Blog Archives

A Cat Called Malice

Saturday, 12 July 2008

I just discovered Polydor records have taken the very sane step of becoming a YouTube channel. Specifically, Polydor classics puts up high quality classic music videos. One of my favourite uses of YouTube is to track down old pop videos – you get onto a seam of a band or year and lose hours clicking on the ‘related’. This morning I watched an old Aztec Camera clip Alistair posted, which led me to Ever Changing Moods, then Long Hot Summer and finally this:

I can watch the young Paul Weller for hours, although I’m a bit bothered by his current Bradley Wiggins style haircut.

Meanwhile, Sébastian’s new kill count is:

  • Rodents:
    Rats – 1 2
    Mice – 40
    Voles – 11
  • Birds:
    Sparrows – 5
    Dunnocks – 1
    Robin – 1
    Ringed pigeon – 3
    Uncertain – 9
  • Other:
    Frogs – 1
    Unidentifiable remains – 3

Yes, there’s a rat in my rose bed, what am I gonna do? Actually, I picked it up and sealed it in a plastic bag till bin day. Séba has a new collar with a quieter bell, and within days he’s killed a rat. Which is both good (less rats) and bad (rats bite when cornered).

There was also a young hedgehog under my kitchen table, which had got in through the open back door, got itself confused in amongst the boxes of tools etc. and was sounding distressed. I moved things and used gardening gloves to pick it up and put it under some foliage in the garden. You’d really not believe I’m in an urban area, would you?

Cute, in a stupid arsed way

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

It’s already been noted that I am loving The Last of the Shadow Puppets. The first thing they reminded me of was Tenament Symphony era Marc Almond, mixed with a large dose of The Divine Comedy circa Casanova (e.g. Something for the Weekend) and a dash of Lee Hazelwood. A cocktail recipe of music almost bound to make me love them. I love the combination of torch songs and guitars. The opening bass-laden intro on the first track of the album reminds me of Valerie, as well, but then I’m nearly as obsessed with Mark Ronson’s arrangements as the trailer editors on the BBC.

I’ve just put the Shadow Puppets album on again, whilst updating my swipe file (a posh phrase for ripping out good headlines from Glamour). And a slight worry resurfaces. I have fleetingly wondered if there was something a bit Space about The Last Shadow Puppets, but I’ve also just been reminded of The La’s.

Hmmm. I’m starting to suspect this is an album I will adore for six months then neglect for years.

Also cute, in a stupid arsed way:

And, yes, I have also favourited the ‘learn the dance’ versions.

Dork Talk

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Just when I start wondering if the Guardian on Saturday is worth the £1.50 price tag, it gives me a supplement on Baking (I happily admit Dan Lepard, their weekly baking columnist, is prone to causing me to cook far more cakes than I should) and a such an excellent review on a new piece of technology that I actually want to buy it. I’m not going to, mind. I have a long history of never quite loving portable music players even if they are the bestest thing ever.

My Sony Walkman was primary used on trains (where its batteries always ran out somewhere near Four Oaks, the radio never got a signal and you always needed a pen in case you had to respool a tape). It did give me an abiding memory of being huddled up in many layers as the train juddered its way into Birmingham in the snow, with ‘A New England‘ by Kirsty MacColl playing. My CD walkman was cheap and never liked doing anything very much. I only have an iPod because the chap gave me his Mk1 when he got a Mk-whatever-it-is: I’d not got one before because a) I’d have had to hack it to work with the old Win98 PC and b) years of never loving portable music players meant I doubted I’d find this new thing any more fun. I still only take it with me about 1/3 of the time: its primary function is playing mp3s from my PC in the attic downstairs in the lounge/kitchen via the little iPod docking speakers and thus saving me from burning CDs.

However, the Guardian did a rather smart thing during their sly revamp of the Weekend magazine: they’ve employed Stephen ‘luvvie’ Fry as their tech writer. His Dork Talk column is a delight because he cares not only about the specs of a bit of technology but about how we interact with it physically and emotionally. He’s a Mac fan (the only reason he bought the second ever Mac sold in Europe is because Douglas Adams beat him to the first) but isn’t too evangelical about it. This week, he tried a Windows only Eco Player by Trevor Bayliss. And adored it. He writes so enthusiastically that my gut response by the end is “want one!”. I don’t need it but it sounds fun. Also, that pesky “running out of juice” thing which has always annoyed me about portable players is resolved as you just have to spend a minute winding it up again. How smart is that? No need to drag around power leads or spare batteries, and when the oil and electricity run out in the future and we all revert to Survivors-style living, I’ll still be able to listen to the Pipettes.

Fry, like Ben Goldacre (another good Saturday columnist), publishes his Guardian columns on his blog, so you can read them – and comment on them – for free. Although not, as I do with the magazine, in the bath.

ETA: ooooh! My web-host has wordpress 2.3.1. available for install! Geeky joy ahoy!!

Radio Tweet

Sunday, 28 October 2007

I’m trying to unclutter the attic, which is a somewhat epic task. There are boxes up here which have yet to be fully unpacked even though I moved in eleven years ago. The starting point was the realisation that, with two PC corpses littering the place (their respective monitors having thrown themselves onto the funeral pyre as well), there was just no room any more. I did try to offload the dead PCs on freecycle but it seems to be full of time-wasting idiots who say they want it then never get back in touch to arrange collection. So Carrie and I took them to the council tip this morning. The HDDs are missing, naturally, but it means I have more space.

Digging into one corner, I found boxes containing stuff that really should have gone years back…

Studio radio This is my first radio cassette player. I got this second hand for £1. When I left home, it came with me before winding up in my studio space at art college. You can probably tell that from the paint job. Sadly, it gave up working years back, what with the aerial coming off, then the function button no longer locking into place. Now I have a digital camera and therefore don’t feel foolish wasting film on it, I’m taking the photos and junking the radio.

20th anniversary posterThis was on my wall when I was a teenager and doubtless contributed to my love of Tegan/Turlough fanfic. Pedants muttering about the Doctor’s trousers in the new Children in Need thingy, can take note. Original costume there, boys. This is not going in the junk pile, but has already been carefully folded back up and filed with the Doctor Who annuals.

Musical chairs

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

After some umming and ahhing, I’ve decided to stick to just iTunes. This means giving up a player I’ve used for ten years or thereabouts but iTunes has a trick Winamp doesn’t*. ITunes’s smart playlists mean I can use the ‘comments’ field like a tag. So last night I wrote “garage, lo fi, j-garage, covers” in the comments field for Long Tall Sally by The 5,6,7,8′s, and the track was instantly added to a playlist of all tracks with “covers” in the comment field. Along with Marc Almond’s Like A Prayer and The Delgados’ Mr Blue Sky. Admittedly, that is a strange playlist but the key thing is that it is automatic: I add the comments and the playlists are built in the background. Web 2.0 functionality, oh yes.

*or, at least, I haven’t found it yet.

More web pimpage & music

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Lost Luggage‘s first 24 hours has been pretty hectic, with hundreds of unique visitors, many spending time there and many returning. We’ve also had various little hiccups with the code which I spent time fixing. I’m pleased, though, that it is doing its job and introducing great new fiction to people.

Meanwhile, Carrie’s Years 8 and 9 are reviewing 2007 Carnegie Medal Nominees at the moment, giving anyone who is interested in children’s fiction a good idea of what 13 and 14 year olds really want to read.

Up in town for work, I tagged along with the chap and a friend to see The Concretes at the Luminaire in Kilburn. Although the others swear their album is good, I found them rather generic Swedish pop with songs which fell into two broad categories: long pieces of feedback crescendos or shorter numbers in which a key phrase was repeated often. The support act, however, were the short of band which grabs you by the throat and makes you think you should maybe get to the venue on time. In this case it was a band called Lawrence Arabia who had a certain garage rock feel to them despite/because of their lead singer looking like Julian Rhind-Tutt in The Rotters’ Club.


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