Nobody's Diary


Another meme, this one from David. Put your iPod on shuffle and use the song titles to answer the questions below.


IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
Dream On (Depeche Mode)
Ha!

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
One Love Song (Zoon Politcion)
Just the one. And then deny you sang it

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Earth (Beborn Beton)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Dead Souls (Joy Division)
It's all so true!

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Heading for the Coast (A Blue Ocean Dream)

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
You Don't Deserve My Love (Rename)
Grumble, grumble

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
1984 (Bonanza Banzai)
Perceptive as a fortune teller. Exactly as perceptive as a fortune teller

WHAT IS 2+2?
Bottle Living (David Gahan)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND(S)?
Lost in the Stars (Martin L Gore)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU FANCY?
Life (Resurrection Eve)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Something Must Break (Joy Division)
Even if it hasn't, it will

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Virus (Heroes del Silencio)

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU FANCY?
I Could Say I'm Sorry (Universal Poplab)
Probably should, actually

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Almost Medieval (Human League)

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
79S 83W (Sleep Research Facility)
Brilliant! One day someone really will try to dance to this ambient classic

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Another Girl - B! Machine
But not just ANY other girl

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Black (Colony 5)

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Xerox Machine (Client)
I'd tell you what that means, but it's a secret

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Shattered (Intact)

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Don't Go (Yazoo)

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
In My Other World (Juile Cruise)

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Yesterday Man (Elegant Machinary)

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
With You (Wave in Head)

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Wir Sind (Melotron)

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Never Again (Human League)

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
Tiny Girls (Iggy Pop)
Grrr...

DOES ANYONE FANCY YOU?
Chill Out (KLF)
Absolutely.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
The Man in Grey (Rational Youth)

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Animals on the Road (ST and ART)

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Nobody's Diary (Yazoo)

Mimetic Art


There's a meme running round. To design album covers using randomly accessed material.

Go to a random page on Wikipedia. The heading is your band name. Select the last in a list of random quotations, or the last few words of it. That's your album title. Take the third of a random selection of Flikr images. That's your album art. Now get creative.

For my part, I installed twenty random fonts, and selected from them - what else, but randomly, for each title. Here's the results.







What the Paper Sprays


My father has a favourite newspaper. He reads it online because, so he says, the webpage layout isn't confusing.

Last week there was an article about how using Facebook gives you cancer. They say quite a lot of things give you cancer. This week they say Facebook damages children's brains too.

Also in the "Science and Technology" section:

* Revolutionary proton therapy cures boy, 5, of brain tumour
* Feeling glum? It could all be down to your blue genes, say scientists
* Are we lost? Why women are worse at reading maps but can find those misplaced keys
* Degrading rap lyrics encourage youngsters to have sex earlier, claims study
* Big Brother spy planes that track the Taliban may soon hover over your home
* Regrow your own dentures: Scientists discover gene that produces TEETH
* Recipe for disaster? 100 - [10L - 7F + C(k - C) + T(m - T)]/(S - E) makes the perfect pancake, claims maths professor
* Simon Cowell: I'm going to freeze my body when I die so I can be brought back to life
* Survival of the smartest: Those with a higher IQ are more likely to follow doctors' orders
* Inventor of inflatable maze which flipped over killing two is found guilty of breaching safety rules
* Could this Google Ocean image show the lost city of Atlantis?
* Polygamy UK: This special Mail investigation reveals how thousands of men are milking the benefits system to support several wives
* Working long hours 'puts us at higher risk of dementia'

The stupid, it burns.

Food Glorious Food


This is how I work.

At about 1am, just as the parents, the dogs and the parrots were settling down for a night's sleep, I went on youtube to satisfy a minor curiosity.

Rammstein are a German industrial synth-and-rock-guitar band, possibly most famous for the song "Mein Teil", inspired the Meiwess cannibal case. The Pet Shop Boys did a popular remix, and I wondered vaguely whether there was a video for their remixed version - though actually I prefer the original. It turns out there is a video.

Watching it, I thought "Why don't I try translating this into Esperanto?". Mein Deutsche ist nicht zehr gut...but with the aid of some basic German and different English translations, I came up with a first draft.

Now, the chorus runs:
Denn du bist
Was du isst,
Und du wist
Was es ist.
Das ist Mein Teil.


Which means:
Because you are
What you eat,
And you know
What it is.
This is my part.


And translates literally into Esperanto:
Cxar vi estas
kiu vi mangxas,
Kaj vi scias
kiu gxi estas.
Tiu estas mia parto.


(The letter x here indicates a circumflex - hat character (^) - over the preceding letter. I haven't got around to setting up my system to be able to type the proper letters easily.)

If the chorus is the heart of the song, I think the translator should make a special effort to translate it accurately. So I need to find some Esperanto words that rhyme with either Mangxi (to eat) or Esti (to be), that preserve some of the sense of the original.

What I need is an Esperanto rhyming dictionary. I haven't got one. So I'll have to make one. But which existing dictionary do I make it out of?

The Baza Radikaro Angla (Basic Stemlist with English translations) is good but too limited. I need to translate words like "porcelain" elsewhere in the song, so I need a larger list. This one is an extended version which is easily reformattable, so that's what I used.

So by judicious use of search-and-replace on a wordprocessor and tab delimitation on a spreadsheet, I got a nice clean list of 3000 word stems. It's generally reckoned you can get ten useful words from each stem, so that should be enough meaning to be going along with.

Except they're not in rhyming order - they're in alphabetical order. Esperanto is phonetic, so I need to find a way to sort them alphabetically from the end of the stem, instead of the beginning. If my spreadsheet were sensible, it could do this. But it's not so it can't.

Still with me? I need to write a little program to create a second column of stems, but reversed, so the spreadsheet can sort them alphabetically, thus putting the right-way-around list in rhyme order. Simple!

I haven't been a programmer since 1994, and the only language I can remember how to use is BASIC. I was always a bit useless at C++. So I find and download QBASIC. And spend an hour reminding myself how to use it. And then another hour debugging the program, only to find it's the input file, not the program which is the problem.

This is the text of my first program in around fifteen years. It's not terribly elegant.

CLS
b$ = "____________________"
OPEN "h:\r2a.txt" FOR INPUT AS #1
FOR c = 1 TO 5000
OPEN "h:\r3.txt" FOR APPEND AS #2
INPUT #1, r$
FOR c2 = 1 TO LEN(r$)
MID$(b$, c2, 1) = MID$(r$, LEN(r$) - (c2 - 1), 1)
NEXT c2
c$ = LEFT$(b$, LEN(r$))
PRINT r$, b$, c$, c
PRINT #2, c$
CLOSE #2
NEXT c
CLOSE #1


...but it works. And now I have my Esperanto rhyming dictionary.

Now, what rhymes with Mangx(i)?

Arangx(i) - To make arrangements
Orangx(o) - Orange (fruit)
Sxangx(i) - To change something


And what rhymes with Est(i)?

Best(o) - Animal
Modest(a) - Modest
Cxe-est(i) - To be right here
Fest(o) - Holiday
Gest(i) - Gesture
Digest(i) - Digest food
Sugest(i) - Suggest
Majest(a) - Majestic
Kest(o) - Box
Nest(o) - Nest
Honest(a) - Honest
Tempest(o) - Storm
Rest(i) - To stay
Arest(i) - To arrest
Krest(o) - Crest of a bird
Forest(i) - To be elsewhere (not Forest!)
Atest(i) - To officially claim
Intest(o) - Intestines
Kontest(i) - To dispute a claim
Protest(i) - To disagree
Vest(o) - Any article of clothing


So do I have a sense-preserving rhyme for "Because you are...what you eat"? Several! Like:

Cxar vi estas
Kiun vi digestas.
Sentu tempesto
En vi intesto.


"You are what you digest. Feel the storm in your insides."

It's now eight in the morning. Time for breakfast.

Gimmie a Beat


I'm hip. I know the difference between techstep, twostep, hardstep, jungle and DnB. Even though they're all the same thing really.

I can identify the difference between roots reggae, dancehall and dub - and to prove it, I only like dub. I prefer hardhouse to deep house, hi-nrg to nu-nrg, IDM to EBM, new wave to nowave, new beat to schaffelbeat, and futurepop to synthpop.

Oh yes, I may not be down with the kids, but I get their music, the finely differentiated rainbow of everything that's pop but not commercially popular.

So what in hades is gothwave? I know goth, and I know darkwave, and most bands who are one stray into the other. So what is it supposed to be? And is there actually such a thing as trancecore, or did some blogger just make it up for a laugh? What exactly are the differences between emo, shoegaze and nerdcore?

Acid rock, celtic punk, cowpunk, horrorpunk, antifolk, coldwave, breakcore, grindcore, mathcore(!), post-grunge, post-hardcore, psychobilly...and stoner doom metal. Huh?

Reasons to be Cheerful


One, two, three...

1) I've just about finished cataloguing the last five years worth of computer stuff. Hundreds of CDRs and DVDRs of software, data and music, neatly reduced and sorted to thirty seven DVDRs and a searchable index.

Of course, that doesn't include the three hundred CDRS of stuff from before the last five years, or the new stuff from the last week...or the couple of hundred unsorted TV shows recorded a few years ago. But it feels pretty good anyway.

2) I've invented a cheap and simple way to stop the nasal breath noise that gets into headset microphones.

Get two thick rubber bands about ten inches each around and cut them in half. Now use elephant tape to join them, so you've got a double size band. For one of the joins, use eight inches of tape, wound around the band and stuck to itself, then looped back and stuck to create a two inch "pad".

The result is a kind of loose headband - you put it over your head, over the top of your ears, with the pad resting under your nose. It looks utterly preposterous, like the world's most unconvincing fake moustache.

And no, you're still not getting a photo. So there.

3) Quite a lot of men have suddenly emailed to say they'd love to have sex with me. Or as they put it, "I wanna drink u dry til the last drop".

It would be nice if they weren't all in another continent, but hopeless lust from afar, like unrequited love, can be better than the real thing.

I'll Huff and I'll Puff


I have an invention in mind. The headset mounted noseguard. "What in heaven's name are you blithering about Kapitano?", you ask. Well...

A headset is a pair of headphones, with a microphone attached, curling around to the mouth from one side. Now the perennial problem with any microphone kept close to the mouth is breath noise. We've all seen it - the MC at a wedding party whose witty routine is made even more annoying than usual by the constant barrage of amplified thunks, clicks, sibilants and that tubetrain-like noise of someone puffing onto a transducer. It's horrible.

But, with a headset mike the worst gusts of air don't come from the mouth - they're from the nose, which is in the most inconvenient position possible. Not only is it an upside-down sewage works just above your food inlet port, it's also a bellows noisily sucking and blasting directly onto the microphone, without ever stopping. To say nothing of sniffles, sneezes and whistles.

So, what you really need is something to deflect the regular gusts. Something mounted just under your nose, that lets you breathe, but deflects (or at least disperses) the air.

It can be mounted on a gooseneck like the mike, but coming around from the other side. My prototype involves wearing two headsets, one around the neck with the mike padded with extra foam rubber and placed directly under the nose, the other worn in the conventional way.

The first prototype was me holding one hand flat under my nose for quite a long time.And no you can't have a photo of either, and not just because I can't find the camera.

What should I call it? Noseguard, snorkel, nonose, depuffer?

My Domain Steadily Grows


...as documented by our roving reporter, C.



Deprived of Sense


The results on my first ganzfeld experiment were...disappointing.

The idea is to starve the brain of sensory input. Vision is reduced to a vague wash of colour by placing translucent screens - traditionally half ping-pong balls - over the eyes. Sound is smeared by playing white noise (in this case grey noise) through headphones. Other senses are "numbed" with a comfortable chair or bed, no strong smells etc.

Without coherent input, the brain starts to generate it's own - usually visual images. Personally, I suspect this is what's happening when we dream.

So what did I see? Not much. The occasional fleeting glimpse of a robin gathering twigs, a computer display of an unknown program, and a swirling set of blue triangles like you might find on a screensaver. Nothing different from the soup of images I always see just before dropping off to sleep.

There was the blindness effect - whereby the white wash in the visible field dimmed and became black after several minutes - only to return when I moved my eyes.

After forty minutes, I felt refreshed, alert and happy - as you might expect after a doze. But not entertained by hallucinations.

I think the problem was that there was still too much sensory stimulus. The occasional creaking of the headphones interrupted the noise, the visual field wasn't uniform enough, and the slight lumpiness of the bed became highly noticeable - presumably because my brain was searching for input.

Next time then, louder noise, smoother light (monochromatic if I can manage), and hopefully something to report.

And I need some new ping-pong balls.

Where on earth do you buy ping-pong balls?

The Checks, Files


File under "Incredibly annoying things which I've lived with for so long it doesn't occur to me most of the time there might be a way around them". Or if you prefer, "irritations".

Most computers use CRCs - Cyclic Redundancy Checks - when reading and writing data. It's a way of both detecting and fixing errors in the data stream, and good thing too, because there's too many ways files can get easily corrupted. They're like children and politicians in that respect.

Unfortunately, in a bit of thuddingly bad design on the part of Microsoft, if you try to copy (or unpack) a file with just one single error that the CRC system can't fix...the whole file is deemed unreadable. This is a bit like being forced to throw away a book because a single misprint on one page makes it impossible to guess what the word should be.

Sometimes the data isn't really corrupt at all - it's just been misread by the CD drive. If you've got a dodgy drive, you might attempt the copy the file twenty times, and each time a different part of the file is misread, and you have to start again.

Now, file under "So astonishingly simple and useful I can't imagine how I ever managed to live without it and I'm so grateful to the inventor I'd bear his babies". Or "nice", if you like.

The application at this humble site. It's a Java application, which means you'll probably run it from your web browser. At least you will if you're like me.

Download the file "JFileRecovery.jar", and drag it into your browser window. The program will run, asking you for source and destination locations. Then get a cup of tea (or coffee, seeing as it's Java) and wait while this tiny little program copies what it can of the file, and skips what it can't.

And then goes back and tries to fill in the blanks. Even if it can't you've still got the great majority, which should be bearable for films or music.

Now I just need a small, useful program that'll scan every disc in the room and tell me what I should keep, what's obsolete, what's duplicated and what I'll never use even though it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Make It So, Mr Data


Videotape lasts about 50 years. A commercially pressed DVD is supposed to last twice that. Paper documents can last centuries.

A DVDR lasts...maybe five years. That is, if you don't write on it, and you keep it out of sunlight, and, erm, don't use it.

I only mention it because I spent last night burning fifteen DVDRs of backup data, plus there'll be a similar number tonight, and it would be nice if they were more...well, permanent.

People who advise about these things professionally say you should make backups of your backups and store them in a dark, dry, clean space. Which might make sense if I were IBM, but not if I were, um, me.

Incidentally, if you think 30 DVDRs is a lot, I've spent the last month going through about 150, weeding out obsolete, duplicated or useless files.

So, how can I protect my files without

(1) spending the whole week doing nothing but burning backups

(2) spending all the money I don't have on expensive DVDRs that may or may not be less corruptible

(3) winding up with a suitcasefull of redundant copies after spending a month removing redundant copies

...?

My solution is to wrap each DVDR in a homemade paper insert, inside the usual clear plastic wallet. The insert protects the surface from sunlight, provides some extra padding, and gives me something on which to write a description of the disc's contents - instead of the disc itself.

The small irony is, years ago before clear plastic CD/DVD wallets were common, I made hundreds of them from A4 sheets of paper. They were practical, protective, and you could write on them. Then I threw them away when plastic wallets and CD pens became common.

Shoot That Poison Arrow


Valentine's day has a special meaning for me.

My last major relationship ended explosively twelve years ago - at 2am, Feb 14th.

Valentine's day is supposed to be a day for love - or rather romance, which isn't the same thing. Christmas is supposed to be a time for happiness and goodwill, and Easter is...a time for chocolate. All good things to have.

Specifically, good things to have all year round. If someone only shows goodwill at christmas, you probably wouldn't describe them as an admirable person - more likely as a hypocrite. Which makes me think the more a society extols the "special mood" of a season or event, the more likely it is it doesn't give a flying toss about the same mood the rest of the year.

If someone were romantic to me on Valentine's day, I'd find myself asking, "Are they a romantic person who's being extra romantic on this day because they like the day's sentiment...or are they only romantic once a year?"

But then, I'm an incurable cynic.

And as everyone knows, cynics are really romantics.

Incidentally, shouldn't a heart with an arrow through it be a symbol of heartbreak?

100 Things about Kapitano, Part 4: Stupid Things Adults Told Me When I was a Child.


16) When you die you'll go to heaven.

One day, when I was four or five, I asked my mother what happened to a person after they died. Her answer was long, rambling, hesitant and embarrassed, and I didn't understand most of it, but the gist was: I, but not my body, would live forever in paradise, which was known to be a nice place, even though no one knew anything about it.

Exactly why she felt the need to tell me this is unclear, because she didn't believe a word of it. She'd been raised in the vaguest religion in the world - Church of England style Anglicanism - then asked some very basic questions about it in early teen years, and getting no answers, jettisoned the whole thing. I followed the same path.


17) You must always tell the truth / You must always be polite.

This pair puzzled me, because the truth usually isn't polite. Eventually though I figured it out.

"Tell the truth" actually meant "Always confess to wrongdoing when accused by adults, even when you didn't do it". "Be polite" meant "Adults are emotionally fragile creatures and don't really want to know what you think anyway, so tell them reassuring lies".

So in fact, both imperatives meant the same thing: Tell adults what they want to hear. Lie to the grownups, but only on their terms.


18) Struggle makes you a better person.

Between the ages of four and ten, I went to a school run by a headmaster who regularly got all five hundred of us to sit in the big hall, and listen to him give some strained parable about how you'll only be able to cope with the world if it almost - but not quite - destroys you.

The reasoning ran like this: The world will try to destroy you, and you'll only survive if you've got the strength you got from the last time it tried to destroy you, which you survived because you had the strength....

I suspect this leads back to the old notion that enlightenment comes from suffering. That personal tragedy makes you a better artist, sticking needles into your flesh brings you closer to the gods, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Thus people who overcome disabilities are heroic, but those who don't are embarrassing and should be hidden away.


19) If you try hard, you'll succeed / If you do your best and fail, that's okay / Failure is unacceptable

This trio of mutually incompatible ideas formed the basis of my school life. The teachers couldn't decide whether I was diligent or a dropout. I suppose in effect I was both.


20) You must pretend to believe in Santa Claus, even though everyone knows you don't.

This one had a lot of variations, such as:

* You must visit your grandmother, even though she's a daft old bat and the adults don't want to see her either.
* You must go to church and sing the hymns, even though it bores the shit out of you and you don't know the lyrics.
* You must eat everything on the plate even though you're not hungry, and you must never ask for more even when you are.

In other words: Only appearances matter. It's all bullshit, and everyone knows it's bullshit, but as long as we all pretend, it'll somehow work eventually - so pretend, dammit.

The same idea came back in teen years as "You're not gay because if you were and the neighbours found out they'd think we weren't respectable".


Wednesday


When I think back to the months I spent in Bulgaria, there's a lot of memories to choose from. My boss, the world class prevaricator with the heart of gold, feet of clay and head of wood. Tania the secretary who ran everything, and who helped me escape. The neverending variety of mostly horrible food. The empty luxury flats next to the overcrowded crumbling towerblocks. The absurd bureaucracy and the people's casual contempt for it.

But the memory which comes back most often...is of a little stray dog who wondered into the office one day. A tiny mongrel, small enough to sit in the palm of my hand, affectionate and starving. Radi the odd-job man (who pretended not to know any English) named her Wednesday - after the daughter in the Addams family.

I adopted her, and in the next two weeks - was it really only two weeks? - watched her quadruple in size, while intermittantly forgetting what the newspaper on the floor was for. She slept on the end of my bed, chewed on my shoes and fingers, watched movies with me, and cheered me up enormously in the depressing last days after I decided to leave.

I'd received a camera, and took some minute-long home movies of her. I just found them while sorting through a load of backed up old files. Here's two.

video

video

I could have brought her back with me to England. There would have been problems - quarantine, the fact that fully grown she'd come up to my waist, the issue of where on earth I could keep her - but I could have done it. It was just easier to for Tania to find a good home for her - Bulgarians are a dog-loving people.

She'd quickly got used to being locked in the flat while I went out to work - only crying the first two or three times. But the last time I locked the door, at four in the morning, carrying too much luggage for the two hour coach journey to the airport, she cried. I think I did too, just a little bit.

Unproductive


My well has run dry, my inspiration has evaporated, my muse has moved out and shacked up with a sugar daddy from Scunthorpe.

So I think an EP of four or five songs makes a lot more sense than an album of fourteen. Yes, indeed, I don't know why I didn't see that earlier. Definitely.

Even got a title. Seeing as I've been listening to Bronski Beat recently - "The Age of Dissent".

FAWM 2009: Lyrics 4


Song number four, ripped off from inspired by two songs by Dead or Alive.


Verse 1:
I really didn't understand it
What your games were all about but
All those hints and all those glances were
Just so you could turn me down, and I
Thought that you were chasing me but you
Just need someone chasing you, last
In a line of boys and girls got
Taken for a fool

Chorus:
You don't want me, you never did
You just want me to want you kid
You don't want me to take you home, you're
Secret's out, the game is up, your cover's blown

Verse 2:
The
Mirror of your eyes is asking
Who's the fairest of them all, and us
Wicked queens all answer 'cos you're
Dark and handsome, yes and tall, you've
Played the field and done the scene, and you've
Left a trail of of heartbroke exes, now
No one wants you for yourself 'cos you
Don't know what that is

FAWM 2009: Lyrics 3


Usually I come up with the chorus quite quickly, then struggle and slog with the verses. This time the verses came easily...and I couldn't think of a chorus at all.

This one's called "Photograph".

1:
There's a photo
In your pocket
Of your wife and two kids

But I've seen it
There's another
And you keep it well hid

2:
You are always
Disappearing
And you never explain

There are rumours
At the office
Tell me what is his name?

3:
Do you hold him
Does he kiss you
Do you have your own song?

Does she know him
Are they friendly
How long's it been going on?

4:
Is he open
Say he loves you
Does he have a wife too

See I'm asking
All these questions
'Cos i want to do the same thing as you

Apart from the final one, all the stanzas have exactly the same intonation and rhythm. But listening to other people's stuff, they just don't bother.

The chord sequence is generally the same between verses, and the notes more-or-less. But the rhythm varies all over the place, and it doesn't seem to matter.

So if it doesn't matter that much to them, and what they make is good, there's no reason for me to wrench around the words and syntax to make a curate's egg of identical repeated patterns.

Even if it does offend my sense of order.

Someone Left the Toast Out in the Rain


Whoever said you should write what you know was talking out of their arse. If I made music about what's happening in my life right now, it would look like this:

Today, starting at midnight, I spent five hours getting my synthesiser to sound like early Depeche Mode, alternating between that and working on a song loosely inspired by a Pet Shop Boys number called "I'm in Love with a Married Man". Of which hopefully more later.

Then I slept for eight hours, waking around midday. After breakfast/brunch/lunch, more synthesiser noodling, followed by...

In the evening a political meeting, where ten of us sat in a room getting depressed about recent strikes which have been making the headlines. Normally we'd be quite pleased about workers standing up to bosses, but in this case when the bosses employ cheap labour from Europe, the workers blame the labour for stealing their jobs. And for being foreign. Yes, it's racism.

Back home I decide to try out the Lennox method of songwriting. Annie Lennox brainstorms around a subject for half an hour, writing down whatever occurs to her, then later shapes it into a song. It's a brilliant method, source of many brilliant Lennox songs - so I tried it.

Taking a break, I made a piece of toast. And the toaster caught fire. Melting plastic roaring merrily and singeing the shelves, thrown out onto the lawn and squirted with the hose.

It's still there, still smoking gently on the grass, covered in convenient rain. I challenge anyone to make poetry out of that lot.

So what did my half hour of Lennoxing produce? Here's my notes, pasted without change:

i don't want to be cassanova
don juan
macho man
world's greatest lover
isn't lover just another word for slut / can't find love

never believed in one true love
now and forever more
never believed in romance no, the
kind you spend your whole life searching for

but there's
just one, just one
one more love song
just need someone to sing it to / to hear it
no more love songs

i don't believe in romance / never believed
james bond, milk tray
all because the lady loves ... chocolates
flowers, hearts, candy
valentine

i'm happy being alone
i'm not alone, just not tied to you
monogamy
the special one you spend your life searching for
meant to be

trophy wife
find love fast
how to make any woman fall in love with you instantly
why'd you think they call it falling in love

happy couples only exist in wedding photographs
life is a chore
life is a task to be done

making love / faking love
montagues and capulates
romeo and juliet died
...with another man's wife
time is a poison arrow
stupid cupid knifes you through the heart

it's four o clock in the morning
no one's waiting in my bed
i can live life like i want to
it was a marriage, like any other

superman and lois lane
pages from a comic book yarn
not an old romantic, or a new romantic

so you found that special someone
what you gonna do now?
now that we've found love what are we gonna do with it?

how many disappointment, how much pain, how many fights
how many suspicious glances?
till you can say you've found one true perfect love / worked it out

what is this thing called love, you say it makes the world go round
i thought that was money, honey
that clinking clanking sound
crazy little thing called love

will the world be a better place?
what changes?
why will this make one life worth living?
did you think it wasn't worth it before?


Taped Up Ears


I can't listen to music on tape anymore. It's muffled, distorted and lacking in dynamics. Even with surface noise removed and top-end partials extrapolated, it's still pretty rough. How I spent my teen years listening to cassettes I'm not sure - and how I spent them listening to cassette copies of vinyl I really don't know.

Now, when I make music, I feed the sounds through a device which combines a lowpass filter, amplitude compressor, and harmonic exciter - it reduces digital harshness, creating a warm, mellow, slightly fuzzy feel. In other words, it recreates the classic sound of...analog tape.

There's some songs I grew up with hearing them only on cassette, or MW radio. Now after twenty years I get to hear them on CD - or MP3 ripped from CD - and it's like...

You know when you get water in your ears after going swimming? And you spend the rest of the day walking around thinking you can hear perfectly, until suddenly there's a pop and all the muffledness you didn't even notice has gone? It's like that.

FAWM 2009: Lyrics 2


Tom Tom Club were a spin-off from Talking Heads. It came about because two of the members considered they were getting too precious in songwriting about the complex meanings of lyrics. Essentially they found they were having to write poetry when then wanted to write songs.

So they created a side project, where they could just let the words come easily and not worry about being deep.

Well, after spending today struggling with two half finished songs, I thought I should do a Tom Tom Club, and stop being quite so up myself, in the interests of actually getting something done.

And this is the result. Working title: Celebrity


Verse 1:
Picture yourself
---On a magazine
Picture it now
---On the silver screen
How does it feel
---You're at number one
Top of the charts
---Loved by everyone
Who's on your arm
---When the cameras flash
What do you wear
---At the latest bash
Glitter and glam
---Party premiere
Champaign on ice
---People stop and stare

Chorus 1:
Hello goodbye you're
Last weeks rising
Star, but now your
Off the radar

Hello goodbye you're
This weeks one to
Watch until you're
Not so hot

Verse 2:
Interview time
---Drunk on live TV
Cameo roles
---Straight to DVD
Scandal and sleaze
---Marriage on the rocks
Pictures inside
---Secret lover shock
Out of control
---Back in therapy
Take any deal
---Scientology
Picture yourself
---Can you walk away
Picture it now
---That was yesterday

Chorus 2:
Hello goodbye, you're
Last year's hot young
Thing, and now the
Phone ain't ringing

Hello goodbye you're
My new hottest
Tip till ratings
Start to dip

Head, Blow and Swallow


I know where all these headaches have been coming from.

The fan heater that's been blowing lovely hot air at me while it's freezing cold and snowing outside was emitting fumes, and poisoning me.

I'm not sure whether swallowing the 1000mg of ibuprofen it took to stop my temples throbbing constitutes a different poisoning.

So now I have a choice.

(1) Be especially nice to my parents so they'll let me borrow their non-toxic heater all the time.

(2) Get the old one back and keep a large box of co-codomols handy.

(3) Run around the room every few minutes to keep warm.

(4) Train the dogs to wrap themselves around me.

(5) Spend GBP20 on a new convection heater.

Cleaning Out My Closet


Last night I put all the software and drivers I'm likely to need on one USB memory stick, and went to bed. Today I needed the stick but couldn't find it. So I cleared away half of a year's worth of junk looking for it - before finding it in the place I'd first looked.

However, here's some of the things I found in the meantime:

* Two bottles of water - unopened
* Two packets of extra strong mints - half gone
* Three USB cables I've been looking for
* About a dozen blank DVDRs - which would have been useful last week
* Four pens
* About five pounds in loose copper change
* Two headache pills - useful, as I had a headache
* Two half packets of co-codamol - for extra headache relief
* Fourteen notebooks - half filled
* Six teabags - one of which became part of my breakfast
* One spoon - for stirring the tea
* About 100 DVDRs marked "Misc Porn".
* Three bottles of bodybuilding supplements - unopened
* Two boxes of eardrops - one empty
* One block of wood with no discernable function
* Two pingpong balls sawn in half
* Three pairs of miniature headphones
* One tub of dermatological cream - smells of petrol and brought my headache back
* Four hard disks - all under 6GB
* Two CD burners - nonfunctional
* One wristwatch - presumably the source of those mysterious bleeps every hour

FAWM 2009: Lyrics 1


Good way to start a project. Write the first song, then lose all your data and spend the first day fixing the laptop.

Anyway, here is the (reconstructed) first song:

After Words

Verse 1:
Silence on the end of the phone, I'm still
Waiting here, you
Said you really needed to talk tonight but
The words won't come out right

Breathing on the end of the line, i'm still
Listening here, you're
Starting to recover it now and then but
The tears come back again

Bridge:
Do you need to speak at all or
Just someone to hear?

Chorus:
Are we
After words, or be
-fore
If you've got something to say
What are you waiting for? Are we
After words, or be
-fore
If there's nothing more to say
What are you waiting for?

Verse 2:
Shouting on the end of the phone, I don't
Understand, I
Said you should become what you meant to be, but
The one you blame is me

Buzzing on the end of the line, I'm still
Standing here, I'm still
Standing here, I'm still
Standing here

Chorus

Oh yes, the list of fourteen titles. Not a helpful idea, ignore it.

FAWMication


The idea behind February Album Writing Month is to write and record fourteen songs in twenty eight days.

I don't imagine I've got a hope in hell of doing it, but I'm going to try.

The KLF, before they started work on their White Room album, wrote down the first ten song titles which came to mind...and then wrote the songs to the titles.

I'm thinking vaguely of doing something similar, with fourteen titles which I'll try to write around. With the little twist that each title is a pun. Here's the list.

Hooked on Sonics
Queen of Diva
Second Slumming
Freaks Bearing Gifts
Beautiful Sting
In the Realm of Defences
Oedipus Rocks
Pump up the Scam
Shock da House
Birth and Debt
Captain Beefcake
Slobfather
Weapon of Crass Distraction
The Beatless and the Stoned

And here's some that didn't make it.

History Defeats itself
Alice Threw the Looking Glass
Woman on the Surge of a Pervert Shakedown
Fool Britannia
Battery will Get You Everywhere
The Shite Album
Last Night a DJ Raved This Dive

So now, at 00:01 Sunday February the first, 2009, I start from nothing and see what I can do.