Feeling Sorry For…

Shami Chakrabarti. She seems to be on TV almost everyday these days…

currently playing: The National – Fake Empire

C'mon, Wal-Mart, have a heart!

It’s not as if Bloomsbury is going to have a day like Saturday again any time soon, is it?

currently playing: Stars – The Ghost of Genova Heights

HYPER FIGHTING!

I hate Guile.

I never had a SNES back then, but I spent a lot of time at a friend’s who did. He also had a Megadrive, and later on, a PlayStation. So, yes, I was around there quite a bit. Invariably, we’d play Streetfighter II and Streetfighter II: Turbo (remember when console games were £70). I was no good, but I could often drag out a lucky victory or two on some afternoons.

Unless he was playing with Guile. It will surprise almost none of you that my favourite character was Chun-Li. Every time Chris used Guile, I’d walk straight into those stupid Sonic Booms and Somersault Kicks and die horribly. My hundred-foot kicks and Spinning Bird attacks just bounced off.

But! I noticed the other day that Streetfighter II: Turbo was available for the Wii’s Virtual Console. It was time for payback.

I bought the game, started playing against the computer and was quite impressed with how well I was doing. Clearly, I had got better at computer games over the past ten years!

Until I got to Guile.

dead. continue. dead. continue. dead. continue. dead. continue. dead. continue. dead. continue. dead. continue. dead. continue.

I think in the end, I lost ten continues on that before I made a slight change in tactics and simply threw him down over and over again. I had won.

Then I got slaughtered by Ken. But I choose to celebrate the achievement rather than the failure…

currently playing: Young Marble Giants – Wind In The Rigging

The ultimate Hipster T-Shirt

Suggested sequel: “You don’t have it? Well, it is quite rare.”

(One day, the Royal Trux/Chicks sessions will make their way to the Internet…)

currently playing: Miranda July – Lena Beamish

Oh my…

NEEED.

currently playing: Stars – Midnight Coward

Hell, YES!

On September 25th, We will release Stars' fourth studio album, In Our Bedroom After War.

We love it and are excited and proud to be bringing it to the world.

We enlisted Joe Chiccarelli to mix the album. He finished in early June, passing the tapes along to Emily Lazar at the Lodge for mastering. Last Friday, July 6th, a final master was delivered to us.

Traditional music business practice says we are to begin sending out copies of this album now. We give advance copies to print publications in hopes of securing features that coincide with our September date. We meet with radio stations in hopes of securing airplay. etc, etc.

Inevitably someone will leak the album.

Throughout this process, the most important people in this value chain, the fans, are given only two options - wait until September 25th to legally purchase the new album or choose from a variety of sources and download the album for free, at any time.

We hope you'll choose to support the band, and choose to pay for their album. However we don't think it's fair you should have to wait until September 25th to do so.

We believe that the line between the media and the public is now completely grey. What is the difference between a writer for a big glossy music magazine and a student writing about their favourite bands on their blog? What differentiates a commercial radio station from someone adding a song to their lastfm channel? or their myspace page?

As such, we are making the new Stars album available for legal download today, four days after it's completion. The CD and double vinyl versions of the album will still be released on our official release date, September 25th. We hope you will continue to support music retailers should a physical album in all it's packaged glory be your choice of format.

It's our hope that given a clear, legal alternative to downloading music for free, you will choose to support the creators.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Sincerely,

Stars and Arts & Crafts

The album can be downloaded here for the princely sum of £6. And to think I was bemoaning the lack of surprise in the music world at the moment (though, if MIA would like to leak Kala, I’d be very grateful!)!

currently playing: The National – Fake Empire

An Oddity

It is incredibly hard for me to find somebody at Dell who’s interested in taking over £10,000 in exchange for computers. You would think that’d be quite easy, wouldn’t you?

currently playing: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – What Have We Started?

Well, ONE person will get it…

bjorn.jpg

currently playing: New Young Pony Club – Jerk Me

Oh, Canada!

Sometimes, you simply get the feeling that your life needs more adventure. At four in the morning, however, ADVENTURE! is the last thing that crosses your mind, far behind “Oh my goodness, what sort of time is this?”

Still, I remained true to the spirit of ADVENTURE! and hopped on a bus to Heathrow for my first-ever flight on Air Canada. How I marvelled at the Space Age check-in system that meant I didn’t have to speak to another human being and made the standard security questions even more pointless (“Press Here if you’ve let a scary terrorist pack your suitcase for you”). Marvelled, then frowned, as it took me five minutes to work out how it scanned my passport (it needed to be upside-down, though I didn’t see this anywhere on the machine, so I ended up looking a touch silly).

There’s something inescapably British about how Heathrow dumps you right in the middle of the huge duty-free section as soon as you clear Security Control. Even when you’re leaving, you should be a good little consumer. I’ll have to get used to it, I suppose, as the RDU/LGW flight to Chapel Hill is moving to Heathrow next year.

Incidentally: Surely, somebody at the publishers should have noticed that, well, the title has already been used? And that this book sounds suspiciously similar (it even appears to have Jordan Catalano in an updated guise!)?

Anyway, Air Canada. Everything is bilingual! Which doesn’t quite make up for the lack of LCD screens in the backs of chairs; not that either of the films they were showing were all that interesting. Instead, I watched SiCKO and Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain. Hurrah for the iPod Video. While everybody else was watching Hugh Grant, I was knee-deep in HMOs, North Sea oil, striking miners, and the three-day week. Not exactly holiday viewing, I’ll grant.

Some seven hours later, and Toronto Airport. Which is, in contrast to Heathrow’s shabbiness, is an airy beauty of metal and glass. Light streams in from outside, everything is typeset in the rather lovely Interstate font, and it’s full of helpful Canadians to point out that I was going the wrong way. Unlike Heathrow, it also seems to have restaurants that you’d actually like to eat in, which was a bonus on the way back…

Mind you, I wasn’t in the airport for long; soon I was on another, much smaller plane to Thunder Bay. I had the luck to be sitting next to an ex-pat Briton who had left the UK in 1979. IT was one of those conversations that started out well, but I soon fell into the trap of “What do you think of your new Prime Minister, then?” That and the country went to pot when we got rid of grammar schools. I was, perhaps shamefully, far too tired to put up much a fight about the differences between the tripartite and comprehensive systems of education, so I just nodded and moved on to a different subject. It seemed the best way of resolving the situation.

And then! Thunder Bay. It’s a little remote, and not quite what I’m used to in comparison to Chapel Hill, but still, an interesting place. It took me a while to get over the odd culture shock; it’s not America, and it’s not the UK, but a strange mixture of both. You can buy Crunchies and Hersheys at the same supermarket. A touch bizarre.

Yes, I did walk over these bridges. No, I’m not doing it again.

currently playing: Manic Street Preachers – Your Love Alone Is Not Enough

Back Once Again

More soon, I expect!

currently playing: The New Pornographers – Challengers