An open letter to the imaginary kebab shop owner in my dream last night

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Dear imaginary kebab shop owner in my dream last night,
I apologise for attempting to order a large lamb doner from you by referring to it by the hitherto unknown slang term, “cock”. I could tell immediately that you were offended and had possibly misunderstood me. In this alternate reality I truly believed that it was common to call large lamb doner kebabs “cocks” but, even if I hadn’t been misled, my usage of it was overly familiar and gratuitously vulgar. I am sincerely sorry.
Thank you for not throwing me out of your shop or spitting in the garlic sauce.
Yours etc.

So Close, Yet So Far

Thursday 12 March 2009

I swore off making fun of newspaper columnists a long time ago, but this one’s too good to let pass by. Sue Sharp, head of Guide Dogs Public Policy and Campaigns, has an opinion piece in The Guardian decrying proposed changes to London’s pedestrian crossings (I’ve added my own emphasis):
… plans to introduce “speedy street crossings” in London to free up traffic will seriously undermine the mobility of blind and partially sighted pedestrians in London.
Under these proposals, the amount of crossing time for pedestrians will be cut by up to six seconds, and there will be a reduced number of green man phases. As pedestrians walk at an average speed of 1.2m per second, such a reduction in crossing time could potentially leave them 7.2m short of the kerb when the light goes green to traffic, and more if they have a slower walking pace than the average.
If the metrics confuse you, here are some people under two metres tall walking at an average pace on a typical London street crossing:

Good with Computers

Sunday 22 February 2009

So today I hacked together a crude many-to-many relational database in Microsoft Access. Yes, I’ve been normalising data to reduce inconsistent dependencies. Blech. I shuddered just typing that out.
It doesn’t help that ‘normalisation’ means something completely different in the sound editing software I’ve been using for years, thus turning every piece of helpful database advice on the web into gibberish. Speaking of music software, I also spent many hours this weekend trying to figure out why some of my software was serenely ignoring every piece of MIDI data I sent to it, in a vain effort to control it.
Tonight I finally figured it out. I forgot I’ve got a new computer, and hadn’t installed the little widget that makes all the music programs talk to each other. Durhey. I was about to speculate how this kind of thing is more likely these days, with so much technical stuff being handled invisibly in the background by computers, but then I realised that I’m equally capable of overlooking that the real reason a piece of equipment is unresponsive is because it is not plugged in.

My band has said my songs have been a little stale lately.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

The Cure For Headaches (Microsoft Songsmith Default Mix) (3’25”, 5.22 MB, mp3).
Like Dick Without A Hole, The Cure For Headaches was made at about the same time, and adopts the same types of source material: 1980s Adelaide talk radio and beloved TV stars.
In this piece, an intruder has disrupted the cosy little world of Adelaide chit-chat. The traditional Sunday night religious program was always a slightly tense affair, with a scarcity of earnest callers and, thanks to a reliance on importing extra content from wherever they could find it, the chance for lunacy to spring up either side of the microphone.
Much of the imported material came from the USA (of course), in the forms of both pre-recorded material and real-life talking from evangelists who had been flown in, usually by the Paradise Assembly of God (Paradise being the name of the suburb in north-east Adelaide). The regular host, a soft-spoken pastor in one of the more wishy-washy Protestant sects which thrived in that city, never seemed fully at ease with the fire-and-brimstone Yanks who confronted him from across the studio console.
The Cure For Headaches originally set an edited speech by one of these Americans to a slightly bemused host, against a backdrop sampled from a record sung by sometime Adelaide media titan Ernie Sigley. The juxtaposition of the two had always seemed a little arbitrary, so recently I began to think of possible ways to re-set the speech, without success… until Microsoft released Songsmith.

Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

The full glory of Songsmith can be appreciated in this promotional video, made by Microsoft.

It was quickly discovered that Sonsgmith has the power to add new, improved accompaniments to pre-existing songs too. This seemed like the ideal software to try out on my evangelical friend. Unfortunately, Songsmith doesn’t have a randomise function, but it does load up a different default genre every time the program starts, so deciding on the new music for the piece was a breeze. I think it’s worked, don’t you?

Howdy Ho!

Monday 12 January 2009

I’m back. Sorry I haven’t updated the blog much lately but I’ve been busy what with finally getting to see the Rothko show at the Tate and gathering gossip about the impending Stockhausen gig at the Barbican, as well as preparing some new music webpages and oh who am I kidding I’ve been watching darts all weekend.
This year’s champion is the splendidly-named Ted Hankey, who made a comeback after losing it at the oche last year when Aussie Simon Whitlock’s weapons-grade mullet mesmerised him into punching the dartboard. Ted attributes his renewed success to a rigorous training regime of cutting down from ten pints before a match to three. I’m not making any of this up. Looking at his photo, it’s scary to think he’s only a year older than I am.

World Class Anxiety Redux

Tuesday 6 January 2009

It’s not normal for a nation’s press to care about a cricket series on the other side of the world that doesn’t involve said nation. Unless I checked the fine print in the sports sections of the papers, the British media would offer me no clue as to the Australian test team’s performance – which is perfectly natural. However, in the past few weeks the BBC’s sports reports have become increasingly concerned with the current series of Australia versus South Africa. British newspaper columnists are quietly excited at the prospect of Australia losing the third test and no longer being the number one cricketing nation in the world.
The fact that the England team are ranked at number five and had no part to play in their former colony’s potential downfall is irrelevant: just the fact that someone has beaten them is a source of vicarious satisfaction. It’s like the instinctive barracking by a neutral country for whoever is playing against the USA at the Olympics, writ large.

(Crossposted at Sarsaparilla.)

The mummified corpse of Jeremy Bentham reads inter-office emails.

Saturday 29 November 2008

I see you smoking a cigar with yr feet up on the desk, taking potshots at birdies out the windows.  Can you dig it?

Filler By Proxy LXV: Pianomania! (Get a handle,.nous,Charlie, chanterons sans l’été chaud)

Thursday 23 October 2008

Are you crazy about pianos? If you aren’t crazy about pianos, are you crazy about classic cars? You should meet raymanboy: he sells pianos and the occasional car on eBay, and he certainly seems pretty crazy.
Firstly, his listed prices for items change at random intervals, either up or down, by as much as £10,000. Then there’s his notoriety amongst piano and car afficionados. The listings themselves are typically illustrated with multiple photographs of what is presumably the object for sale rotated at various angles, inexplicably collaged in with pictures of airplanes, drawings of Mata Hari, and blurry photographs taken of a TV showing wedding videos and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The real giveaway, however, are his product descriptions. If you hurry, you can still make an offer for his VIDO. RED ROSENDORFER WHITE BARON RICHTOFEN GRAND PIANO. If you’re not a musician, don’t worry: that description doesn’t make sense to anyone, except maybe raymanboy himself.
Perhaps the detailed description will clarify things:
The offers can be discussed before you place them – there is no reserve – treat the £20,000 as a joke if it bothers you – I do, two failed marriages one near miss and a funeral and if I ever catch up with him I won’t marry him for a third time the funeral was the Steinway the Serenade in G on the guitar – it only explains the giref glue and research that went into it although but for posterity and your future offspring like my cat it won’t bother either one of you..
£20,000 The doll was a temptation but you knew the true American would always wait for the end of the pier show or lose the chance.
And it goes on, for another 8,000 words of quotations, word association football and meandering streams of semi-consciousness, all in a variety of fonts that arbitrarily change colour, size, and style. He obviously puts a lot of effort into these things; this particular item has been revised 13 times in six days. Towards the end he sounds like the love-child of Gertrude Stein and Christopher Knowles:

Otherwise strutted like the wings of an aeroplane that all rhymes curiosly previous reaons fly out and away and sound and symphony be one together. Hers or his more is more the confusion. This may grow like the piano into a form of anything born of a love and any construction. The greatest of these I find hard to contain; that which on pne hand you at the time deny or hide and detain by “etiquette” for those around. That it may be by this piano you may have experience. A future I only dream but do not have. The premise as heavenly I knew from just one meeting. And in another place than this piano that was the same to those sounds and attitudes which she displayed upon that. Attitude as it changed in one meeting is like a Flying Circus by force of surprise. That to have been at that greater stage of life wherefore I would wish to be again – as one viewer stated to experience beneath the mountain to stand with her alone. It is now as if I I have recoil I was as if I am still there. And there you to find I know to look upon this piano his and hers be there and their kingdon shine. Most time for the buyers of commodity there are two accounts for one crash. His account the real angel of whom we speak you are told is “The Red Baron” was not but he was bar-ren.

Et cetera. They seem to always end up being about the Red Baron. It’s a mystery that he manages to sell anything, let alone have a high customer rating.

A Southeastern Trains Employee Offers Travel Advice To A Lost Tourist, Which May Have More General Applications In Life.

Monday 22 September 2008

“It doesn’t matter where you are now, that’s not important. Where do you have to get to?”

The mummified corpse of Jeremy Bentham reads inter-office emails.

Thursday 18 September 2008

It's not a rhyme, it's assonance! That's the resonance made when I BLOW UP YOUR ASS!!!! HEE! HAW! BOOM!

*Knock, knock!* “Anyone in there?”

Friday 5 September 2008

No mate, the toilet cubicle locked itself. Christ, where do these morons come from?

The mummified corpse of Jeremy Bentham reads inter-office emails.

Friday 15 August 2008

Kyrgyzstan has the world's largest natural growth walnut forest.

Now, more than ever

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Great crowds at the Olympic games, but not of people.

Diogenes, 4th Century BC.
Nearly four years old, and the fifth post on this blog. (If you’re reading the comments don’t get too excited. Plans to make Under Siege 3: Plane Danger fell through some time last year.)

In case you’re worried, he’s saying “Tea Tree Plaza”.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Things are going to be quiet around here for a week or so. In the meantime I’ve opened space for advertising, so please enjoy this infomercial from the blog’s new sponsor.
If you’re in Adelaide I heartily endorse the services of Joseph’s Beauty Centre, although I think they now only have the one branch on North Terrace.

The mummified corpse of Jeremy Bentham reads inter-office emails.

Thursday 7 August 2008

I do have a halogen bulb in my pocket.