The First of A Possibly Semi-Regular Feature!

True Stories of Music Videos, Part 1!

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Marble Lions

All I Have Is Links

This is the greatest thing ever. I just love that a company exists with no other purpose other than to sell DVDs that are simply fading colours. Of course, I’m going to go one better; I’m currently decided on whether to write a DVD that plays a game of noughts and crosses or one that implements a Turing Machine for my conference appearance in June.

Another UK mp3 blogger is stopped by the BPI/IFPI.

“Military Intelligence? Isn’t that a oxymoron?”

And so the UK Top 40 goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. It’s the end of the world, and all they’re playing is Elvis.

currently playing: Paddy McAloon — I Trawl The Megahertz

This Week In The Factory Catalogue

FAC282

Flowers bought for Horse’s (from the Happy Mondays) wedding.

currently playing: Aimee Mann — Guys Like Me

The Almost Traditional Post-MacWorld Post

Reading Apple rumour sites is a bit like discovering your presents a week before Christmas; it’s rather disappointing to know everything in advance. However, seeing the new products for the first time is almost as exciting.

The iPod Shuffle is what the iPod Mini should have been. Yes, I know it’s very popular, but I still think it’s overpriced compared to equivalent players made by other companies (especially iRiver and Creative), and is an odd fit within the iPod line, considering the 20Gb iPod is only $50 more. The Shuffle, though, is at exactly the right price point: $99/$149. I’m not going to complain about the lack of screen; after all, most Walkmans and portable CD players don’t have one, do they? Plus, the Shuffle has a button that should really be present on all players: a switch on the side that turns random playing on or off, rather than having to navigate a host of menus. Do not eat the IPod Shuffle.

The iLife update is a little disappointing, consisting only of incremental improvements and a $30 increase in price (although I imagine the BitTorrent version will be doing swift trade at the end of the month). Although GarageBand 2 now features autotuning! You can pitch correct your voice - and create a mini Stock, Aitken and Waterman factory!

(hmm, Grange Hill is turning into Hollyoaks Junior. This makes me sad)

But! But! The Mac Mini! Swoon! The cheapest Apple Mac ever! So small you can hold it in your hands! A fully functional Macintosh for under $500! Less than what a Commodore Amiga used to cost! Yes, it doesn’t come with a keyboard, mouse, or monitor. But it’s aimed at PC owners, who would like to switch, but don’t fancy spending out the $1,000 for a complete iMac. They have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor already. Just get rid of the box, and plug in the Mini! drool

Oh, and the New Order album might leak on Friday. Consider this a two-day warning; if what I’ve heard about the record so far is true, I will be gushing uncontrollably…

currently playing: The Chemical Brothers — Out of Control

Odd Moments In TV

Yesterday on Blue Peter (a long-running UK children’s show, in case you didn’t know), they announced a new competition. Children have to send in designs based on the theme of “Best of Britian”, and the winner will have their design placed on the tail fin of a British Airways jetliner. Nothing wrong there. But then the presenters gave some examples of what they thought would be good on the tail fins. The new presenter, who’s from Northern Ireland, cheerfully held up her design.

The Red Hand of Ulster.

Now, the legend of the Red Hand goes back a few hundred years, but there’s no doubt that for the past century, it has been associated with the UDA (Ulster Defence Association), a umbrella group for Loyalist terrorists.

Good choice! I look forward to the “No Surrender” tail fin. For reasons of balance, if nothing else…

currently playing: Nouvelle Vauge — Love Will Tear Us Apart

The Future Was Then

On this day, twenty years ago, the ultimate driving vehcicle was unleashed on an unsuspecting British public. Oh sure, Dean Kamen’s Segway is all very well and good, but we were there first. I give you — the Sinclair C5!

a page from the Sinclair C5 brochure

You have no idea how much a five-year old me wanted one of these. It was like the Space Age had arrived. An electric car! I would soon be taking one to school, and surely jet-packs would not be far behind.

The reality of the C5 was a little more mundane. A top speed of 15mph, a motor with relays that would go open circuit if you pushed it backwards, and so small that a Mini could crush you. I can’t imagine the terror of being stuck behind a lorry. The C5 became a national joke, and lead to the downfall of Sinclair Research (and the poor Spectrum was sold to Amstrad).

But still, there’s something charming about the silly-looking tricycle. And that Sinclair went out of business in a staggering blaze of glory, making sure that they’d never be forgotten in Britain, unlike, say Commodore, whose gradual slip into bankruptcy was just embarrassing. And just once more, for the record: The Spectrum? A heartbreaking work of engineering genius, blessed with the best home computer versions of R-Type and Chase H.Q.. The C64? Well, it makes a good doorstop…

There’s a group of dedicated C5 fans, and obviously, they have a website. One has even modified the design to get a top speed of 70mph. Which is terrifying. But I want to ride in it…

currently playing: Bran Van 3000 — Montréal

EMERGENCY!

I know exactly what you’re thinking.

“Ian! What happened if a group of people suddenly burst in, explained that they were desperate and needed you to fill in an hour of music RIGHT NOW?”

Well. Okay. First, I’d check to see if anybody was hiding in my wardrobe. Having established that I’m not in a bad episode of Frasier, I’d pull out Ian’s Super Dancing Mix That Doesn’t Have Come On Eileen On It For Fear Of People Slapping Him!:

  1. ABC — Show Me
  2. Gwen Stefani — What You Waiting For (Jacques Lu Cont mix)
  3. Section 25 — I Can’t Afford To Let You Go
  4. The Flirtations — Nothing But A Heartache
  5. Annie — Heartbeat
  6. The Go! Team — Bottle Rocket
  7. Foster Sylvers — Misdemeanour
  8. Jackson 5 — I Want You Back (Readymade Mix)
  9. The Art of Noise — Close (To The Edit)
  10. Rachel Stevens — Some Girls
  11. Saint Etienne — The Way I Fell For You
  12. Modern English — I’ll Melt With You
  13. The Distractions — Time Goes By So Slow
  14. Electronic — Getting Away With It

There. Now you know! Sleep well, citizens!

currently playing: Madonna — Rescue Me

Automata and Puppy Dogs' Tails

Jackie LeeThe Town I Live In

Current obsession number one: British girl pop singers of the 1960s. I blame Saint Etienne, of course. Anyway, this is one of my favourites; a stinging indictment against the New Town construction of the 1960s; of houses, and churches, of the final destruction of pre-war Britain and the Empire, and the feeling of being trapped in such a town. As for the song, it sounds exactly like you’d expect a 1960s song to sound - a British version of the Spector wall of sound, with the spectre (ho-ho) of church bells echoing through the chorus. Plus one of the greatest uses of “etc” in history!

there’s several hundred brand new houses
and lots of brand new primary schools
etc, etc, etc,etc
la-la-la-la-la (fade>

You don’t get better social commentary than that, trust me.

The Dresden Dolls — Coin-Operated Boy (video)

Because I’m a sucker for a combination of 1920s cabaret, Victorian automata, white make-up, and stripey suspenders. Oh, and though I keep going on about it to anybody who’ll listen, the bridge part is a lovely metapop sparkle. Go! Watch!

currently playing: Super Furry Animals — Bad Behaviour

Tom DeLay

Biggest unspeakable in America.

currently playing: Hellogoodbye – Dear Jamie…Sincerely Me

Small Victories

One of the most entertaining things about the 2004 US Presidential Election (and no, it wasn’t being in a state of denial about Kerry’s chances of victory — he only lost by 100,000 votes, after all. And given some of the stories coming out of Ohio, it might have been a lot closer than it initially appeared) was Jon Stewart’s appearance on CNN’s Crossfire. I saw it while in Washington D.C. waiting for a plane to Florida; the audio was turned down low, but it seemed very entertaining. A copy of the transcript (plus video links) can be found here. Choice highlights include:

STEWART: I enjoyed his [Al Sharpton] way of speaking. I think, oftentimes, the person that knows they can’t win is allowed to speak the most freely, because, otherwise, shows with titles, such as CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: CROSSFIRE.

STEWART: Or “HARDBALL” or “I’m Going to Kick Your Ass” or…

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Will jump on it.

In many ways, it’s funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: We have noticed.

STEWART: And I wanted to – I felt that that wasn’t fair and I should come here and tell you that I don’t – it’s not so much that it’s bad, as it’s hurting America.

BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is – if the indictment is – and I have seen you say this – that…

STEWART: Yes.

BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.

STEWART: Yes.

BEGALA: Well, it’s because, see, we’re a debate show.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.

BEGALA: It’s like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.

STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.

BEGALA: We’re 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that’s like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.

CARLSON: I do think you’re more fun on your show. Just my opinion.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans…

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: You know what’s interesting, though? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

(if you can, download the video. It’s much funnier when watching Stewart being assailed by Tucker Carlson. And you need to see the bow tie.)

Well, Stewart seems to have been granted his wish: Crossfire is likely to be no more. And, in another example of how The Daily Show’s influence seems to be extending far beyond a channel more often known for puppet making crank calls, the many deaths of a child called Kenny, and reminding people who Rick James is, the chief executive of CNN’s US network had this to say about the decision:

I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp.

A small victory. But anything which reverses the mindless partisan bickery that takes place on most of the US news channels is to be applauded.

Of course, we’re also at the point where US Attorneys General have to be asked whether they support torture or not…

currently playing: The Dresden Dolls — Gravity