52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Friday, June 30, 2006

it's just for me and my dog....

Earworms of the Week

10. "Cum-by-Yar"

I started singing this old campfire classic at my desk the other day. It only lasted the time it took me to get down to the first chorus, but poor old Gareth is so earworm susceptible that he ws singing it for the rest of the day. Potentially a touch embarassing. No one really likes to be caught singing hymns in the office do they? That would be weird... at least it would be in a secular state like the UK anyway.... I can't speak for everywhere of course. I've heard that in some countries people even do stuff like swear allegiance to their flag and things like that. That just wouldn't happen over here. Or given that people's cars and houses are currently smothered in England flags, perhaps it would. Mind you, that could all be over by 6pm tomorrow night. Speaking of the football, I'm always so disappointed by the English national anthem (well, we use the British one, but you know what I mean). Yes, I know people bellow it out with real passion, but it's rubbish isn't it? Not a patch on the French or German anthems for starters....

But I digress.....

9. "Unsolved Child Murder" - The Auteurs

To celebrate it's conclusion, Ben is planning to make a CD of the Art Of Noise's A-Z. Because I managed to contribute a piece for every single letter of the alphabet, I've been assigned a couple of songs. "Dry the Rain" by the Beta Band (and name checked in my "H is for....High Fidelity") is one, but this song (from my "A is for.... The Auteurs") is the other.

It's not a subject that many songwriters would touch, but Luke Haines has never been like other songwriters.

8. "Stacked Actors" - Foo Fighters

You never seem to be far away from a contribution from Dave Grohl in my earworm lists, do you? Let's ROCK.

7. "I'm With Stupid" - Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys are a band that I've always *quite* liked. I've never been totally head-over-heels in love with them, but whenever I listen to "Discography", I generally think that every track is brilliant. I heard this track a few times before it really sank in, and it wasn't really until I saw the ridiculous (but funny) video starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas that I ever really paid it any attention. You couldn't really hear this and think it was anyone else, could you?

6. "Death Of A Salesman" - Low

Thanks Ben!

5. "Atlantic" - Keane

I've had the new Keane album now for a couple of weeks, and I just haven't been able to bring myself to listen to it all of the way through. The lead-off single ("Is It Any Wonder") did nothing for me except make me think of Achtung Baby-era U2, and nothing much else on the album has yet forced me to change my mind.

.... except possibly this track.

This is the first track on the album, and it sounds a bit different. It's clearly Keane, but it's moody and slightly mysterious. If only more of the album sounded like this. Great extended video by Irvine Welsh too.

4. "Live Wire" - AC/DC

Accept no substitutes. Thanks Stef.

3. "All Night Come" - DJ Nite

I've been reading Del's blog for a little while now, but it only came to my attention earlier this week that he is responsible for creating a few tunes in his own right. This track is the one that grabbed my attention - it's an inspired mash-up of The Streets "Has It Come to This" with Lionel Richie's "All Night Long".


It's available here.... along with a pile of other ones

Are you making a CD of these or what? Soulwax look out.

2. "And She Was" - Talking Heads

To be honest, I'd more or less completely forgotten that this song existed, never mind that it was done by Talking Heads. Frankly that was my loss. Brilliant song. Thanks Stef (again!).

1. "Um Bongo theme" / "Kia Ora"

I can't separate these two. Both have been running round my head more or less incessantly all week.

Is this the best advert ever made?

Or is it this one?

Kia Ora... by a whisker (and thanks Statue John!)


Shuffleathon update

[nah - moved it again.]

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

but don't forget the songs that made you cry, and the songs that saved your life...

Shuffleathon update:

Ok - first and foremost, we have our first review! Go check out what Tina makes of Adem's CD here. It looks like it went pretty well to me (although I have to confess that I think "Welcome to the Jungle" is a stone cold classic, but it's Tina's opinion that matters most here).

Reviews are good. I'm really curious to know what was on everyone's CDs and also to know what the recipient makes of it all. Be sure to let me know when you've done yours, and I'll add a link onto the table.

I think this table is going to rule my blog for the next week or so. I've started so I'll finish. I'm afraid it's going to keep on appearing here until we're all done and all of the reviews are in.

Oh look! Here it is again now:

[oh no - moved again...]

I've also now received both of the CDs that I'm going to forward on to their final recipients. I should get them out into the post tomorrow.

This is a pretty labour intensive process, y'know? (but so worth it!)


Oh - and for the record, I tend to wear a smart shirt (open collared, and sometimes with cufflinks) and smart black trousers (but not suit trousers) to work.

I am a chino free zone.

Just so we're clear.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

coz' every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man....

About a week ago, a new guy started work in my office. He's one of the many support guys who have been flown over from Bangalore, but it isn't his nationality that marks him out..... oh no. What marks this guy out from the crowd is his insistence on wearing a natty camouflage baseball cap at all times.

Yes, indoors too.

For some strange reason, this really niggled with me. Who the hell was this guy? Why the hell did he think it was okay to wear this hat? I would go into work every day and see this poor chap sat a few rows in front of me wearing this damn hat, and all I could think about was to wonder what on earth he was thinking.

...... and then today I found out that the Director of IT had also been making enquiries about the man in the hat. According to Claire (the girl with the all over tan), the big cheese had asked her to find out who managed this guy and to suggest that he stop wearing this hat in the office. Over the course of the afternoon, Claire made a few enquiries and by the end of the day, the hat was gone.

Reasonable enough, you might be thinking.


No. No. No.

The thing is that the company I work at does not have a formal dress code. About 5 or 6 years ago, the "business dress" policy was revoked in favour of a "smart casual" dress code. Apart from sending shares in GAP rising, the net result of this was that people stopped wearing suits and ties, and started to wear chinos and open collared shirts.

This policy has not been formally revoked... and yet gradually people have started to wear ties again. What's happened? The management has "let it be known" that they want people to be smarter. They have "let it be known", but they haven't made a formal announcement.

The Director of IT has "let it be known" that he doesn't want this man wearing his baseball cap in the office, and the baseball cap has gone.

I think this is bollocks. If you want people to wear suits and ties in the office, then have the damn courage to make an announcement saying so. Don't carry out some sort of peer pressure campaign to make people conform. Don't pretend that people have a choice about what to wear when they don't have a choice.

I miss that baseball cap already.


Shuffleathon update

[stupid big table moved]

Do let me know if you have sent / received your CD... and if you have received your CD, review please !

Monday, June 26, 2006

forget about your worries and your strife....

In May this year, a brown bear crossed the Alps from Italy into Germany. It was the first wild bear to be sighted in Germany since 1835.

So what did they do? The fuckers shot him.

Utter gobshites.

R.I.P. Bruno.

Just for that, I'm cheering for Argentina on Friday.

but we're trash, you and me...

I've been getting the most absurd spam.

I know that pretty much everyone gets spam, so I don't think this odd in itself. It doesn't much worry me either: after all, Yahoo is catching it and safely sending it into my spam folder. It's just that it bemuses me. I quite frequently check my spam folder to make sure that nothing has been sent in there by mistake (it still sweeps up the odd comment), and there it is. It keeps on coming. I get about one or two of these ridiculous emails every day.

As is the way of these things, I have absolutely no idea where this spam comes from. I don't know how they got my email address, and I don't know how to make it stop. But that's okay. It doesn't annoy me much, and it seems basically harmless. Besides, I don't even bother to open them up. Even so, every time I'm looking in my spam folder and I see that another batch has arrived, I can't help but wonder what its senders can possibly hope to achieve.

The thing is, this spam is utterly hopeless. Each email has a ridiculous subject header, and each email purports to come from people with the most obviously made-up names I have ever seen.

Here are some examples:

"cutlet affirmatively" from Natalia Krueger
"exploratory apprentice" from Ophelia Kuhn
"pooch toss-up" from Gwendolyn Holland
"ghostwriter astray" from Mima Camacho
"tidal wave flip" from Cecily Simmons
"gelatin graduate" from Bab Norwood

.... you get the general idea.

The emails themselves seems to be made up of a grid of images that forms a picture of a nonsense stock recommendation. There are no embedded links or code or anything like that (although possibly there might be some and they just don't work on my mac).

I just don't get it.

The only thing that I can think that they are trying to do is to get people to email the "unsubscribe" address, thus flagging that they are an active account. To what end, I have no idea. To send more spam?

In its own way, it's quite amusing, but it baffles me. What's the point?

Answers on a postcard....


Shuffleathon update:

I'm going to keep updating this table and moving it around, I think, so we all know where we are. As you'll see, we've had a few early despatchers already. Good for you! Can you all let me know when you send / receive your CD so I can keep this up to date? If you get your review up, it would also be good if you can send me a link, and I'll add it on to the table.

[large and unwieldy table removed]

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sing for the laughter and sing for the tears


The draw for the shuffleathon has been DONE.

If you are taking part, then you should have received an email from me providing the details of where you need to be sending your CD. I have deliberately not told you who will be sending you their CD... I reckon that's part of the fun.

All you need to do now is to get your CD into the post as soon as possible. It would also be great if you could let me know when you have sent yours out, and when you have received one through the post. I'll try to keep a running tally of where we are in the table below.

[large and unwieldy table removed to avoid duplication]

I'd also like to see your reviews please.... even if that's just a link to where you've put it on your own blogs.

Let me know if you haven't had your email or if you've got any questions or anything....


Right. After all that emailing, I'm going to pour myself a nice cold beer (a Leffe, I think) and try to focus on Argentina vs Mexico.

* shuffleathon originally devised by Yoko. That girl's a keeper!

Friday, June 23, 2006

glaciers melting in the dead of night...

Earworms of the Week

Just a reminder: the only qualifying rule for this list is that it must be a tune that has lodged itself in my head at some point in the last 7 days. Could be a song I heard on the radio; could be the theme tune to an advert; could be something the guy next to me at work was humming; could be a song that just popped in there apparently of its own accord. I'm not claiming to have invented the concept, but it's certainly a feature of my life. Sometimes it's a blessing, sometimes a curse...

...and this week, I shall mostly be avoiding listing the tracks on my Shuffleathon CD....

10. "The Bends" - Radiohead

One of the tracks I had to prune from my shuffleathon track listing, and damn...that was a difficult decision. I bought this album on a whim in Coventry on its day of release and I've not looked back since. This has always been one of my favourite tracks on the album. I love the cow bells at the beginning, just before the guitars kick in

9. "Smile" - Lily Allen

Cover star of the Observer Music Monthly the other week and featured on that new Channel 4 music programme last week. It's a lovely, breezy summer-y track. Another example of how down with the kidz I really am.

8. "Don Quixote" - Nik Kershaw

Nik Kershaw was one of my first musical loves. I once wrote to Jimmy Saville asking if he could fix it for my friend Will and I to meet up with our be-mulleted hero. No reply, sadly. My cassette copy of this album had a sticker of a frog playing a guitar on the front. I put it there, but I have absolutely no idea why.

7. "Don't Panic" - Coldplay

Coldplay have come a long way since, but I love how understated this song is.

6. "She Moves In Her Own Way" - Kooks

Rubbish hair. Bad hats. Great song.

5. "Bang Bang You're Dead" - Dirty Pretty Things

This has really grown on me. I thought it was alright when I first heard it (and certainly better than anything Pete Doherty has managed to come up with)... but it's stayed sat in my head, and finally makes an earworm list weeks and weeks after it was first released. I think they're backing the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I go to see them next weekend.

4. "Yes" - Manic Street Preachers

As readers of The Art of Noise will know, this song will forever remind me of Venice. I'm not sure that's what its author had in mind, but that's just the way it's going to be.

3. "New England" - Billy Bragg / Jamie T

Brilliantly covered by Jamie T when I saw him on Wednesday this week, although pretty much that just made me think about what a fantastic song this is full-stop.

"I saw two shooting stars last night,
I wished on them, but they were only satellites.
It's wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish...I wish...I wish you care-air-aired"

Billy Bragg is a genius. If they weren't having a fallow year, it would have been the Glastonbury festival this weekend. Billy Bragg plays in the Leftfield tent every year that the festival is on... the last time I saw him, he took to the stage with a completely blank set list and took requests.


2. "Pop Goes The Weasel" - Anthony Newley

Yes. This is more or less what you think it is: the former Mr Joan Collins singing a children's nursery rhyme. I was introduced to this record by the same guy who introduced me to Scott Walker and Johnny Cash. He was a mature student on the same course as me at university (well... he was 25, but he seemed old to me). I had a show on the University Radio station, and Mark often used to tag along with a few of his records. I would play something by a band like Manic Street Preachers, and Mark would deride them as "Welsh heavy metal" and make me play "The Seventh Seal" by Scott Walker next. Actually, thinking back, I probably owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. It has to be said that this isn't the best record he ever introduced me to.... but it's quirky and it reminds me of him.

1. "Supermassive Black Hole" - Muse

I *quite* like Muse, but I generally find it a bit of a struggle to get through a whole album. I thought they were fantastic at Glastonbury in 2004, but do tend to find that their whole bombastic operatic rock thing gets a bit too much to take after a while. When I first heard this record, I thought it was alright, but didn't really pay it all that much attention... then, after a couple of weeks, it somehow crept under my skin: I turn the radio up when it comes on, I was delighted when I caught them on Top of the Pops and when I saw them on Jonathan Ross.

It's a great record. It's short and sharp, and it is absolutely made by the quiet little backing vocals the bassist does whilst Matt Bellamy's falsetto is busy warbling at the front of the mix during the chorus....


If you're in on the shuffleathon, then I'll email you the name and address of the person who will be the lucky recipient of your CD tomorrow. I'll keep the list of who is getting who under my hat for now... it should be a lovely surprise for you all.

If you haven't done your CD yet.... what are you waiting for?

Karen says I've reached my target weight...

we get the funniest looks from everyone we meet...

"A safari park in Merseyside is urging patriotic football fans to remove England flags from their vehicles to stop gangs of baboons pinching them.

Bosses at Knowsley Safari Park say the 120-strong troop of baboons usually swipe windscreen wipers but have turned to stealing World Cup flags instead.

You see, this is what separates man from the animals: I'm enraged by these flagrant displays of poor taste too, but I'm generally able to restrain myself....

Actually, I envy them their freedom of expression.

But onstage they ain't got no roots rock rebel

Judging by the number of hits I've been getting in the last couple of days, it looks like my Jamie T review got spotted on the Jamie T forums.

It seems that the poster doesn't much care for my write-up.

I thought it was a pretty favourable review, to be honest.....I went out of my way to say that the audience weren't chavs, for heaven's sake. What more do they want?

Can she really have been upset that I said the band sounded like The Clash?

Sorry -- they're good -- but they definitely do.

Perhaps she offended by the mention of The Feeling? Or did she just think it was a shit gig?

I'm a touch confused, and not sure I care all that much. I thought it was a great gig.
(yeah, I know it's hardly a slating... but y'know....?)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I just can’t get you out of my head...

The Guardian (a little belatedly) discovers the concept of the Earworm.**

You're going to hate me for this, but here's their top 10:

1. Kylie Minogue, Can't Get You Out of My Head
2. James Blunt, You're Beautiful
3. Baha Men, Who Let the Dogs Out
4. Mission Impossible theme
5. Village People, YMCA
6. Happy Days theme
7. Corinne Bailey Rae, Put Your Records On
8. Suzanne Vega, Tom's Diner
9. Tight Fit, The Lion Sleeps Tonight
10. Tiffany, I Think We're Alone Now

I'm not sure I agree, but apologies for planting the Baha Men in your head for the rest of the day....

** thanks to Yoko for the link!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I guess the carpet weren't rolled out...

Jamie T @ The Social, Nottingham - 21st June 2006

The comparison is obvious and you'll hear it repeated a thousand times by a thousand different journalists: Jamie T is a bit like The Streets, only perhaps a bit more chavvy. It's an easy link to make and it's not hard to see where it comes from. Jamie T is a bit rough and ready, he's pale, he's pasty, he wears hoodies and he sings songs about drinking Stella.

It's an easy comparison, but I think it's misleading. Jamie T takes to the stage tonight all by himself, sits down with an acoustic bass guitar and starts to play almost before the crowd has noticed he's there. He sounds amazing. I've never seen someone using an acoustic bass in quite that way before, and it works really well. He looks and sounds nothing like him, but he definitely reminds me a little of Billy Bragg. Three songs later and the ghost of the Bard of Barking disappears as the bass is replaced by an electric guitar, and the rest of the band take to the stage. It quickly becomes apparent that they are both an extremely tight unit, and also one that has listened to an awful lot of Clash records. That combination of choppy guitars and loose limbed reggae bass is unmistakeable: it's "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" all over again, only it's not, it's a song called "NWA". It's good, but it's a touch retro to say the least. The band have very clear reggae/punk influences, but - to be fair - the rest of the set isn't quite so obviously derivative (well, except for that song that sounded just like The Libertines sounding like The Clash) . Don't get me wrong though - the band are really good....it's just that Jamie T's appeal goes way beyond the backing music going on around him, and he's quite possibly a one-off. He has both a very distinctive vocal style and a very original voice. I'm sure it won't be long before he's following that man Mike Skinner into the charts. "Sheila" is out on 2nd July, and has already been picked up by Radio One (it's currently Zane Lowe's 'hottest record in the world' and Jo Whiley's 'record of the week'). If you get the chance to see him in a small venue, take it. He won't be playing them for very much longer.

The Social is certainly a small venue, and tonight it seems to be packed out with the youth of Nottingham. Not chavs. They're defintely not chavs - in fact they are pretty much your archetypal middle-class indie kids, just growing their hair into untidy afros and wearing jackets with lots of button badges. They are all unbelievably young: as well as asking for an email address, the sign-up sheet for the mailing list asks for your age. As I sign up, I see that I am ten years older than anyone else on the list. I'm so down with the kids.

The last band I saw here also owed something of a debt to the music of the 1970s, although The Feeling's love of 10CC is probably where the comparison ends. At the time, I thought that The Feeling had one knockout song ("Sewn") and a pile of other material that rather suffered in its shadow. I only knew "Sheila" coming into tonight's gig, but found that it was a long way from being the most impressive song that Jamie T played. Fantastic. I can't wait for the album.

As if to cement my earlier thoughts about Billy Bragg, the set finished with a fantastic cover of "New England". It's a great song.....perhaps I should rethink my shuffleathon mix.....

And that was it - he was gone. Well nearly..... Sarah and I hung around in the bar after the gig for another drink, and we were delighted to see that Jamie and the whole band came back onto the stage to pack up their own kit and to hand out hand made mix tapes to the audience. He may be destined for big things, but right now Jamie T still helps pack away the drum kit and carry the amplifiers down to the van. I grabbed a tape off him and I'm happy to confirm that he sounds like a very nice lad too. Well, he's 20 years old, so surely I'm old enough to roundly patronise him?

Frankly I'm surprised he knows who Billy Bragg is.

Great night: 8/10 (and you can't argue with a £6 ticket can you?)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I got plans for us....

No blog of the week today... I'm far too busy watching the football, writing my final post for the Art Of Noise's A-Z and trying to get my CD sorted. Anyway, shouldn't you be thinking about getting yours done?

30 participants. 4 days to go.

Nik Kershaw or Motorhead?

Decisions, decisions....

Monday, June 19, 2006

well we're all in the mood for a melody....

29 people in for the shuffleathon so far and 5 days left to make your CDs....

How are you getting on with yours? I'm down to 20 tracks but I'm not entirely sure that I've finished shortlisting, to be honest - no Billy Joel on there for starters. Hmm. Back to the drawing board I think.

No more than 12 tracks on the final CD remember.

Here are the runners and riders:

1) Sarah*
2) Mandy*
3) Yoko*
4) Alan*
5) Charlie*
6) Ka*
7) spins*
8) bedshaped*
9) bytheseashore*
10) Mike*
11) Alecya
12) Pynchon*
13) Ben*
14) Flash
15) Michael*
16) Lord Bargain*
17) Tina*
18) Del*
19) Mark*
20) Graham
21) Stef *
22) Adem*
23) Threelight*
24) Jenni*
25) Leah*
26) Pete*
27) Statue John*
28) Monogodo*
29) Him*

... and me.

* = Address received

Still waiting on a couple of addresses............ to the email address in my profile please (I may well take you up on your kind offer though Spins.....)

It's getting exciting this, isn't it?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music...

Twenty-seven people are in for the Shuffleathon so far.... and there's still just about time to add a few more if there are any stragglers.

I'll be doing the draw on Saturday this week, but remember that the idea is that you should try and get your CD made before you know who you have got. You should look into your heart and into your soul and pluck out the 12 tracks that you feel the most passionate about, the songs that you identify with the most. Your CD could be made up of tracks by 12 different artists, or it could be entirely composed by a single artist (.... which means that some poor sod will be getting "Hopes & Fears" then....) It's up to you, although I think mine will be all different artists.

Once I have made the draw, I will email each of you with the address where you should send your CD ---- so if bedshaped, Flash, Mark, Graham & Alecya could send me their addresses, that would be grand (if I had them before, I'm afraid I've lost them!).

Then you send out the CD and sit back and wait for the review to come in.

Should be fun.....

*shuffleathon orginally devised by the delightful Yoko. God love her.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I know they're stolen, but I don't feel bad...

Earworms of the Week

10. "Blood" - The Editors

Lord B returned this CD to me the other day and I popped it straight on in the car and have been listening to it (football commentary permitting) as I travel to and from the office. It's a very good album indeed. This was the standout song when I first listened to it, and although other songs have really grown on me (especially "All Sparks"), this still jumps out of the speakers, grabs me by the ears and climbs into my head.

9. "Battle of the Planets" - Fader Gladiator

This is a brilliant dance version of the Star Wars Imperial March. I first heard it used on "Spaced", and I spent ages trying to find out what it was before discovering (from the Spaced website) that it was on "Beats By Dope Demand Vol 4". Now that's the only double album I've ever bought for a song that's 1 minute and 45 seconds long. Worth every penny too.

8. "The Immigrant Song" - Led Zeppelin

Partly, it has to be said, because it gives me another excuse to link to this.

7. "New French Girlfriend" - The Auteurs

...although, just for the record, let it be shown that I'm perfectly happy with my current French girlfriend. Thanks.

6. "Paranoid" - Black Sabbath

I dreamt the other night that I fell asleep somewhere and missed a Black Sabbath live set. Now it seems unlikely to me that anyone would be able to sleep through this lot playing live, but it got me thinking of what a great song this is. This song also has the distinction of being one of the only things that I can play on the bass guitar. This, a bit from "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" and "Every Breath You Take" and that's about your lot.

5. "My Favourite Game" - The Cardigans

Never really been a fan of the game, but I love this song. That looping and insistent synth line and Nina Persson's froideur. Brilliant.

4. "Black Coffee" - All Saints

I could pretty much take or leave all of the other songs by this band, but for some reason I adore this one. Go figure.

3. "Wake Up" - Rage Against The Machine

More shouty rock - this one taken from RATM's classic debut album. It's also the track that was used to great effect on the credits to the first "Matrix" film. Altogether now:


2. "Walking Abortion" - Manic Street Preachers

This is in my head because I wrote about 'The Holy Bible' on the Art of Noise this week. It's not an easy album to listen to by any stretch of the imagination... but it's my favourite Manic Street Preachers album by miles and miles. In fact, it's one of my favourite albums full stop. One to sing around the campfire:

'Mussolini hangs from a butchers hook
Hitler reprised in the worm of your soul
Horthy's corpse screened to a million
Tisu revived, the horror of a bullfight'

Catchy, no?

Who's responsible?

1. "Free Money" - Patti Smith

Speaking of my favourite albums of all time.... in my opinion there's not much that can match "Horses". There's something wild and free about Patti Smith's voice on the album in general, and on this song in particular. This song just rolls and rolls and picks up pace, building towards a frantic climax..

Wild and free, but also somehow fragile.


Twenty-seven participants so far, but there's still time to add your name to the Shuffleathon --- and if you have signed up, then send me your chosen address to the email address in my profile.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I hear my needle hit the groove...

Shuffleathon update:

Here is the current list of the runners and the riders....

1) Sarah*
2) Mandy*
3) Yoko*
4) Alan*
5) Charlie*
6) Ka*
7) spins*
8) bedshaped
9) bytheseashore*
10) Mike*
11) Alecya
12) Pynchon*
13) Ben*
14) Flash
15) Michael*
16) Lord Bargain*
17) Tina*
18) Del*
19) Mark
20) Graham
21) Stef *
22) Adem*
23) Threelight*
24) Jenni*
25) Leah*
26) Pete*
27) Statue John*

* = Address received

When you add me to the list, it's an odd number.... so there's still room for some more volunteers. Any more for any more? (otherwise I'll just burn a couple of CDs)

Here's the current plan:

-> Everyone taking part will need to mail me the address where they want their CD sending. When the time comes, I will pass that address out to whoever you are paired with.

-> All CDs should be burned and ready to go by Saturday 24th June

-> I will make the draw on that Saturday and will email everyone telling them who they have been paired with and passing on their address

-> You send your CD, sit back and wait patiently for yours to arrive

-> When it arrives, listen to it and then come back here and post up your thoughts (or a link to your thoughts, should you choose to publish them elsewhere)

Sound alright to everyone?

The idea is that you should make the CD **before** you know who you have drawn. I want you to pick 12 tracks that mean something to you and that you reckon will convey a flavour of your personality to someone who will probably be a complete stranger.

S0 - can you send me your preferred addresses to the email address in my profile please? If you are uncomfortable with the idea of passing out your address, then (assuming you are willing to share it with me) I'll be happy to act as an intermediary.

all is klar? ja?

* shuffleathon originally devised by Yoko

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

express yourself it's one on one

Blog of the Week #21 - Finals Fantasy - the 2006 World Cup Blog

I make no apology for picking another football blog for this slot. In case you hadn't noticed, there is some kind of jamboree going on in Germany at the moment. I seem to have spent at least 3 hours every day since last Friday watching football, so it's hardly surprising that it's on my mind at the moment. At least this blog has nothing to do with me (unlike CUAS, which I sporadically contribute to).

This one is another collaborative effort with a number of different authors (including Ben). The basic format is to report on every game (and its coverage) and offer some sage thoughts on what we've learnt.

It's simple, but it is entertainingly written and well worth reading. Go check it out.

Blog of the Week.

Also worth a look is World Cup In One City (which I discovered via Finals Fantasy):

"Mark Poole was looking forward to World Cup 2006 but when Scotland crashed out of qualification yet again, he was left with no-one to support. Then it hit him: why not support everyone? He’d joined the Tartan Army in a London pub that turned into a passionate bit of Scotland every matchday: surely there was a good chance that all 32 World Cup teams had similar London venues? Some would be easy, others more difficult, so he began the search for London’s Angolans, Ukrainians, Koreans…"

Brilliant idea.

Bored of football entirely (or never interested in the first place)? Then go and have a look at a girl with a [dot] com. I like her.

Something for everyone here, you see.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise, The American Mystery Deepens, The Thoughts of Chairman Tao, Neil Gaiman, Wonder(ing) Goddess, Helfire, Never Trust A Hippy, CUAS]

Monday, June 12, 2006

hot town, summer in the city....

Having laughed at the British habit of talking about the weather at every opportunity.... I'm going to talk about the weather.

It was pretty hot when I woke up this morning. We'd had some thundery showers overnight, but they had failed to break the humidity. This being England, we've still got the full duvet on the bed, so I was quite pleased to get up and have a shower to cool off and get ready for work. I got into the office early today as I had a massive pile of things that I needed to do, and a diary full of workshops and meetings that were going to prevent me actually getting anything done. I walked into the building and made my way to my desk. By the time I got there, sweat was beading on my forehead - it was scorchingly hot. I think they must have tried to save a few quid over the weekend by turning off the air-conditioning over the weekend, only switching it back on first thing on Monday morning.

Mmmmm. Nice.

Anyway. I carried on with my day, managing to find the time to slip out of the office at lunchtime for a run. This can be something of a tricky business: running obviously makes your core body temperature rise. I have discovered that if I don't take enough time after I get back to cool off in a cold shower, then I will get dressed back into my work clothes and find myself sweating furiously as my body desperately attempts to cool down. Not a good look if you have to hurry off to a meeting and you are wearing a dark blue shirt.... and obviously things are just that little bit worse if you go running on a hot day.

....and it was hot today. I was actually delighted when it started to pour with rain when I was running because it made the temperature drop by a few degrees. Apparently not by enough though. I had a long cold shower, but the ambient temperature in the office meant that it must have taken me about three hours to start to cool down properly. Things just got worse at about 5pm when the air conditioning in the office appeared to shut down completely. By the time I left work at about 8pm, I was gasping for a nice cold beer and a shower.

Being in the office for 12 hours is rubbish enough at the best of times - surely it's not too much to hope that they might make the working environment as pleasant as possible?

Oh. Perhaps it is.

Work? Proper bobbins (especially during a World Cup).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

and when the music starts I never wanna stop...

This CD shuffleathon looks as though it might be a go-er. After I mentioned this the other day, there seem to be a few people who want to take part.

Here's how it would work:

1) Anyone who wants to take part submits their name to me
2) Every participant creates a 12 track CD by a certain date (date to be decided)
3) I draw the names out of a hat and pair them off
4) Each participant sends out their CD to the person they have been paired with
5) Everyone writes a review of the CD they receive

It's pretty simple really, and it seemed to work really well over at Yoko's place. It's actually quite hard to make a CD when you don't know who is going to be receiving it. I think I might tweak the rules so that you can wait until you know who you have drawn before choosing your tracklisting. What do you think?

Anyway. Participants so far:

1) Sarah
2) Mandy
3) Yoko
4) Alan
5) Charlie
6) Ka
7) spins
8) bedshaped
9) bytheseashore
10) Mike
11) Alecya
12) Pynchon
13) Ben
14) Flash
15) Michael

Anyone else fancy joining in?


My thoughts on the World Cup so far? I think that England would struggle to beat every team that I have seen playing to date (so - Germany, Costa Rica, Equador, Poland, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina, Ivory Coast, Holland, Serbia-Montenegro, Iran and Mexico). I'm not saying that they would lose to all of those teams, just that they currently look as though they would make getting any kind of a result against any of them hard work.

There's a long way to go yet, and we haven't seen Brazil yet... but Argentina have looked comfortably the most impressive thus far.

It also tickled me to see the English players and management blaming the heat for their poor performance in the game against Paraguay.... played out in temperatures that were no higher than if they had been playing the game in the UK. Would they have dared use that as an excuse if the game had been played in Manchester?

There's time yet, and Sweden's failure to get more than a point means that qualification should be a cinch.... but there's room for a lot of improvement before we can be really numbered against the serious contenders, right?

Or are you just bored of football talk?

Friday, June 09, 2006

singin' seems to help a troubled soul....

Earworms of the Week

10. "Three Lions" - Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds

I'm not an especially big fan of this song, but I have found myself singing it at my desk, and it **is** very evocative of the brilliant summer of 1996. I swear I just heard a stadium full of German fans singing this before the kick off of their game with Costa Rica this evening as well. I suppose they're focusing on the "Football's Coming Home" bit and less on the celebration of the result of the 1966 World Cup Final.

9. "Hey Ya" - Outkast

I heard this on the radio the other day, and it immediately got me tapping my foot and shaking it like a polaroid picture. Great song for summer.

8. "Upside Down" - Jack Johnson

I find Jack Johnson totally insipid.... but I did catch myself singing this in the office this afternoon, so fair dos.

7. "Take Me Out" - Franz Ferdinand

Another one I caught on the radio. Unlike Jack Johnson, this is a song I was pleased to be humming at my desk.

6. "Dakota" - Stereophonics

This is still hanging around on my iTunes "most played" playlist, and it duly popped up when I was listening in the kitchen on Sunday before heading out to the cricket. I'm not really a fan of the Stereophonics (lazy pub rock nonsense), but there is something brilliant about this song. That desert-dry riff makes it another good song to listen to on a sunny day.

5. "Everlong" - The Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl seems to pop up on these lists a lot, doesn't he? What can I say about this? TUNE.

4. "Fill My Little World" - The Feeling

Deeply, deeply M.O.R. and frighteningly reminiscent of REO Speedwagon.... but pleasant enough, and very much parked in my head.

3. "Back to the Sea" - The Futureheads

I'm not yet totally convinced by the new album (what are a bunch of lads from Sunderland doing singing about the 1958 Munich air disaster?) but I do like this song. I like the air of ambiguity - who won't go back to the sea? why not?

2. "Sheila" - Jamie T

Zane Lowe has been playing this one loads... it sounds a bit like a slightly chavvier version of The Streets - if you can imagine such a thing. I don't really know at what point I started liking stuff like this, but I really do. GCSE music projects? I love'em.

1. "Daddy Sang Bass" - Johnny Cash

Ah. Johnny Cash. This is one of the first Cash songs that I really loved. It's a bit silly, but it's a guilty pleasure that I have kept coming back to now for nearly 15 years....


Enjoy your weekends y'all.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

the temperature could drop away...

We’re having some nice weather at the moment. Given that this is the second week of June, this shouldn’t really come as any great surprise to anyone, but somehow it is still remarkable enough to merit a mention in almost every conversation I’ve had today.

Honestly. The British are obsessed with the weather. Stuck for something to say? Just mention how nice it has been recently and you will be fine. Everyone here always has an opinion on the weather. Just ask them, they’ll be happy to share it with you.

We live in a climate that almost never has extremes of anything. It’s never all that hot, but it’s never really all that cold either. It rains quite a lot, but it never really rains very hard or for very long. It sometimes snows, but not very often and it’s a bit wet and it doesn’t really stick around. In fact, what’s most remarkable about our climate is quite how much weather we get. Oh, I know that everyone gets weather all of the time… but in most places that weather is pretty predictable, isn’t it? How much weather do you really get in California? In Brisbane? In Madrid?

We get bloody loads of the stuff, often all in the same day. In other countries I’ve heard that you can pretty mark the change of the seasons in your calendar. It would be a brave person to do that here. In the space of a few hours in England you can see all four seasons. One minute it will be hot (well, warm). The next minute it will be distinctly cold (well, chilly). It will be calm. It will be blustery. It will be wet. It will be dry. Sometimes you really don’t know if you are coming or going, or if you will need that extra layer and an umbrella, or if you should take your sunglasses.

Maybe that’s where our conversational obsession with the weather first started; in our ancestors’ purely practical need to exchange information about the climactic conditions with anyone they met, the better to help them to prepare for what lay ahead.

Or perhaps our ancestors were uncomfortable with small talk too.

So anyway, as I was saying, we’re having some nice weather at the moment. Well, I say nice, but it actually touched on 26 degrees Celsius today, and is forecast to be at least a degree hotter tomorrow, and that’s just too hot, isn’t it? I’ve had to turn the central heating off and everything. Trains will be disrupted as the tracks warp. Office productivity will drop as the air-conditioning breaks under the strain. The British just aren’t equipped to live in a hot climate – just look at any beach in Spain.

Phew what a scorcher, etc.

Deep down though, the longer the warm spell goes on, the more that everyone is really only wondering when the weather will break and we’ll be back to normal. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a thunderstorm soon. Perhaps some flash floods…. No doubt just as everyone has dashed out to the supermarket, cleared the shelves of any kind of meat that could be put on a BBQ and stocked up on beer for the weekend and for the football.

That’s why when you see all those sunburned Brits basking in the watery sunshine this weekend, you can rest assured that they’ve all got a nice sensible warm coat close to hand somewhere.

You can’t be too careful.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

everyone seems to know the score....

Blog of the Week #20 - Cheer Up Alan Shearer

OK, so this is a teensy-weensy bit incestuous... but the World Cup kicks off on Friday, and I thought a football blog might be the order of the day.

I don't know if I'm unusual for a football fan or not, but I actually prefer watching those games where I have no partisan interest. Watching England play has been an almost exclusively painful experience for me over the years. I can only think of about three games that I have actually enjoyed: the 5-1 against Germany in 2001, the 4-1 against Holland in Euro 96 and the defeat on penalties to Germany on that emotional night in Turin during the 1990 World Cup (and I'm not sure 'enjoy' is quite the right word for that one). At every major tournament we qualify for, we are hopelessly built up as being amongst the favourites, only to stumble our way through to a disappointing, unlucky quarter final exit. It's usually tremendously predictable... as are the scenes of violence in our own towns and cities that seem to accompany England's exit from tournaments (remember Trafalgar Square after Euro 96?).

This time around, we're told, we really just might have a chance. We've got some great players at the peak of their games and it might just all come together.

And it might.....or as the team placed 10th or so in the FIFA world rankings, should we expect nothing more than another quarter final exit?

Nah. Give me a game between any of the other 31 nations on display and I'll be happy as Larry. I love the chance to watch teams from all over the world play: Korea, Ivory Coast, France, Australia, Mexico, USA, Trinidad & Tobago.... and all the rest of them. We'll hopefully see some of the best players in the world playing at their best. We'll see the last hurrahs of some of the all-time greats - like Zidane. We'll also see other players step up to the plate to replace them. We'll see surprises, controversial decisions, penalties, upsets....

It'll be great. And it will still be great even if England get knocked out in the Group Stages without scoring a goal.

Don't get me wrong: I still want England to do well and will certainly be cheering them all the way (what odds on Peter Crouch for the golden boot?) - it's just that it won't ruin the tournament for me if we don't win the damn thing.

So get over to CUAS now - the World Cup predictions league is just starting, and it's not too late to get stuck into the Panini sticker swapsies forum...

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise, The American Mystery Deepens, The Thoughts of Chairman Tao, Neil Gaiman, Wonder(ing) Goddess, Helfire, Never Trust A Hippy]

Monday, June 05, 2006

aces high

I won't go on about this for too much longer, but have a look at this..... it's the pictures that appeared on the telly and on the big screen.

And whilst I'm at it, here's the photo from the BBC Nottingham website (as spotted by bytheseashore). I didn't manage to take a picture of all ten of us, so I quite like this one.

Infamy, infamy... they've all got it in for me, etc.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

whatever's pulling you isn't pulling me

pip pip!

As you will know, I'm a big cricket fan. There is very little that gives me more pleasure than getting totally absorbed in a good game of Test cricket. Football and rugby give a more immediate fix of sporting pleasure, but there is something magical about the slow and sustained release of a five day game of cricket. I try and get to a couple of matches every year, but because I live about a 5 minute stroll from the ground, the Trent Bridge Test Match is always a highlight of my year. The ground is on my route to work, and as I was heading in on Tuesday morning, I saw that they were busy putting up the big replay screen and generally getting ready for the first day's play on Friday. That put a smile on my face that has stayed there for pretty much the rest of the week.

Friends began to arrive on Friday night ready for the dawning of a big day in our sporting calendar.... fancy dress day.

(from l-r)Rich, ST, Laura, Sarah

For some unknown reason, it has become traditional to go to Test Matches in this country in fancy dress. We've been doing it now for several years, and we've done a number of themes: Star Wars, Santa Claus, Fred Flintstone, The Spanish Inquisition.... but this year I think we excelled ourselves with a "Biggles" theme. Mind you, I did question the wisdom of this a little when we put on our sheepskin lined coats and leather flying helmets on one of the hottest days of the year so far... but if we could do Santa in August, then I thought we could manage this.

Jamie in a genuine Bulgarian Winter Flying Suit - officially the hottest man in the world

There were 12 of us going in total, and 10 were dressed up - it's an absolute blast from start to finish. I will always maintain that we do this for our own amusement rather than for the attention, but dressing like this does tend to get you noticed. At one point I became aware that everyone around me was turned to look at me and pointing.... and then realised that there was an enormous picture of me on the big screen. I'm proud to say I resisted the temptation to look directly at the screen (as I always laugh at people who do this on the telly - they turn away from the camera to look at their own backs being displayed on the screen). Instead I remained calm and simply chugged on my pipe...

Statue John and Mik enjoy some downtime before the next sortie

The cricket was a little turgid - barely 200 runs were scored in the day and England were struggling a bit - but it was still a great way to spend 7 hours or so: sitting in the sun with a few beers, some cake and some old friends.

The Pollstar is surprised by a piece of cake (to Laura's amusement)

We were actually filmed doing some vox-pops by Channel 5 during the lunch interval, and you can see the clip of that here... I'm not sure how long it will be up for, and I'm not smart enough to download it and stream it (any ideas Adem?). Still it's only a couple of minutes long, and if you want to hear what I sound like, hang on to the very end!

A very, very funny day.

In previous years I have been something of a shambles by the close of play, and good for nothing other than flopping out in front of the television and going straight to sleep. This year I had to be more disciplined: first I had to go to a wedding party, then I had head out to Rock City to see a gig.


The Futureheads @ Nottingham Rock City, 3rd June 2006

I suppose I've only got myself to blame really. It was an ambitious schedule, but I was doing so well. I got back from the cricket in a pretty reasonable shape, showered and changed and got out to the party by about 19:30. By about 20:30 I was arranging a cab with Sarah and heading into town for the gig. We were a little delayed, but arrived at Rock City at about 21:05 to meet up with Rich and Laura and head inside. I thought this would be okay -- albeit I had wanted to get there a bit earlier -- when Lord B and I go to see bands normally at this venue, they don't come onstage until nearly 10pm.

...As we got out of the cab, the Futureheads were just finishing "Hounds of Love". We dashed in, and I prayed fervently that it was something they played at the start of their set. Unfortunately (and inevitably) it wasn't. They played two encores but we were still back outside Rock City by 21:45.

It was still light.

They can't have played for much more than an hour in total, and I suppose we probably saw about half of the set. To say I'm disappointed is probably to overstate the case a little. I was a little bemused though. I suppose Rock City have a club night on Saturday nights and were keen to make sure that the gig didn't get in the way...but....I am a bit cheesed off. Doesn't that sound early to you? All over before 10pm?

What I saw was okay, but I do think they were a tiny bit lacklustre. The lead vocal was a bit buried in the mix, which wasn't great, but I also felt that the new stuff sounded a bit flat. "Back To The Sea" and "Skip to the End" sounded great, but the rest... so-so. I think missing the beginning of the set might have affected my judgement out though: perhaps if I'd seen them playing "Meantime" and "Hounds of Love", then I'd have been in a better mood.

Who knows?

"Decent Days and Nights" and "Carnival Kids" were a superb way to finish though.

I suppose I did get to see their full set at Glastonbury last year, and I'm sure I'll get another chance to see them properly. Perhaps I'd better make sure I get to Rock City a bit earlier when I go to see We Are Scientists on a Saturday in November then, eh?

I'm not going to give this gig a mark either.


I had a nice day at the cricket today too..... albeit dressed a touch more practically this time. It looks like England are going to lose, but it's still a beautiful ground and a great game.

How are you? Good weekends?

Friday, June 02, 2006

coundown to the disappointment....

Earworms of the Week

10. “Orpheus” – Ash

Ash are a good summer band. Loud guitars and big choruses. This one even talks about sunshine. Big and stupid and brilliant.

9 “Talk” (thin white duke remix) – Coldplay


8. “No One Knows” – Queens of the Stoneage

I hummed and hawed over buying this album when it first came out, as I hadn’t so much as heard a single note by the band. In the end, I took the plunge anyway. Oooooh – good decision. I saw them live not long afterwards and they were a*m*a*z*i*n*g,

7. “Stacked Actors” – Foo Fighters

It’s turning out to be quite ROCK this list, isn’t it? (and “In Bloom” by Nirvana was my number 11 too). Few people rock better or harder than Dave Grohl. I really must get around to seeing them live sometime soon.

6. “Vehicles & Animals” – Athlete

Good band. Good album. Good song. Anything else you need to know?

5. “She’s Losing It” – Belle & Sebastian

Another summery little record (as long as you don’t think about the lyrics too hard). It’s Friday, the sun is shining, the Trent Bridge Test match started today and tomorrow is fancy dress day. Life is good, no?

4. “Wake Up And Make Love to Me” – Ian Dury and the Blockheads

I saw Ian Dury and the Blockheads supporting Madness at Finsbury Park one year, and I’m bloody glad that I did. He was a legend. There was no one else like him then, and there’s certainly no one like him now.

I wake up with the gift for womankind
You’re still asleep but the gift don’t seem to mind


3. “For Your Eyes Only” – Sheena Easton

Hm. Listen to an iPod on shuffle in the office at your own peril.

2. “Le Freak” - Chic

All it took was for Lord B to say that he had just read a book called “Freakonomics” (or something) and my brain was off.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh….. freak out!"

Sorry, what were we talking about again?

1. “Suzie” – Boy Kill Boy

The album is just a teensy-weensy bit “indie by numbers”, but I don’t care (and I’ve been listening to it a whole lot more than the new Futureheads album too).

This is a great song. It reminds me a touch of Marion, but I liked them too.


Tomorrow is fancy dress at the cricket, a wedding party and the Futureheads at Rock City. It sounds like an optimistic programme, but I'll give it my best shot?

The fancy dress? Photos here soon.

Pip pip!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

and this bird you'll never change....

Apparently this little chap was knocking around in our front garden this evening. C. tells me that he looked like he had just left the nest and was looking a bit wobbly and unsure of himself. By the time I got back he had disappeared, so I hope he managed to find his way home okay.

Anyone got any ideas what he is? *

I used to be in the YOC too....

*yes, thanks very much in advance, but I'm actually aware of the fact that he's a bird. I was hoping someone would be able to tell me what *kind* of bird.