Friday, 29 September 2006

Finding Inspiration In The Oddest of Places

The Morning News link to an ad agency site that has a page dedicated to the bad cover letters that they've received. It's mostly cringe-worthy:
"Strong writing abilities. Able to analysis data and problem solve."

And sometimes funny:
"I am seeking a new position as i have recently been laid."

But somewhere in there I found the perfect name for my first solo album:
"I am getting to my goal, slowly but surly."

Slowy But Surly, the new album by Shinbone available only in my fevered imagination.

Pics From The Gig

Here's a couple of pictures taken during my recent first gig down at the Irish Pub, I should have even more soon. I'll have to put them on Flickr or something, but till then:

I manfully try and keep at least one member of the audience distracted while the band agree on what instruments to play.

There's no picture where what I'm doing totally matches my T-Shirt, but this is quite close and I think it's got a lot of energy...

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Smoking Pot Is Safe Says Ad

At least according to this article in Slate. What made me laugh was the link to an earlier Slate article saying:
Finally, an admission that using pot isn't necessarily calamitous. It's possible we're seeing this about-face only because previous scare-tactic ads were recently proved to increase drug use.


I know what they mean. Not the drugs thing, but there have been a few recent road safety ads that were entertaining for quite the wrong reasons. There's that that looks like it's done on a camera-phone where Wham! some kid just gets taken out by passing traffic, it's like the "Bus Hit" from Final Destination or something. Then there was the speeding in urban areas (or possible drunk driving, I'm not entirely sure) one where the car comes off the road, flys over a fence and Boom! some random kid, who was just standing in the garden, splashed all over the grass.

I'm sure my enjoyment of those two are some kind of damning indictment of me or my taste or the deading effect of watching too many violent images on TV, but, damn, they do give you a jolt. Of course it would be a tragedy if it happen to any child in real life, but then so would any violence you see on TV.

We'll Just Carry On Referring To Them As Convicts Then

Apparently Cricket is trying to crack down on racism, Australia Cricket, though, are still fine with calling the English "Poms"

However, while backing the new clampdown on racism, Cricket Australia have admitted that they will not stop using the term "pom" having taken advice from the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.

The commission has ruled that "pom was not hurtful when used in isolation, although using the word with others could be deemed racist, offensive or humiliating".

The English, of course, are hesistent to mention this lest "whingeing" gets added to the front of it.

Monday, 25 September 2006

Really Should Get Out More

I rented Munich and Final Destination 2 on DVD over the weekend (2 because I'd watched 3 the previous week and found it surprisingly enjoyable in a totally mindless way and was curious about the series).

About half way thorough Munich it occured to me that they both had the same plot. Horrible tragedy happens in which some parties escape, those survivors spend the rest of the movie being killed in a range of inventive ways and being paranoid about it.

It made it very difficult to take Munich seriously after that, even after I'd watched Spielberg's introduction where he made it very clear that it's a serious movie indeed.

A Guide To Not Getting Your Freak On

In response to yet another school banning dancing, which as George Bernard Shaw had it is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music, when said dancing involves anything remotely sexual, Junichi has a set of rules to follow for everyone who wants to boogie on down without scaring the old folks, here's a couple:
1. Do not shake your body down to the ground, shake your booty, shake your rump, shake your thang, shake your bon bon, shake your moneymaker, or shake it like a saltshaker.
5. Step back if you are dancing kinda close and you feel a little poke coming through.
7. Do not use your lovely lady lumps to mix your milk with another person's cocoa puff or in any way create a milky, milky, cocoa puff-like substance.

Wise words indeed.


Bill Clinton defends his record on terror. Vigorously.

A transcript for those without immediate access to the video.

Friday, 22 September 2006

He's Always There To Help Us Out Of The Little Jams Too!

Yes, it must be Tom Waits Day or something, anyway, The House Next Door Take a close look at the credit sequence for The Wire, which features various different artists doing Tom's Way Down In The Hole, including Tom himself.
It is no surprise, then, that The Wire's opening credits are not an ordinary credits sequence, but a series of four short films that distill each season's themes, goals, and motifs. On most TV dramas the credits sequence is little more than a contractual pecking order with flashy graphics and catchy music -- examples of what job-hunting production houses would call a "sizzle reel." Even the credit sequences on HBO's other programming, which are always evocative and given a full minute to breathe, usually seem detached from the shows themselves, to the point where they work as stand-alone mood pieces. But The Wire's four credits sequences don't fit any of these descriptors; the images are taken out of context from the season's individual episodes and arranged in a pattern that only makes sense if you watch the show closely. The content changes significantly from season to season, yet each credits sequence adheres to the same basic editing rhythms and visual schemes. The theme music is always Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole," but each season it's performed by a different artist from a different genre. Working in concert, the audio and the visuals create a 90-second mini-narrative that alludes to each season's victims and assailants, its legal and political strategies, its criminal schemes, its surveillance devices, and its instruments of death. The entire assemblage is scored to a mournful biblical cautionary tale about the necessity and difficulty of resisting temptation and sin.

By the way, the title of this post is a reference to the Big Time version of WDitH, what I didn't realise until recently is that it's the punchline to a story that was cut out of the CD:
Part of original verse deleted: "Have mercy… People, when I was on my way to this speech tonight, we pulled down in Dallas/ Texas. The lord loooves Dallas/ Texas. Well people, I mean to tell you the lord was working his wonders with his paint brush. All the many hues of his pallet. The almond, the many violets and the vermilion. And I was seated in Clipper Class. People I love Clipper Class! But I was seated next to and elderly Indian gentleman who was having some trouble with the tiny foil top that locks in the freshness on his strawberry preserves container. A problem we've all experienced from time to time… People I want you to know that he busted that top, till I thought he would die. And you know what I did!? You know what I did!? Well I tell you what I did! People I snatched the container from his hand, I tore open the foil top and I spread his preserves out on his toast for him! (applause)."

It's also interesting to read the debunking of the "Pregnant without intercourse" story in the notes at the bottom of that page. Dry and utterly humourless, but interesting never-the-less.

Free Tom Waits

Tom's releasing an album called Orphans soon. It's off-cuts and B-sides and stuff he found in his closet or something like that. Sounds interesting, it's spread over 3 CDs called Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards respectively.
At the center of this record is my voice. I try my best to chug, stomp, weep, whisper, moan, wheeze, scat, blurt, rage, whine, and seduce. With my voice, I can sound like a girl, the boogieman, a Theremin, a cherry bomb, a clown, a doctor, a murderer…I can be tribal. Ironic. Or disturbed. My voice is really my instrument.

His record label, Anti, have made "Bottom Of The World" from the Brawlers CD available to download, which is jolly good of them.

Via the newly redesigned Glorious Noise who have plenty of links to other free Mp3s.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Something Fun

Over at Bad Science, Ben Goldacre has a couple of fun videos. First is the famous "Powers of Ten" video as recently parodied by The Simpsons. The second video on the page is some strange donkey like walking machine that's quite hypnotic.

As a bonus, that diet coke and mentos thing that was going around a while a go.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

From A Certain Point Of View

Weaselling more than Ob-Wan Kenobi in Empire Strikes Back the BBC ask and try to answer "How infallible is the Pope?"
According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Bishop of Rome IS infallible - but only in specific cases. The current furore over remarks made by the pontiff about Islam does not fall into this category.

What intrigues me most about this, though is this bit:
It wasn't until the 19th Century that moves were made for a formal acknowledgement that the Pope was faultless. In 1870, the First Vatican Council proclaimed that the Pope was infallible

Why did they not notice up to that point? Was it something that never needed pointing out in the past and in 1870 they just decided that the public needed a reminder? Maybe they were just checking the records and noticed that every time the pontiff pontificated in a certain manner, well praise be, he was right everytime. Those other times though, not so divinely inspired.

Monday, 18 September 2006

So, You're Probably Wondering, How Was It?

Great. Really really good.

Markus had a proper PA and everything and knew how to set it up so that wasn't remotely a problem. I did mess up the recording equipment (not sure what happened except I didn't record anything) but as that was the worst thing that happened I was only slightly put out by it.

The cold remained, but I sang over it.

There were probably between 20 and 30 people. Not too many, but it filled the Irish Pub's Barroom without being over packed. Just right, really. I knew most people, but a few strangers were there and they stayed till the end.

My voice mostly held, I wasn't entirely happy with all of my singing — though any criticism I got wasn't about that, so perhaps I'm being over-critical, I'll be developing Diva-ish tendencies as soon as I can — and it was half way through Canned Heat that I realised smoke dries out your throat. The band were occassionally a bit messy but for the most part they out-did themselves and I just had to concentrate on being in time.

I think people were pleasantly surprised, shocked in a few cases, it was a good energetic gig and I was called an all-round entertainer more than once, though I was also called "that twat from Donny" so there you go...

In many ways it was the perfect first gig. Nothing went too wrong, the right number of appreciative people turned up and I felt we'd done more than enough while showing that there was plenty of room for improvement. Here's to the next, this time sans cold.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Cut Out & Keep Guide To Cheap Drugs Around England

Thanks to The Independent:


Cheapest cannabis resin (£30 an ounce) and second cheapest amphetamine (£8 a gram) although this has risen from £2 the previous year


Cheapest heroin in UK: one fifth of a gram just £5. Low price attributed to town's role as major drugs transit hub for the North-east


UK's cheapest ketamine, an animal anaesthetic (£10 per gram). Heroin £50 a gram, more expensive than average


Ecstasy pills as cheap as 75p each when bought in bulk. Ketamine £20 a gram. Viagra and GHB popular among clubbers


Below-average price for cocaine (£40 a gram) and crack (£10 a rock). Substantial rise in use of steroids among young men


Drug users buying two £10 bags of heroin get a free rock of crack, which encourages 'speedballing'. Heroin purity very low (average 25 per cent)


Crack at £10 a rock is half the price of two years ago. Standard herbal cannabis is cheaper too. Rise of 'speedballing' is a worrying trend


One of eight cities reporting rise in 'speedballing', in which heroin and crack cocaine are injected using the same syringe


Khat, a stimulant with effects like amphetamine, is increasingly popular. Misuse of anabolic steroids is becoming mainstream


Price of heroin dropped by half since 2005 (now £50 a gram). Methadone and Subutex, heroin substitutes, available cheaply


Most expensive cocaine in UK (£55 per gram), but the cheapest ecstasy (£1 a pill)


Rising number of people suffering cocaine-related mental health problems. Skunk cannabis most expensive in UK (£140 an ounce)


LSD still popular, along with magic mushrooms, crystal meth and MDMA. Home-grown cannabis increasingly available


Misuse of anabolic steroids becoming mainstream, with drug services seeing big rise in number of young Asian men seeking help for misuse


Cheapest cannabis, cocaine and crack in UK. Average heroin prices are also among the lowest in the country at £10 per 0.3g bag


Heroin price fell from £60 to £40 a gram this year, attributed to Liverpool dealers. UK's cheapest herbal cannabis (£90 an ounce)


Growing presence of steroids. Club bouncers using an opiate painkiller, Nubain, mixed with cocaine, to create improvised 'speedball'


Most expensive herbal cannabis in the UK. Cocaine among the most expensive with one gram selling for an average price of £47.50


Since Monday I've had a bad head cold. I can't quite work out if this is my body getting my excuses in early for me or just very bad luck. It's annoying.

On the bright side Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is even more fun than the first game, if a little frustrating with the puzzles sometimes — there's a bit in freeplay where you are a spaceship and you have to light 7 lights by flying over them that must have taken me about 50 trys. There's moments of greatness, though, in the details. If you're playing as Lando you can't slap Princess Leia, instead you kiss her hand while Chewbacca yawns and at the climactic moment of The Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader whips out a polaroid of him and Padme and points to it then Luke, which is much funnier than I've made it sound when it happens to you. Oh, and Chewie ripping the arms off stormtroopers almost never gets old.

Monday, 11 September 2006

Quick Note and a Quickie

I'm very busy at the moment and I've got that gig thing all planned up and everything so posting will be light to non-existant for the next week. Sorry about that. I'll try and get back to my three or four posts per week swing of things as soon as possible.

Via Making Light comes Japanese Surf Versions of Classical Themes .

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Knob Gags To Return Shortly

They first came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they for the ravers, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a raver. Then they came for the smokers, and I didn't speak up because I'd just quit. They they came for the Pay-Per-View Porn, and I didn't speak up because I had my own stash. Then they came for the fatties and I found it difficult to hide under anything and when I ran away they easily caught up....

(with all apologies, of course)

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 8

Although, I admit, this will probably turn up in England sooner or later if it hasn't already, Parmesan with its own disposable grater.
The selling point of Grate-it-fresh is that a consumer can grate their own cheese, straight out of the package. The idea is that it's the act of grating the cheese that affects the quality of the product. As Adam the Intern wrote in that e-mail, "It's kind of like bringing that authentic Italian restaurant feeling home to the family."

There's probably some kind of genius going on here. It's the logical step between cheese and pre-packaged grated cheese, possibly for those only vaguely aware of the relationship between the two.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

So, Wait, You're Saying What Now?

I'm a bit flaky as where the link to 14 Points of fascism in Project for the Old American Century came from. It's central idea is pretty simple. In studies of fascist states there are 14 characteristics that are always present. These are, stated briefly:
1) Powerful and continuing nationalism
2) Disdain for the recognition of humanrights
3) Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4) Supremacy of the military
5) Rampant sexism
6) Controlled mass media
7) Obsession with national security
8) Religion and government are intertwined
9) Corporate power is protected
10) Labor power is suppressed
11) Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
12) Obsession with crime and punishment
13) Rampant cronyism and corruption
14) Fraudulent elections

I think you can probably see where they are going with this. And they do. With links upon links to support their argument. The fact you can quite easily do the same for the UK is obvious, but a point worth making.

Fraking Universal!

Not content with hinting at extras you don't get on Deadwood Season 2, Universal have gone a step further and only put half the extras on the new Battlestar Galatica. That is, they've added the Ron Moore podcasts for the episodes they'd already done that for for the American market, but apparently couldn't be arsed to finish off the rest of the DVDs just for Europe. Apparently a later American release will be full featured, but, yet again, region 2 consumers are treated like second class citizens...

You can, however, download Ron's podcasts from the usual place.

Friday, 1 September 2006

First (Mini) Gig

So, I had to abandon Shinbone for the moment because the other band members didn't think it meant anything, which was the point but I don't mind I my just keep the name for when I get around to finishing of "Three Quid & Jesus". Eamon at the Irish Pub, though, offered me a corner of the pub on a Thursday evening so we had to come up with a name, Markus suggested the Blues Berries, a name that has all of those B Sharps qualities of being a bad pun that gets a little more annoying everytime you hear it, so I agreed. In part, but not the greater part, because it fit a poster idea I had using my South Park character. After a bit of fiddling here's what I came up with (click it for a larger version):

Which probably doesn't need that shadow on the letters but it creates some space. Overall I think it's rather cute.

Here are some close ups: