Music News

From today's Guardian Unlimited website (so will be lost to posterity very shortly):

The death of the record shop and Willy Mason, in our podcast.

Now, that's a nasty case of zeugma if ever I saw one.

In the latest Lily Allen single, "Alfie", someone has seen fit to censor it for radio play. The censored words? 'Twat' and 'THC'. What, 'THC'? Really?

Never has there been such a bizarre censoring decision since Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus which, on UK radio, of the lines:

Her boyfriend's a dick // He brings a gun to school

The one word that was censored was, er, gun. Huh?



In addition to the further adventures of the Hat Bandit, I'm now also obsessed with the developing story of the Hatto Bandit.

Tubers = Vegetables?

I belatedly realize that a distinct problem with using YouTube as a place to host videos is the onset of witless and actively idiotic comments that surely follow. Take, for example, the video I posted recently to allow critique and elevated discussion of the song "My Date with the President's Daughter", by the Presidents of the United States of America. This has to date garnered about a half dozen comments.

And what new insight do these comments bring? We learn that hatemeifuwant and rockonup both enjoyed this. xxxmeganxxxxxx asks a particularly mindless question about the song. Apparently unable to use even the most basic of resources to find the answer (it took me two seconds to type some lyrics into a search engine to find the song's credentials), she is equally non-plussed by my attempt to be helpful. Yet even more staggering is crassness of MichaelPicard412: given the staggering obviousness of the question, he insists on again demanding the answer. Then he, coolkidsthatlikecake and rockonup all demand the violation of several international treaties and national copyright law for the entire film to be made available to them, presumably for free. I do not understand these scofflaws; is this some kind of joke? Are they unaware of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which so clearly outlaws such behavior? Is their idiotic repetition of questions genuine imbecility, or is this some new form of ironic humour that is lost on the ears of anyone above the age of twenty, like some kind of high pitched dog whistle?

I do not understand these YouTubers; in fact, I am fearful of them, and therefore they must be exterminated.


View Askew

Something's deeply disturbing about this otherwise disposable piece of celebrity tattle: the aspect ratio on the photograph is all wrong, surely?

Cynical phishing

Cleaning out my spam folder, I come across another e-greetings card, seemingly addressed to me. To cut a short story long, it turns out to be another cynical phishing scam: what's apparently an e-valentine's card is another attempt to get you to infect your computer. Handily, the actual nastiness seems to be down at the moment, but still... that's just mean. A fairly accurate summary is posted at this blog, seemingly dedicated to reporting spam, scams and viruses.


Yours for a starbuck

What is the world coming to when the only place to buy a CD in the mall is Starbucks?

I was out driving early on sunday morning (around 10.30am), and ran into a sequence of traffic jams created by churches letting out. They even had local police directing traffic to allow worshippers to cross the road. I've not seen such a thing before, but I suppose it must happen every week.

Why is it that whenever you read a news story about someone being in posession of a bomb making manual, it turns out to be the anarchist cookbook? In this case, it's most likely not even the real anarchist cookbook, but one of the many textfiles of that name that have been floating around the protointernet since the dawn of time. I remember when I was a teenager getting hold of some cookbook or other along with a hundred other files. Fairly silly, knockabout stuff from what I can remember. Hopelessly antiquated (even for the 90s) information on how to make a brown box (phor phone phreaking, of course), a version of the now thoroughly discredited banana psychadelics myth, and a couple of suggestions on making explosives that are more likely to get yourself blown up than to cause any noticeable infrastructure damage (or at least, cause less havoc than the average Mooninite). This rather helpful page and this FAQ tell you more than you'll ever need to know on the subject, and just how useless the book and its knock-offs would be to anyone actually planning any malfeasance.

It's just a little disturbing that posession of a book -- especially one so clearly detached from reality as this one -- is being used as evidence of ill intent, as it is by the good ol' FBI. Good thing I no longer have a copy else maybe I'd be in danger. Good thing too, that if you so wish, some idle internet searching will find you all manner of dubious information on lock picking, hallucinogenic fruit, and how to blow yourself up by mistake using common household objects. Wikicookbook, anyone?


Fame, or Notoriety?

If you type my 'work name' into the Internet's favourite search machine, something new happens -- you get a sponsored advertisement by the side, inciting you to buy a book on a topic related to my main area of study (but otherwise having not much to do with me). Is this fame? Is this how I want my fine name to be used? Can I complain if I don't like the way my name is being traded on? Does anyone else care?

Hats Off...

...to the intrepid hatted heistman, who, if the temporal logic of the internet is to be believed, struck again this very day. My literary correspondant points out a correlation with Tibor Fischer's epic "Thought Gang", and I must admit that there are echos. I recently internetted a second hand copy of the collector collector, but haven't yet got around to it, since I'm instead engrossed in a bargain basement copy of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, which I've never got around to reading before.

It was obtained during a perhaps ill-advised mall trip today where the might 287 converges with 202, 206 and head of the 22, at more or less the same time that the mad hatter was striking the Commerce Bank (pronounced, "Comma Spank", in case you were wondering). Nothing like mingling with the hoi polloi to bring out the misanthrope in me.

I had to return a christmas present which was the wrong size and get the equivalent garment in the right size. This turned out to be more hassle than simply switching the two. After finding something that seemed to fit, there was apparently a small price differential to be paid which, had I been offered the article in question for at that exact price, I might have demurred. Then some unamusing comic aside with receipts. Since there was no receipt for the gift, a special transaction had to be made, and I was requested to show proof of my identity and give my telephone number. Ah, if only I had the vim of youth once more! I would have told them where to stick their stupid demands for private information. Instead, I didn't even have the energy to object, but merely did the obviosu thing and wrote down fake information (what is the point of asking to see my ID if they aren't going to check that I don't sign myself as one M. Mouse?).

On to a succession of depressing stores in search of a new notebook for my innermost thoughts, and a new digital camera (or rather, to find a model I liked the look of so that I could read reviews online and buy from an internet retailer). Perhaps there is some cultural difference between the US and the UK which I have still not apprehended, but when I walk into a shop, avoid eye contact with the staff, and scan intently over the items there, this is not a request for some twerp in a blue polo shirt to lean over my should and husk breathily into my ear "Do you need any help finding something?" Again, the punk drunk youth would find ways to be obnoxious back in return, making a fatuous request for a non-existent item or a more direct request for the assistant to Fuck Off. The aging relic instead passive-aggressively replies "No, thank you" somewhat pointedly, or just murmurs "Nuh". The latter is not to be recommended, since it is not firm enough to postpone a follow up question. If I can bear it, I will simply pretend to be deaf in future. Don't they realize that deliberate evasion and lack of eye contact means "stop bothering me, I am quite capable of finding things myself"? Do they not have the concept of 'browsing' in this country?

This is only compounded by the fact that on one occasion I strode into a store, and did have a specific question about a particular item (precisely, the price was missing). And then the staff would not meet my eye, but instead huddled off in a corner having some stupid conversation and not availing themselves to me. I eventually had to butt in on one and found the price not to my liking by an order of magnitude. You don't get this crap on the internet.

You can no longer buy CDs in malls. Or rather, there are no music shops in America any more. They all seem to have closed. Can the impact of the Internet really be that large? I was fairly sure that the actual impact on CD sales was not all that large. Perhaps people are just buying their CDs from Amazon as well. Shocking. Good thing I didn't want to buy any CDs, just browse, and we know where that ends you up.


Jack the Hat

A bank robber has been stalking the streets of the suburban towns right around where I live. His modus operandi seems to involve wearing a hat, and knowing where to park. It's all quite exciting, really.

Greetings, Card

Is it me, or am I getting more stuff not intended for me than genuine mail, phone calls and so on? Someone sent this to me:

Irritating e-card (with flash audio, so don't click if this will annoy you as much as it does me)

and I'm fairly sure that I've not been spending any time with anyone called 'debbie'


Strange Company

Driving around while the American Football Superb Bowling is on, you enter a strange world where the only other traffic is pizza delivery cars.


Incitement to Copyright Theft

A chewyoob user named Hellbuster2 (grr! Hellbuster already taken!) writes to ask:

askin for a favour
if you can pls upload the rest of the movie "my date with president's daughter".


No! Naughty Hellbuster2! That would be copyright theft, stealing the loaves of bread from the starving artists hands. As noted before, I may occasionally share short clips of longer works for educational, illustrative purposes and for legitimate criticism. But an entire film? Not on your nelly! If you want to see the yourself, you should find one of the many legitimate ways to do so, such as, er, tracking down a rare copy of the deleted VHS casette tape on Amazon or ebay.

Maybe you could find it on ichoons (help you breve more easily), but I can't be bothered to work out how to get itoons to work on my computer.

Oh, here's an original version of one of those spooky floating heads videos from yesterday.


Living on my phone

Another message left on my answering machine (in the middle of the night too, but fortunately I slept right through it). Just like this one.

But then I realised that my super new mp3 player (you can never have too many mp3 players, at least if you choose the right ones.) has an inbuilt microphone. So instead, I just recorded the two messages: the previous one and the new one.

Now, how to make this available to you? I could try to host the audio file somewhere, but that's a pain to find somewhere stable and make sure that it will work for someone. Now, if it was a video then I could just upload it to chewyoob, but when I tried it with just audio, it got rejected.

So, what I could do is take an existing video, replace the audio with the recorded audio, and upload it. The recording was just under a minute, so I had to look for a video of about the right length. And I found an old BBC advert for digital television. These ads didn't get shown very much, because they scared the excrement out of people who saw them. Anyway, this means that you can now share in the joy of messages left on my answering machine with a rather surreal video accompaniement which, if you try hard, you can almost believe matches (I made no attempt to match them up).

[alternate video link here]


Those who can do

According to the Guardian, "A teacher was seriously hurt in a violent attack every school day in 2005-6".

I think I'd suggest to that teacher that it's time to consider a career change. Have you thought about something in IT?

Revenge of the Mooninites

If some silly advertising gimmick made out of a child's toy and a battery sets off mass panic in Boston, you wonder what would happen if they ever saw this...