Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Grammys (sp?)

There are, at last count, more music awards than stars in the night sky, so I can be forgiven surely to god for not being aware who won the Grammys. I think it happened in February, but the website's a little short on such specifics, so we'll have to guess. What it's not short of is a list of who won the 47th Grammy Awards. For those of you frightened of following links, I provide a digest below.

Best Engineered Album, Classical
(An Engineer's Award. (Artist names appear in parenthesis.))

* Higdon: City Scape; Concerto For Orchestra
Jack Renner, engineer (Robert Spano)

Best Polka Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Let's Kiss: 25th Anniversary Album
Brave Combo

Best Surround Sound Album
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.)

* Genius Loves Company
Al Schmitt, surround mix engineer; Robert Hadley & Doug Sax, surround mastering
engineers; John Burk, Phil Ramone & Herbert Waltl, surround producers (Ray
Charles & Various Artists)
[Concord Records/Hear Music]

Best Spoken Word Album
(Narrated/dramatized books include authors' names in parenthesis for identification.)

* My Life
Bill Clinton
[Random House Audio]

Best Historical Shoegazing Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Loveless:
My Bloody Valentine

Best Album Made on a Thursday

* Beautiful Intentions
Melanie C

OK, so I did make up the last two, but how long was this ceremony? There's one hundred and seven awards! It's like that thing in school where there's a school awards night, but everyone gets an award, because everybody's special in some way. I'm going to stop soon before I sound like a Social Darwinist (no, not the sort who discuss evolution theories over canapés and red wine, smartarse), but I'll leave you with this thought:

Just how strong is the American polka-music lobby that they can get their own award into the Grammys? Does no-one else conisder this sinister? How high does this go? Is the president implicated?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Doctor Dictionary

Now, I don't know if you're familiar with this, but the quite useful online dictionary operates a facility where it emails a word to your inbox each day.

Now, I had been planning for a while to rant about How Doctor Dictionary Thinks You Are A Idiot because I was left with the impression that it was giving me butt-obvious words:

  • jape: to jest.
  • forlorn: sad and lonely because deserted, abandoned, or lost.
  • forgo: to do without.
  • fallible: liable to make a mistake.
  • intrepid: fearless; bold.
  • chortle: to utter, or express with, a snorting, exultant laugh or chuckle.
  • cajole: to coax.
But I really had to look for those, so I'm doing the good Doctor an disservice. However, it never sends you a word you didn't know. Or if it does, you recognise it from context. Or it's a crap word, like popinjay. It's never sent a word that you've had the need to use, but just had the word available to you.

Well, yesterday, Doctor Dictionary did itself proud. Always wanted to say that something happens in the mornings? Eh? Well, all I can say is that my email arrived matutinally.

Maybe not as useful as I thought, but it struck me in the matutinal state I was in as a good word.

No, it's not going to catch on, is it?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Google Maps

The easily amused amongst you will have already visited google maps, which is like an unbelievably slick yellow pages genetically spliced with the A to Z.

It's good fun to play about with, but not having had the need to use it in anger, I don't know how well it works, but damn, it looks good. You can search for locations, and it gives quite clear maps, directions, or shops and services by typing 'pubs in stevenage' or 'shoes in basildon'.

Also, you can search for 'cock in london' if you're puerile. You get quite a lot of cock in London, if you know where to look.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Click for bignessI don't know why, but I may just have this page in whatever language this is in future. I think it's Chinese, but I'm massively ignorant, so it could be anything really.Mistranslation courstesy of Yahoo.

Oh, it's That means Chinese, right? I spent too many geography lessons just colouring in maps and doing wordsearches.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


I received a letter from the landlord of the cottage we're renting to go on holiday. Perfectly normal letter, thanking me for the deposit, telling me about local attractions, transport links, y'know. What struck me is that the envelope has a sticker on the front for the address featurning four owls staring dead-eyed out at me. The only thing it says is 'protect owls', as the owls stare accusatorially back at me. What? Stop staring at me! I haven't harmed any owls! (Recently!)

I hope this owl thing doesn't set the tone for the holiday. I hear Devon is full of them.

Went to a very nice pub last night. There's a 'no mobiles' rule, and someone was made to leave the bar for answering their phone. Also, the bar is sunken, so when you buy a drink you loom over the bar staff like some kind of pint-ordering giant.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Uncle Jim and the Babies

A student yesterday went into one of the other offices in the building and asked for me by the name of 'Uncle Jim'. I like this, and would like to be referred to as 'Uncle Jim' from now on.

Until I get bored of it. But how likely is that?

Now, newborn babies can breathe underwater, so last night D and I were pondering how long you could keep a baby underwater. He seems to recall a Russian scientist who worked with keeping premature babies in tanks, but the internet let us down and didn't come up with any information. Does anyone have any information on this?

Also information on where to get giant tanks, and those nice underwater reeds you get.

Also information on where babies come from.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Adventures of My T-Shirt (Feat. Deadpan Conversations With Other Administrators)

OK, I just bought a new t-shirt. It's had an eventful life so far.

Yesterday. I was waiting in the pub for L, and decided to change into the new t-shirt I'd bought (treat, eh?). I'm on my own in the pub, so I turn to the nearest guy, who's half of one of those quite drunk older Soho couples getting to know each other, and ask him to watch my stuff while I go to the toilet. When I come back:

Bearded Older Guy Who Watched My Stuff: Oh, you were quick. I thought you were going for a wee, but you just changed your t-shirt.
Me: Yes. It's been a hard day at work. It's the next best thing to showering, you know.
BOGWWMS: Oh, I know.

Cut to this morning. I've applied deodourant, and waited for ages, and dabbed at my armpits with a towel, and put on my t-shirt really carefully, and still I get a white mark on my new t-shirt. I'm comforted in my anguish, and I wash it, and you can't see any mark, but still, my whole day is ruined.

This afternoon. I'm in an 'awayday', which is like a meeting, but lasts all day. Having listened to administrators moan like billy-o about everything, it's time for some biscuits. They have chocolate biscuits, which improves my mood. An administrator who I don't know, but who has a very thick Spanish accent comes over:

Thickly Accented Spanish Administrator: Oh. I have seen you before. I meant to say. You are wearing a brown top and a green t-shirt.
Me: Yes, I am.
TASA: That is very good. It looks good.
Me: Thank you.
TASA: This is not something you see on a British man. On a Spansih man: yes. On a French man: also. Perhaps on a German man. But not on a British man. But it is good. These are colours that are good. Brown is only bought here when it is in fashion.
Me: I like brown. I wear a lot of it.

What an exciting day my t-shirt has had!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Deadpan Conversations With Shop Sales Staff, Vol 10

Scene: A cornershop, not too far from Alexandra Palace. L & I, thirsty, decide to get drinks - 'Bina for me, Coke for her. On looking at the coke lid (to try and work out what language of coke is being drunk) we find out it passed its sell-by date in Sept 2004.

Me: This coke I've just bought - it's passed its sell-by date.
Shop Guy: Hmm. [Frowns. Discusses in foreign language with his superior, who goes off to the fridge. He roots about for a while, then produces another bottle]
Me: Thanks. Hey, this one is expired too. Look - March '05.
Shop Guy's Superior: Hmm. [Goes back to fridge. The floor behind him is now covered with bottles of coke from the fridge. Continues to root around. Eventually returns with a third bottle, which is in date.]
Me: Thanks.
SGS: Hmm. [Surveys shop, now covered with past their sell-by bottles of coke].

The moral? Stock rotation, my son, stock rotation.

Also, have just booked a cottage holiday near Beer. I've been promised that the transport links will be awful.

Friday, April 08, 2005

J.I.M.P Part II

OK, quickie here: The excellent J.I.M.P mp3 didn't appear on this page, following technical incompetence on my part (disconnecting from the computer while it was uploading, like the dial-up fool that I was). My band is now broad again (it's this wide), and you can find it further down the page or at this page. Message ends. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Classic Album Disappreciation

A friend has recommended the following pastime. It combines rudeness, kicking sacred cows in the udders, and using databases as they were not designed. It is, ladies and gentlemen, Classic Album Disappreciation.

Using Amazon, search and find yourself a Classic Album, one that perceived wisdom holds sacrosanct, say, anything by the Beatles. Now, the reviews at the bottom generally wax enthusiastic about how this album or that album redefined music for a generation, created complex audio sculptures, opened listeners' ears up to new influences, blah-de-blah-de-blah. What you want to do, if you're playing Classic Album Disappreciation, is to click the 'See All 226 Reviews' button near the bottom. Then, from the little drop-down box, select 'Show Lowest Rated First'. Then pour yourself a large port and lap up the mixture of bile, hatred, accurate insights into overrated albums, libel and poor syntax.

Think of it as an antidote to Mojo and Q.

Thank you Jamie.

Below are (sometimes selectively edited) extracts from some of the one-starrers.

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

This is not the Beach Boys. It can't be. Why? No beach songs!

Maybe the problem is me.

C'mon people! I have around 2000 Rock albums in my collection and I would never placed this not even between the top 100.

Britney Spears albums have great production.

Television - Marquee Moon

IVE always been convinced THAT TELEVISION were REALLY no better than a HIGH SCHOOL SEVENTY PSYCEDELIC, third rate amateaur bar band like AWFULL.

BULLOCKS!!! Clean out your ears and stop being so pretentious.

Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks

Don't buy this album unless your a big fan of slow accoustic guitar songs without any depth.

whining/whaling/screeching/yelping and nostril-itis.

Terrible, terrible work! One of my worst purchases, I think.,

I'm all up for excusing lyrical hemmaroids

Beatles - White Album

I even say it is a discraze.

The White Album at one time was great. But grow up people, it is 2005, this album is a relic, not a classic.

a) inexcusable
b) repettattive
c) boring

It is dangrous and emptyheaded

Nirvana - In Utero

Nirvana didn't define a generation, it lowered the bar for generations to come.

The online rhyming dictionary can make better plays on words than Cobain does.

This isn't party music by any means, who would want to hear 'Rape Me' at a party? Why couldn't Kurt just lighten up once in a while?

Kurt thought he could not only get away with releasing an album not finished enough for fans, but he also half arsed the inside graphic design (actually, he co-half arsed it).

Also, it can be extended to become Classic Novel Disappreciation, which is fun.

JD Sallinger - the Catcher in the Rye

First of all, there is the repeated swearing. I'm not usually bothered by this. Stephen King uses quite a bit of cursing, for example, but his stories are still interesting. This book, however, swears so much that the book would probably be twice as short if you took them all out. Every other word seems to be "g-dd--n or a variation of it.

There is also the repitition of the phrases "____kill(s) me" and "phony". Now, this wouldn't seem so bad at first. But believe me, you have NO IDEA how incredibly annoying that gets after a while. I actually started to cringe whenever those phrases were coming up, and I'm not exaggerating. Take out those two phrases plus the swearing, and this book is reduced to about 1/4 of it's actual size - maybe less.

Let me know what You, The People, can come up with.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Eggs, Nutters, Football and Bees - How They Are Related

In Sainsbury's yesterday, browsing the cut-price Easter eggs, when a large jovial nutter walks up to me:

Large Jovial Nutter: They can't give those Easter eggs away to us now, can they, eh?
Me: [Shakes head, adopts mock sombre look]
LJN: Eggs!
Me: [Intently studies ingredients in Easter Eggs, discovers largely consistent of chocolate]
LJN: [Swaggers off down aisle, singing loudly] Let's all got to Tesco's/Where your mum gets her best clothes/La-la-la-la...

Cycling past some kids outside a school yesterday, who were kicking a ball around. Well, at each other. A girl gets hit, and, in that voice normally reserved for saying, ummm-telling-on-you, she says, 'You - can't - hit - me, I've got AZ-ma!'
I'm terrified of bees now, after seeing a documentary last night about how terrifying bees are. I'm going to give up honey, just in case the bees, as I suspect is inevitable, use the incredible collective intelligence of the hive mind to rise up and take over, and then demand retribution.

On the other hand, both 'bees' and 'honey' are inherrently funny words, which make me giggle like a child when I hear them. What am I to do?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Service is Currently Busy - Please Try Again Later

Yep, failing to get Glastonbury tickets is FUN. It's in fact the best fun you can have without going three seconds without clicking 'refresh' on you browser. Honestly, I'm having so much fun I might BURST. Into FLAMES.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Clean Out Your Lug 'Oles

An exclusive here that I'm proud to present:

It is traditional for popular heroes to be commemorated in folk song. Or, in this case, to be commemorated in hip-hop. The legend of my conspicuous consumption has been given musical form by the shadowy figures MC Shazmeister feat. DJ Wrongspeed. Anyway, without further ado, here it is:

I'm bloody honoured me, I am. It makes me want to go shopping.

What's Currently Scaring Me

Gmail keeps adding more storage space! I thought I was doing ok in filling it up, but the bugger's only gone and added 225MB more. Now I look back, and it's 229MB! It's going up by the second! If my calculations are correct, my gmail account will expand to fill the universe by about next Thursday, which will mean we'll be squeezed out of this universe, and into another one. Cautious estimates indicate that this universe is likely to be filled with unicorns and chocolate fountains, although this is of course subject to availability.

Further to my geeky bus reminiscing, C is looking into buying us a bus to travel to Glastonbury in, and to cause even greater parking problems in North London from I'd like a red one with stripes. And I'd like to be the conductor. NO TALKING ON THE BUS! NO FEET ON SEATS! Oh yeah.

Now it's 1232MB. [Shudders]

All the News That's Fit to Make Up


I guess today is the last day the the Routemaster, the big old red hop-on, hop-off, risk death in doing so bus, is serving the 19 bus route from Finsbury Park. Far be it from me or indeed anyone on the internet to make up news without first having checked it, but on my route into work I was photographed an unusual number of times by the herds of nerds who lined the streets as I cycled by. Initially, I just thought they'd mistaken me for Dr Green off ER, but then I realised they were actually shooting the large piece of mid-twentieth century technology chugging away behind me (NB this photo is not the bus that followed me, it is merely illustrative of what a bus looks like).

(I've now checked, and yes, my suspicions were correct, and you can read in perhaps more detail than you'd like here.)

It is a sad day indeed for people who mourn the passing of things that aren't there anymore that used to be. I'll miss the way I could jump off at the bakery if the traffic was right, saving valuable pastry-seconds. I'll miss the way you could leap on it when it was actually moving quite fast and feel that you'd acheived something heroic. I'll miss the fact that the seats weren't wide enough for the arses of people now, and trying to squeeze in next to a fatty was something to be avoided. I'll miss that it struggled with even the slightest incline. I'll miss the conductors, who ranged from surly through to avuncular, and especially the one who would spend his whole day singing at the top of his voice. Never more shall we hear the phrase, 'Any more fares?' condensed to a guttural 'Armf!' I'll miss the arguments people would have with the conductor ('How can you be full? You've just let four people off?').

Ooh, I've just nostalged.

Listening to the radio this morning, aware that it's April Fool's Day, I was trying to work out what the joke story traditionally inserted into the real news stories was. It's some sick individual indeed on the Today programme who considers the upcoming death of the Pope to be suitable to put in as a joke. Although perhaps they might not choose to lead with the joke story, and spend five minutes interviewing Cardinal "Insert Every Irish Name Under the Sun Here" Cormac Murphy O’Connor. Perhaps it was the article about the manned trip to Pluto that George Bush is launching.