when one hits you it's very important to grab it and do something with it, because otherwise that bastard Van Morrison will end up with them all.

Anyone know it? Obviously I'd like to know who said it, and who about.

A couple of others I have come across recently and liked:

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I was listening to 6Music the other day - as you do - and a rather funny song came on. On Googling, I found it was by Lilly Allen, which was a bit disconcerting. I suppose she has talent after all. I don't think I'd knowingly heard anything by her before. The video's here, and is worth a look (although slightly sweary at a couple of points, in case any of you kids have impressionable parents around). At one point it reminded me of this frankly Busbytastic Dandy Warhols clip that I'm sure many of you remember.

I was reading the paper yesterday too. My life's so exciting. There was an article about women suffering worse from rising unemployment than men - which I have no reason to doubt - and it was illustrated by a couple of young women carrying their stuff out of their ex-employer's office in cardboard boxes. I was struck, though, that one of them had a name - at a guess her name - written on the box in felt tip. I'm not sure I would have printed that photo if it was my paper.

Also, last week, there was this article about the shortcomings of the departing President Gore.

I was round at Lara and Seth's (with Sandy and Martin) last night playing this game, Arkham Horror, which is quite complex but good fun. We lost - we all lost, collectively, because it's almost entirely a collaborative rather than competitive game - and Yig destroyed everything. Still, I have to like a game in which leaving Elder Signs everywhere is so clearly a winning tactic.

I mentioned this to Lara - someone's reading and summarising the Origin of Species a chapter at a time. Only up to chapter 3 last time I checked, but well worth a look.

I'm quite pleased to find a song about Polmont. I can't imagine there are that many. My dad used to work there. The album's quite impressed me, although I should say that I don't think I've heard so much reverb in my whole life. It makes Psychocandy sound a bit dry.

Finally . . . it's been snowing. I don't think it'll lie long.
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Music: Glasvegas - Polmont on my mind

On my radio

I'm just listening to Radio 6, as of course you do now and again, and there's a show on by a certain Mr Dylan. I knew he did a regular syndicated show, but I hadn't realised that the Beeb had picked it up.

He's talking about Jules Verne at the moment. A few minutes ago he was talking about the centre of the continental USA, and then the equator, and gave special greetings to anyone listening in an equatorial country. Before that it was Mobius strips, and about twenty minutes or so back he mentioned a New Scientist article he'd read recently - the one quoted here, which is here but only readable if you've a sub, which handily I have.

Errr . . . thanks, Bob. Nice one.

Ah. Nick Lowe. Excellent.

I had an odd waking experience a week or so ago, actually. I've mentioned that I had a cold. Probably partly due to an attempted mugging back in Cambridge, my nose gets a bit bunged up when I've had a cold, especially if I'm a bit dry. That morning, I'd partly woken and was lying dozing, annoyed at not quite being able to breathe properly. In particular, I had an odd intense belief that certain words had been devised by conspirators, such that people with colds couldn't pronounce them and would therefore only be able to discuss the concepts if they spoke Gaelic (which of course I don't). I was quite annoyed, and I couldn't shake the belief in spite of not being able to work out why I was so sure it was true.

I've been wondering since whether that's what it's like to have delusions. I'm rather hoping not to find out.

He's just namechecked Martin Rees. It's like listening to a very relaxed version of Out On Blue Six.

Ah. Richard Thompson. Not bad.
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Mood: pleased
  • Current Music: Richard Thompson - The end of the rainbow

Stuff and nonsense

The BBC are reporting that a study involving allegedly haunted vaults under South Bridge (oh, and also some palace or other in London) has found evidence of clustering in reported experiences similar to hauntings. What they don't say is what people were apparently experiencing. Given that those vaults have been empty for most of their history, I do wonder what that happened there would be said to be affecting people - was it the ghosts of indie clubs past, perhaps, or ectoplasmic music characterised by a succession of regular beats?

In other news, I've been reading a couple of historical essays on the idea that Odin was a historical figure. I'm not convinced, but the ground they tangentially cover's very interesting.I got given some Ecoballs too. These, in case you're not familiar with them, are plastic balls (well, balls with a collar that make them look slightly Saturnine) containing small pellets, which are claimed to clean your clothes without normally needing any washing powder.

I'm not convinced. In fact, as far as I can tell they rely entirely on people not being familiar with how clean warm water and agitation can get their clothes. I will, though, just quote you some of the guff that comes along with them.

You're gonna like this.

Q. How do the Ecoballs™ work?

A. Ecoballs™ increase the degree of alkaline.

In the water Ecoballs™ will react with stain/dirt under saponification [ . . . ] the Activated water molecule filters easily into the inside of clothing fibre and and makes combination between filth and fibre[1] loose [ . . . ] I.e. the Ecoballs™ makes the molecule of the water smaller which returns the water to having its brilliant hydrating properties, high solubility and good permeability.

So there you go. We've been using soap all these years when all we needed to do was shrink the water. How foolish we've all been.

Went for a walk around town yesterday in opposition to current events. Bumped into Nuala and Alex (and little Aisling, who mostly slept). Ken was apparently there too, but I didn't see him.

[1]: "Filth and fibre". I think I've got an EP by them.
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  • Current Music: Public Image Limited - The order of death

Gold is the kindest of all hosts

So. I've just finished An Evil Guest, which is the new Gene Wolfe novel described by a certain Mr Gaiman here. He's right about the need to read it again, but then I always feel that way about Wolfe stories. It mostly comes across as a crime or espionage thriller until fairly near the end, when it becomes quite obvious that it's something else entirely (although it wears its horror quite lightly, all things considered). Anyway, it's very good indeed and I'm rather enjoying reading Wolfe standalone novels as they come out. There's a lot to be said for not having to remember three volumes' worth of character and incident at a time.

I need to go back to The Tree Is My Hat as well, as it is indeed a chilling little number.
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Music: Thee More Shallows - 2AM
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Almost entirely recycled

Further to a couple of earlier mentions, some of you may possibly be interested in this story concerning yet more things that people can do while asleep. Also slightly scientific is this NS story on the increased fatality rates for the intelligent during the Great War. Slightly puzzling. Finally (for the storylinkage bit, anyway), Mice suspected in deadly cat fire. Seriously.

Just before Christmas (and again just after) discussion came round to Ulrich Haarbuurste's Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm. I know some of you are doubtless tired of me mentioning it and extolling its virtues, so I'm just going to point out that Herr Haarbuurste has had his literary manager Michael Kelly put a Roy-in-clingfilm computer adventure up on his website. The novel itself is, of course, still available here. And no, I'm not on commission.

Also, as it too has come up in conversation a couple of times recently (in conversation, that is, with people who don't remember having seen it) here once more is my picture of the world's most Zen roadsign:

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  • Current Mood: awake
  • Current Music: Asobi Seksu - New Years

Tedious meme. Avoid.

After popping down all I could think of and flipping through the record collection to remind me . . .

Which bands have I seen . . . ?Collapse )

This is partly because some other people have done it, and partly triggered by a taxi driver last night, who took a genuine interest in which concert we'd been to, liked the description of Ladytron and noted them down to search out later, and then chatted amicably about music for the rest of the trip. Most refreshing. He liked the Waifs from hearing them on the radio (me? I saw them supporting Billy Bragg in the Corn Exchange, Cambridge, about 2002).
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Music: Stars - A thread cut with a carving knife

Otway, anyone?

John Otway's playing Edinburgh each night until Saturday (although that last is sold out), with added Wild Willy Barrett.

Anyone fancy? I really do recommend seeing him at least once. He's an amazing performer, and if his own songs don't bowl you over then I'm sure his version of House of the Rising Sun will.

Do dum dum dum, de do dum dum.

Very good last night, he was. A very nice man, with very talented friends.

They played:

Dance me to the end of love
The future
Ain't no cure for love
Bird on the wire
Everybody knows
In my secret life
Who by fire?
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

Tower of song
Boogie street
I'm your man
A thousand kisses deep (although this was read as a poem, with little in common with the words that were used for the song. Similar versions can be read online, if you're interested)
Take this waltz

So long, Marianne
First we take Manhattan
Sisters of mercy
If it be your will (sung by Charley and Hattie Webb, two of the backing singers, with acoustic guitar and harp, and I believe a contribution by the keyboard player too)
Closing time

I should probably drone on about this at some length, but I'll restrict myself to noting that more dates have been announced for the autumn, including several more UK ones between the 5th and 22nd of November. Tickets are on sale tomorrow (Friday) at 9 am.

Afterwards, at the Halfway House, we (Nicky, AJ, and I) were wondering which was his most depressing song. Tricky, because that's not the defining characteristic it's said to be, and mostly a definite optimism (or at least defiance) in there, but . . . anyway. What do you think?
  • Current Location: the boxroom
  • Current Music: If it be your will
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I see your ghost on the closed-circuit TV

The Hussy's were very good, but getting to see them was more work than I expected. The ad in The Skinny had no fewer than three URLs but no time, and none of the URLs had any obvious time listed. Their wn website didn't list one either. After a search, one of the sites said 7pm if you clicked down far enough, so at seven I was there and reading some notices saying they were on at ten. So I went home and came back at ten, to find a support band setting up. After watching them set up and play - Ross Fairweather and the Billy Shears, tuneful stuff but not exactly up my street, seem like decent blokes - The Hussy's themselves were on. It was nearly eleven by then. They seem to have shed a guitarist and swapped out a keyboard player. Oh, and written a load of new songs, which on one listen are about as good as the previous ones. Apparently there's an album coming along imminently, which is certainly welcome. They were about as good as I expected from previous gigs, which was very, and then I went along to what was apparently the last Neon for the moment, which is a shame but was a good use of the rest of a good and very cheap evening.

The Hussy's's "street team" have a MySpork of their own, with vido and stuff. And if you've seen them before you may be interested to know that Fili's looking more of a rock chick every second.

Tuesday was the biofuels thing at the Forest. The high point of the evening was noticing a copy of Dreams Of Sex And Stagediving on their bookswap shelf, which is now on one of my shelves. The factual bit was moderately interesting, and the music after (with decomposingsoul on saxophoid) was intermittently shambolic (but not nearly as much as it apparently deserved to be) and reasonably coherent.

On Thursday I went beachscouting with sleepycinderell and princealbert We found a couple of nice ones and wandered around a maze of p(h)easant-infested farm roads looking for a landowner's house near Tantallon Castle (and found a big ruined house called (IIRC) Seacliff) before coming back. As it happens the camping trip was cancelled due to today's weather conditions, but there you go.

On Friday afternoon Ed came round and we wandered into town after chatting to a slightly ill Charlotte. Ian Kendall was doing magic on a table on the High Street, and I was surprised he remembered me. A good and funny show, as you'd expect - apparently he's had a mixed couple of weeks, as some bastard stole his wand.

In the evening I went to BlAlex and Marianne's 10th Anniversary bash at the Counting House, with loads of old faces and a surprise Brigid. It was good, and I elected not to go to listen to loads of Eighties chart pop at the Shitrus club afterwards, for some unfathomable reason. And today I spent the afternoon playing some game out at Mark's.

Clive Stafford Smith has written a whole article about the use of music as torture. James Hetfield gets a thumbs-down for not caring enough to give a serious answer ("If the Iraqis aren't used to freedom, then I'm glad to be part of their exposure."), although apparently Lars was quite upset about it.

There was also an article, today, about Jamaica, which my mum mentioned on the phone because she thought one of the hotels mentioned sounded like one we we went to a couple of times while we lived over there (but I think we stayed at this place, which doesn't even seem to have changed its name in 30 years), as well as other places like Port Antonio, the Blue Mountains and other stuff outside the big resorts. Must go back sometime.
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  • Current Mood: amused
  • Current Music: Ladytron - They gave you a heart, they gave you a name


Also, I was in the Forest with Ed earlier. A friend of his called Annette was there. I've met her once or twice through people like Ed, but that was over the last several years, so I wouldn't say I know her. She was at the gig last night, though.

Anyway, she pointed out that to celebrate Friday the 13th, the Forest had a ladder leaned across the doorway so everyone went under it as they came in, and an umbrella open on one table, and shoes on all the rest.

This brought to mind something Steph said at one of the Writers' Bloc events about things that are unlucky on fishing boats (which he used to work on). Women are unlucky, and so are ministers. Swan Vestas are out, and salmon can't be mentioned by name - they have to be called "red fish". All very odd.

Apparently seeing one swan is considered unlucky, because its mate may have died. Perhaps Swan Vestas are out because there's only one swan in the picture. Would it be OK if you always carried two boxes?

Answers on a postcard, please . . .
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  • Current Mood: calm
  • Current Music: Ulrich Schnauss - A letter from home

Exalt her and she shall bring you to honour

Yes, it's a picture of me baring my torch. Obviously.

Writers Bloc had readings in Biggar and Prestonpans. Read more...Collapse )
Stephen Pinker gave a lecture for the Uni, which had to be moved up into the McEwan Hall due to demand. Contains swearing. Big, clever, funny swearing.Collapse )
Obviously at the end I did what I've done many times before - tried to work out what it says around the base of the dome. "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding: exalt her and she shall bring you to honour." Proverbs, chapter 4.

Much fun. After that I went out to Dalkeith country park for a drink with Jim the arsonist and his mates, which was also great. I found some lager in Tesco's called "Lech", which is a very funny name if you ignore it being Polish.

After that it was the Meadows Festival, which was a lot smaller than previously, but then it did have its legs cut out from under it in the meantime. This was the first one for two or three years, and pretty good for effectively a new first time. Hopefully it'll gather momentum again over the next few years. There was a genuine 9/11 conspiracy theory stall, which I didn't stop and ridicule in spite of the fact that I probably could get back in touch with a structural engineer who studied the collapse of the towers in detail - something that, famously, said wackos have never paid any attention to.

Yesterday I went to see Mark Stewart and the Maffia. Read more...Collapse )
I've been reading my new (i.e. the older) copy of My Friend Mr Leakey today, which has been fun. I've noticed one thing, though - where the Seventies printing mentions Negroes as the victims of a particular kind of African devil, the older one uses a different word. It still starts with N, though. Pinker had mentioned it as currently the most taboo word in US English. I guess that in Britain it was still OK to use it in front of children as recently as 1948.

On getting back from the gig (OK, and from the pub afterwards) last night, I found a mail from a ticket agency with a whole list of stuff I've no interest in and details of Amanda Palmer playing at the end of September. Well and good, although I notice that Dolls gigs do apparently still happen very occasionally . . .

However, that wasn't the eyeopener. Other Dolls are afoot. New York Dolls, in Glasgow, anyone? In a venue the size of (and probably, admittedly, with the aroma of) a gorilla's armpit? That sounds like a good deal to me. And a couple of weeks later, Swervedriver.


Now that's not a name I thought I'd hear again. Still, tempting . . . I wonder if Dave Hetherington knows about this? I may have to pass a message via CJ.

Mixed week in politics, of course, SCOTUS have belted Bush one in the bollocks over Guantanamo. Your friend and mine Antonin Scalia, however, seems by all accounts to have delivered a shameless dissenting statementlamenting the effects of the actual decision, which would fly exactly in the face of everything he said about the grounds for his beliefs when he spoke in New College last year. Ah well. Maybe he's been misquoted.

Over here, a certain disastrous vote went the wrong way (but was tantalisingly close) and a Tory MP has resigned to fight his own safe seat at a point when the government's in trouble. His party leader, one David Cameron, described the move as "courageous", presumably meaning by Sir Humphrey's definition of the term. The words "nothing much to be gained" come to mind - he's likely to find that his only serious opposition comes from the Sun. If it descends into a farce and he ends up making himself and his party look ridiculous, he will undoubtedly go down in history as a political genius for finding a way to make the government look good in spite of its recent misadventures.

And if you think that sounds harsh, listen to what some other people are saying - one shadow cabinet member said. "There is a slight hint of self-indulgence and a slight element of tragedy. David cannot come back in a bigger position. He can only come back as even more self-righteous, but will he be more morally pure with a majority of 1,500 over the Monster Raving Loony Party? He has walked the plank and this risks looking like a pantomime."

I must finally mention that Weegie popsters The Hussy's are playing FOR FREE at the usually-execrable-but-I'll-make-an-exception-this-time 3 Sisters (on the Cowgate, if you've had the good fortune not to have come across it) on Sunday. Actually, they're playing in Manchester, at the Dry Bar, on Tuesday and in London Village (Purple Turtle, apparently) on Wednesday, so some of you could do a lot worse than pop along. Sadly, I've no indication that the other gigs are free, but I'm sure you can, as the saying goes, check local press for details.
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  • Current Mood: pleased
  • Current Music: My Bloody Valentine - Soon

PC/WinXP problem

I've been trying to help a friend with his PC. It hung while he was upgrading a firewall and now won't boot. The hardware all checks out normal, it'll boot to the utility partition and I've run a windows repair on it, none of which has made any difference. It's a Dell Dimension 9150 running XP Home,

Any ideas? Thanks.
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  • Current Mood: puzzled
  • Current Music: Marthe and the Muffins - Paint by number heart

Best anagram *ever*

Thanks to seventorches for passing this on to me.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of
America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

. . . is an anagram of . . .

I, George W. Bush, an evil Republican fascist, used God to
inflict pain on the world, end life, facilitate death, create militant
jihad rebels, and to let youths die for nothing.

Some people have too much time on their hands.