Monday, October 29, 2007

Sights of the Sixties

It turns out posting from an internet cafe isn't as hard as it sounds. Eventually, I'll reach the 21st Century.

Since it's so easy, here's an in depth technical look at some of the equipment used by Jimmy Page in the Yardbirds.

See the lovely photo above courtesy of the What Jimmy's using here, fanboys, is a Sylvania heat lamp. They are normally used for drying the hair and nails of groovy Go-Go Devil Women, but he has evidently put it to better use.

I know my heat lamps. I'm also pretty good on UV tubes. Don't let it ever be said I'm not a tech head. Even if I can't get online from home and have to post from cafes.

Edit to add: Though apparently due to short battery life, I can't get the pictures the right size. Corrected.
This post courtesy of Borders and their extra strong coffee.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

It's NaNoWriMo again in November - National Novel Writing Month.

The aim is for all participants to write a novel during November. The goal is 50,000 words or about 175 pages. If you register with the official site, you'll get encouraging emails and local offers of meets in cafes where you can bring a laptop and try to catch up while everyone is doing the same around you. At the end of the month, upload your novel, and a robot will count it for you, and if you've reached the magic number, you're a winner. The novel belongs to you, of course. It isn't uploaded for everyone to read and rip off - the robot reads it and that's that. (You can even ROT13 something before you upload it if you're paranoid. Get ROT13 here.)

Last year I wrote 40000 words and then something happened. Vodka, need for sleep, work stopped accepting the excuses that the dog ate my homework, that kind of thing. I think I will register again this year.

If you're one of the approximately 90% of people who think you have a novel in you, go ahead and sign up. What do you have to lose? If you haven't got that far with your novel planning, the NaNoWriMo's founder offers a book called No Plot? No Problem! which will get you over the completely minor hump of not having a plot or setting or characters yet.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Soylent Green (1973)

I saw Soylent Green tonight – odd that I've never seen it before. I thought I had; it may just be that everyone references it so often (and shouts the last lines so often) that it's become part of the culture. However, it's worth actually watching rather than just assuming , as I did, that you have watched it. The Pastorale scene [1] is quite as moving as critics said it was and a good half of the forecasts seem to have come true. (Possibly this is due to Harry Harrison, the writer of the seed idea for the film, a story called Make Room, Make Room, rather than the Hollywood script writers).

In the miss column, we have to admit that the future has not been full of Eames furniture, Eero Saarinen chairs and acrylic hangings. Pity, because they are quite nice. The strange and venemous-looking foxtail-based ten-legged furry spidery decoration never came to pass either, for which I am truly thankful. Young women provided as part of the furniture of a furnished luxury apartment – well, I think that's close enough to true to count.

The oddest thing in the 'hit' column is hearing the characters come out with a brief buzzword-bingo explanation of Global Warming, and why it's a Bad Thing. It's odd because the film was released in 1973 and if you read conservative columns written in 2006 and 2007 attempting to refute Al Gore's various scenarios, there's one thing they always say. They always say, "We're not falling for this Global Warming crap. Why, in the seventies, so-called climate scientists were predicting a New Ice Age. The idiots knew nothing then and know nothing now. Ha ha ha." Actually, they sound more stilted and hysterical than that, but that's roughly what they say.

If you read a column in the future that says scientists in the seventies predicted an Ice Age, kidnap the columnist and force them to watch Soylent Green, with their eyes propped open like in A Clockwork Orange, so that they can see what people really thought in 1973.

Edited to Add: My lawyer says I can't advocate kidnapping people even if they are stupid, so don't. Instead, when some idiot tells you that scientists in the seventies predicted an Ice Age, not Global Warming, send them this article. It's called, "Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No." I think that title about covers it. You can send them a copy of Soylent Green as well if you like.

But watch Soylent Green anyway. Even if you don't like the message, you'll probably like the chairs.

[1] Google tells me that the scenes of the world before overpopulation are accompanied by extracts from Tchaikovsky's Pathetique and Edvard Greig's Peer Gynt suite as well as extracts from Beethoven's Pastorale.

Kings of Oblivion

Rare, almost unbelievable footage here: The Pink Fairies live on stage.

It's footage taken from the audience at the Roundhouse reunion gig of February, 13th, 1975. You can briefly see Mick Farren later on in the clip. Never mind the less than stellar quality. It's a keeper.

There's more: Roundhouse reunion gig of July 13th, 1975.

The uploader, arsydd, is author of Keep it Together

And yesterday I watched a movie that featured the Pretty Things - with Twink on drums. The past is looking very bright for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

LA Woman

It turns out I still have to go to LA occasionally. This time, remembering my 15-year preference for the I-405, I took the 405 to Van Nuys at six in the morning and spent two and a half hours driving sixty miles. Okay. I'm cured. I have learned to love the I-5 and that's it. I renounce all previous posts about being a 405 girl.

I had planned out some epic odyssey in which I had to get to Van Nuys, Northridge, Valencia and then back to LA to see a friend of mine all in one day. (My natural inclination would be to split that into about four weeks.) I did manage it. Go me. I feel like a traveling salesman.

My friend played me some Dr. Feelgood, so I'l pass on the bounty. Here's the inestimably fabulous Wilko Johnson and the rest of Dr. Feelgood with She Does It Right and Roxette. I'm told Wilko is actually a human being, but if someone told me his daddy was a sequencer, I wouldn't be surprised. He's my favorite rhythm guitarist and these are two of my favorite guitar tracks.

Can't say I really agree with the talking heads at the beginning of the track but I suppose everybody has an opinion. I certainly do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Right vs Left - all in the mind

Is this woman spinning clockwise or counterclockwise?

Apparently different people get different answers. Some people can switch it at random like a Necker Cube. It's most certainly clockwise for me. I can change it to counterclockwise after intense concentration, but it's hit and miss. Apparently that makes me religious or some such crap. I'm not a big believer in right brain/left brain theories, but boy is she definitely spinning clockwise.

From the Australian Herald Sun newspaper.
Here is their write up of how other people see it differently.

Sorry, that's going to be an irritating .gif to have on the front page once you've watched it once.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lev plays the Theremin.

A robot playing a Theremin.

It's cool. Because it's a robot - playing a Theremin!

I've posted before, rather briefly, about a Theremin, and there I think my point (if I had one) was that there was something awesome about Jimmy Page, a man who could not only play a Theremin, but also influence another man into being an instrument for him. It's entirely fitting that somebody somewhere can make a robot play a completely electronic instrument.
It's not quite as spiritually or as emotionally captivating, but it has something transcendent about it nevertheless. And you have to admire a man (I guess it's a man) who has the technical know-how, the patience AND the playfulness to pull it off.
Seen via Making Light.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Coming, colors in the air

Now we know why the Rolling Stones wrote "She's a Rainbow". It's the perfect accompaniment to this perfect ad - yes, it's an ad - for Sony Bravia TVs. The joy of the song and the innocence of the thousands of little jumping bunnies go beautifully together. It brightened my morning, anyway.

There's a high res version and a 'making of' version at Sony's site. Short summary of the 'making of' - they did it the hard way. Life-size Plasticine bunnies, real-life New York, natural sunlight, 30-foot hero bunny and hundreds of animators.

It worked as an ad, too, because before I watched it I thought a Bravia was a minivan.

Edit to add: Someone sent me this. Very good.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Never Slow Down, You Never Grow Old

The sitemeter for this blog tells me how people stray to this site. If you get here by clicking something in a search engine's results, it tells me what search string you entered.

I can't type them all out in full, or I'll confuse the issue. By far the most popular is LJ C*t on Bl*gg*r – which means that hundreds of other bloggers have come here just to find out how to do their own LJ C*ts. Ok – glad to be of service, and that search term works – it finds a post that tells you where the instructions are.

Next most popular is Luci*s M*lfoy. I have one picture of him here on the blog, and boy is it popular. You're welcome to that too, even though I did um, extract it from Hpana.

But what's puzzling me – [1] is the huge number of searches for these two strings:

I don't know what I've been told
I don't know but I've been told

I don't disguise these two because I'd really like to attract those searchers to this post. One of those strings did appear on this blog, so you've come to sort of the right place. But the other one has never appeared. Well, not before today. The first tip, searchers, is use quotes around your search and you won't get so many false positives.
Like this:
"I don't know what I've been told."
"I don't know but I've been told."

That'll cut out the first one. Or would have, before today.

Now, what were you actually looking for? If you don't know what you've been told, I can't help you there. Were you looking for the anime song? Why not add anime as a search term - outside the quotes? Or lyric? If you were looking for the cadences, why not add "drill instructor" or cadence to your search string? You'll be directed to a different site. Or would have been directed to a different site, before I wrote this post. If you're looking for "I don't know but I've been told" as a cadence, add cadence to that search string. Or "drill instructor".

If you're looking for "I don't know but I've been told" as a Led Zeppelin lyric – welcome! You've reached the right place! I mentioned it here. The lyrics are to be found in about 500 places by adding lyric and zeppelin to your search string.

Now you've found the right place, here's a nice picture of a dragon. It's a special occasion. Jimmy Page became a grandfather October 8th - or 9th. Ross Halfwit[2] isn't very specific about the date. Congratulations to the Page family.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

[1] But what's puzzling me – Looking forward to the extra traffic that generates. You meant you not me. And put quotes around it.
[2] Halfwit doesn't allow direct linking to his diary any more. If you want to look it up manually, it's for October 2007.  I don't recommend doing so.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Free Music on the Net!

The interwebs are strange old places, and no mistake. It was vitally important for me today to find the text of the Calderdale play, "The Pace Egg". I needed it because I wanted some inappropriate text to cut and paste into a particularly intrusive and nosy online form. And you know what, I couldn't find it in almost two full minutes of searching on the net.

Stymied, I looked for, and found, the words to The Derby Ram and cut and pasted that into the box instead.

(It's a Northerner thing.)

Having got that important business out of the way, I browsed some of my favorite blogs, including PowerPop, which led me to believe that this Ike and Tina Turner Video was teh Dope:

I double-clicked, switched on the PC's speakers, waited a second for the vid to buffer and . . . and. . . thought I had completely misunderstood the whole Ike and Tina Turner oeuvre. I listened for a good forty seconds before disbelief took over.

When I checked my head, ears, speakers and finally the pages I had open I realized the sound slider on the YouTube video was not all the way up; but the midi sound on the blasted Derby Ram page was happily sawing its way through the old tune at full volume. I have to say it didn't leave Tina much to do, but Ike had his hands full with it.

Don't worry about sending The Pace Egg to me, because when I thought to look later, I found two printed copies within thirty seconds on the bookcase behind me. It turns out it's more often spelled "The Peace Egg" - odd, since I believe it's derived from Pasch Egg, or Easter Egg - and that's the way you have to Google it. When you do, you find the Doctor's speech that I originally wanted to use as bumf to fill in the nosy form. I've corrected the internet spelling to the actual text of course.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(Alas, my copy is missing the woodcut of
the devil and only has the cover above.)

Fool: What diseases can you cure?
Doctor: All sorts.
Fool: What's all sorts?
Doctor: The itch, the pitch the palsy and the gout; if a man gets nineteen devils in his skull I'll cast twenty of them out. I have in my pockets crutches for lame ducks, spectacles for blind bumblebees, packsaddles and panniers for grasshoppers and plaisters for broken-backed mice. I cured Sir Harry of a nang-nail almost fifty-five yards long; surely I can cure this poor man.

Pure peotry! (As they spell it on internet.)

Ike and Tina were worth watching too.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Green Burritos and Tragedy

It was a spectacularly warm and pleasant day here in Southern California, and as you know, since you've been paying attention, I work in these mountains.


I decided to eat lunch outside, facing away from the main building and trying to avoid the spiky antennae-topped Saddleback where about half of the area's early warning and communication system seems to grow. I was eating a Green Burrito - no, I don't know what they are either - and the warm, pleasant breeze from the mountains drifted down to me in such a fairytale manner that I involuntarily took a deep breath of fresh air, let it out - and promptly had a coughing fit. I'm getting old, I think.

After I recovered I heard quiet voices at a table behind me. They were discussing the similarities and contrasts betweeen the plot and setting of Hamlet and (I think) Orestes. It was such a civilized conversation I felt much better immediately. It did occur to me - and this isn't intended to be a cheap shot - that it wasn't a particularly American conversation, and in fact the two accents were Latino and British (a very cool, female RP, to be precise). I had a friend once who said that he loved to go to bars in France because he didn't speak French and he could assume that the men around him were discussing philosophy and art and not be rudely disabused of his fantasies. I encourage him not to come to Southern California, because the Lingua Franca is English and the conversations, like the songs, are mostly about cars and girls.

I suppose after that I should tell my Green Burrito story from last week. The same cafeteria - a table inside - three of us, all of British extraction - me eating a white sandwich with white dressing and white meat on a white plate, and the Geordie opposite me eating possibly the same filling, but wrapped up as a Green Burrito, a sort of spinach-colored rugby-ball shaped food item.

I said, "You've got a green one," and he immediately replied, so quickly that he must have been using some sort of spinal reflex rather than actually routing the words through his brain, "It's not the first time a girl's said that to me."

All three of us then laughed like drains. It was a very English moment. I can't imagine an American saying that (unless carefully coached) and now I come to think of it, I can't imagine an Englishman *not* saying that. It's not all Orestes and Tragedy over there.

Long may the late summer continue, because fall here is as nostalgic and interminable as fall, or autumn, anywhere else.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ain't No Old Shep Gonna Happen Again!

Here a 25-foot statue of Anubis is floated on a funeral barque down the river Thames to Greenwich's Millenium Dome. He's appearing there in his role as the god who accompanies the dead and keeps them safe on their journey – because boy king and famous deadee Tut Ankh Amun is appearing at the Dome in November.

Also appearing at the Dome in November is Led Zeppelin. Imagine: Doggedly faithful psychopomp Anubis stands guard at the dome against the vengeful ghosts of the king's canes venatici as they howl over the water from the Isle of Dogs. The rock band most associated in the public's mind with the underworld stands astride the Greenwich Meridian reclaiming their throne – why, it could be a novel! And I think it was – by Anne Rice, wasn't it?

I bet they don't play Stairway to Heaven!

If strange happening are indeed afoot, I must do my part to immanentize the eschaton by spending the day at my pyramid, a couple of miles north of there. It's in the grounds of the thoroughly creepy Hawksmoor church St. Anne's in Limehouse, where I used to hang out and listen to the peacocks.

Hawksmoor church image is from The Londonist.
Anubis image is from
Thanks to Tim Chapman for the AP link.
Title from:
Bron-y-Aur Stomp, Led Zeppelin.


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