Medium Atomic Waits are Available

There's a strange feeling of dragging anticipation that sets in when you've prepared intensively for something for weeks, and now you're completely ready, it's days or hours away.

I've practiced my 6 song set until I could cheerfully throttle it, arranged recording, asked everyone I can think of to come and watch me perform it...and now there's two whole days of no more preparation to be made.

Not that there isn't plenty to do. The software for writers has arrived - Write Ambition, possibly by a company called Mindscape who don't mention it in their website, and seemingly sponsored by Writer's Forum, which looks like a useful site but also doesn't mention it. I'll have to spend time looking into that, and there's similar software to look at too.
I bought the Sapphire and Steel DVDs for UKP14.49 (all inclusive), from a company who sent me dire warnings of how they could so easily miss my paypal transfer to them if I didn't use their own special transfer system on their site.

Of course, they told me this an hour after I'd paid using the standard Ebay forms. And following their "easy to use" extra-security extra-peace-of-mind payment confirmation form...duplicated the payment. Huh. To their credit (or rather debit), they reimbursed me the duplicate in minutes of my slighly sarcastic email - which restored my confidence, but left me wondering what kind of seller moves money around at 0430. Apart from me, obviously.
Looking ahead slightly, the (hopefully) entire Portsmouth cast and the (hopefully) entire London cast are meeting (hopefully) on the weekend of the 17th, for rehearsals and something called "workshopping" - which I think means "Rehearsals".

So that's the other thing to do. When not pigging out on Joanna Lumley and David Macullum, internalise my lines. I've got 15 minutes of recorded dialogue (including my cues) ready to loop round and round on my mp3 player until I can recite it in my sleep.

Self Portrait

This is what the HTML structure my blog looks like, according to this rather nice java applet:

Blue: links (the A tag)
Red: tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
Green: DIV tag
Violet: images (the IMG tag)
Yellow: forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
Orange: linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
Black: HTML tag, the root node
Gray: all other tags

It doesn't produce the same image every time. Here's some variations:

I'm rather tempted to buy some DVDs of Sapphire and Steel on Ebay. It fascinated and terrified me by turns when I was 9, and seems to be now generally regarded as one of those before-it's-time seminal works that both anticipated and influenced modern sci-fi - not least the new Dr Who.

I'm sticking some of my own stuff on Ebay too. My Jam DVD, a load of almost-mint-condition Asterix and Tintin comics, and an external soundblaster card for laptops. Other apparantly 'White Elephant' items like the digital dictaphone and the miniature MIDI keyboard have come in useful at odd moments, so I'll hang onto them for the moment.

UPDATE: This is me, making a sales pitch.
CW says he'd be delighted to see me sing. Well, what he actually texted was "would love to come and hear you can dedicate a tune to me. or give me a blowy. i'm fairly free and easy either way."

Does this mean I've got a groupie?

Something More than Nothing

I've been looking at ways to record the gig on Friday. I have an old 4-track cassette machine that's smaller than a sheet of A4 and easily portable, but double-speed cassette sound quality isn't great.

There are small minidisc recorders available, but they all seem to have single minijack stereo mic sockets. Duel mono jack or for preference XLR (perhaps even with phantom power) would be a lot better, so I can plug in multiple and decent microphones.

There's the digital 8-track, which is portable in the sense that it can be carried, but not portable in the sense that it can be carried in a pocket.

There's even a reel-to-reel tape system that's probably older than I am, has all the sockets you could wish for, gives very good sound reproduction, was built like a battleship and is only marginally more portable.

Sion R finally called back, to say I'm probably on second-to-last at around 11pm, and we can work out recording procedures with his PA at 6pm before the bands arrive. Which is good, but will make for a rather long evening.

Oh, and Strict Machines are asking for 50 additional copies of the demo CD by Friday to give out at their concerts, on the grounds that that's how The Arctic Monkeys built up a fanbase. I've ordered 200 cheap unbranded CDRs and wallets (coming to UKP40.48), and they'll reimburse me with a crisp tenner and large amounts of spicy east european food.
One of the songs I haven't posted. So here goes:

Nothing Less Than Everything

Verse 1
Make a circle in wet sand
Trace it over with your hand
Are there one or two?
Say your name a hundred times
Then once more and you will find
Only sound remains

Chorus 1
Your life is not a waking dream
Your soul is made of flesh and bone
Your eyes reach out and touch the world
See you're not alone

Verse 2
Choose one door, choose one of three
Million dollars in your reach
Should you change your mind?
One was saved and one was damned
Faith is not to understand
Why do you believe?

Chorus 2
Your time is not a pointless joke
Your soul is made of hair and skin
Your hands reach out and grasp the world
Hope for truth within

Chourus 3
Nothing less than everything
Nothing more than you can hold
Nothing matters anymore
When you're bought and sold

Food and Fear

Lunch with Stephen. He's just as small, delicate, blond, cherubic, ditzy and innocent looking as ever. And just as dark, brooding, uncertain, smart and complex underneath.

He's taken to writing psychological horror stories, and has quite a collection of deeply eccentric independant films to introduce me to. In return, I have The Prisoner, Green Wing, Nathan Barley and who know's what else that might appeal to his twisted harlequin taste.
Dinner with Simon, accompanied by a new Dr Who episode that would have scared me witless as a child, and six hours worth of Sherlock Holmes mysteries accompanied by ice cream and biscuits.

At 0315, having consumed 25,000+ calories between us, I knew all about The Redheaded League, and he realised we'd just spent 7 hours stuffing ourselves in front of the television.
There is a downside to learning lyrics by listening to songs several times in a row each day. I am at present rather sick of the songs I'm singing next friday.

Oi! Galloway! No!

Friday night (Saturday morning till 0600) spent learning about the rules of poker from John M, and arguing about the relavent probabilities.

Saturday afternoon spent researching with a clearer head makes me feel slightly vidicated in my insistance that kickers are an integral part of pairs, because kickers are vital to ranking hands. Though we were both wrong about the number of unique hands (2.5 million) and the number of ranks (7.4 thousand).

(If that paragraph meant nothing to you...well, most of this section won't either.)

My statistical maths has always been a bit shaky, but some back-of-an-envelope calculations give reasonable-looking rules-of-thumb like these:

* If a player has 4-to-a-straight, there is a 1-in-6 chance that the next card will complete the straight, and a 1-in-3 chance that one of the next two cards will.

* If a player has no-pair, there is a 1-in-3 chance that the next card will make a pair, and a 2-in-3 chance that one of the next two cards will.

* If a player has no-pair, there is a 1-in-10 chance of the next two cards making 3-of-a-kind.

Though I'm quite prepared to be proven completely wrong through some oversight. And I haven't even started to think about the probabilities involved in betting strategy.
Stephen P had an even longer night, hacking computer games to find cheat codes - somehow both more tedious and more challenging than the games themselves. I was never much of a hacker - changing the college's email software to send messages anonymously doesn't really count.

Anyway, the upshot is: He's shattered today, and I'm shattered today, so we're meeting tomorrow.
George Galloway has declared that it would be morally right to assassinate Tony Blair. Great stupid twat.

He's quite right of course, but you're not supposed to say it! The man really is amazingly inept in his tactics. Jesus.
Then in the evening I get a text message from Anna of Strict Machines saying, in effect "We've booked a last minute gig tonight, please please please come and see us and be the fanbase".

The event was in Portsmouth's combined nightclub, lounge bar and swimming pool - a big glass pyramid called...The Pyramids. It happens to be on the seashore, right next to the castle and lighthouse used by men after midnight other men.

The event was "Nokia Rock Up And Play" - 14 bands each playing 10 minute sets in the nightclub section, competing for a place in the Isle of Wight music festival.

As I arrived there was a band playing who looked a teen version of The Worzels performing a grunge that may actually have been sophisticated blues rock a la the great Beau Diddley , but became a soup of guitar rumble thanks to the dreadful accoustics of the hall.

They were followed by a fivepiece introduced by the compare as "Woa blurah guh Portsmouth, Mwugah Fleurer!", again thanks to the accoustics and lousy amp system. Mwugah Fleurer really wanted to be Pulp - anorexic boys in cheesy menswear pastiching Modern Life is Rubbish.

Then another five boys with an incomprehensibly amplified name. These must have been big fans of The Ramones - they pumped out energetic angry american-style 70s punk, and very good it was too. They even had the Ramones dance right - spasming like malfunctioning puppets.

I actually understood the name of the next band, because it was Strict Machines. Portsmouth's only flamenco skatepunk goth band, and I think the only woman on stage the entire night. They were tierd and underrehearsed, having only heard about and entered the competition that day, but the crowd were appreciative.

Two solo acts in a row. First a man with an acoustic guitar and a Bob Dylan complex, down to the hat and jacket. His song was politically engaged, intelligent, and the only one where I could make out the lyrics. But it was just so passe, and preachy.

Then an amazingly cute blond young man with another acoustic guitar, I can't remember anything else about what he did. But he was very cute.

The winners were a band who may have been called "Frik" - Motorhead via Nirvana. Heavy rock with quiet strummy inteludes punctuating the RAAWWK!. Completely brainless and completely engaging.

Afterwards I spoke with Anna's boyfriend, James. I'm going to lend him my portable digital 8-track, to see if he can put it to better use than me. If he can, he can borrow it until I need it. If not, one or another of us will flog it off and I get some cash in my paypal account.

I'll try to record the gig on the 2nd with it. Fingers crossed.

Recite After Me

Backing CD all done. 18 minutes exactly and 6 tracks, 2 of which I'm still a bit uncertain on the lyrics.
I'm recording my various cues, lines and speeches from The Investigation so I can listen to them as mp3s while my ears and brain aren't otherwise engaged - walking to and from engagements, or just insomniac in bed.

I'm sure there are professional actors who would throw up their hands in horror at this kind of block-learning, because if you're not careful you can wind up mimicing the pitch, rhythm, intonation and pace of the recordings, instead of just memorising the words.

Reciting block-learned speech is a little like reciting the lyrics to a familliar song without singing - or slipping into the prosodics of the singer.

And speaking of which, it's also the way I'm getting the uncertain lyrics firmly inside my head.
I logged onto Yahoo Messenger for the first time in months, and who should be there but Stephen P. He's the animation student who helped me out with the computer graphics for my MA project, a fellow fan of Samuel Beckett and all manner of headfuckery, and the one who said he'd get in contact about me providing the music for his final year project.

Well, the reason I didn't hear from him is that he's dropped out of university - something I've done several times myself - and has got into fighting fantasy roleplaying and creative writing. He's also interested in the gig, and has asked to meet up for a chinese meal and a chinwag on Friday. Sounds good to me.

Applause of the Roses

The first rehearsal went okay - that's 'okay' in the sense of 'I really have no idea what kind of person my character is, but I think I can get the voice right'.

Two more incentives to get it right - Stephen and Hillary Rose, two of my favourite scientists and popularisers of science, will be in the already august audiance.

The BNP are trying to intimidate us into dropping the play. At least I assume a few dozen identical one line emails from "BNP Militia - IT Division" is meant to constitute intimidation on their part.
Nothing Less Than Everything was surprisingly quick to put together - it's really just modulated bass drone, slow hiphop beat, and synthesised overdriven guitar stabs. This time I was lazy enough to use a frequency modulated buzz fed through Reason's overdrive unit, instead of the physically modelled guitar fed through the physically modelled distortion pedal and amp.

The embarrassingly large number of Blake's 7 samples are gone too - replaced by, er, slightly less embarrassing Jason King samples.

And I'm still only up to 15 minutes, so I may squeeze in another one.
I have a new mp3 player. Yes, I know, another one. Because yes, I know, I lost the other two. Double the capacity (2GB), half the size (about the length of my little fiinger) and the same price (UKP40) as the previous one. All quite impressive.

Except for the perennial problems of miniaturisation - the lid to the battery port was physically impossible to open with fingers or fingernails, so I wound up breaking it open with a miniature screwdriver. And the controls would suit baby fingers.

Oh, but I've had the most staggering idea about how not to lose this one. They've all had metal hoops for attatchment to a keyring - maybe I should...put it on my keyring?

Hey Kids, Just Say No

Three mixdowns complete of backing tracks for the gig, one almost done, I haven't even started composing yet.

Featuring samples from Jason King, House MD, a biopic of Kenneth Tynan and a government information film from the 30s on the dangers of marijuana. Apparantly in weeks it destroys the body, corrupts the morals, and leads to death.

I'm still trying to find a way to record the gig. I don't have any equipment that is both portable and gives decent sound quality. Organiser and soundman Sion R has lots of suitable black boxes, but isn't easy to contact.
I tried to compose an email to H, but suddenly realised there's nothing I want to say to him. I'm still making music, which he never found terribly interesting, though he was a great music lover. I'm still involved in politics, which he tolerated as an eccentricity, though he was once in the green movement. I'm in a stage play, which wouldn't be his scene, though he was a theatre goer.

Our friendship, veering as it sometimes did towards a relationship neither of us could handle, was based on a shared lonliness, and a lot of good natured arguments about science. And that way of relating to someone can't be done if you're not in the same room.
People who have stumbled upon my blog recently:

Aziz works for Oxfam and has a new camera.

Jac also has a camera, and a sense of spirituality.

Poems in Italian about paintings.

American political commentary, not so much from the left or right, but from "a pox on both their houses".

A boy looking for girls in Japan.

I can read just enough Portugese to know this is thoughful blog about the nurture/nature debate. But I can't read enough to know what he's saying about it.

A sleepy town in Kansas.

An Australian poet. Example haiku:

Itching nose demands
scratching with the proper hand.
Nothing satisfies.

Graphic design, in French from Switzerland.

It's a Plot, I Tell You!

From the way it's spent most of the last two days raining, and the wind, and the cold, I'd say the British summer is over. So no more pretentious people having an excuse to wear cool sunglasses, no more students in shorts to perve over, and once again this town can stop pretending to be a holiday resort.

Back to having the electric blanket plugged in, father moaning about how having the gas fire on costs him a fortune, and the big warm leather jacket that makes me look like those 'heavy' men from those beer adverts.
It must be fate. Without knowing that yesterday I started to write a short story, today Mother impulsively buys me software for aspiring authors. It's called 'Write Ambition' and I can't find a webpage for it but it should be arriving in the post soon.

It's a way to organise plot notes, character sketches, chapters and everything the author usually keeps written on the backs of envelopes.
There's two weeks till the LMHR gig, and 2 of the 5 backing tracks (or karaoke tracks, if you prefer) are just about done - Fear is Free and Friend.

A few weeks ago I put all the Reason RNS and Audition SES and WAV files I could find onto a DVD, so I could find all my studio files in one place. Secure in the knowledge that I could delete the original files, I then promptly lost the disc, so I'm recreating past work from memory, from scratch.

Here I am on the publicity poster. Bottom of the bill. Huh.


The play seems to be taking off. We have an intensive schedule of rehearsals, our own professional set designer working for nothing because he likes our politics, and a producer who happens to live with the Guardian's theatre critic. Oh, and the English National Opera have given us full access to their warehouse of scenery.

We have the Arcola theatre all to ourselves from Monday June 26th for three days of site rehearsals followed by two actual performances. Lodging and food are arranged and paid for the week, so there'll be no performing with backache from sleeping on floorboards with 12 others.

For the first time, I'm optimistic. There seem to be a lot of big hearted people in showbiz who actually want to see an amateur group with something to say do well.

Now we've just got to learn the lines. Drat, I knew we'd forgotten something.
Today's visit to the jobcentre was less pointless than usual, because on the way home I came up with most of a short story. Here's the first draft of the first few paragraphs:

"Britain's largest nuclear reactor", the newspapers proudly called it. Although it was in the Republic of Ireland and there were two larger.

Commissioned in 2010, the Darkhill plant had promised local jobs for all and limitless cheap energy. Finished five years late and three times overbudget, most of the staff had been flown in from England, and electricity prices were still rising because the plant was still only working to half capacity.

The government minister who'd championed the plant was in jail for murdering his secretary, the third manager in four years had just been installed, and the press was full of stories about rising cancer rates in nearby villages. And there was a bomb in reactor 4.

It was quite a large bomb, and no one was sure how it got there. But it was definitely a bomb.

In his day, Seamus Hackett had been a world class expert in bomb disposal. He'd known every device and every trick in the book - except he never got around to writing it. He knew every fanatical group of a dozen teenagers led by every unhinged guru with a grudge against every government.

He'd located and defused hundreds of explosive devices, from Harrod's shopping bags of dynamite wired to an alarm clock, to unexploded mines leftover from forgotten wars, to the occasional computerised doomsday gizmo straight out of James Bond. In his day.

That had been 30 years ago, before a series of 'disagreements' with his superiors in the army, six months AWOL with a texan girl, more disagreements and an early retirement 'on grounds of ill health' to state secret memories and 80% proof forgetting.

At 72, he didn't expect to be bundled out of bed by polite but insistant men in dark suits at five in the morning, and driven to Darkhill in military silence. It was obvious his escorts had no idea who he was or why he was needed - but it was also obvious they didn't want him to know that. So he settled in for the ride and felt nostalgic for the old days.

Now he was sitting in an overlit waiting room at 8AM, nursing a hangover and four alka-seltzers, studying photographs of the bomb, floorplans of the power plant, and copies of all threatening letters recived by the company for the last decade.

Cracking, or cack?

Let's Do the Show Right

Three songs almost at the mastering stage, another three with vocals recorded but not processed, and one still unrecorded.

I'm still unhappy about my singing. My vocals are no worse than those of Human League or New Order before the mid-80s - before high quality compression and pitch correction. A lot of the great classics of synthpop have vocals that are extremely rough by today's standards. But that's not a great comfort.
Today (Thursday) there is the first rehearsal of The Investigation. On the one hand, the final script edit has yet to be made, half the cast live in London and we need twice as many weeks as we have to rehearse adaquetely.

On the other hand, some rather impressive people have booked tickets to see us perform on the 29th of June - Tony Benn, John Pilger, Ken Loach and Michael Rosen will be in the audiance. Which is, I supposed an incentive to get it right.

Oh Super, Man

A voice training program for pop singers - it shouldn't be too difficult. Pop songs tend to be pentatonic and narrow in tonal range. The singer doesn't need perfect chromatic pitch recognition - they just need to know how to hit a small set of notes in relation to the tonic.

Given a key, mode and home octave - say A Major with A1 as home note for a baritone - the notes the singer is likely to need are easily calculated. It will vary, but I think these would be adaquate:

D1 (fifth below)
E1 (fourth below)
F#1 (3rd below)
G#1 (2nd below)
A1 (1st - home)
C#2 (third above)
D3 (fourth above)
E2 (fifth above)
A2 (octave above)

Others (like 7th above) can of course be added if needed. My point though is that it shouldn't be difficult to write a program which, given key, mode and home, generates the relavent tones - in patterns of the most common interval progressions - for the singer to harmonise with into a connected microphone. And simultainiously gives a visual indicator of how many tones and cents the singer is out from the target.

The singer learns how to hit the notes they actually need, and how to make the transitions between them.

Can I find a program to do this? No I can't. So I'm stuck with harmonising to drones programmed into Reason, trying to get the descending fourths right.
I've got to find some more pictures for Simon. Chisled, toned, healthy hunks who look like they got that way by excercise and clean living, instead of the pills he's selling. Not quite like these:

Huh Huh Huh Huh Huh Huh Huh Oh Superman...

If I could turn back time...

Two little boys with two little toys...

These pictures are from Superdickery.Com - a wonderful collection of the nonsensical, the bizarre and the inadvertantly suggestive from superhero comics produced in a more innocent age.

Not that comics were a purely innocent pleasure to my 8 year old self. I know that I wanted to be Professor X (or sometimes Doctor Doom), but I felt...something different and undefined but somehow warm about Spiderman.

Exactly how I could find Captain Britain sexy - in spite of his essential naffness - but feel nothing about Superman, I'm not sure. But there's men out there who had protosexual stirrings for Melody from Stingray and Scott from Thunderbirds, so I know I'm not alone.

Kapitano Answers Your Questions

A bit more recording today, as usual hampered by obstreperous technology and tight timetables. But I got three usable vocal takes for one song - after two whole-song key changes to fit my current range.

That makes five songs recorded to edit and mix, plus maybe another two that I'd like to record. This was meant to be a four song EP, but...well, there's two kinds of project - those that get more grandiose the longer you stay with them, and those whose ambition decreases inversely with time.

Oh, three kinds - there's also undertakings whose aims change all the time. They can achieve lots but only incidentally to failing to reach the stated goal. Most research and experimentation is like that.
Jon S sent me an email asking:
I was asked a question the other day and could not find an answer.
"had the nazis not based their ideology on racism, would they have still been evil"

I'm not an expert on nazis or evil, but I know a bit about ideology and racism, so I threw together an essay in response. Here it is:

I'm not sure the nazis did base their ideology on racism. But it depends exactly what you mean by 'racism'.

The original racism was a justification for slavery, and is the only case I can call to mind of a new prejudice artificially created from scratch to serve a specific economic and political purpose. Of course, once it had been created, it could develop a life of it's own, mutating and generating offshoot species - different kinds of racism which resembled but weren't identical to the parent.

Some of these offshoots were themselves artificially generated through mass media propaganda, by simultainiously stoking up and modifying forms of racism that had been 'slumbering' for years. The current racism against asylum seekers is a good example of this.

The original racism focused on skin colour as an supposed indicator of various kind of inferiority - moral, intellectual, spiritual etc.

One second generation of racism was antisemitism. Instead of skin colour indicating inferiority, religion now indicated threat. Whereas previously blacks portrayed as were stupid, unorganised and childish, jews were now portrayed as cunning, organised and collaborating against the rest of the world. Blacks had been regarded with contempt, now jews were regarded with fear.

However, this second generation contained remnants of the first. Under racism against blacks, much was made of the supposed great physical differences between blacks and whites. Broad noses, knit hair, large buttocks, high navels and of course the (in)famous enormous penises became exaggerated in popular art, and seen as indexes (or even causes) of ethical, social, intellectual and creative ineptitude.

This also meant that stereotypical 'white' features, defined by the absence or opposite of stereotypical 'black' features came to be seen as indicators of superiority. Roman noses, low navels, broad hips, wavy hair and unsunken eyes indicated 'good breeding'.

Now we have a third generation of racism, where the indicator isn't the physical form of the victim - though it sometimes pretends to be. And it isn't really religion - though there is the pretension that the divide is between the christian west and muslim east, in spite of the fact that most of the west is more-or-less atheist, and Islam is only one religion of the east.

The new racism is based on nationality. The facts that nationality has been rechristiened 'ethnicity', and that religion is foregrounded in a nonreligious conflict over land, show the way older racisms retain echoes in the new.

What 'naziism' meant to the original nazis wasn't a constant - much as the meaning of 'socialism' could change from week to week in Soviet Russia under Stalin.

We remember the nazis as the people who, as they were losing a world war, diverted resources they couldn't afford into a mechanised genocide - mainly but not exclusively directed against jews. But this was a late development in WW2.

Naziism had mystical elements. Folk traditions of corn dollies, thatched cottages and fertility dances were promoted and usurped as symbols of an ancient and noble past. Physical geography was reconceptualised as a mother which gave birth to the german people, nurturing and sustaining them with rain, sun and crops.

Often high ranking SS officers held midnight ceremonies on the supposed burial sites of their ancestors, to draw ancestral strength into themselves for battle. The swastika was a pagan symbol of unity and harmony, and it's red background symbolised german blood, connected deeply with the land. All this paganism existed alongside the christian mysticism.

Naziism was also the promise of economic prosperity - a way out of the economic mess left by WW1. In the early days, the communists, jews and trade unionists who would later be gassed regarded their own persecution as an acceptable price to pay for full employment and a decent standard of living.

Towards the end of the war, as so often happens, the ruling class started to believe their own propaganda about sacred land and worldwide jewish conspiracies - Orwell famously called this kind of confusion 'doublethink'. For reasons I don't understand, the antisemitism floated to the top of their mass of conflicting obsessions.

So, I don't think naziism was primarily an ideology of racism - rather it was an incohearant mish-mash of utopian promises and mercurial alliances, fake history and real economic investment, and whichever scapegoating was convenient at that moment.

Obviously I'm not claiming that the nazis weren't racist - they clearly were. I'm just suggesting that racism wasn't the single most important and defining feature of the ideological componant of naziism. Why? Because the ideology of naziism wasn't that well defined. It was vague and shifting, according to the needs and whims of it's leaders.

Now, brushing the question of exactly how we define 'evil' under the carpet, there's the question of whether the nazis would have been evil (or *as* evil) had there been no racism in their belief system.

One answer is that, if they had invaded Europe but used a non-racist series of excuses to do so, then invading Europe would still be an evil thing to do. However, the racism would not have 'taken over' later on and motivated the attempted extermination of the jews, so these hypothetical nazis from a parallel universe would be less evil than the ones we know, because they would not have built the concentration camps.

Another possible answer, incompatible with the first, is that, although nazi ideology was a mish-mash, it was nontheless a mishmash which would have been radically different had it not included racism. This is the idea that the structure of nazi belief, and the patterns of collective nazi behavior (such as invading Poland and building the Autobahn) simply would not be possible without a foundation in racism. In effect, that if the nazis hasn't been racist, they wouldn't have done *any* of the things we know them for, and there would have been no second world war.

I tend towards the first anwswer, because I regard racism as an excuse for persecution of one group by another, rather than the real reasons, which I take to be economic. However, I can't be absolutely cirtain.

Drink! Feck! Arse!

Alternative titles for this entry:
* Weapon of Self Destruction
* Poisoning Yourself for Fun
* Why Did I Do That?

No updates for the last few days, partly because I was drunk for a lot of it. And when I wasn't drunk, I was sleeping it off. And when I wasn't sleeping it off, I had a hangover. And when I'd got over the hangover I was busy. And when I'd finshed being busy, I was getting drunk again. And when I'd done that, I was sleeping it off.


A night of pointless party politics, followed by exaggeratedly egregious ebriosity leading to decidedly drunken debauchery. I would say it's like being a teenager again, except I never did any of that in my teens.


One of my tiny claims to fame is that I once sold a Socialist Worker to Mark Steel. On thursday I improved on that by eating a curry with him. Him and 24 other comrades.

I'd been given a spare ticket to see him onstage. His act at the moment is half lively lecture on the French Revolution, half observational stand up routine. Underneath both is an understated but actually very sophiticated understanding of world politics. But even considered just as a commedian he's impressively professional.

After we took him to our communal communist curry, he spent the next 7 hours doing deep historical materialist analysis with Max and John M at John's house. While I found my natural lower level of discourse with other comrades.

Eddie C is a ex-soldier with an intermittant bipolar disorder. He can drink alchohol like a fish, charm women like Cassanova, and lucidly debate politics while tanked up on enough vodka and antipsychotic medication to tranquilise an elephant. A cuddly blond teddybear. A hellraising gentle giant.

He's also a writer of very sensitive love songs, looking for a musician/producer to help him record them. So...we have a loose plan for collaboration.

After the curry, Eddie, myself, Lee S and Lee's sort-of-maybe-more-or-less girlfriend Jenny spent 8 hours at Eddie's flat, between us putting away three litres of inordinately cheap vodka, dischordantly howling along to the greatest hits of ELO, and falling over in tangled giggly heaps.

I remember some smoochy dancing, lots of cuddles in various permutations...and there was a buttock slapping contest. And I sucked someone's feet.


12 hours later I was more or less recovered, editing the play for Max - because it's quicker for me to follow his notes than to teach him how to wordprocess - and helping out John with details of atomic theory for a short book he's writing on the marxian dialectic to be translated for publication in Egypt.


There may be moderate quantities of alchohol tonight, but no chance of fornication. Because it'll be spent with Simon M, his computer and his absolutely enormous TV showing Dr Who.

It makes a twisted kind of sense that, after getting intimate with a lot of straight men this week, my gay friend should be off limits.

They Fuck You Up, Your Mum and Dad

Did you ever wonder why I have such abiding interests in fraud and stupidity? On the one hand charlatans, deception and lies. On the other hand people believing the patently false in religion, politics and everyday life. It's because I grew up with both on all sides.

My entire family is obsessed with the appearance of something called 'respectability'. This has nothing to do with mutual respect, and everything to do with presenting a front that quietly impresses strangers. Appearances are everything. Life is a performance. The judge of our worth is not an omniscient god but an omnipresent polite society.

It's a matter of being "educated", but only in the conventional vague platitudes about the cultural signposts that define the world of "well bred" people. Beethoven but not Glass, Shakespeare but not Beckett, Plato but not Russell.

We never actually listened to any Beethoven, saw Shakespeare performed, or read Plato. We just knew that Beethoven was a great composer whose deafness was a tradgedy bravely transcended, Shakespeare was a master of language as demonstrated by a small stock of memorised quotations, and Plato was a thinker from the cradle of civilisation.

The only social skill I learned in the home was to seem to be my parent's illusory version of "an understated cut above the rest". As a child, I knew how to be quiet but academically promising, but not how to talk to other people. I was taught that other people were uncouth and somehow threatening, and I'm still afraid of them.

When my parents discovered I was gay, their only concern was that other people might find out and they be shamed. My father was worried that his business clients wouldn't want to do business with him anymore. My mother feared that I would get expelled from sixth form college for being queer.

When I spent five and a half months in a prison cell, they told everyone (including close family) that I'd had a nervous breakdown and was in a mental institution - being drugged in a padded cell was more respectable than having a criminal record for getting into a punch up with your alchoholic boyfriend. I think if they could have plausibly claimed I was in Kenya on safari they would have preferred that.

I have a younger brother who is precisely what my parents wanted. Smart but banal, a genuine expert in his field but not an innovator, independant but in constant touch. Something went wrong in making me like that.

Like the rest of my family, I'm in awe of educated, "cultured" people and think that by being well read I can become admired and therefore accepted into "better circles of people". Unlike them I want my understanding to go beyond polite cliches, and it kills me that I can't do it.

Like them, I'm obsessively fearful of my own inadaquacy, but unable to persuade myself that I'm special after all. I have all the self doubt but none of the self deception, all the fears and aspirations but none of the reassuring certainties.

I was raised to be a fraud. I want to be the real thing. But it seems I'm no good at being either.

I Can Do It All Night Long

I didn't see the first season of Lost, but I'm recording the second, and I'll probably watch it as a block later.

Judging from snippets I have seen, the whole mystery thing is a red herring. Recurring numbers, characters seeing things from their past or imagination, the hatch, the baby, the sheer impossibility of their survival - all just a mystery set up to be a tantalising mystery.

The endlessly deferred explanation is designed to keep viewers watching. The same sort of strategy kept The X-Files going for 9 seasons - even though the central mystery of the conspiracy was wrapped up in season 5 and the movie.

There's a good reason the actors don't know what it's all about - The writers don't know either. The only question is whether this matters. I imagine it will start to matter when the viewing public begins to suspect that it's all meaningless, or is presented with a weak explanation.

Of course, a fake mystery won't keep viewers watching on it's own. It's also a story about 14 diverse characters who each have their own uses and problems, all contributing to and hindering their collective survival in a senseless world.

Sound familliar? It's the same idea as Cube. A high tension character drama (soap opera?) with trappings of science fantasy and paranoid conspiracy theory.
Mother's got a new gizmo. The Orbit PTDVD-868DBV - a combined DVD/DivX/MP3 player, analog TV, digital TV, DAB reciever and games console.

A great little piece of kit for UKP175, and probably the only safe way to safely balance the TV on your knees as you watch in bed.
It's odd how you can spend months intending to do something, and then get a sudden burst of energy to do it. Usually this happens to me around midnight, and it's one reason why I tend to wake up after midday and live on nocturnal tea and biscuits.

I've been meaning to catalogue the hundreds of software CDs and DVDs. So we don't spent an hour searching for an installation file when we need it. Now the mood's taken me to do it. And it is indeed midnight.

La La Blah Blah Blog Blog

Two more vocal parts for songs recorded today. My voice was okay but not great - in tune but with a rough throaty edge. I might be getting the cold that everyone else is suffering with at the moment.

One more song (probably, possibly) to go, and it's one where I frustratingly always go flat on the high points of the chorus. The root note is B2, and the highest note is F3, which is supposed to be roughly where the average baritone experiences passaggio between chest and head registers.
Oh yes, I've been rediscovering Vocalist.Org. It seems the ideal vocal technician avoids the following:

Tea. I have two mugs in front of me.
Coffee. Apparantly furs up the throat.
Anything with Caffine. So, no Red Bull.
Mint. It's true, mints and toothpaste seem to tighten the throat.
Menthol. Only when I'm too bunged up to sing anyway.
Fried Food. Oh dear.
Large Meals. Oh dear oh dear.
Chocolate. Um...
Cheese. Er...
Alchohol. Ah...
Nuts. I'm saying nothing.
Biscuits. With the tea.

In short, I'm murdering my voice. Along with the rest of me.
A few people have stopped here over the last week. Some through search engines...

An MSN search for "Cockbang". You know what they say: One night of cockbang makes a strong man stumble. And one for "Ballshaving". Yep, another one. Maybe I should post "Kapitano's guide to depilating your scrotum"?

A Googleblog search for "Male Bodybuilders". And one for "Bisexual Poetry". And one for "Council Election". Plus a Blogpulse search for "Labour Party".

My favourite though is a search from the Japanese Yahoo for..."Kapitano".

Others came surfing through the blogsphere...

Lee Herald. A christian philsopher and unpublished novelist. His work is deep, thoughtful, humanitarian, and in my opinion badly written and wrong.

Jeut. Cynical cartoons.

Kirik Kanatlar. At a wild guess, Estonian.

Savage Stories. And Moreena. Two chronicles of motherhood.


You'll have to excuse me. For the last two nights my brain has been marinaded in expensive vodka. And the night before that in disgustingly cheap vodka. And I'm just going to pour myself some more vodka.

Reggie Perrin liked Ravioli. I like vodka.
Everybody seems to need me. Paul T needs me to be at his latest gig, and to nod through a two hour diatribe about how the British working class are lumpenly self-destructive without a hint of revolutionary unity. Simon M needs me to program HTML for his ebay business.

And darling Max needs me to correct 200 pages of OCRed script. He called this evening to say, "Thanks for the work you've done so far, now can you get it completed by early tomorrow morning, okay?". If it were just for him, I'd consider telling him to go fuck his self rightous self. But as 25 actors - inluding myself - depend on my efforts, I'm doing it.

If I charged half the going rate for these services, I'd be quite well off. But if I charged half the going rate, I wouldn't be asked to do them, and they'd never get done, and some worthwhile events would not happen.
Kamakura played a 2 hour gig tonight - I'm hoping it came out well.

I've got a kamakura song planned for my own gig on the 2nd - Fear is Free, done as a baritone Allison Goldfrapp. My 20 minute set at present looks like:

The Puppet's Dream - rapping about drugs, probably over not much more than a cutup beat.
Nothing Less than Everything - maybe an acid goth version of my one songfight win.
Fear is Free - FM synthesised chunky guitars and antireligious lyrics.
Riverrun (Part 2) - Hiphouse.
Friend - I somehow feel there's a trancy anthem inside the rough demo.

They'll all need new backings composed and recorded. First though, vocals for EP to complete.

Different, but the Same

I got a bit of recording done, before being interrupted by the biannual visit of my absurdly rich aunt and uncle. These are the kind of retired couple who go on at least one luxury world cruise a year and secretly believe bluecollar jobs are an optical illusion. They are also extremely evasive about how they got so stinking rich.

In the evening, I became a scrutineer - in part of the vote counting process, but mainly of the candidates. There were four:

Crab (Labour) - an amiable imbicile who debates by regurgitating soundbites. Not a bad man, but a sheep who turns wolverine simply because the shepherd snarls.

Hancock (Liberal Democrat) - product of a family of professional politicians. Decent people in private, ruthless opportunists in public.

Lowey (Conservative) - a vacuum disguised as a nonentity. Typical tory clone. The kind my aunt and uncle reflexively vote for.

Sprake (Respect) - without doubt the best person we could have stood, and I'd still say that if he wasn't also a friend.

The results were:

LibDem: 1276
Lab: 583
Con: 476
Res: 217 (8,45% of the vote)
Spoiled: 16
Turnout: 26%

So, not a bad result for an infant party standing in an area long sewn up by another party. Our foot is in the door.

Lee, John M and myself then spent the next 6 hours following the rest of the elections on the BBC, and getting smashed on vodka. That is, they commented on the BBC coverage, and I got smashed and watched them do it.

We had generally expected Labour to lose maybe 300 seats, and the beneficiaries to be the LibDems, the Tories, Respect and the Greens, the BNP and others, in that order. And the Labour losses hopefully being enough to finally get rid of Blair.

The full results aren't in yet, but Labour have lost 'only' about 225, and the major beneficiaries are the Tories, followed by the LibDems, Greens and others. Respect made less headway than anticipated, and the BNP more.

None of which is encouraging, and some downright worrying. No doubt there will be endless dissections, interpretations and debates for the next month. Which I have no intent of documenting.

The Cornerstone of Democracy

Last minute leafletting of Portsmoth tower blocks the night before the local elections. I got a somewhat circuitous lift to the candidate's flat in the 'election car' as it trundled around the ward. A clapped out Volvo Lambda with photocopied Respect posters selotaped crookedly to the doors, and a megaphone from the 1980s stuck in the window, amplifying the message:

"Vote Respect in the elections tomorrow. Save the fire station. End the war in Iraq and spend the money on local facilities instead. Vote Respect for people not profit."

At the flat, a half dozen of us picked up the 3rd generation photocopied A5 flyers, and delivered them around some of the less grim council blocks.

You think it looked like a joke? Maybe it should have done, but the reaction from the locals (though not the military base) was pretty positive. And the council estate kids loved it - we had to tell them politely but firmly to not hitch mass rides on the back of the car.

We're the only party doing much electioneering around here. The main parties either can't be bothered or have absolutely no one on the ground to canvass or put up posters.

In years past the Labour club was festooned with electionaria - or should that be electoriana? Now there isn't even a "Vote Labour" poster in a window. Same story for the Conservative club. In fact, I haven't seen a Tory, Labour or LibDem poster anywhere.

Labour did manage a drop of glossy leaflets in one ward - saying how the LibDems are "soft on crime" and don't have the moral backbone to send teenagers to prison for breaking asbos. The LibDems dropped an equally glossy sheet through my front door - saying, in effect, "Vote for us to keep the Tories out".

Of course, we don't stand a chance in hell of winning a seat in the ward - we'll be lucky to get 200 votes. But we're the only group that can even muster half a dozen voluteers to prosetylise on a shoestring budget. That has to say something about British politics today.


Good news: Three and a bit songs are nicely processed and mixed.

Bad news: I'm not entirely happy with the sound quality of the vocals from the portable 8-track. Which is to say, I'm extremely cheesed off about it.

A quiet signal (like, -24dB!) for each multitracked layer, with a highish noise floor (like, -48dB) don't make for professional results. I've half a mind to scrap the lot and rerecord on the PC - chorusing the bits that need harmonies instead of singing the harmonies myself, and recording at 24bit 88200kbps instead of 16bit 44100kbps.

If I can face doing it all again, of course.
The LMHR gig is all set for the 2nd of June. There's 9 confirmed acts, and at least one that's "to be confirmed".

Sean R is organising the event and, being a laid back socialist type, prefers to wait for bands to contact him to confirm their appearance, rather than actually ask them.

However, with acts ranging from a folk singer with acoustic guitar to bulgarian prog rock to schoolgirls playing grunge to...erm, me doing sort of hiphop synthpop, it should be good.
How long does it take to OCR a 166 page stageplay? 2 and a half hours, roughly. How long does it take to proof-read and correct the resulting Word document? So far, 3 days to get it 1 3rd done.

There's 6 weeks till the latest revised date for the first London performance, and no one seems in any great hurry to begin rehearsals. It's that laid back socialist thing again.
For the past 5 days I haven't been able to take a shower. This is because water has been refusing to flow down any of the plugholes in the house. Personal cleanliness has been a matter of damp cloths - cold damp cloths.

But now the mysterious blockage in the pipe has been identified as a great big gob of matted hair - presumably human and canine - and removed.

Call me effete for not being able to live without mod cons, too many computers and Google dot Com, but I am going to take an inordinately long, hot soapy shower.