Thursday, February 28, 2002

Thetube.com has a journey planner, telling you the best way to get from one station to another. Trouble is, it only lists London Underground stations, so it's useless for telling me how to get to Dalston Kingsland tonight.

For that, you have to ask a French website: Subway Navigator, which allows you to choose mainline and Thameslink stations too. And not just London - it will enable to plan your journey in loads of cities worldwide.

In fact, after browsing this site for the last fifteen minutes, planning imaginary journeys across Toronto and Stockholm, I declare it to be the best damned website in the world!
More about Stereo Total later, but don't they look like Billie Ray Martin and Stephin Merritt?
I have received two items from BOL this week. The first was a CD, Musique Automatique by Stereo Total and the second was a book, Atonement by Ian McEwan.

When I got home last night, there was a card from the post office saying they had a package for me at the 'local' sorting office, as it was too big to fit through the letterbox. So off I trekked there this lunch time. There was just one package: the CD, packed in a needlessly large box. It's a single CD, goddamnit, there's no need to put it in a box big enough for the complete works of Barbara Cartland.

Anyway, as I was near home, I popped in for lunch. Good job I did. Propped up against the front door, just waiting for passersby to nick it, was another BOL package - the book - which the postman had been too lazy to carry back to the sorting office.
Spotted on a Blog*Spot blog:


Does anybody believe they could SELL even one copy of a book of their weblog, let alone a hundred?
Have you ever started asking questions on your blog just because Meg does?

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Radio Cartel is a streaming bootleg radio station. Nothing but crazy mixed-up shit all day long. It's a bit like listening to two radio stations at once, to be honest, but there are moments of genius. The playlist gives you some idea of the madness in store:
freelance hellraiser - a stroke of genie-us
kurtis rush - george gets his freak on
bob the builder - Bob the builder vs Eminem
Don't Tell Me Bitch - Madonna Vs Prodigy
girls on top - being scrubbed
bjork - violently happy vs. depeche mode remix
freelance hellraiser - just can't get enough pills
osymyso - pat and peg
vanilla ice - ice ice baby vs the real slim shady
v/vm - hello is it meat you're looking for
fatboy slim vs rolling stones - satisfaction skank
soulwax - smells like booty
v/vm - Lady In Red
richard x vs sugarbabes - are freaks electric
Osymyso - bright eyes
girls on top - i wanna dance with numbers
ciccone youth - into the groovey
osymyso - intro-introspection
fatboy slim vs eminem - my name is fatboy slim
soulwax - dreadlock child
blur vs madison ave - don't call me song 2
Remember, it's club night, The King Of The Boots next Thursday, the 7th of March. Under the newsagents, corner Rathbone Place and Charlotte Street, London.

And don't forget, Dalston Jazz Bar tomorrow night for Sarah's Offstream night.
I've just spent half an hour trying to track down various Nokia ringtones. No, not because I want to make my phone like rilly kewl and annoy everyone on the train, but because one of the rounds in last night's Retro Bar pop quiz consisted of ringtones. Although I did manage to find all the tunes they played last night, none of them sounds like a ringtone. Savvy folk these ringtone merchants - instead of unrecognisable tinny chirruping beeps, their samples are fairly decent piano tunes.

1. Anyway, these were the five tunes played last night. Name them: [a], [b], [c], [d], [e].

2. There were six songs in the new releases round.
[a] The first featured a woman rapping about having her boyfriend in the shower.
[b] The second was a rap-metal thing whose video spoofs films such as Ghostbusters.
[c] The third was a fuzzy garage rock thing which continued the insect theme set by the second band
[d] Next we had to name the artist and song from a brief two-second intro and squeal. I can tell you it was Britney Spears, but what is her latest single called?
[e] And what is the name of the new swinging summery single by S Club 7?
[f] Finally, what's the new one by Mis-Teeq called?

4. Two cover versions - name the artist doing the cover.
[a] An 'Art Of Noise'-ish version of James Brown's Sex Machine, with a bored robotik woman on spoken vocals.
[b] A current hit which 'incorporates elements' of Monsoon's Ever So Lonely. Name the cover band and the year in which the original was a hit.

5. Yet another Can't Get You Out Of My Head bootleg. This one was mixed with a track off an album called 604, by a tres hip band featuring a Bulgarian vocalist. Name the band.

6. Next were four electronica acts; two modern and two 80s. The songs were called [a] Hand To Phone; [b] TV OD, [c] Sensoria and - er - [d] something else.

7. Pink's Get The Party Started. Give the eight words that follow the lyric: "Sendin' out the message to all of my friends"

8. Spot the connection between:
[a] Let's Have A Quiet Night In - Cleo Laine
[b] Reasons - Minnie Ripperton
[c] The Ballad Of John And Yoko - The Beatles

9. [a] A member of a famous family had a hit called Let's Get Serious. Name him.
[b] Joe Jackson claimed it was different for ....?
[c] Which rock band had a hit called All Night Long?

10. Finally, give the year in which all three parts of number 9 were released.

And, no, we didn't win. Our score of 14 out of 21 was hardly a threat to The Skanky Whores' tally of nineteen-and-a-half. How would you have fared?
I've just done a quick search on my ex-schoolmate's name and - my! - he *has* been busy! Poetry, journalism, campus radio stations, magazine cover design, opinions on web useability, Beautiful Thing, web design, gay bashing, sexual determination, DVDs, and I even came across his name in conjunction with some of my friends.

Whew! For someone I'd never heard of ten minutes ago, I now know a whole lot about him. Isn't the web a wonderful thing?
Forgive the virtual intrusion, but I was passing the time while my boyfriend fannied about with SQL Server by searching for old acquaintences from Settlers High School. Now, while you're not exactly one of them - I would have been in Std 7 when you were in matric - I found a remarkable "concordance“ of interests and personal details on your website. How unexpected to find another Settlers alumni (especially in the UK) who is 30-something, gay, works in media, is a fan of “The Prisoner“, has opinions on web design and in general neatly encapsulates the term “Guardian Reader“.

I felt, in view of this, I ought to say “hello“.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

I know my friends Ian and Jonathan better than they know me. This makes me:
[a] a good listener/reader
[b] an enigma who doesn't reveal much about himself.

How well do you know me?
I didn't report back on the Retro Bar pop quiz two weeks ago, as [1] it was Too Hard, [2] we lost our answer sheet and [3] we couldn't remember a great deal about it. Equally, that week's Royal Vauxhall Tavern was overshadowed by Marcus getting [lightly] hit by a car.

So I didn't get to tell you that we met American blogger, Tim. Despite the fact I spent much of that Tuesday apologising for the difficulty of the quiz, and had to rush off to find Marcus on the Sunday, Tim has sent me a pressie from my wish list. Thank you, Tim. I'm looking forward to reading about your exploits in the UK.
Two bits of Freaky Trigger goodness:
  • Tom Ewing's Bootylicious, a long article on the bootlegging phenomenon. You know, one record played over another, like the mix of Can't Get You Out Of My Head with Blue Monday; or The Strokes vs Christina Aguilera; or TLC vs The Human League; or the masterful Osymyso. It's not new, but it is Now.

  • Are you passionate about a certain record? Is there a song or an album you really wish others could hear? Well then, write about it. To be specific, write exactly 102 words about it. Freaky Trigger will publish all articles submitted. But there is a catch...
  • How well do you know me? Prove your friendship, by taking this test: davidsim.friendtest.com/. Highest possible score: 88.
    Highest score so far: 70 - my boyfriend, fortunately.
    [link from sarah]

    Monday, February 25, 2002

    Sunday at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is always special, but yesterday's was even more special than usual. What made it so fantastic? What was the highlight? [It certainly wasn't the ten-minute queue in the rain; surely it's time I was permanently guestlisted??]

  • Was it the Dame Edna Experience's note-perfect rendition of Aretha Franklin's You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman? Or Ian's discovery that "ooh, we can sing in this key"?

  • Was it surreptitiously watching Ian snogging an inappropriate abyssinian?

  • Was it the 007's?

  • Was it the remixes of Tainted Love and Say Hello, Wave Goodbye?

  • Was it seeing Marcus get assaulted by a firebreathing stripper covered in luminous orange paint at Dukes?

  • Yes, it was all these things. But even more, it was the ludicrously camp Almighty cover of Evergreen, the Will Young Pop Idol single. "It's just a cheap cover version darling," said Andy afterwards. But, you know, sometimes cheap is just what you need on a gloomy Sunday. Anthem ahoy!
  • Marcus will tell you that I went to G.A.Y. on Saturday night. He will also tell you that I was excited about seeing Bananarama. He will also tell you that I loved it, that I knew all the dance routines, that I screamed like a girlie when Siobhan joined them for the encore.

    Marcus is, obviously, a liar.
    I love Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Someone has created a personality test to find out which Tiny you are most like. Unsuprisingly, I was most like Zillah, who drank too much gin. My other close matches included Clara, who wasted away; Neville, who died of ennui; and Hector, who was done in by a thug.

    You are most like Zillah who drank too much gin!

    Created by Thren.
    Which Gashlycrumb Tiny are you?
    You begin to get a sense of Merritt's aural eccentricities by surveying the encyclopedic collection of sound-making devices in his studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Three entire rooms are devoted to the stuff. There's a thunder sheet, thunder drums, two long plastic ridged tubes that make a windlike noise when you whirl them around, bells, whistles and a thumb piano made from a cigar box. There are xylophones, congas, chicken shakers, pipes, a rain stick, a melodica, chimes, two danmos (Vietnamese percussion instruments made of hollowed wood), a Marxophone and several maracas. (''I go through maracas very quickly,'' Merritt says.) There's a Sruiti box from India, a harmonium, kazoos, egg shakers, many ocarinas, Tibetan meditation bells, gongs, blocks, sticks, triangles, steel drums, spoons, two Slinkys and a musical saw.
    An excerpt from a very good, very long, article on Stephin Merritt in the New York Times.
    Instead of laying about in bed on Saturday morning, we had A Day Out, and a lovely day it was, too. First stop, the British Museum, where we oohed and aahed at the roof over the central court, ogled a few sphinxes and read a few hieroglyphics. I'm very happy to report that the Rosetta Stone is now behind glass. Last time I was there, people insisted on touching the damned thing. As we were leaving the museum, we discovered this utterly fantastic Oriental float. Brightly coloured, incredibly detailed, illuminated, whimsical and huge, it was constructed of paper over a wire frame, and took just one month to make. Exquisite. Go see.




    As if that wasn't enough history, we went to The Monument. Up and around the three-hundred-and-eleven steps to the viewing platform at the top. And what a view! Windy, too. We didn't last long, and we soon toddled off, jelly-legged, to join everybody in London, checking to see if the Millennium Bridge still wobbles [it doesn't, even in gale force winds with thousands of people on it].




    Friday, February 22, 2002

    You can tell it's a Friday - we've just started a sweepstake in the office to predict the date the Queen Mum will die. You can enter the Queen Mum Dead sweepstake too, by suggesting a date in the Comments. Only one entrant so far thinks she'll last the year. The earliest date chosen so far is the 28th of April.

    Yes, I know this is in poor taste, but - hey - if I was on my deathbed, I'd be quite happy knowing I was giving people some entertainment.

    XXXXXXXXx

    Thursday, February 21, 2002

    Tonight we were treated to the very best of British. The Brit awards. Or, rather, the Brit "awards". All of which were announced in the tabloids last week, so what was the point of the show? Why, to shift a few more units, of course. "Units" being the sole criterion for giving the awards in the first place.

    I settled down with a bottle of Alsace pinot gris [notes of grapefruit, honey and ginger, since you ask] and watched.

    Hot damn, it started well, with Gorillaz. Knowing, cynical. Composed of 2D cartoon, 3D CGI, shadow and live action, this was a warning, a way of saying "we're more real than what you're going to have to sit through over the next two hours".

    Then shiny shiny smiley Kylie Smilie. Goddamn, her people have their fingers on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Her mini-skirt riding up her space-boot-clad thighs, glittery knickers to the fore, she rode the bootlegging craze so hard, she was shagging its corpse like a mechanical bull. The bootlegging craze has entered the mainstream before it even had a chance to become a cult. For what it's worth, her version of Can't Get You Out Of My Head mixed with New Order's Blue Monday really is a Stroke of Genieus. Number One all over again if there's any justice.

    The nominees for Best International Male: Bob Dylan, Dr Dre, Ryan Adams, Shaggy and Wyclef Jean. Like choosing between typhoid and cholera. The judges went with the typhoid option, giving it to Shaggy.

    Next! Jamiroquai and Anastacia, performing "Bad Girls". The twat in the hat and the tat with a twat. This being ITV, it was Will from Pop Idol meets last week's winner of Stars In Their Eyes, all eye-ronnik take on a disko klassik. And was shite.

    Best International Group: "And the nominees are: Daft Punk!" [cheer], "Destiny's Child!" [wild cheer], "Limp Bizkit!" [cheer], "REM!" [silence. tumbleweed rolls by. a distant coyote howls.] "The Strokes!" [yay. who?]

    It was around this stage I began to lose it: "Here to present some or other award, it's Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Sophie, Frank. Frank, Sophie." Silence. Frank:"It's a great joy to be here." Sophie: "Er, yeah, you too."

    "Next up, So Solid Crew fill the stage and best British female Dido." What??? Do they get 21 seconds each?

    The next segment is a blur of deadness: So Solid Crew: crapulent. "Samantha Mumba! You've just made a film! Who do you play?" "Myra, the lead." "The lead?" "Yeah." "Yeah?" "Yeah." "Right, let's get on." Simon Cowell presents Best Pop Single to his charges S Club 7. Dido imitates a foghorn :"Ah Cahn't Hahd".

    "Laydeez and gennulmen, give it up for the fantastic, multi-talented Mis-Teeq!" Multi-talented? By Jove, they're right. Give these girls their own show. One Night Stand really was one of the best singles of last year, if, that is, you can ignore that bit in the middle. Tonight we get in Waltz Style! Regular! The Whitney Bit! Ding ding, first round! And then... and then... "are you ready to make some noise?" and then that perfectly nice girl does her Ali G bit, parodying a South London accent. Ghetto Crapulous. Someone shoot her soon. Or just shoot me, now.

    Hurrah! Aphex Twin is nominated for something. Oh, if only. Robbie dials in a thank-you from an LA poolside, where he's working on his first feature film. On this evidence, I'm not holding my breath. And I wish he'd jump in and not hold his.

    Off we go to Best Video. Hurrah for Basement Jaxx, hurrah for Fatboy Slim, hurrah for Gorillaz - great videos all. Oh, So Solid Crew have got it. Never mind, could have been Elton John [wtf?].

    The Strokes come on and show us Brits what it's all about. Not bad, but they were shown up by Kylie. If only they'd had the nous to include a bit of Christine Aguilera's Genie In A Bottle. Sadly, they didn't.

    My bottle of wine is nearly empty, my patience too. Just time for Best International Album. Some excellent nominees, one turkey. Spot the odd one out, and remember, this is best album: Alicia Keys, The Strokes, Daft Punk, Destiny's Child, Kylie Minogue. Yes, Kylie Minogue. True to form, Kylie's shifted more units. Russel Crowe presents the award.

    Enough now. I have heard rumours of Ali G and Shaggy performing; of Elton John; of - oh god no - Sting. Just time to see "Supermodel!" Heidi Klum yodelling [you think I'm making this up? sadly, no].

    I am drunk and can stand no more. [What, lidderally?]
    GB curlers set for thrilling climax.

    Toe curlers?
    Damn, my </SUPERIOR TONE> tag doesn't seem to be working.
    does my new design look ok? heh :/ trey is so dreamy. i was like uhm and ugh no thanks. i hate maths :) yeah yeah.

    i have no life and i feel lost. so tight ;) i hate my parents. that waferbaby site is so shit and so tight.

    no way jose ;) they did it right in front of me. we totally did it in my car and i am so not a slut. i think i'm in love! i totally lust after that guy. i started using blogger again :p i totally love jack saturn. i feel like i'm floating :p this lipgloss is rad.

    i totally walked in on my parents :) haha i wish i got an anti-bloggie. i totally hate life, and this is like, the most fucked thing ever. i'm annoyed but well then. this lipgloss is rad! i'm bitter :) you should link to me.
    </SUPERIOR TONE>Generate your own Teen Blog
    I was going to write a review of The Fluffer, which Ian and Marcus and I saw last night. But I can't be bothered. Instead, let me take you on a tour of the hyperlinks in the film's listing at imdb.com:

    The film was written by Wash Westmoreland, whose previous efforts include: Animus, starring Dave Nelson as Mr Biceps, Hairnetta as Yin, and Ilsa Stryx as Dawn Crack. His first film, Toolbox, starred Jim Buck as Painter Jimmy, Sam Crockett as Plumber Sammy and Hank Monahan as Painter Hank.

    The Fluffer stars "Baywatch" featured actor Scott Gurney whose previous [small] screen roles have included: "Clueless" (1996) playing "Hunk #2" and "Married...with Children" (1987) playing "Lifeguard #2".

    The Fluffer works best when it is satirising the porn industry. The film's best scene is the porn star party, where the following all play themselves [as opposed to playing with themselves]: Chi Chi La Rue, Cole Tucker, Derek Cameron, Chad Donovan, Thomas Lloyd, Karen Dior, Bradley Picklesheimer, Louis Re, Jay Lyons, Chris Green and renowned swordsman Ron Jeremy, in his 688th film - his first, believe it or not, being Jesus Christ Superstar.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2002

    Note to self:
    Using straightened staples to winkle that stubborn bit of bacon out of your teeth is probably fairly dangerous in itself. But at least chuck the staple away when you're done. My desk is littered with semi-straightened staples. Not only is it faintly disgusting, but it's also very dangerous:

    I've been listening to music in the office this afternoon. A couple of minutes ago, I shoved my earphones into my earhole and felt a sharp pain. A staple, attracted by the magnet in the earpiece, had attached itself. I could have perforated my ear drum or something. Brrr...
    Ali
    Aaliyah
    Alibi
    Ali G
    Alizee
    Mike has archived his 40 Days To 40 blog entries onto one site, www.40in40.com. I especially like the chronological version.
    I was mightily embarrassed last night. Picture the scene: the Retro Bar. Packed. Six of us are hemmed into a tiny corner near the bar. On the floor in our midst is a small bar stool, taking up precious space. I gallantly decide to offer the stool to the people perched on the stage. Holding it aloft above everybody's heads, I carry it through the crowds...

    ... not realising that the seat is not attached to the rest of the stool.

    The seat sliiiiiides off. It ricochets off a girl's head [ooh, sorry] into a bloke's pint glass [so sorry], which explodes in a mighty crash of glass and beer.

    Embarrassed? I nearly die. I frantically alternate between apologising, wiping beer off people, and wiping glass off people, all the time stupidly carrying the damned stool, not having the faintest idea what to do with it. I vaguely offer it to the people on the stage. They take one look at this beer-soaked, glass-covered hazard and laugh. I aimlessly transport the stool around a bit more, looking now for somewhere to hide it, to bury the evidence. No-one wants it. I eventually dump it at the feet of the people standing at the central table. I'm sure they don't want it either, but I can't even look at them.

    I skulk, shamefaced, back to our group. "I don't believe I've ever seen you embarrassed before," said Ian, snickering, "it's quite fun."

    Tuesday, February 19, 2002

    Bjork's new video, Cocoon, is characteristically strange. She's naked. Tendrils, like red licorice, grow out of her nipples. They snake around her. She toys with them like a rhythmic gymnast's ribbons. She plays cat's cradle. Gradually they ensnare her, wrapping tightly around her body, forming a cocoon. Strange and beautiful.
    he slides inside. half awake / half asleep. we faint back. into sleephood. when i wake up. the second time in his arms : gorgeousness!. he's still inside me!

    ? who would have known ?

    a train of pearls, cabin by cabin. is shot precisely across an ocean.
    from a mouth.
    from.
    a.
    from a mouth
    of a girl like me.
    to a boy.
    Foxy Photoshopping! George W Girls. I shall never be able to look at Dubya quite the same way ever again. A good thing, I think.
    Sarah of Mental Irrigation e-mailed me about a new club night which she and her girlfriend are running. I quote from Sarah's e-mail:
    I thought I would drop you a line and let you know about this new low-fi night my girlfriend and I are producing for this neat bar in Dalston... I know you are probably gasping with horror when reading the location, but it is a very cool place. It's just around the corner from the Kingsland/Dalston overland station. In fact, if you turn left out of the station it's down the first street on your left. It's got big glass windows all around.

    The night is deemed "offstream" there is no cover and drinks are cheap... it is geared towards low fi (non scene queen) gay boys and girls. The music is quite groovy, from Sinatra to your favorite big band/jazz of the thirties type of deal. It's open really late (thurs-sun) till 5 am... it's always filled with interesting non-poncy people.

    Dalston Jazz bar (don't be fooled by the name... it's no major scooby doo dat type of music or anything)
    4, Bradbury St  (left out of overland station Dalston/Kingsland, first street on your left)

    Thursday nights are going to be (If Hazel and I are sucessful) more of a gay night but Friday and Saturday are really really fun too, I've never had a bad night there. It's just so refreshing to go somewhere new that is low fi and NOT soho! Indeed check it out on Saturday if you are in the neighborhood, I think you'll love it. It's always quite a mixed crowd and Hazel and I have never felt out of place. Plus drinking till the wee hours of the morning is always fun...
    It certainly is - we're planning to go there next Thursday [the 28th]. See you then?
    An excellent Times article on business book Weird Ideas That Work. Such as Hire People Who Make You Uncomfortable; Hire People You Probably Don’t Need; Use Job Interviews To Get Ideas, Not To Screen Candidates; Avoid, Distract And Bore Customers, Critics And Anyone Who Just Wants To Talk About Money.
    Search requests today include:
    swirly stairs that are really posh and very expensive
    scally+iain
    world famous penis chart for rockstars
    pics of pokemon getting fat
    (One Of These Days) Sunday's Gonna Come On Tuesday - New Establishment, 1969.

    I'm having one of those days.

    Monday, February 18, 2002

    It's juvenile, but it's fun. Substitute the word arse for the words 'heart' or 'eyes' in popular music. Thus:
  • Kylie Minogue: "It's in your arse. It's no surpraahz."
  • Soft Cell: "Sometimes I feel I've got to run away. I've got to get away from the pain you drive into the arse of me."
  • Madonna: "Open your arse to me, baby, I hold the lock and you hold the key."
  • Eurythmics: "There must be an angel, and he's playing with my arse."
  • Recent purchases:
    Xfm The Remix, reworkings of tracks by artists such as I Monster, Goldfrapp, Mirwais, the Manic Street Preachers, Depeche Mode, et al by remixers such as Moby, Hybrid, Perfecto, David Holmes and Neptunes.
    Boards of Canada - Geogaddi. V Shop's inadequate labelling system suckered me into buying the more expensive limited edition version. Again.
    A Quiet Riot. No, not the ghastly American glam revival band, but a compilation of what has become known as the New Acoustic Movement - people who have listened to a few Nick Drake records. And a sillier bunch of band names you'd be hard-pressed to find: Turin Brakes, Kings Of Convenience, Badly Drawn Boy, Reindeer Selection, I Am Kloot, Mull Historical Society.
    There were four in a bed and the little one said...
    [I would like to point out that I ain't Blogger A, B, C or E.]
    - But I do have a pretty good idea who they are . . .
    Surreal Saturday.
  • "You two fascinate me - you hunt in packs."
  • Surreal Sunday.
  • Boyfriend gets hit by car.
  • Ex-boyfriend, wearing a hospital gown, hallucinates.
    Surreal.
  • Friday, February 15, 2002

    I quote, without comment, the press release for an event happening this Saturday:

    Sam and Ollie (ICARUS) are trying out an idea:

    In the basement they will be doing a live set but there will be no sound system only a small FM radio transmitter. If you want to hear it you will have to bring a radio and tune in to the frequency of the night. Hopefully if enough come the sound will be well spread about the building for those who forget, but please try. (£5 without, £2 with radio)

    Upstairs in the large bar area, a cinema + other fine things to look at. 17 new short films in an installation cubicle.
    hopefully you will be able to see and hear the films clearly. Films by Lena and Stephan, Laurant Duriaud, Joji Koyama, Alice Scott and Zhana guest films new to parnassus.

    squint and dc will be spreading light around outside the dark box and we hope to see Ollie Bown and Fred Labbe's new Musical-junk-sculpture.

    9pm - 2pm, SAT 16 FEB.
    Arcola Theatre, Arcola Street, Dalston Kingsland, London
    Ever wondered what it must be like to be colourblind? Wonder no more. See what your site looks like to those with red-green colourblindness. Judging from this, the world looks bloody amazing to the colourblind - sorta sepia. Browns are very kind to the colourblind, so my new design works well.

    I've always loved those colourblindness tests, where a number appears out of the mess of coloured dots. They're design classics. Here they are.

    Not sure if you're colourblind? UMIST have a quick and easy online test.
    I refuse to let her constant chit-chat and gossip spoil this glorious sunny Friday feeling. So on with the headphones and internet radio station Event Horizon.
    Blogjam - always one of my favourite blogs - is moving home soon. In the meantime, go see the amazing bit of code Fraser has nicked to put on his page as a stopgap.
    And then, and then... my journey to work this morning was transformed by the CD Marcus gave me, 4am Eternal. It's one of those leftfield downtempo chilled compilations which are just so de rigeur, darling, but this one is good. Really good. Yes, there's the usual suspects: Bent, Lemon Jelly, Thievery Corporation [nothing wrong with any of them] but there's also some more challenging choices: To Rococo Rot, Scanner, Boom Boom Satellites, and the perfectly-monikered The Cinematic Orchestra.

    Cinematic is the word. My tube journey was straight out of Koyaanisqatsi or Baraka. The escalators inhaled and exhaled brightly coloured patterns. The trains sighed and soughed. Streams of commuters time-lapsed and mitosed.

    All the while, strings soared, muezzins wailed, and the cymbals went tsss-tsssch. I merged and separated, cocooned in sensurround, disengaging, observing this foreign city.
    I should warn you – I’m in a nauseatingly wonderful mood today. I’m suffused with a warm post-Valentine’s glow.

    Marcus and I collaborated on dinner. I made a goat’s cheese salad with caramelised onions. Marcus did a tennnnnnder roast pork fillet with Delia’s potato gratin. Then I did ice cream with chocolate sauce. That’s chocolate toffee fudge ice cream, with more chocolate and double cream. And Bailey’s. At the risk of turning into Meg, here’s a quick way to impress anyone:

    One bar of good chocolate. One small tub of double cream. Microwave for a minute. Stir, stir, stir. Pour hot, silky sauce over ice cream. Watch your boyfriend melt faster than the ice cream.

    Thursday, February 14, 2002

    Spotted on the CD racks at Sainsbury's:


    I scanned the shelves to see if I could find anything amusing to juxtapose it with. Any suggestions? The Drugs Don't Work perhaps? Or Massive Attack's Protection. Sadly, Sainsbury's don't stock any CDs by dance label Positiva...
    Five minutes ago, I heard the sound of a vacuum cleaner, and looked up to see a six-foot-tall red number one approaching my desk. Had the drugs kicked back in? No, it's a man wearing a red costume in the shape of the figure one, bearing the legend, The number one recruitment agency, Adeco, inflated by a whirring compressor. "This isn't what I normally do," said the man inside, "and it's not just me, there's some doughnuts on their way."

    Questions:
  • Real doughnuts or inflatable ones?
  • Has this got anything to do with Valentine's Day, and if so, what?
  • Why are our employers allowing recruitment agencies into the building?
  • Wednesday, February 13, 2002

    So it's out with my old Raspberry Ripple colour scheme, and in with this new one, which I'm calling Rum 'n' Raisin. What do you think? And more importantly, does it work in your browser and on your platform? Are there any strange-looking empty columns that you think are not meant to be there? Let me know.
    Genius! Utter, brilliant genius! The video for Pulp's new single, Bad Cover Version, features bad looky-likeys performing the song clustered around microphones in the very studio where Do They Know It's Christmas was filmed. See Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher, David Bowie, Jamiroquai, Kylie, Missy Elliott and Cher. And a Jarvis lookalike. And Jarvis himself as Brian May of Queen. And - get this - Gary Numan on tubular bells! See the full video here.
    A list. More celebrity gossip than a year's supply of Popbitch. [via Luke]
    Bernstein, Leonard. Bisexual; had a preference for teenaged African-Americans. Linked with Tallulah Bankhead, Rudolf Nureyev, and Lana Turner.
    Burnett, Carol. Reportedly a Closet Lesbian. So adorable most men would marry her anyway. Reported long-term relationship with Julie Andrews.
    Bush, George W. Recovering drunkard and cokehead. Not the brightest bulb in the lamp, and in fact couldn’t spell cat if you gave him the “c” and the “a.” The best argument against participatory democracy I know. Hypocritical moralist; Bill Clinton without the brains. Married a woman who killed someone in a traffic accident as a teen. Funded a girlfriend's abortion. At odds with his wife over how to treat his daughters' alcoholism.
    Clift, Montgomery. Called "Pink Princess Tiny Meat" due to his underendowment. Closet queen. Drunkard. Linked with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor.
    I am so over pink. [Quite like her single, though.]

    Tuesday, February 12, 2002

    Just in time for Valentine's Day, a quiz to determine which animal you are when it comes to love. Mine is annoyingly accurate:
    Your romantic animal is the Pig.

    Oh darling piggy wig, you're one romantic beast! Sweet, but no sap, you have powers of seduction in spades: you were born to woo. And woo you do, usually to your success and everyones all round satisfaction.

    In fact, probably to rather too many peoples' satisfaction. For if you have one flaw its that you like to share the love a little more than most. Now, don't get me wrong, nobody should settle for second best, and, boy, do you have to kiss a lot of frogs, but it's just that you, dear porker, probably take a little more relish in the kissing than is strictly necessary.

    Aided and abetted by a demeanour as honest as the Scandinavian summer day is long, you're not exactly deceitful – heaven forbid! – rather you're disarmingly straight forward. With the result that you may, on occasion, charm your love chums into letting you play the field a bit while they hang on hoping to become the chosen one.

    Nice work if you can get it, but there'll come the time when you just want to settle down, for piggies are nothing if not settlers. Ultimately you believe in a realistic mix of true love and true grit which makes you determined to make a success of your relationship – once you've found the right person that is.

    Easy, confident, open and articulate, you're that rare beast – an adventuresome sticker. You like to challenge ideas and push boundaries, but you're fond of the cosy too. All of which makes you an exciting, fun and, ultimately, loyal beastie to share a pen with. Try a cat for fun, or a dog for destiny.

    A connoisseur of coupling, your love style is slow, smooth and sensuous, though perhaps not overly energetic.
    The most addictive page ever: Which is better than?
    To the Curzon Soho last night for the screening of Sub Angel, a short film written and produced by my friend Anne. And very good it was, too - three-and-a-half-thousand pounds have never been so well spent.

    After the film, I chatted to my ex, Pano, and his boyfriend, Colin. Once the free wine had run out, we all went to De Hems. I managed to avoid the rounds of tequilas that Pano bought, and so did everyone else, which resulted in Pano drinking them all himself. I did stay long enough to see him become truly surreal. As we were leaving, a friend of Ian's walked in. Pano said to him, "you look like someone who struggled through the Great Depression." "Did I survive it?" "Noooo!"

    Colin, storming off: "Pano, why do you always have to become so obnoxious when you get drunk?" The very words I used on him so often, so long ago. But he's not obnoxious, merely... puzzled by the world.

    Monday, February 11, 2002

    Domain names up for grabs. Another.com are auctioning off up to 2,000 domain names, from a tenner each. Names up for grabs include i-love-london.co.uk, glad-to-be-gay.co.uk, casual-sex.co.uk and date-from-hell.co.uk.
    Friday: Marcus made dinner for me and Janne: tagliatelle gorgonzola. Alcohol input: one bottle of white wine. Followed by Popstarz, where we met up with Dave. Lost Janne. Lost Dave. Alcohol input: many, many cans of Red Stripe. Taxi home with a very wobbly Marcus. Alcohol output: many, many cans of Red Stripe. And tagliatelle.

    Saturday: Gave Marcus his present. Took him for lunch at Strada in Clapham. Went to Sainsbury's to buy booze for the party. Alcohol bought: four litres of vodka, six litres of white wine, forty bottles of Grolsch. Party, drink, chat, drink, Pop Idol [go William!], drink, party, drink, Will Young wins Pop Idol, celebrate, drink, worry that Gareth Gates may be the eventual winner really, drink, debate going to the Hoist, drink, dance, drink, pass out. Alcohol input: much of the afore-mentioned vodka and Grolsch.

    Sunday: The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Alcohol input: Two bottles of Grolsch and a vodka before we left [hey, we had to use up some of the left-overs]. Five? six? cans of Stella. A couple of bottles of water - not for health reasons. Two pints at Duke's, where a stripper thrust his penis into my face. Home.

    Friday, February 08, 2002

    I was under the impression that just one or two countries in the world drove on the left-hand side of the road. Wrong. Did you know that one-third of the world's population drives on the left? Most left-driving countries are in southern and eastern Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Australasia, but there are some odd ones stuck out on their own, such as Japan, Guyana and, er, the UK.
    Hankie code for Macs, he says, changing his first monitor to Bondi and his second one to Mac OS default...
    Quick pop quiz question: Scantily-clad female popstar? Riding a mechanical bull?

    Easy, it's Madonna, right? Nope. Once again, Kylie proves she is the poor man's Madge. You straight blokes may need to lie down after watching this ad. You queens, too.
    [via Brian.]
    When I moved my site to www.swishcottage.com, quite a few people changed their link to my site. Blogdex and Daypop spotted all these fresh links and listed Swish Cottage on their top 20 sites pages.

    The result? 1,072 page views yesterday - about double my usual number of hits. The moral? Keep moving your blog!

    I should imagine most of them were disappointed, expecting a rilly kewl Flash animation, or yet another online personality test, only to discover pop quizzes, reworked ABBA ditties, and stories about headless chickens and kittens. Let's see how many of them come back.

    Thursday, February 07, 2002



    Two Dame Ednas for the price of one. At Vanilla (a charity night for the Globe Centre, held at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern last week) our friend Andy dressed up as the DE Experience. Never one to do things by halves, he bought the dress and had the wig made. Let's hope he gets another chance to wear it all, as I missed it.
    The animal du jour is chicken. I had a farm in Africa - well, my parents did, anyway. One of my dad's many, many money-raising big ideas was chicken farming. We had a barn specially built for the purpose, and kitted it out with special chicken heaters and feeders.

    Then we added 1,000 one-day-old balls of cheeping yellow fluff. One-thousand cute little pompons. One-thousand terrified, shitting, pecking, timorous wee beasties.

    One night, when the birds were a few weeks old, my dad and my older brother went into the barn to count them, to see how many had survived. My job was to keep count as they passed the birds, one at a time, through a hole in a dividing wall. I had got up to 347 when I noticed that my dad had just chucked two birds through instead of one: "Did you just pass through two chickens?"

    "Yeah, we've been doing two at a time for ages now."

    "Oh, you didn't tell me. I've just been counting one at a time."

    "You mean you've got no idea how many bloody chickens we've got? You stupid, useless boy! What was the point of tonight?"

    Fathers can be so cruel sometimes. That remark stayed with me all my life. I grew up always thinking I would never amount to much in my dad's eyes, that I'd always be a useless boy. You'll understand then, that I hated those damned chickens. But not enough to enjoy watching them get killed:

    When the birds had been fattened up sufficiently, it came time for their execution. And it was done in a very grisly, low-tech fashion. Their heads were guillotined by an axe-wielding farmhand. He'd grab a terrified adult bird, place its head on a log, then decapitate it cleanly with one blow of the axe.

    It took a while for the bird to realise it was dead, that its head was no longer connected to its body. The headless body ran round and round in circles, flapping its wings madly, while the head lay there, cheeping in a confused manner, looking around as if to say "where's my body gone?"

    My younger brother took great delight in the chaos, laughing his head off [bad choice of phrase, do you think?] as headless chicken after headless chicken careered around the yard. Another thing that gave him great delight was the discarded chickens' feet. He discovered that by pulling the tendons sticking out of the top of the thing, you could make the claws move. He would chase me around the yard with a gnarled yellow claw in his hand. I'd run, screaming. Useless boy.
    As it so often does in mid-winter, conversation in the office this morning turned to holidays in warmer climes.
    Which led to us searching the web for lovely pictures of foreign cities.
    Which led to me finding this gallery of great photos of Italian cities.
    Which led to me circulating this picture of a fountain in Bologna.
    Which led to one of my colleagues booking a holiday there. "Any town that has a statue of a women shooting water out of her tits has to be worth going to," he reasoned.

    Hmm... but you'd think you could say that about Brussels.
    I'm nothing special
    In fact, I'm a bit of a bore.
    If I blog a joke,
    You've probably blogged it before.
    But I have a talent, a wonderful site,
    Cuz everyone reads all the shit that I write
    I'm so grateful and proud
    All I want is to blog it out loud

    So I say...
    Thank you for the bloggers
    The stuff they're writing
    Thanks for making my work day more exciting
    Who could live without it?
    I ask in all honesty.
    What would life be?
    Without a blog to read what are we?
    So I say thank you for the bloggers
    For linking back to me

    Mother says I was a surfer before I could walk
    She says I began to blog long before I could talk
    And I've often wondered, how did it all start?
    Who found out that nothing can capture a heart
    Like troubled diva can?
    Or wherever you are, or tin man

    So I say...
    Thank you for the bloggers, the stories they're blogging
    Thanks for all the stories about snogging
    Who can work without it, I ask in all honesty
    What would work be?
    Without a tinka or a minker what are we?
    So I say thank you for the bloggers
    For blogging it for me

    I've been so lucky, I am the boy with bboyblues
    I wanna blog it out to everybody
    not so soft, plasticbag, Blogadoo-oo-oo-oon!

    Thank you for the dutch bint, the links she's finding
    They make my working life less grinding
    Who can live without Bill, or Dave, or ultrasparky?
    What would life be?
    Without knowing what biscuits Nick had for his tea?


    And I say thank you for the Bloggies.
    And now give one...
    ...to me!
    An unexpected benefit of moving into my new domain is that, thanks to everyone changing their links to my site, I suddenly appear in daypop's top 40 links and on Blogdex.

    An unexpected disadvantage is that I've fallen off the UK bloggers list.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2002

    More dog bite stories ahead. By and large, I am not scared of dogs. Apart from bullmastiffs.

    Bullmastiffs hate my family - or me and my mum, anyway. They are evil.

    When my mother was about four months pregnant with my younger brother, she was knocked down a flight of stairs by a bullmastiff. To be fair to the dog, she didn't mean to - a sudden clap of thunder so terrified the dog that she leapt onto my mother. It wasn't until my brother was five years old that he was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy. We don't know for certain the cause of his disability, but I blame the bullmastiff.

    Years later, when I was about ten and living in South Africa, one of my dad's sidelines was training dogs for the police. I don't know about these days, but back in the reign of terror, South African police dogs were not pleasant animals. The more vicious, the better. One Saturday afternoon my folks brought home a massive mastiff called Michael from the RSPCA. He was a huge brute with powerful slobbering jaws and a thick neck. We four kids lined up to pat him on the head and welcome him into our family. My sister stroked him, my older brother stroked him, my younger brother stroked him. As I reached out to stroke him, he growled and sank his teeth into my arm. Four stitches later, we got rid of Michael.

    Another mastiff, another savaging: My parents were bringing home a bullmastiff which someone wanted to board at our kennels. The dog was in the back of their kombi [what do you call kombis in this country? A van? A minibus? A people-carrier? Whatever]. My mum leaned over the front seat, into the back, to get her handbag, and the dog sank its teeth into her head, cracking her skull.

    Nice dogs, bullmastiffs. If I see one now, I give it a wide berth.
    Yes, I have taken the plunge and moved into my own domain. If you link to Swish Cottage [I thank you] please change your link to http://www.swishcottage.com/
    Mike [aka Troubled Diva] came down all the way from Nottingham last night to join us at the Retro Bar pop quiz. Despite Mike's encyclopaedic knowledge of musical styles ranging from Top Of The Pops theme tunes to Metallica to Acieeed, we lost by half a point. It was great to finally be able to put a face to name, or a voice to the words. The occasion turned into a mini-trans-Shires-blogmeet:


    Clockwise from top left: Mike, Jonathan, me, Marcus, Dave and Ian.

    Tuesday, February 05, 2002

    Aw, he's nervous!
    In November last year, all staff filled out a company-wide survey. The aim was to find out levels of satisfaction within the company. The results reveal that these levels are not exactly very high:
  • Please indicate your current level of satisfaction with:
        - opportunity for career growth: 11%
        - senior managment/leadership: 11%

  • The organisation's senior management:
        - responds to feedback: 7%
        - their actions match their words: 7%
        - shares knowledge: 7%

  • The organisation's senior management:
        - provides clear direction for the future: 4%
        - delivers on its promises: 4%

  • The organisation's senior management:
        - know what is on employees' minds: 0%

    Zero percent! Not one person in the company believes senior management knows what is on our minds. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

    A similar survey was undertaken one year previously. Since then, the number of people willing to give extra effort has dropped by 31%, people who believe they will still be working here a year from now has dropped 16% to 36%, and just 21% of staff would recommend the organisation to a friend seeking employment. Would I? Would I hell! Stay away!
  • Ooh, I forgot all about my promise to tell you stories of the animals I grew up with. Or was it a threat? Whatever, here's another.

    Although I grew up with hundreds of animals in the home, we rarely had any pets. Our animals weren't pets, they always had a purpose - the dogs and cats were for show or breeding, the budgies were for selling to pet shops, and the cute fluffy rabbits? Well, they were for eating, I'm afraid.

    But we did have the occasional mongrel or moggie. When I was about nine, we had a ginger tabby cat. She had a litter of kittens, which she cared for in a cardboard box in the kitchen.

    At the same time, we also had a huge great dane; a massive beast with a heart of gold, but not very bright. It was my job to feed him every evening in the kitchen.

    (You can see where this story is heading, can't you? I warn you, it's not pretty.)

    I filled up the enormous dog bowl with foul-smelling pellets, poured on some warm water and added a family-sized can of mystery meat. The moment I put the bowl on the floor, the dog came bounding round the corner and began wolfing down his food with a single-minded hunger, his gigantic jaws making loud noises.

    At that moment, one of the tiny ginger kittens - just like this one - decided to take its first steps out into the world...

    "Aw, look, mum, he's so cute. Look at his little tail, his blue eyes, his adorable unsteady little walk."

    "David, don't let him get too near the dog while he's eating."

    Too late.

    Without pausing, without a moment of thought, without realising what he was doing, the great dane saw something out of his eye, something approaching his food. He switched his head round to the side and snapped his powerful jaws.

    The kitten's head rolled across the kitchen floor. The dog turned back to his bowl and carried on eating.

    I picked up the kitten's head and body and put them in a sack, and buried them in the back garden.
    A pair of ladies glasses were found in the first floor toilets. Also there was another item found in there too? For any of these items please contact me.

    Monday, February 04, 2002

    To Duke's on Saturday night. Well, it was cheap. And we didn't know it was karaoke night. Marcus and I sat at the bar, pretending we were Pop Idol judges. "That has always been one of my favourite songs. Not anymore."

    Our own Pop Idols that night were:
  • The Guy Who Sang Maniac. Yes, the song from Flashdance, which nobody has heard since 1985. We chatted to him afterwards, doing our best Nicky Chapman: "Very good performance." "Yes, I know," he said, "I sing that one at every karaoke night." "Since 1984?"

  • Liza Minnelli With A Shaved Head And Crop Top And About The Same Age. Yes, a skinny bloke old enough to know better, belting out Cabaret and New York, New York and My Way. Complete with high leg kicks. Yes, it is fabulous!

  • A Bored Kylie Minogue. Plump chap singing I Can't Get You Out Of My Head like he really couldn't be bothered. No inflection, no tune. Na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na.
  • Ha ha ha! Reuters want to interview me:
    "about the growing Googlewhack phenomenon. I noticed you coined “carburettor logotype.“ Impressive. Would you have a few minutes to talk this morning? If so, please let me know how I might contact you. Or, feel free to ring me on one of the numbers below."
    Six o'clock already? I was just in the middle of a dream. I see a ship in the harbour. Feel so bad; everybody seems to nag me. Those rainy days and Mondays always get me down. So good to me? I don't like them.

    Saturday, February 02, 2002

    Request for urgent assistance
    It is with heart full of hope that I write to see your candid help in the context below, I Am Randy Zik a solder by profession and a colonel by rank
    My candid help? You poor dear, Randy - I had no idea things were so bad in the world of soldering. Perhaps you should try welding?

    Too smug, do you think?

    Friday, February 01, 2002

    Happy birthday to him and, presumably, to him, too.
    Oh God. I just got an email from "Edinburgh, Foster". Yes, the "smug Canadian girl".
    I don't mind being called smug... hey, we were kicking their butts, it was sort of difficult not to I guess. What did you think of the evening wear the guys were wearing? :-)
    Hey, I do a pretty good line in smug myself. Like, tracking down a picture of her bald...