Tuesday, 31 December 2002





[infotech] This news of 3D monitors that don't require glasses is just too cool for school. Never mind the entertainment possibilities: imagine what they'll do to the desktop metaphor. Using a next-generation operating system could be like playing Myst or Mario.


Last Minute Tidying

[site news] Since I'm shifting to a slightly modified design next year (i.e. tomorrow), I thought I'd archive this year's index pages for Detail, Found and Rory Central. I've also cleaned out some redundant pages from Grinding Noises and the Textuary, and added a fifth wintry picture to Winter in Scotland.


Friday, 20 December 2002


[journal] You don't need snow to have a white Christmas. These photos are from the car-park behind our block of flats yesterday—and the frost was even thicker today.

Frosty Bush Frost on a Windscreen Frost on a Windscreen Cover Frosty Car

Frost in Edinburgh


Things Not to Leave 'Til the Last Minute


  1. Writing annual Christmas letter to friends and family.
  2. Writing Christmas cards in lieu of annual Christmas letter.
  3. Mailing said cards to other side of the world.
  4. Buying Christmas presents.
  5. Mailing presents to same side of world (i.e., other) to have at least some chance of their arriving before Christmas.
  6. Buying tickets to The Two Towers for any screenings before January 2003.
  7. Pre-emptive dentist's appointment to apply fluoride force-field against oncoming barrage of sugar.
  8. All of that half-finished work you were going to do by Christmas so that 2002 doesn't seem like a total write-off.
  9. All of those things you were going to write for the site so that they go in the chronologically correct '2002' folder instead of the less-pleasingly-palindromic '2003'.
  10. Figuring out a neat way to sign off the blog before Christmas.


Pony Up

[net culture] In a fine display of restraint, most of my end-of-year navel-gazing thoughts have been withheld from public view for a change. Instead, you'll find a spot of meta-Rory at this Blogroots thread (or see here), where I've been playing devil's advocate on behalf of Andrew Sullivan, sort of. The man clearly needs no such advocates, though, given that his fund-raising has netted him a staggering seventy-nine thousand dollars, or US$23.67 a head from 3,339 readers.

On another matter entirely, I was thinking of changing focus here somewhat next year, and writing exclusively and exhaustively about the coming war in Iraq—possibly rebranding the site as 'Speedypundit', whacking a pic of the twin towers up in the banner there, and really sticking it to those clueless idiotarians over at Metafilter. Whaddaya reckon? Do you think I'll, I mean we'll, crack a hundred grand? C'mon, I'm doing it for you.

(Speaking of devils, the yeti does it again.)


Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Under the Volcano

[film] Like a disturbingly large proportion of the online population, I too am jonesin' for The Two Towers. It's even harder to wait knowing that all of the reviews have been extremely good.

Well, not quite all. As Ed points out, the Rotten Tomatoes rating is a staggering 99% Fresh. But it's not a hundred percent. Who was the heretic responsible for this lapse? Your humble reporter decided to investigate. My in-depth probe took me numerous clicks away, to the end of the relevant 'All T-Meter Reviews'. There, I discovered... this.

I'll be the reckless, foolish messenger and endure the wrath of LOTR devotees: Compared to THE FELLOWSHIP, THE TWO TOWERS is a big, sprawling disappointment.

Who'd want to be in Victoria Alexander's shoes? The one critic out of 76 (at last count) who calls The Two Towers 'rotten'... yet actually admired Die Another Day. (Treebeard is 'poorly conceived'? How about having James Bond surf a tsunami to safety?)

I understand that many of my story criticisms will be answered in the last part of the trilogy when all the pieces come together. However, THE TWO TOWERS must stand alone in its own right.

Why? Because J.R.R. Tolkien said so? (Nope. He conceived of LOTR as a single book, not a trilogy.) Because Peter Jackson says so? (Nope. Didn't even bow to studio pressure to include a preamble, and thinks of the three films as parts of a unified whole.) Because the fans say so? (Umm.....) No, no, no—every film must stand alone, because... because it must! What would happen if Peter Jackson dropped dead tomorrow with the post-production on Return of the King unfinished? Ms Alexander is saving us, saving us from the awful lack of closure that we'd suffer if the entire fabric of Western civilisation collapsed before next Christmas, and every library and bookstore burned to the ground, and everyone on the planet who had read LOTR set sail for the west in the Tolkienian equivalent of the Rapture, and there was no-one, no-one left to tell the poor unbelievers how the story ends!

Oh, and the battles feel impersonal. And there wasn't enough hot Legolas action.

Fortunately, it's her lucky day. Because I have read the books in question, and can tell her right now, before the collapse of Western civilisation, that in part three Legolas plays a much bigger role, personally leading the climactic battle against Sauron (the half-hour sword fight should be a real treat, with lots of opportunities for close-ups), and actually saves the day when Frodo is severely slapped by Gollum on Mount Doom. So now there's no need to see the movie and risk disappointment and write a bad review of it and SPOIL ITS PRECIOUS 100 PERCENTSES AT ROTTEN TOMATOES, IS THERE?

So there.


The Burning Yule Blog

[net culture]

A week before Christmas, and all through the house
The tap of a keyboard and click of a mouse
Echoes throughout the cold yuletide night
The only glow being a monitor's light
Casting its shadows out into the fog
As its lonely owner is typing his blog
Thinking to himself, what happened this year?
Why didn't I conquer the whole blogosphere?
Here I have been, writing post after post
And who even read them? Did any? Did most?
Did anything that I wrote make people think?
Or did they just leave on the first handy link?
I wouldn't have minded a small bit of flak
If it had meant getting one measly trackback
But no, they're too busy counting the toll
Of winning attention from their own blogroll
Too busy to notice genius in their midst
It's all so unfair, it's making me pissed!
I'm not taking this abuse without a fight
I'll go into battle! C'mon, man! Let's write!
All of those entries whose comments are zero
Sweep them aside like a conquering hero
By writing like I've never written before
Where most would write one post, I will write four!
Blogging ev'ry single webpage I've read
Bashing out punditry until I'm dead
I'll topple the government with my opinion
Bring down the boss and his lowliest minion!
Pound them to dust with my deadliest banter!
Blog this, blog that, and—oh shit, here's Santa.


Sunday, 15 December 2002

Engines of the North

[uk culture] Casting my mind back over the year and an eye back over the archives, I notice a bunch of things I never got around to writing about here: exhibitions visited, movies seen, books read, and, in a couple of instances, places visited. Two of the latter were home to genuine engineering marvels of the new millennium: the Falkirk Wheel and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. Both worth mentioning, even if three months late.

Falkirk Wheel Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Millennium Engineering

The Falkirk Wheel stands upriver (or, more accurately, upcanal) from the Scottish town of Falkirk, halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Prior to its completion, Falkirk's main tourist attraction was the Antonine Wall, the turf rampart that pushed the Roman Empire north for a few decades. Since the wall is now more of an Antonine Ditch, which doesn't have quite the same draw, the need to build a giant rotating engineery thing to lure visitors was obvious.

And what a giant rotating engineery thing it is. Its ostensible purpose is to reconnect the canals running from Edinburgh to Glasgow to make the entire length traversable again, so that in theory I could hop on a boat a block from my place and end up drifting helplessly towards Ireland. But its actual purpose is to give visitors the chance to climb into a boat at the wheel itself, be lifted upwards verrrrrrry slowly, think "gosh, we're up high", and then be gently returned to where they were just ten minutes before.

The marvellous thing is that it all runs on the same amount of power it takes to boil a kettle. Although, given that, it'd be even more impressive if instead of a giant wheel it was a giant kettle, filling the canals between the Firth of Forth and the Clyde with Earl Grey. That really would have been a fitting British commemoration of the millennium. But never mind; the Falkirk Wheel is certainly the most enormous mechanical nodding bird in Christendom.

Meanwhile, the home of Earl Grey himself has been linked across the Tyne with neighbouring Gateshead by the equally impressive Millennium Bridge. Newcastle is an attractive place, with a Georgian centre replete with aforementioned tea magnate perched high on a stick, and enough medieval and Tudor buildings to break up the post-war landscape. The Millennium Bridge, along with the new Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (housed in a converted flour mill on its Gateshead side), gives the whole place a contemporary, forward-looking feel. We were lucky enough to see it just as it was being raised in the middle of the day to let boats through; the whole thing pivots on two large cogs, lowering the main arch and raising the curved footbridge to form a second. I don't know whether it uses less power than it takes to draw a pint of Newcastle brown ale, but no matter. Along with the imposing Angel of the North on the A1, it's given the region a morale boost, even if it isn't at peak use yet.


Dear Metro

[uk culture] Bus passengers in Edinburgh and Glasgow pass the time by reading Metro, a free tabloid that litters the seats of the double-deckers hereabouts. By far the best part of Metro is its letters page, a print version of IRC and Usenet, where locals exchange views on such trivia as the breeding habits of neds (lads, yobs, cogs, booners); whether Irn-Bru is the only fizzy drink that can properly be called 'ginger', or whether the term also applies to Coke; and whether Liam Gallagher is a glaikit has-been, or what.

Until recently, my favourite Metro letter was this one, published in February:

After exhaustive research carried out in the workplace and the local hostelry I have discovered I am the only person I know who hates soup. All soup. Am I alone in detesting the vile, illegitimate child of food and drink, that tries to pass itself off as a meal? Surely someone else out there despises this edible work of Satan. Graham Robertson, Uddingston

It sparked a few replies, but none that could match the beauty of the phrase 'edible work of Satan'. But last week it was bettered by one that particularly appeals to my expatriate sensibilities (and even has echoes of a fine weblog):

I dreamt last night that wombats were running wild in the Highlands and I was their leader, Lord Wombat. They would come to me when I played my pipes. G, Glasgow

Any paper that leads off its 'In Brief' column with that is fine by me.


Rumours Exaggerated

[uk culture] As a public-spirited resident of the fine auld toun of Edinburgh, it's my duty to help correct the misimpression held by many potential visitors that the entire Auld Toun burnt down last weekend. Apparently so many tourists are cancelling their plans to visit the city that authorities are considering an emergency advertising campaign to reassure them.

Sad though the fire was, the fact is that it affects the city's residents far more than it will affect tourists. The block involved is not on the Royal Mile—indeed, can only be seen from there if you know exactly where to look—and wasn't home to any museums or other tourist attractions. The businesses most affected were nightclubs, cafes, a theatre venue, a games parlour, an outdoor equipment store, and a department of the University. Edinburgh's club-going population is feeling the blow, and the Fringe has lost a major venue. But visitors who walk the length of the Royal Mile and Princes Street and visit the Castle, Holyrood Palace and National Gallery of Scotland will hardly notice the difference.

So come and visit. It's still a beautiful place.


Friday, 13 December 2002

[art] Strandbeest: wind-powered walking beach sculptures. Marvellous. [Via I Love Everything].



[weblog] I mostly don't bother linking to the usual stuff that's doing the rounds, but the Henry Raddick reviews reduced me to helpless laughter:

Raddick review of The Maltese

Also doing the rounds, for good reason: Tim O'Reilly's Piracy is Progressive Taxation [via VM, discussed at MeFi].


[comics] Pipingrad. Dark. Sick. Hilarious. Go.


Thursday, 12 December 2002

Forgotten, But Not Gone

[madagascar] Reports in the West on political developments in Madagascar dropped off dramatically once Ratsiraka left the country and effectively ceded the presidency to Ravalomanana. There was some coverage of the subsequent increase in government salaries, a measure designed to combat widespread corruption (Madagascar fared badly in a recent ranking of nations perceived as corrupt). The stubborn rejection of Ravalomanana's legitimacy as Madagascar's president by the African Union also got a bit of press. But neither story was reported widely outside the region, and the same seems to be true of this weekend's parliamentary elections, which have the potential to return the country to political stability at last. Ratsiraka's own party has already signed a communiqué recognising Ravalomanana's presidency.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, has called for an investigation into human rights abuses on both sides of the protracted political stalemate of early 2002, while the UN World Food Programme has appealed for international aid to tackle the shortages and hunger that resulted from the crisis. Unhappily, neither of these calls to action stands much chance of being noticed by the Western public, competing as they are with the threat of war in Iraq and famine in Ethiopia.

Note to self: arrange to face starvation in an out-of-the-way country in a slow news year if possible.


Ho-Hum High

[books] Following up my earlier post on Ben Elton, I've now borrowed and read High Society, which is something of a return to form—and something of a disappointment. Too often it descends into preachiness, which is off-putting in any novel no matter how worthy the sermon. The plot, intertwining a politician campaigning for the legalization of drugs, a rock star totally addicted to them, and a 17-year-old junkie trapped by addiction in prostitution and slavery, is up to his usual page-turning standard, but the only truly likeable character is the one in the most awful situation, and the resolution of her storyline is a nice dream but not too convincing. The rest is just depressing. Dead Famous and Blast From the Past were both more enjoyable.


Wednesday, 11 December 2002

That Was The Year That Was

[site news] The end of year has always been best-of-lists time around these parts, where 'always' equals 2000 and 2001. Since skipping a year would require messy surgery on the space-time continuum to remove 2002 from the collective consciousness, it seems a lot easier just to continue the tradition with the latest instalment. Guaranteed to be at least as pointless and arbitrary as whatever your local paper printed last weekend, and a lot less wasteful of trees.


Tuesday, 10 December 2002


[site news] Since switching servers this place has been completely devoid of site stats, which gives a strange feeling of weightlessness: for all I know, the only people reading are the hardy few who leave comments. (For all I know, they're the only people who've ever been reading, and the rest were Nigerians looking for my email address.) Since nobody is watching (apart from you, obviously), I've taken the opportunity to do a bit of work on the site, culling a few of the less-exciting reviews from the rapidly aging Textuary, rolling out a new 404 page, and making a list of things to fix that should keep me going until September 2007. Now whenever I'm feeling that crushing sense of ennui that makes me want to tear the whole thing down, unplug from the Internet, buy an old typewriter and feed in a crisp sheet of A4, grab the sketch book and start drawing, or catch the first train north with a camera strung around my neck, I can just look at the list and remind myself what a vital and exciting medium this is:

Notes to Self

Oh God, the bleakness.*

*James Bachman, 8 October 2002.


DAB Hand

[infotech] Various newspapers noted last week that the BBC is spending 30 million pounds a year on digital radio at a time when only an estimated 70,000 receivers have been sold across the UK. That's over four hundred quid per receiver; more than I've spent on CDs all year. Now that prices have come down (to about £130-150 for the cheaper DAB separates, and £100 for an Evoke portable) the industry expects total sales to reach 300,000 by the end of 2003; but that will still mean that the equivalent of the entire licence fee of those 300,000 owners is being spent on... well, radio. Even at a hundred quid, the receivers aren't exactly cheap; and now, it transpires, the BBC is squeezing so many channels into each digital signal that their overall sound quality is inferior to FM. It's enough to make anyone keep cranking the Freeplay. Or wait until they get a digital TV.


[weblog] I really should read Dean Allen's Textism more regularly. In recent weeks he's discussed the marvels of gzipping and has given the world a very cool Google search-term highlighter script; and while searching for something else entirely I came across this beautiful parody of the warblogger's preferred method of debate. Advantage: Dean!

Also: Stewart has started blogging regularly again, serving up some fascinating links that reflect his current preoccupation.


[net culture] Canberra, Australia: The High Court has ruled that a UK resident is free to sue the Speedysnail website for libel, even though the site is hosted in the Australian Capital Territory. The plaintiff, Mr Rory Ewins, is said to be "delighted". "That site has been making me look bad for years," he said. "The design is too basic, the whole weblog thing is passé, and nobody ever likes the poems. It pretends it's this authoritative guide to what I've been thinking and doing, when in fact it hardly ever says anything about my job, leaves out most of the links that I find, and never even mentions my friends. And then it tells that gossipy Google everything and the whole bloody world knows about it. If they do a search. For my name." Ewins is seeking one billion pounds in damages and some shameless publicity.


Monday, 9 December 2002

Edinburgh Burns

[journal] Most days I get off the bus on George IV Bridge and walk along Chambers Street towards work, either crossing the road at South Bridge and taking an alleyway down to the Cowgate, or cutting down to the Cowgate using a set of stairs next to Adam House. Lately I've been taking the latter route more and more, because the sidewalk past the Gilded Balloon is quieter, and I enjoy the atmospheric medieval surroundings of tenement walls soaring up on either side with the stone arch of South Bridge overhead.

I won't be making that walk for a while. Today Chambers Street, the Cowgate and South Bridge are all closed off, after the worst fire in Edinburgh in living memory. Many of the buildings in that block have been gutted.

They're still there for now, looking much the same from the outside; but structural damage could mean that some of them have to be pulled down, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of Edinburgh's Old Town. Luckily, the fire didn't cross the Cowgate and spread along the Royal Mile, but the effect on the area is serious all the same, with dozens of businesses and hundreds of residents left homeless. Thirty-six hours after the fire started, it still smells of smoke.

A sad day for the city. I only hope that they rebuild as faithfully to the originals as possible.

[Update: the Gilded Balloon at lunchtime today.]


Sunday, 8 December 2002


[site news] It's been a while since there was anything new at Detail... so here's something to rectify that: Sky.


Friday, 6 December 2002

Let the Speedysnail Begin.

[weblog] Random slogans, in order of generation:

Get Busy with the Speedysnail.
The Speedysnail is Mightier than the Sword.
Schhh... You Know Speedysnail.
If Only Everything in Life was as Reliable as a Speedysnail.
Only The Crumbliest Flakiest Speedysnail.
It's a New Speedysnail Every Day.
Can't Do It In Real Life? Do It On Speedysnail.
Sometimes You Feel Like a Speedysnail, Sometimes You Don't.
Speedysnail Really Satisfies.
Is It Live, Or Is It Speedysnail?
You're Never Alone with a Speedysnail.
Speedysnail Keeps Going and Going.
Look, Ma, No Speedysnail!

[via Tense, Nervous, Metafilter?]


[music] MeFi is coming through with the goods today: Show and Tell Music is another glorious album cover site (mp3s, too), packed with classics like Charles Burpo and Mr. Bat. Dangerously addictive.


Thursday, 5 December 2002

The Big Yin

[books] Finished reading Pamela Stephenson's biography of her hairy husband a couple of days ago, which a year after publication is still one of the bestselling books in the land. That's hardly surprising—Billy Connolly is a funny man—but I wonder whether Billy is everything its half a million purchasers hoped it would be.

A book written by his spouse, and an ex-comedian spouse at that, promises a rare insight into the man and his muse—even more so when we learn that nowadays she works as a shrink. But although there's plenty of insight here, and an obvious affection and sympathy for her subject, there's also something missing.

The book is strong on Connolly's Glasgow childhood; it's heartbreaking to read of his abandonment by his mother, abuse by his father, hectoring by his aunts and teachers, and impoverished surroundings. It's also strong on his early working life in the shipyards and the territorial army, where he gained in confidence and independence of spirit. Stephenson's account of these formative experiences certainly benefits from her position as partner of twenty years' standing and as a trained psychologist, even if the occasional slip into shrink-speak does seem out-of-place in a showbiz biography. The prose is too pedestrian in places, but Billy's story is compelling enough to overcome that.

The book is strong enough, too, on the past twenty-odd years, the years when Stephenson has known and lived with Connolly. Since he was already one of Britain's most successful comedians when they met, this is standard career-highlights fare, full of tours, TV work, and movie roles—the work of an assured performer who has grown comfortable with success and come to terms with his demons.

The problem is the decade or so in-between: the late 1960s through 1970s, when Connolly went from banjo-playing with folk bands in small Scottish clubs to selling out nationwide tours as a comedian. The essential outline is there, but what's missing is the how—how did this mad-looking Scot grab Britain by the lapels and shake it up so much with laughter that it couldn't breathe? How did he take off? What was so funny about Billy Connolly?

For a book about a comedian by a comedian, there's surprisingly few laughs in Billy. Hardly any of his actual material is present. When we do read his words, they're earnest early-1980s diary entries about his efforts to kick the booze. Apart from a few passing references to famous Connolly subjects—diced carrots, for example—it's almost impossible to learn from the pages of Billy what his comedy is about. All we learn about is the overall trajectory of his success.

For most readers, I guess, that will be enough. They'll already own his records and videos; they'll already know just how funny he is. Even though I don't own any Connolly product, I too can remember listening to a friend's tape of the 'pink milk' routine again and again on teenage camping trips (which often involved beverages just as bad), and laughing so hard at a routine about incontinence pants on TV one New Year's Eve that I thought I would suffocate.

But it's surely a missed opportunity to have next to none of that in what is, after all, a lasting record of the man. And by not showing us just how funny he is, Stephenson doesn't fully explain how he rose to fame—which is usually the most interesting aspect of any showbiz biography. Yes, he had a terrible childhood, and some of his enormous drive to perform must have been a drive to overcome it—but so did many other people, and they're not famous comedians.

Stephenson's own background and unique relationship with her subject, which elsewhere in the biography are strengths, may here be the problem. She met Connolly on the set of Not the Nine O'Clock News, the series that had turned her, a recent immigrant from Australia, into British television's latest comedy sensation. As one who has herself experienced sudden fame, she may not have felt the urge to explain her husband's own that an 'ordinary' biographer would have. (The constant name-dropping in the latter part of the book suggests that her own sense of the ordinary has been skewed by two decades of success.) And, as one who didn't live in the UK when his rapid rise occurred, she doesn't have personal experience of having watched it happen—of having been part of a national audience whose preconceptions about regional comedians were being so comprehensively overturned by this man. Neither do I—which was why I wanted to read Billy.

It's understandable that a psychologist would focus on her subject's childhood, and that a second wife might not want to dwell for too long on the years when he was married to his first. But the result is that, even though it's readable and entertaining enough, Billy isn't everything it could have been—which you certainly couldn't say about the man himself.


Gonna Live Micro-Forever

[net culture] Tom Coates makes an excellent point about the feedback loop between the Web and magnificent obsessions, pointing out that the emergence of online 'micro-fame' is encouraging some people to go that little bit further than they otherwise might. But I suspect there is a lemma.

[We interrupt this entry to note that our use of this term, which means "a proposition assumed or demonstrated which is subsidiary to some other (math., etc.)" [OED], is the first tangible outcome of a considerable investment of time, anxiety and adrenaline in Calculus and Linear Algebra 1, and barring any future opportunity to mention Laplace, Lagrange or Cauchy may well be the last. Those in a celebratory frame of mind might like to take the rest of the day off.]

...suspect there is a proposition assumed or demonstrated which is subsidiary to this. While the prospect of 'micro-fame' may encourage the shameless in their geek-lust for glory, it could also discourage others who harbour an obsession or two of their own but have no wish to become 'micro-famous' for it, since that would reduce the potential impact of any unspecified future fame-garnering activities. Who would want to be known as "Lord or Lady X, Nobel Laureate, Minister for Science and Development, renowned patron of the arts, and obsessive cataloguer of different kinds of bees"? Indeed, the obsessive may even curtail his or her activity for fear that Google will find out one way or another, and swear never to speak of it again.

Why do I mention this? Oh, no reason. No reason connected to certain collections which one may or may not have locked in a red suitcase in a storage shed on the other side of the world, and might hope to one day house in an attractive glass-fronted cabinet in pride of place in his or her mansion. Ha! Ha! Nobody would be that obsessive.


Wednesday, 4 December 2002

Too Apathetic to Write a Title

[comics] Bob.


Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Must Be Time for a Better Place

[music] Midnight Oil, 1976-2002:

I grew tall in this lucky land
And I thank God for that, but there's needles in the sand
Ozone in the eucalypt and on the Steppes tonight
There's pushing and a shoving on the throne tonight

I don't want to run, I don't want to stay
Cos everything that's near and dear is old and in the way
Emergency has gone, apathy rolling on
Time to take a stand
Redneck wonderland

People, wasting away in paradise
Going backward, once in a while
Moving ahead, falling behind
What do you believe, what do you believe
What do you believe is true
Nothing they say makes a difference this way
Nothing they say will do

Said it's a pity 'bout the middle class Holden mass
We get a bit to play around with doesn't really matter
They kid us with their dole, kid us with the dope
But generally speaking, nobody's got a hope

Hypocrisy helps me helps you
Democracy helps me helps you
Ideology helps me helps you
Put your trust in me I'll help you through

Tucker box is empty now, the heart of Kelly's country cleared
The gangers on the southern line, like the steam trains have disappeared
Pelicans glide, miracles up in the sky
We vote for the government, with axes in his eyes

We carry in our hearts the true country
And that cannot be stolen
We follow in the steps of our ancestry
And that cannot be broken

The rich get richer, the poor get the picture
The bombs never hit you when you're down so low
Some got pollution, some revolution
There must be some solution but I just don't know

It seems to me that what we're saying
Nobody really wants to talk about it
This is no time to be wondering why
I do the best I can do
The human jungle and the global zoo
I'll find my way it's a very special way



It's kind of like eating a small brown crayon every day in December, a practice which I cannot with a clear conscience recommend.

Will Kafkaesque be the next very funny online writer with a German partner to land a book deal?


Monday, 2 December 2002

The Deep Deep Sound

[music] Ill. Aching. Home from work. A rare opportunity to listen to Mike. (Jane isn't a fan. Definitely isn't.)

I haven't listened to my Oldfield albums much in the past few years; his newer releases haven't done a lot for me (the most recent, Tres Lunas, is tres snoozas—though it's meant as the soundtrack to a Myst-like game, so that's some excuse ).

But this afternoon I put on an old favourite and wondered to myself, is there any music anywhere that will ever make me as happy as 'Taurus II'?

Back when I was an impressionable teenager overwriting his cortex with every riff and melody Mike ever wrote, I used to make my friends the following compilation tape, on specially-purchased 'C90+16' cassettes:

Side A:
Platinum Parts 1-4, 19:18
Ommadawn Part 1, 19:17
Ommadawn Part 2, 13:50*
*minus 'On Horseback' to save space

Side B:
Afghan, 2:37 (Discovery-era b-side)
Taurus I, 10:17 (from QE2)
Taurus II, 24:43 (from Five Miles Out)
Taurus III, 2:26 (from Crises)
The Lake, 12:10 (from Discovery)

And y'know—although I'd now have to throw in a C60 of Amarok—it would still serve as a damn fine explanation of why some of us worship the guy. Certainly better than the singles and extracts compilations that Virgin have been churning out for the past ten years. (Note the absence in those titles of the word 'Tubular'.)

But the world continues to think of him, if it does at all, as the bloke who did that seventies prog LP with the twisted bells on it. An impression not helped by the man himself, who has recycled the name again and again (not that those were bad albums per se), and is currently recording a note-for-note remake of the original.


He has a perfect right to record whatever he likes, of course, and I'll continue to prop up his Spanish mansion habit by buying them, but sometimes I wish I could be fifteen again, with Five Miles Out in the immediate past and Amarok in the future.

May you never run aground
Or fall into the deep deep sound
Stormy weather turns to blue
Here's a song to take with you


[uk culture] A bizarre seasonal element of the UK food chain: Walker's Roast Turkey with Paxo Sage and Onion Flavour Crisps. These taste disturbingly like an actual slice of roast turkey, and no wonder: they contain roast turkey.

Such an ignominious end for Ben Franklin's favourite bird: being ground up, boiled down, and sprayed onto thin slices of potato. I don't think I could cope with life knowing that my only value was as a flavouring.

Do followers of the turkey messiah go around with a spud hanging round their necks? 'This was Gobblus... he died on the crisp.'


Sunday, 1 December 2002

MetaFilter Dreaming

[net culture] Another tale of the blue.


<<november 2002 posts

Front · Past · Detail · Found · Rory Central · Textuary · Walking West · Grinding Noises · Cartoon Lounge · The Stand-Up · The Twisted Bell · Pacific Islands Politics
©2002 Rory Ewins · Powered by Movable Type speedysnail