13 December 2008

Back with deep thoughts

Ha! Look! Dope in a can! hahahaha!

25 October 2008

Make your bloody mind up

Or, how being trapped in a bookshop with only tea for company can make you do odd things. Namely listing all the varieties of Longmans' imprints in our database...

1796 - Longman
1798 - T.N. Longman
1800 - Longman and Rees
1805 - Longmans, Hurst, Rees, and Orme
1806 - Edward Orme & Longman, Rees, Hurst and Orme
1806-15 - Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme
1812-23 - Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown
1824-31 - Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green
1837 - Longman, Rees, Orme, and Co.
1837 - Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman
1837-41 - Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans
1842-56 - Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans
1860 - Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts
1866-69 - Longmans, Green, and Co.
1868-77 - Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer
1869-1954 - Longmans, Green, and Co.
1959 - Longmans

No, I didn't have anything better to do.

23 October 2008

How's your paranoia Charlie Brown?

Been trying not to have this self-same thought myself...*

(*The new world order puppets thought that is, not the pumpkin patch one. That would be silly. CFR stands for the Council on Foreign Relations, apparently).

02 October 2008

If I had a time machine

I'd go back to Christmas 1967 and head for New York. I'm going through piles of old music magazines and have come across a picture of Tim Buckley standing in the snow in front of random gig hoardings. On Boxing Day you could escape the sober family atmosphere and check out the Ornette Coleman Trio with John Coltrane at the Village Theatre (tickets $2-4). Then if New Year's Eve turns out to be a drag (no pun intended) cheer yourself up (or not) with the Velvet Underground & Nico any night in the first two weeks of January over on W. 46th St.
Howlin' Wolf is also in town later in the month.

Who needs the court of Louis XVI or Restoration foppery? Jazz and droning violas, that'll do me. And maybe hunt Tim down and buy him a beer while listening to the Wolf at the door, too.

15 August 2008

Orwell uber alles

Maybe in slightly bad taste, that (been muttering the Dead Kennedys to myself today, y'see). Anyway. The Orwell Project. A bookmark for as long as it takes... So far it's yielded the fascinating tidbit that Orwell's dog was called Marx. Genius.

18 July 2008

Things I didn't know a week ago

Tortoiseshell is actually made from tortoises (don't know what I thought it was made from, but there you go).
In England and France lectern Bibles lay upper cover up, in Germany and Holland lower cover up.
The Stationers' Company didn't let anyone bind octavos or larger in sheepskin.
Remboitage is a good word.
The people on the 8.06 from Haywards Heath are actually dead - mentally, physically, culturally and any other way you could measure it (unless looking at blackberries is some kind of sign of life, that is).

13 July 2008

Doesn't get any better

I doubt I'll ever top this recent 3-move checkmate. Storming, and rather unlikely, too. Thanks to the poor chap who played me, I suppose.

(For those who care, the moves are 1. e4 f6 2. d4 g5 3. Qh5#. Nice, eh?).

08 July 2008

Chuck Norris? Who?

Much silliness from the Rawk forum...

Martin Skrtel is the leading cause of death in Eastern European centre forwards.
There is no ctrl button on Martin Skrtel's computer. Martin Skrtel is always in control.
Martin Skrtel can touch MC Hammer.
Martin Skrtel once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills. They made him blink.
Every year on his birthday, Martin Skrtel randomly selects one lucky child to be thrown into the sun.

11 June 2008

Patriotism redux

"What has kept England on its feet during the past year? In part, no doubt, some vague idea about a better future, but chiefly the atavastic emotion of patriotism, the ingrained feeling of the English-speaking peoples that they are superior to foreigners. For the last twenty years the main object of English left-wing intellectuals has been to break this feeling down, and if they had succeeded, we might be watching the SS men patrolling the London streets at this moment."
- George Orwell, from an essay on H.G. Wells, 1941.

He probably has a point. If there were a bunch of nazis bombing me every night I would undoubtedly rouse myself to feel something for this country, but until that happens I can't be doing with it. Holland and Spain play better football anyway.

10 June 2008

The poetry of Bo Diddley

I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,
I use a cobra-snake for a necktie,
I got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made from rattlesnake hide,
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of a human skull,
Now come on take a walk with me, Arlene,
And tell me, who do you love?

30 May 2008

Wild goose chase

There are lots of cool books in this world. The limited edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 that's bound in asbestos, for example. The edition of Snowblind bound in mirrors. Or, less sensationally, anything printed by the Golden Cockerel Press.

However my favourite book ever in the world ever is, for utterly trivial reasons, Gerard's Herbal. First published 1597 and then reprinted in the 1630s, it's one of the most astonishingly illustrated books ever - more woodcuts than you can shake a 2B pencil at (and I should know, I've counted them). I know it's all important for its impact on contemporary botany and medicine blah blah blah, but I just like the bit where he very seriously imparts how barnacle geese hatch from barnacles...

"When it is perfectly formed, the shell gapeth open, and the first thing that appeareth is the foresaid lace or string; next come the legs of the bird hanging out and as it groweth greater, it openeth the shell by degrees, till at length it is all come forth, and hangeth only by the bill. In short space after it cometh to full maturity, and falleth into the sea, where it gathereth feathers, and groweth to a fowl, bigger than a mallard, and lesser than a goose; having black legs, and a bill or beak, and feathers black and white... For the truth hereof, if any doubt, may it please them to repair unto me, and I shall satisfy them by the testimony of credible witnesses"

Or the testimony of pissed-up sailors, maybe. It's also illustrated by this rather wonderful and entirely unconvincing woodcut...

Facts? Who needs them.

28 May 2008

Smart casual, Garden of Eden style

Undoubtedly the most printed book in history is the Bible. It said so in the Observer book of half-arsed book facts last Sunday and everything. What was actually interesting was that Mao's little red book was in second above the Koran, in only half a century. The awesome power of a totalitarian book club.

Anyway, over time errors crept in and out, one of the most famous being the Breeches Bible. It's not actually a single edition, more a series of editions using the same text over a period of perhaps 80 years, mostly printed in Geneva from around 1560. We just got one in and it's very cool. See below in Genesis chapter 3, verse vii, how it got the name...

We've also got a very rare Hungover Typesetter's Bible that starts "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was, oh bollocks, this is all rubbish isn't it? I'm off for a pint. If the Bishop wants it by Friday he can print it himself. What's this? Snakes? Apples? You what?" and kind of goes downhill from there. But it's too fragile to scan, sadly.

07 May 2008

Not big, not clever

I don't care what anyone else says, I love Lolcats. Particularly this one...

26 April 2008

Boo's Bloke is Back

Increasingly these days I get puzzled and sometimes pitying looks when I mention that the Boo Radleys were/are my favourite band ever, usually from people who are perhaps a few years too young to remember Giant Steps and might just remember Wake Up Boo! as a sort of summer novelty single. Little do they know that this will prompt me into embarking on a well-practiced rant taking in everything from Coltrane to acid trips I've done, which boils down to the fact that the Boos were the bestest faroutest most risktaking and interesting band of the 90s and Martin Carr is up there with the best songwriters in the country.

So hurrah then, that having put his bravecaptain project to bed and disappeared from view for a year or two he's back with a myspace page and some new songs, sans laptop but with guitars and (yay!) some trumpets. Go listen...

20 April 2008

They're stealing the skies

Just when you think they* couldn't find new ways to piss you off, this. Floating logos made from I don't care what. And illustrated with the CND/peace sign, too, as if to say "we're groovy and we want to make the planet a better place". Er. No. You're just a pair of fuckwit fratboys who want to take one of the last remaining unspoilt things about this planet and cover it in corporate faeces. You cunts.

Hanging is too good. Drawing, quartering, repeated exposure to Metal Machine Music, this is all too good for them. What would Bill do? Something pretty damn violent involving shotguns, perhaps.

The only crumb of comfort is that they're in Atlanta. Let's hope they stay there.

(*I don't know who "they" are as a group. But they're out there, for sure).

16 April 2008


XKCD rocks. A few days ago he aped Calvin and Hobbes (or should that be tigered?). And this is nice and pithy. But hit the random button and you'll be away.

21 March 2008

Coffee rant

Now, I've always thought coffee was shit. It tastes horrible, it gives me headaches, it gives rise to these vaguely culty chains of coffee shops where ordering is more complicated than filling out a tax return. And it isn't tea.

So, I'm not a fan. But I never imagined that even weirdo coffee drinkers could stoop as far as to drink coffee made from the undigested beans that have been shat by a civet. What. The. Fuck. Do tea drinkers piss on their tea leaves before brewing up? No. Do gourmets insists that truffles are covered in pig saliva? No. Has caffeine sent the whole planet mad?! Clearly.

Although the palm civet is rather cute...
...it won't prevent me from seeing Starbucks and Cafe Nero as some kind of respectable front for copraphiliacs from now on. And thinking that coffee really is shit.

14 March 2008

"See my car keys? You'll never get these"

Yeah, boyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

03 March 2008

Tonight's Lesson from the Book of Eric

"The two facts which even now are not very widely grasped, and which should be made the centre of all anti-war agitation... are:

1. That war against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.
2. That every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defence against a homicidal maniac."

- George Orwell, New Statesman, August 1937.

Big Brother is not a gamer

The beeb has a typically incisive report here about a new effort to locate terrorists online. Apparently it's inevitable that terrorists will make greater use of the internet. Who'd a thunk? And there's an increase in "horsepower" (no, really) in the attacks on the net's infrastructure. Those pesky equine jihadis.

Anyway. It's all much of a muchness, an article that was clearly written by an intern on secondment from the Worcestershire Dahlia Grower's Monthly. So hats off, then, to the subeditor that captioned this picture. Haven't laughed so much in ages...

No, they'll be playing Medal of Honor. As the bad guys.

20 February 2008

A Space Warning from Sun Ra

Found this in an old magazine recently. Apparent the earth is on the note of G currently. Well I never...

07 February 2008

Overheard on the train

Middle-aged woman 1:- "What does he know that we don't know?"
Middle-aged woman 2:- "Well, you just don't know, do you?"


03 February 2008

Gerbil-jazz and other thought experiments

Plucked from the ether using a theremin made of jam...

Sun Ra: You make lots of noise?
John Cage: Yeah, pretty much.
Sun Ra: What are you doing on Thursday afternoon?
John Cage: Well, I have to swing by the ironmongers to pick up some prepared pianos, but I can make it at 3.
Sun Ra: Excellent. How does the key of ecce-ptang strike you?
John cage: My favourite!

Sun Ra: I've made a new instrument out of my own mind.
John Cage: Does it sound anything like this?

(Silence for three days).

Sun Ra: Yeah... yeah it does.
John Cage: I like the way you think.
Sun Ra: Press record will you, my dear fellow.
John Cage: Let's not get too conventional here. I've invented a new recording process using gerbils and muscle memory.
Sun Ra: Wow! Did you know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped gerbils as the bringers of wisdom?
John Cage: Yes.
Sun Ra: Ok, so which end do I blow into? And which one's the alto?

(Musical interlude while Sun Ra blows a complicated series of triplets that spell "smug git" in Assyrian).

John Cage: Can I wear your hat?

(The hat is handed over with much mumbling of chakras).

Sun Ra: Why did the road cross the chicken?
John Cage: For the same reason that makes you wear the robes, i guess.
Sun Ra: Can i have my hat back please?
John Cage: Just another five minutes and twenty three and a half seconds, i promise.
Sun Ra: Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
John Cage: I liked the aeolian cadences in the third movement.
Sun Ra: Give me my hat back.
John Cage: Oh, sorry. I've sewn it to the cheeks of 3 of the gerbils. Let's see how they decide to notate that.

Jon gets half the blame, incidentally. Mod far out.

19 January 2008

I hate Mancunians

I'm watching a late-night music show on channel 4 about some chancers from Manchester called the Courteneers. Rainy-day Arctic Monkeys with Oasis haircuts. Seemed inoffensive enough, but then the main man said "I'd never write anything I didn't think was brilliant..."

Oh for fuck's sake. How low are his standards? Take some acid and spend some time with Martin Carr's record collection you idiot.

Amazing the prejudices Ian Rush has installed in me.

16 January 2008

The Sun Ra Quilt of Joy

That last one's a doozy. Can you imagine the racket they'd make?!

Mod out on the 12.53 Interstellar Spaceways local to Giza.

03 January 2008

Top tunes of 2007

Off the top of my head of an evening...

1. Rhinestone Cowboy - MF Doom. "A lot of bitches think he's overly chauvinistic" and other gems.
2. Candylion - Gruff Rhys. Nutter.
3. Rocksteady - Aretha Franklin. An alternate mix I found with souped up bass that takes it from being a pop song into a serious piece of proto-funk. (Or summat like that).
4. White Chalk - PJ Harvey. Comforting bedtime nightmares from scary aunty Polly.
5. Like a Summer Thursday - Townes Van Zandt. I've still got a long way to go before I know even half his stuff, but this is just perfect.

As for 2008, where are you Roots Manuva?