The CNN.com Quickvote from Monday, 10 March 2008.
The CNN.com Quickvote from Monday, 10 March 2008.
It’s no secret that I haven’t been very creatively active lately, but Rin has been overflowing with ideas ever since…. well, I think ever since we first ate okonomiyaki at Abeno several weeks ago. Perhaps that is the secret! It must work differently for different people, because while I do love it (especially with noodles, bacon and cheese), it just makes me happy and sleepy rather than inspired to design cool t-shirts.
And design a cool t-shirt she has! Everyone’s favourite Chicago-based t-shirt company has accepted one of her submissions and released it for voting. If enough of a favourable response is given, they’ll crown her Queen of America and put her face on the ten dollar bill, since no one remembers Alexander Hamilton anyway.
You only have a few days to vote for her, so go do it now! Go to http://www.threadless.com/blogsub/149755/Snail_Mail and if you’re not already a user, you may have to register, but it’s easy. Leave a nice comment about her shirt design, tick the box saying that you’ll buy it, and on the scale of 1 to 5, rate it a big fat 5. Also, please go and actually buy it if it wins, because if you don’t you’ll be a liar, and we kick liars square in the nuts.
Whilst my favourite posts have been about music, Web 2.0™ and pie, strangely one of this blog’s most frequently read articles is one that I wrote earlier this year about flat caps. It has put me in touch with several fantastic flat cap fanatics who I never even would have known existed had I not accidentally appointed myself as their unlikely poster child.
As unintentional as my flat cap fame is, I still must bear the fashion responsibility that it bestows upon me, and when serious issues strike the flat cap community, I need to respond. Recently I have noticed that some flat cap owners seem to not understand how to properly wear them. Granted, it can be rather confusing, as they easily fit on the head in up to as many as two possible positions. My beloved grey Kangol didn’t even come with instructions!
With this in mind, I have prepared the following diagram to illustrate how to properly don your flat apparel without looking like a twat*:
* Please note that Samuel L. Jackson is the only human being in existence allowed to wear his flat cap however he chooses without being guilty of twattiness. This is because no one who values their life should ever consider calling Samuel L. Jackson a twat.
Working a 9-to-5 job, one tends to forget how incredibly poor daytime television can be. I can recall one particularly bad spell of unemployment during which the telly I was subject to was so terrible that I was forced to smoke copious amounts of marijuana simply to find it entertaining. Fortunately these days I am gainfully employed, so not only do I have an entirely different set of reasons for self-medication, I also have nothing to chat about with your mum.
Thankfully, my friend Mike introduced me to the Lost In TV website, where anyone can request free tickets to tapings of television and radio programmes in London. Many of these are fantastic, of course. For example, on Monday I’m going to see a taping of an episode of Richard Herring’s radio series, That Was Then, This Is Now. Many of the shows listed on the site, though, I’ve never heard of in my life. As I scrolled past the offerings recently, one gem in particular leapt off the screen at me.
Golden Balls is a game show on ITV hosted by Jasper Carrott in which contestants can… hang on, nevermind. I don’t care what contestants can or can’t do. I don’t even care if there are any prizes. It’s a game show called Golden Balls! And according to its Wikipedia entry, the show’s co-host, Amanda Grant, carries the prestigious title of “Balls Assistant”. Certainly this show was crafted with my puerile sense of humour firmly in mind.
The only thing bothering me, however, is the uncanny resemblance between host Jasper Carrott and horror icon The Tall Man…
Being a Web 2.0™ internet genius is hard work. You need to constantly think all sorts of important things about stuff. You have to blog daily even if you don’t really have anything to say. And, of course, you need to put pictures of your babies on Flickr so the world can sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that you have safely passed your superior genes onto the next generation.
Hard workers like this need to have a laugh now and then. It’s the best medicine, aside from Jack Daniels. One of my favourite humour genres has always been Yo Mama jokes, ever since March 1982, when one of my schoolmates told me a joke about how fat my mama was. I laughed really hard, too, because man, bitch was fat! Sadly, most Yo Mama jokes were invented in the 1970s and times have changed. Those losers didn’t even have the internet! So it is in the interest of Laughter 2.0 that I bring you this update to the venerable classic: Yo Mama 2.0.
My friend and esteemed colleague Rory deserves credit for that last one. That’s all we have for now because the internet really isn’t that funny at all: the internet is serious business.
Whenever I walk up New Oxford Street and branch off onto Bloomsbury Way, my mind wanders more than it usually does during walks about town. Because this particularly dismal stretch of central London is so bland, I invent games to play in my head in order to avoid the dementia that can be induced by an endless stream of Caffe Neros and tourist tchotchke shops. Maybe if I were a French student in 1968 I’d embrace the ennui, but on Thursday night I was content to busy myself with a combination of thoughts that centred around estimating how much of the Haswell/Hecker set I was missing and whether or not the gig would be selling beer (and, if not, where I could buy beer – I like beer).
Arriving at Conway Hall, Haswell/Hecker was already in progress. The auditorium doors were closed as if to prevent a vicious pathogen from escaping and infecting whomever may have been lingering around after work in the mostly empty streets of Holborn. I sorted out my ticket and received a hand stamp marking my paid entry: a magic marker scrawl of the letters “HP” on my right hand. I was happy to publicly express my support of brown sauce.
With no caution whatsoever, I swung open the performance room doors only to be assaulted with a harshly high-end blast of sine wave treble. I was pleased to discover that after all these years listening to noise, I could not only still hear sounds in that range but also feel pain from them. It was pretty horrible, so I knew I was in for a good night.
The room was also filled with green laser beams shooting in every direction. Although not nearly as energy-efficient, I think some Throbbing Gristlesque halogen lamps would have worked better with this sound. My ears were bleeding but my eyes were watching a Pink Floyd night in a 1970s American planetarium.
Haswell/Hecker did scale back from that high octave onslaught to show us some low-end mercy. The more than capable sound system that they packed into Conway Hall vibrated the bones, but I still needed beer to warm the spirit. Now, I know, this makes me a bad music fan, and perhaps an alcoholic as well, but I left after about 15 minutes of their set to find some lager.
On returning from Sainsbury’s with a 4 pack of Kronenberg (which I think I chose subconsciously because of the differently-spelled film director of the same name), it was intermission and most conversations I overheard seemed really impressed with Haswell/Hecker. I felt a bit bad that I had skipped out on so much of it, but I was really impressed with my ability to find beer in Holborn on a weeknight.
Time for Pan Sonic at last came around, providing me with a bit of déjà vu, as their accompanying visuals hadn’t changed as far as I could tell in the few odd years since I’d last seen them. Why bother changing anything that works so well? The black vibrating wave on a grey screen, as minimal as the sound it represented.
Static fought against the beats, reminiscent of a mix between Autechre's LP5 and Merzbow's Merzbeat. Despite the many layers of sound, everything felt like the work of a duo. You could clearly hear the pure elements of synthesizer and rhythm jockey for position. In the end I think it was a draw. If there was a winner it was definitely the machine in the back on the right side of the table: a synthesizer controlled by what appeared to me to be a lever. That thing was badass! If it were a guitar, it would have been V-shaped with 10 necks (and a lever).
From people I talked to after the gig to other reviews that I've read in the past week, the consensus appears to be that Haswell/Hecker blew everyone away, whilst Pan Sonic was mildly disappointing. I couldn't agree less, however, as my favourite part of the night was the Pan Sonic set. Yes, admittedly, I was on a beer run for most of Haswell/Hecker, but from what I saw of their set, it was more extreme and maximal. I quite like extremity, and I love what I heard, but Pan Sonic's more restrained approach may have been an anti-climax after a display of such sheer sonic force.
Regardless of how the two sets measured up against each other, overall it was an ace night. £12, two artists, one simple room: no nonsense, nice and simple. I can only hope to lose more of my hearing to them in the near future.
Yesterday was Blog Action Day. For those who missed it, which I assume is everyone who doesn’t live in a bloggerati bubble, Blog Action Day was designed to be a day of activism for bloggers. One issue would be chosen for all bloggers to write about and somehow if every blogger in the world wrote about that one issue on the chosen day, everything would sprout a piece of awesome out its head (or its arse).
This year’s chosen cause was The Environment, which is good because global warming troubles me. I feel bad that I failed to write about it, but it looks like everyone else did a good job because it’s a mild 15 degrees outside today. Well done!
The best part about Blog Action Day was that bloggers didn’t have to do anything difficult or even different to what they do every day: they just had to sit on their fat arses and write. There was no imperative for bloggers to lead by example and do even a small thing to help the environment, they just had to sit back and tell everyone else to do it. Wait, why did I miss this again?
The tagline on the Blog Action Day site asks,
What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day?
One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.
I reckon that the same thing would be said in about a few thousand different ways, a bit like a bad cover version of a song that once held a deep meaning for you, but lost it after you heard it limply regurgitated once too many times.
I’m sorry to be so cynical about what could be seen as a great consciousness-raising activity, but I can’t help but think that everyone’s efforts would be better spent actually doing something to help the environment besides writing about it on blogs. Start recycling! Use your car less and walk or bike more! Turn off your computer and save some electricity?
Does it count if I Twitter about the environment, or is the extent to which I saved the environment directly proportional to my word count?
I always new that the Do-It-Yourself punk rock spirit was alive and well in the UK. In the headlines of BBC News as well as CNN, I learned today that the dental situation is so bad in Britain that people are resorting to “DIY dentistry”: pliers and glue at home instead of a trip to a proper dentist.
Why would anyone in their right mind do something so medieval? Poverty and the lack of a reasonable state-provided alternative. Whilst the NHS offers free health care for the rest of your body, it doesn’t look after your mouth much at all. NHS dentists are hard to find and if you do, you could be waiting for quite a while to receive treatment. There are, of course, plenty of private dental practices where you can pay for any service you want and get immediate care, but that requires money.
I’ll be the first to admit that the NHS is fantastic compared to the complete lack of socialised medicine in the United States. I can see how some may think its poor dental offerings are a minor concern, given that Americans don’t have many unpaid medical options at all. The situation in the US is dire, but it doesn’t exempt the UK from working toward the improvement of its own system. It should be the goal of any nation to be able to provide free health care to all of its citizens, and once it can do that, its goal should be to perfect that system. Just because America hasn’t sorted the first part of that out yet doesn’t mean Britain can disregard the importance of the latter.
I have lived in the UK for a year now and haven’t been to a dentist at all in that time. Normally, I’d have been twice for cleanings, but that’s one luxury I no longer have. My previous job offered full medical and dental benefits, but since my current company offers no private coverage, I choose to save that money and just hope for the best.
My wife has been to the dentist once in London. She went to a private practice because everyone we know told us to not even bother trying to find an NHS dentist. She needed a cavity filled, which set her back about £75, plus another £18 for a required consultation that lasted all of five-minutes. She works full-time, luckily, and so this was at least possible, but even still that was a major chunk of her income for the week. If she needed a more advanced prodecure, would I have had to send her down to the hardware store?